Costa Rica
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Costa Rican Culture

Costa Rican culture is similar to the U.S., with some strong Spanish traditions from the Conquistadors.  Unfortunately, Costa Rica does not feature a wide variety of cultural or historical attractions. Catholic churches are at the heart of most towns, some with beautiful features and a wealth of history. Downtown San Jose features the National Theater and 3 small museums. 

Costa Rica is not as archeologically rich as Mexico. However, there is a small archeological site near Turrialba called Guayabo National Monument. Mysterious stone spheres carved by ancient people are found throughout Costa Rica.

Examples of how rural Costa Ricans lived a century ago and folkloric shows can be found around San Jose. But perhaps Costa Rica’s best cultural attraction is the food!

Attractions
Food

Costa Rican food is not spicy or hot, but well-prepared and wholesome. It centers around rice and black beans with lots of meat, fruits and vegetables.  Grass-fed beef, pork, chicken and plenty of seafood provide a variety of proteins.  Fruits and vegetables are plentiful and widely used, especially mangos, papaya, bananas, watermelons and pineapple.

Churches

Many towns in Costa Rica feature a large Church in the center of town.  The oldest Church in Costa Rica is in the small town of Orosi and was a monastery in the 17th Century.  Zarcero’s church features whimsical topiaries and the Basilica in Cartago is one of Costa Rica’s largest.

 

Gold Museum

The Gold Museum in downtown San Jose features a collection of Pre-Columbian gold pieces in a small museum underneath the Cultural Plaza.  While the museum is nice, the location is not.  Downtown San Jose is so incredibly congested and difficult, it may not be worth it to visit this Museum.

 

Jade Museum

This small museum in downtown San Jose features a collection of beautifully carved jade pieces.  If you are in downtown San Jose and have 45 minutes, you might want to drop into this interesting little museum.

 

Shopping

Costa Rica is not a shopping haven. For locally made wooden items, some tourists like to shop in Sarchi, located near San Jose. Souveneirs are typically handcrafted wooden items, artwork, glazed pottery, beaded jewelry, t-shirts and towels. Cafe Britt has many gift stores with higher quality items at higher prices. Although well known, we do not recommend the crime-ridden, crowded Central Market in downtown San Jose. Coffee is a great gift to bring home.
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