It’s easy to look at somewhere like San José and think of it as just another little spot in the beautiful land of Costa Rica to lounge around and soak up some rays. And I’m not saying it isn’t good for that, because I would kill to spend five minutes melting beneath the sweltering Costa Rican sun, believe me; anything is less painful than melting your mind over endless sales reports in a squeaky, uncomfortable office chair in a sunless country.

What I am saying, however, is that San José has so much more to offer than sunshine. Of course, if that’s enough to sway you, then I have a feeling you’re going to be blown away by all my other suggestions for things to do in this picturesque city.

Beaches close to San José

Okay, let’s start with the thing you all wanted to hear about first. Yes, there are plenty of beaches close to San José, so if you get bored of all the culture and abundant forms of entertainment the country’s largest city has to offer, you’re always within a few hours of your nearest beach.

I won’t diminish how beautiful some of the beaches are though, because they truly are beautiful. When you see larger-than-life pictures of a crisp, golden beach and clear-blue sky, with the sea to match it, those beaches actually exist in Costa Rica. The dream is very much real there. You won’t even need any filters for the perfect Instagram shot, because the beauty of reality and mother nature has put the perfect filter on your surroundings for you. Does that impress any of the millennials reading this?

The Winchester Mystery House is incredible

After a long day in the sun, what do you need more than anything? Yes, that’s right, mystery, history and… Oh, you said a cold bath? Well, there’ll be plenty of time for that later. In the meantime, you should be enjoying yourself and heading off on an adventure to the Winchester Mystery House. Once home to Sarah Winchester, this place is now a husk of what it once was. It’s worth a quick visit, even if only to spook yourself out late one evening. Don’t worry, you can head to a bar for a drink afterwards.

Experience more than a vacation

There are opportunities to volunteer in Costa Rica, which may not be as glamorous as lazing back on a beach, but, if you’re young, it could help you fund your travels to a beautiful city such as San José. Better yet, you might find it helps you to really appreciate both life back home and the beautiful place in which you find yourself, as you would be striving to help the community and become more than a tourist.

See the unique

Traveling somewhere new should be about seeing, eating and doing everything you possibly can that you can’t do at home. Everything should be new. Visiting quaint little places like the San Pedro Square Market could give you a taste of new wines, organic meals and unique pieces of art and craftsmanship that you couldn’t find at home.

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