I’d heard good things about the La Paz Waterfall Gardens in central Costa Rica, but they actually fell short of what I found when visiting in person. Yes, there are waterfalls. Sure, there are animals to visit here, too. Yet this 70-acre nature park, which includes 40 acres of protected cloud forest and rainforest, provides visitors with 2.2 miles of hiking trails and viewing platforms throughout the protected land—all remarkably built without cutting into a single tree or vine system.
While the rainforest hike along five water falls at the end of your visit is spectacular (with a shuttle ride back up that you will be glad to take!), what your children are likely to remember best about La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park are the animals found here.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens is home to a fantastic butterfly observatory (mariposarium) with over 20 species of butterflies in all of their life stages, a large aviary with Costa Rica’s most colorful birds including scarlet macaws and tucans, a ranarium filled with fantastical frogs including the red-eyed tree frog, a serpentarium with 30 kinds of snakes including the golden eyelash viper, and a hummingbird garden where you might spot up to 26 species feeding.
If you think that sounds exciting, just wait till you visit the jungle cats, which include the elusive margay and ocelot, among others found in Costa Rica and Central America. We were so mesmerized by the full-size jaguars that we couldn’t tear ourselves away as they tore into their meals—talk about a dinner show!
Not to be outdone, there are many monkeys to entertain as well, including white-faced capuchins, spider monkeys, and marmosets. Did I mention the orchid garden? The Casita de la Paz with milk cows and ox cart rides for the family?
When you consider how much there is to see in addition to the lovely hike along five waterfalls and the La Paz River at the end of your visit, you can see how you will want to plan a full day’s visit to this worthy attraction.
Tips for visitors with a baby or young toddler: Be sure to bring a baby carrier or backpack child carrier to tote your baby or young toddler down the canyon waterfall trail while keeping your hands free for steep stair railings and your camera. If you bring a stroller for visiting the animals and other attractions, you’ll want to check it above before your hike, or walk it out to your car and reenter before pursuing the waterfall trail.
Tips for all visitors: Bring rain-proof jackets and extra layers as it can be cool and moist–as you might expect in a cloud and rainforest! Stave off hunger at multiple on-site restaurants and find souvenirs in the gift shop. I also recommend bringing along the DEET-free mosquito repellent wipes I recommend here.
Follow these links for more help planning travel to Costa Rica with young children:
Costa Rica – Alajuela (San Jose), Review of Buena Vista Hotel
Costa Rica – Alajuela (San Jose), Review of Hotel Villa Dolce
Costa Rica – Alajuela, Tips for Visiting Zoo Ave with kids
Costa Rica – 5 ways to ease your arrival in Costa Rica with kids
Costa Rica – A visit to Doka Coffee Estate, Alajuela
Costa Rica – Nicoya Peninsula: 5 Best with Children Under 5
Costa Rica – Dinner with our Private Chef in Costa Rica
Costa Rica – Photo Fave: View from (the toilet at) Casa Vista
Costa Rica – Photo Fave: Sunset at Playa Hermosa
Costa Rica – Photo Fave: DIY beach hut, Playa Hermosa
Costa Rica – Photo Fave: Arenal Hanging Bridges with Toddler
In like a lion, out like a lamb – our March of the animals continues all month! Keep watching for more animal experiences here, and click here to see them all.