A One-Week Multi-Generational Family Itinerary In Costa Rica

Two teenagers sipping on a drink in Costa Rica.
Photo Courtesy: Kate Jensen

Planning a one-week multi-generational family itinerary in Costa Rica isn’t as difficult as it sounds! While this Central American country is known for its adventurous activities and rugged landscape, there are plenty of ways to tailor your trip, especially if you’re traveling with young kids or grandparents. When I visited Costa Rica with my family, the group included my 65-year-old mother, my sister and her three kids (ages 16, 11, and 8), my husband, and our two kids (ages 6 and 4). We stuck to a very typical one-week itinerary for our Costa Rica family trip, from visiting national parks to some outdoor activities at our accommodations. If you’re looking to plan a similar trip, I have some great tips that will make travel with kids in Costa Rica fun and easy. Keep reading to plan your one-week multi-generational family itinerary in Costa Rica! 

Getting To Costa Rica With Kids

Two kids sitting on a tree branch on a beach in Costa Rica.

For our one-week multi-generational family itinerary in Costa Rica, we booked flights into San Jose and stayed close to the airport, so that everyone would be able to have a good night’s sleep before traveling even more the next day. I recommend the Hampton Inn and Suites. While it’s certainly not high up there in terms of unique lodging or authentic vibe, the free shuttle from the airport was fast and easy. The rooms were comfortable and the breakfast was very good (and included in the room rate). 

The only issue: the outdoor pool was very cold. My family loves nothing more than a good pool, and even our group was only able to quickly jump in and out. We then had a private shuttle pick our group up at the Hampton Inn and traveled to the La Fortuna/Arenal area (about a 2 1⁄2-3 hour trip). We used Costa Rica Driver. I would have everyone in your group take Dramamine (or Bonine, the non-drowsy version). I am prone to getting carsick so I knew I would need it, but most of our group felt sick on the windy roads between San Jose and La Fortuna. Beautiful drive though! 

Days 1-3: Los Lagos Resort/Hotel

A couple overlooking the La Fortuna Waterfall in Costa Rica.
Photo Courtesy: Lisa Lossie

In the La Fortuna area, we stayed for 3 nights at Los Lagos Resort/Hotel. Los Lagos is located right at the base of Arenal Volcano, a few minutes outside La Fortuna. The grounds were beautiful, and the view of the volcano was spectacular. Because of the proximity to the volcano, there were natural hot springs on-site. The pool area was awesome — I believe there were 11 pools, all of varying temperatures. They were clean and well-maintained. The kids could have spent all day in them! 

If you stay at Los Lagos and you have small kids, you MUST try to get the Superior Rooms that are close to the reception/restaurant/pool/spa area. The rooms are huge and have 2 queen beds. No bathtub, but the shower was a walk-in, and very big — you can comfortably be in there helping multiple kids rinse off easily. We thought that the rooms were great, and it was very helpful to be in that location, rather than further away. I didn’t mind not having constant wifi access, but if you need to stay plugged in 24/7, don’t stay here. In all, we had a fabulous experience.

Things To Do As A Family In La Fortuna

A woman wearing orange crosses the Mistico Hanging Bridges Park, surrounded in lush foliage, in Costa Rica.
Photo Courtesy: Ian D. Keating

One of the biggest draws of the resort is that they have so many activities right on site. If you are traveling with a big group of varying ages and visiting Costa Rica with grandparents, it’s perfect, as some can go zip lining while others hang out at the pool, and so on. My mom, sister, and I splurged on a massage at the spa, which had a series of open-air private rooms that felt like you were in the middle of the rainforest. Beautiful! 

Some of us did the horseback riding excursion. The barn is very close to the central area of the property. The horses looked very healthy; they were beautiful. My only disclaimer is that the excursion takes you from the barn to the volcano observatory, and some sections of the trail are steep/hilly. Our 8 and 6-year-olds were nervous. My sister and I were too! If you are a novice rider with little experience, like us, just be warned that it can be a little scary. The ziplining excursion was great (and again, right on site). But be aware: if you have ziplined in other countries (as I have), the Costa Rican zip lines are made of carbon material and very fast! 

Because of my mom’s mobility issues and the ages of some of the kids, we did not venture to La Fortuna’s waterfall, but I did take a taxi to Mistico Hanging Bridges Park and got back to my “solo traveler” roots with a relaxing trip by myself around the park. Beautiful! (And I made a mental note to try to plan an excursion to a place where I can get some solo travel time in during future trips!)

On-Site Dining At Los Lagos Hotel

In terms of food, we had our awesome driver stop at a grocery store on our way to Los Lagos for snacks for the kids, to keep in the rooms. Not having a car, we were pretty tied to the hotel for food, but we found both the main restaurant and the pool bar/restaurant to be adequate for our needs. 

Breakfast was included in our room rates, and was good. Fresh fruit, eggs, gallo pinto (you will quickly learn what that is — yum!), toast, a very standard buffet spread. The restaurant was open-air and quite pretty. Dinner was expensive, but salads were good — and they offered options for picky kids (pasta, chicken, etc.). We ate lunch at the pool bar every day — cheaper and good for kids who don’t want to leave the water for long! We did venture into La Fortuna for dinner one night, but with the cost of the taxi ride, we did not save money by dining there. (Although I do recommend getting out and going into town at least once.) 

