From jaguars to capuchin monkeys, more than 100 animal species reside at this scenic nature park. Stop by to take in the animal exhibits, dine at the restaurant, and walk the 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometers) of well-maintained trails, which take you past five waterfalls scattered throughout the rain forest and cloud forest.
Thanks to its waterfalls and animal exhibits, the Waterfall Gardens are among the top day trips from San Jose. If you have your own transport, it’s best to book advance tickets to the nature park. Otherwise, full-day tours—both private and group tours—are available with transfers from San Jose. Some tours combine a visit to the Waterfall Gardens with nearby attractions, such as Poás Volcano National Park, coffee farm tours, and boat trips on the Sarapiqui River.
Things to Know Before You Go
- This is a great stop for families with children as even younger kids can manage the walking trails.
- Wear shoes with a good tread to manage the sometimes slippery trails.
- The trails are well maintained, but several sets of stairs mean that not every area is accessible to strollers and wheelchairs.
How to Get There
La Paz Waterfall Gardens are located on Highway 126 in Heredia province, roughly 1.5 hours north of San Jose. Most tours provide transport, but if you drive, you can take advantage of the free on-site parking.
When to Get There
The dry season, from December to April, is the most popular time to visit Costa Rica. If you visit then, be sure to secure tickets in advance, as popular attractions and tours fill quickly. Find lower prices, fewer crowds, and a bit more rain from May through November—when the waterfalls and forest are especially lush.
Outdoor Activities in the Central Valley
Rushing rivers and emerald-colored coffee plantations make the Central Valley one of Costa Rica’s scenic gems. Don't miss white-water rafting the Pacuare River (Río Pacuare); hiking around the crater of Irazu Volcano National Park; and soaking in the natural hot pools at Tabacon Hot Springs. Try to make time to visit coffee farms in the area too, such as historic Doka Estate.