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Monteverde-or in English, Mount Green-is a mountainous town in northwestern Costa Rica that lives up to its name. The area is renowned for its tropical forests, the most famous of which is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Here, in the lush parkland, find fern-covered trails, hundreds of species of animals, and suspended bridges that let you walk above the forest. The nearby neighborhood of Santa Elena is the hub of the region's lodging and dining, while the northern Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve is another spectacular site to find flora, fauna, and adventure.
There's fun for the entire family no matter where you wander in Monteverde. Here are a few family friendly experiences to try together that'll make your vacation a blast:
Santa Elena - Sitting on the northwestern edge of Monteverde, Santa Elena is the center of the city's tourism, with hotels, hostels, and lodges lining the main highway, as well as a selection of cozy eateries and cute gift shops. Within the district, find several attractions designed for nature lovers, including the Frog Pond, Orchid Garden, Butterfly House, Bat Jungle, and Serpentarium.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve - Undoubtedly Monteverde's biggest draw is the eponymous cloud forest reserve. Named one of the 7 Nature Wonders of Costa Rica, the park boasts immense diversity spread out across 26,000 acres (10,500 ha). In the cool, misty landscape, you can hike over 8 miles (13 km) of trails to admire wildlife such as jaguars, ocelots, tree frogs, and bellbirds, along with 2,500 species of plants including the largest number of orchids in the world. Guests can wander the forest on their own or join a professional guide for a nature walk or birdwatching tour.
Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve - Roughly a half hour north of the Monteverde reserve is the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve. Equally impressive as its sister site, the park features lush gardens of ferns, flowers, and vines, while the sounds of birds and other exotic creatures echo across the forest. The park is made up of 5 walking trails and an observation tower, where you can gaze out upon views of volcanoes including Arenal, Tenorio, and Miravalles. Nearby, find the popular Sky Adventures Park, which offers breathtaking tram rides, thrilling ziplines, and a network of suspension bridges high above the forest floor.
Soak in the beauty of the cloud forest once night has fallen over the region. Begin with a ride on the Sky Tram at sunset, looking out upon fiery shades of pink, purple, and gold. Upon reaching the top, you're strapped to headlamp to help guide you through the darkened forest. In the black of night, follow your guide over winding trails and hanging bridges, basking in the the smells of the flowers and sounds of the wildlife.
If adventure is what you're after, you've come to the right place. Get strapped into a harness for an action-packed zipline ride over Monteverde's magical forests. On a course of 8 cables, soar up to 328 feet (100 m) over the forest floor at speeds of up to 44 miles per hour (70 km/h). If you prefer to stay on solid ground, there's still fun to be had. Hop onto an ATV for an exhilarating ride along hidden trails and picturesque creeks. Indulge your need for speed as you zoom through the forest, catching sight of creatures like the chatty howler monkey and the vibrantly colored quetzal.
Once you've gotten your fill of thrills, relax with a day trip out to Monteverde to La Fortuna. Here, at the base of the Arenal Volcano, unwind with a dip in the therapeutic hot springs. At upscale resorts like Baldi, Tabacon, or The Springs, you can treat yourself to a stress-reducing soak or take advantage of other spa offerings including massages, wraps, and aromatherapy.
Escaping to Monteverde on a budget? The following can be seen for nix.
Friends Meeting House - Whatever your beliefs, this site will invoke a sense of reverence in you.
Curi-Cancha Reserve - Refresh your body, mind and soul by spending a little time with Mother Nature.
You'll barely have time to take your wallet out of your bag with so many free things to do: