Family vacations in Costa Rica can be rewarding experiences or absolute disasters -- it all depends on pre-trip homework. To make planning easier, we've done all the preparation. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on traveling with children, here are recommended attractions for those planning Costa Rica family vacations.
Arenal Volcano National Park
Arenal Volcano was one of the most active volcanoes in the world until 2010 when it entered a dormant phase. Outdoor lovers will enjoy activities at Arenal Volcano National Park ranging from rafting and exploring hot springs to hiking and mountain biking. Rivers, rain forests, waterfalls, hot springs and a volcano -- Arenal Volcano National Park has it all.
Address: La Fortuna - El Castillo, Costa Rica
Hours: The park is open year-round, seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Night visits are available for authorized groups.
Price: National park admission: $7.
Museo De Los Ninos
The Museo de los Ninos provides a collection of educational exhibits representing the culture and history of Costa Rica. There are also many hands-on exhibits. In one interactive exhibit, kids can make music by waltzing across the floor. The museum building was formerly a barrack and then a prison before it was transformed into a children's museum.
Address: Calle 4, al norte de la Avenida 9, San Jose, Costa Rica
Hours: The museum is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: U.S. adults, $8; children younger than 12, free.
The National Museum is an exciting journey through the country's archaeology, art, history and nature. The exhibits range from pre-Columbian objects made of gold and jade to a collection of hundreds of preserved Costa Rican birds.
Address: 17 Street, Central Avenue and Second Avenue, San Jose, Costa Rica
Hours: The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on December 25 and December 31.
Price: Adults, $4; students and children 11 and younger, $2.
Manuel Antonio is Costa Rica's most popular destination, offering top-notch beaches with incredible views of the Pacific Ocean. This area includes a national park brimming with wildlife, fabulous dining options and accommodations. Guests can go for a sail at sunset, ride a wave runner or try their hand at diving or snorkeling -- with the assistance of an instructor, of course.
Address: Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Hours: Manuel Antonio is open year-round Tuesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed on Mondays
Price: About $7, though costs vary per activity. Call or see the website for details.
Sea Turtle Expedition
The Sea Turtle Expedition provides the chance for individuals to see endangered sea turtles laying eggs. This is a 9-day expedition where you actually become part of the beach patrol team tagging and measuring turtles, rescuing stragglers, noting nest locations and counting eggs.
Address: Hotel Punta Islita, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Hours: Evenings in September and October.
Price: Starting at $89; includes lodging, breakfast, cocktail and tour.
Corcovado National Park
Hike in a tropical rain forest in Corcovado National Park. Enjoy a pristine sandy beach in the shadow of cliffs and caves. The park has a thriving monkey population, including Central American squirrel monkeys and white-faced capuchins.
Address: Corcovado, Costa Rica
Hours: The park is open all hours.
Price: $7 plus $3 per person, per night if camping.
Cano Negro National Wildlife Refuge
Cano Negro National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for bird watching and fishing. Located in a major migratory flyway, the refuge is home, or rest a stop, to millions of birds, including the black-necked stilt, northern jacana and white Ibis. Visitors can enjoy hiking and camping in this lush tropical rain forest.
Address: Cano Negro, Northern Lowlands, Costa Rica
Hours: The refuge is open year-round. The Ramsar Ranger Station is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Price: No admission fee but visitors need a license for fishing ($30).
What are your family's favorite Costa Rica destinations?
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