Tourist Attractions in Costa Rica’s Central Valley – San Jose Theaters and Museums

Our fifth blog in this series on tourist attractions near Hotel La Rosa de America will focus on the culture and museums of San Jose.

San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica though originally Cartago was the nation’s capital for many hundreds of years.  Repeated earthquakes and local volcanic activity resulted in the move of the captial from Cartago to San Jose in 1823 making it one of the youngest capitals in Latin America.

Today, San Jose is quite literally the center of Costa Rica both in geographic location and in the centralized seat of government.  Almost all roads east/west and indeed even the Interamerican Highway pass through the centre of this city.  Most theaters, museums, major shopping malls, medical tourism hospitals and higher education centers are found in San Jose or in the nearby towns of Pavas, Escazu, Santa Ana, Heredia or Alajuela.  San Jose is also a center for crazy traffic so we often recommend that guests take a half day or full day guided microbus tour bookable from the Hotel.  The choice is of course yours!


The Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica was completete in 1897 at a time when San Jose only numbered 19,000 inhabitants.  The primary source of funding came from taxing the export of coffee for which Costa Rica was rapidly becoming famous for.

The beautiful atrium at the National Theater in Costa Rica

The beautiful atrium at the National Theater in Costa Rica

The National Theater today is recognized as the finest historical building in San Jose and contains not only the principle performance hall, but also a beautiful, formal dance atrium and a very popular coffee shop.  To this day, the Theater maintains very high standards with respect to the quality and expectation of performers.  We can recommend stopping here for a hour and then enjoying either a coffee or lunch in their ornate coffee shop.

Address:   Av Central, Provincia de San José, Costa Rica   Hours:  Depends on performance times     Telephone:  5015-1000




This museum is located in downtown San Jose, underground in the Plaza de Cultura and is operated by the Banco Central de Costa Rica.  Displayed are over 1,600 gold artifacts dating back to 500 AD.  The museum contains the first minted coin of Costa Rica as well as a life size golden warrior figure aptly named in Spanish “El Guerrero”.

The Gold Museum of Costa Rica in San Jose

The Gold Museum of Costa Rica in San Jose

Located in the same building is the National Coin Museum. They have on display coins dating back to 1236 AD.  Though Costa Rica was never a location for the massive riches found in the Aztec, Mayan or Incan Empires, this museum does show that the local Native Tribes had a well established and flourishing lifestyle prior to the establishment of Costa Rica as a nation.

Address:  Calle 5, Provincia de San José, San José, Costa Rica    Hours:  9:15 am to 5:00 pm     Telephone:  2223-0528




This museum is unique in Central America not only because of its existence as a museum for children but also due to the location.  Originally the building now housing the museum was the prison for the Costa Rican military.

Children's Museum in San Jose Costa Rica

Children’s Museum in San Jose Costa Rica

The decision was made to restore the building and in a expression of the peaceful nature of the country, the symbolic nature of the converted location is evident.  Costa Rica emphasizes that the future is made by children, not wars.  The museum is part of the national science and culture ministry and is 39 rooms of interactive activities ranging from astronomy to simple fun activities for children…. and parents too!

Address:  San José Province, San José, Costa Rica    Hours:  8:00 am to 4:30 pm weekdays / 9:30 am to 5:00 pm weekends     Telephone:  2258-4929




Hotel La Rosa de America is a great “home base” to use for visiting these attractions in San Jose.  We can help you organize your trip, make recommendations and even help book your tours for you.