Day 4: Jungle Creek

A family wearing helmets and gear before going zip lining in Costa Rica
Photo Courtesy: Kate Jensen

On day four of our multi-generational family itinerary in Costa Rica, we were picked up by another great driver from Costa Rica Driver. We traveled from Los Lagos to Manuel Antonio, on the Pacific coast. The drive took about five hours, with a brief stop. Lots to look at out the window, though! We did a bigger grocery run in Quepos, close to our accommodations, to pick up food, as we had kitchens in our next place. 

We soon arrived at Jungle Creek, our home for four nights in the area. Paula, the owner, was absolutely fantastic. She really cares about the property and wants you to have a great stay. She lives on-site and was available to help with anything, from booking excursions to lending a cooler for the beach. In fact, she can help book excursions before you arrive.

Villas & Accommodations 

Jungle Creek Villas in Costa Rica, a great place for a multi-generational family itinerary.
Photo Courtesy: Jungle Creek Villas

Ideal for visiting Costa Rica with grandparents, there are four villas on the property. Alma Pacifica is the largest, with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and a washer/dryer. There are AC units in all rooms. The kitchen is fully stocked with anything you might need for cooking/meal prep. She also has a cute welcome basket with coffee, snacks, and fruit. The pool is very small but the kids loved it, and the deck area was spacious with lots of seating for dining and lounging. There is also a grill right outside. We saw howler monkeys, macaws, and all sorts of wildlife right from the deck! 

Because of our group size and multi-family travel, we also booked the villa right below Alma Pacifica called Dos Palmas. It is a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with a cute kitchen/living area. It was perfect for my family of four. The king bed in the master bedroom was super comfy. The second bedroom has a double bed and a Murphy bed. The only two issues with this villa to be aware of: there are AC units in the two bedrooms but not the kitchen/living area and bathroom. It got kind of musty/mildewy smelling at times in Dos Palmas, but we still really loved the space, and the smell would dissipate with the bedroom AC units and dehumidifier on. 

There were two other villas — a studio and another two bedroom, but we didn’t go in those. You do share the pool/deck area with all villas, so if you don’t want to share a space with others, this property is not for you.

Day 5: Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica.

Jungle Creek is located off the main road between Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park. There’s a local bus that runs in between each place, but the road is very busy with no sidewalks. We did it once but ended up taking taxis for the rest of the time because we were concerned about walking/crossing the busy streets with young kids. If you can access wifi, Uber is a good option. However, taxis were plentiful and easy to call, and even hail. There were a few minivan taxis that fit our whole group of nine. Also, most excursions will include pick up and drop off at your hotel. 

Because we did ziplining, horseback riding, and activities like that in the Arenal area, we focused on beach and national park time in Manuel Antonio. We had the BEST guide on our trip to Manuel Antonio National Park, Michael Araya (naturalist.michael@gmail.com.) He was AMAZING. 

Be aware that the park is very crowded and it can be very annoying to get around without a guide. All the reviews say this, and it’s true — you really can’t see wildlife without a guide and use of their awesome telescopes. Michael was so knowledgeable and super patient. He was great with the kids, and with my mom, who had some issues with the heat and walking. He knew just when to stop for breaks and hand out fruit and water — and made sure that all the kids saw the animals. I don’t think that I would have enjoyed myself at all in that park without Michael. I prefer to hike and explore uncrowded places when I want to experience nature, but with my particular group, this experience was the best option to fit our needs. 

Day 6: Playa Biesanz

A multi-generational family on a beach in Costa Rica.
Photo Courtesy: Kate Jensen

In terms of other excursions in the Manuel Antonio area, we wanted to have one chill beach day with nothing else planned. So, we picked Playa Biesanz. The easiest way to get there (unless you have your own car) is by taxi. Taxis also regularly drive by there at the end of the day, so it’s easy to return. You walk down a well-marked path, and will arrive at a beautiful cove. It’s really lovely. 

There are no waves, so it was nice for our younger ones (but if you like surfing, definitely go to another beach). Some guys rent out chairs and umbrellas there. Beware of ordering food from them: we made the mistake of ordering sandwiches. The kids didn’t eat them at all, and they charged us a lot for them! Bring a picnic instead! The chairs were a good deal though. Also, you can rent kayaks and paddle boards which we loved. The jungle came right up to the beach, and we saw a sloth and monkeys right overhead. So fun! In all, a great beach day.

Day 7: Quepos, Catamaran Excursion

A father and his toddler overlooking the Arenal Volcano on a hike in Costa Rica.
Photo Courtesy: Kate Jensen

Our last day was spent exploring Quepos in the morning and then going on a Catamaran excursion in the afternoon/early evening. Paula at Jungle Creek helped us book with Sunset Sails and we had a great experience. It was a smaller boat, fun, but not like a “party boat cruise” experience. I have had the good fortune to have snorkeled quite a bit, and the snorkeling was NOT good. As long as you are prepared for that, I would recommend it! The sunset was beautiful. 

Day 8: Goodbye Costa Rica

A view of the National Theater in San Jose, Costa Rica.

On the last morning of our multi-generational family itinerary in Costa Rica, our first driver from Costa Rica Drivers picked us up and we had an easy trip back to San Jose to overnight there near the airport and catch early flights. What a trip! All of us want to return to Costa Rica. It was such a great week!

Happy Travels!

A mother and a child on the beach in Costa Rica.

We hope you liked this One-Week Multi-Generational Family Itinerary In Costa Rica by our contributor Kate Jensen! From La Fortuna to Manuel Antonio National Park, there are so many ways to see this beautiful country as a family. Enjoy your multi-generational vacation to Costa Rica!

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

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