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13 Exciting Things to Do In La Fortuna with Kids

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La Fortuna is the adventure capitol of Costa Rica, and is one of the perfect places to visit with kids. It’s packed full of incredible things to do, and being based at the bottom of the Arenal Volcano, the excitement never goes away.

Best Age To Visit La Fortuna Costa Rica With Kids

We’ve visited Costa Rica several times with our kids, but in our most recent visit, we focused our time in La Fortuna since all of our kids were old enough to really enjoy the adventure aspect of the area. Our kids are ages 6-16, which is an incredible age to visit La Fortuna with kids. Most of the more adventurous activities in the area have a minimum age of 5-6 years old, so if you’re visiting with younger kids, you’ll be limited in what you can do.

la fortuna costa rica with kids

Also Read: Best Adventures Near La Fortuna

Best Places To Stay With Kids in La Fortuna

There is no shortage of amazing place to stay in La Fortuna, but finding one that’s good for kids can be a bit more of a challenge. Here are some of the best options for family friendly accommodation in La Fortuna.

Best Family Hotels in La Fortuna

Best Family Vacation Rentals in La Fortuna

How Long To Stay in La Fortuna with Kids

If you’re planning a family trip to La Fortuna, you want to make sure that you have enough time to really enjoy the area and not be rushed. The minimum amount of time you should spend in La Fortuna is 3 days. The idea amount of time is 4-5 days so you can have some down time, as well as pack in some great adventures.

Check out our list of the best things to do in Costa Rica!

A Warning About Visiting La Fortuna With Kids

I remember it so clearly. We were in the restroom at the Mistico Hanging Bridges and a girl who was probably about 7-years-old was standing in the corner with her arms crossed and yelling at her mom. “I don’t want to go on another stupid tour with you. All we do is do tours, tours, tours, all day long. There’s a perfectly good hotel at our pool, and we haven’t even had time to swim in at even once.”

la fortuna costa rica with kids

In destinations like Arenal, there is SO MUCH TO DO, that it can be tempting to try and do ALL THE THINGS! Don’t make the mistake that this mom did – plan for some intentional downtime. Maybe it’s a swim at the hotel pool, or board games in the lobby. Some kids will love going to the park or just running around playing soccer with the local kids. For most kids, one tour a day is all their attention can handle, and for every 2 days that have lots of activity, plan a down day.

Best Things To Do in La Fortuna Costa Rica With Kids

la fortuna costa rica with kids

Mistico Hanging Bridges

Adults: $26
Children (ages 11-18): $16
Children (10 and under): Free
Seniors (ages 65+): $21

The Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges are a must-see attraction when you’re in La Fortuna with Kids. We took our kids and every kid said this was one of their favorite things that we’ve done in the past 4 months of traveling. You’ll walk about 3km through the jungle, and you’ll get an up-close view of several different layers of the rain forest around you. The highlight is of course, the hanging suspension bridges. There are a total of 16 bridges, but only 6 of those are hanging suspension bridges. The longest hanging bridge at Arenal is 97 meters long and 73 meters high.

la fortuna costa rica with kids

As someone who is scared of heights, I was a bit nervous about the whole situation, but the bridges felt surprisingly stable, so I was pretty comfortable with the entire experience. As you make your way through them, you’ll get incredible views of the Arenal Volcano, as well as some amazing wildlife spotting opportunities.

la fortuna costa rica with kids

We debated on going with a tour but are glad that we didn’t since they moved at an incredibly slow pace. We also learned so much just from overhearing all of the different tour groups (there are A LOT). We made the mistake of going at 9am, not knowing that’s when many of the guided tours begin. After talking to locals, the best time to visit Mistico hanging Bridges is at 6am or after 3pm.

Note: Closed toed shoes are required. We recommend taking a pair of hiking shoes or closed toed outdoor sandals.

la fortuna costa rica with kids
la fortuna costa rica with kids

Visit the La Fortuna Hot Springs with Kids

Cost: Free
Parking $10

Aside from volcanos, the main thing that La Fortuna is known for are hot springs. You’ll see hot springs resorts all along the road, ranging from very basic, to 5 star luxury. Most of the hot spring resorts have beautiful gardens, and you’ll pay an entrance fee of $30-$100 per day to soak in their pools.

la fortuna costa rica with kids

While I knew that the kids would enjoy a quick soak and splashing around, it was hard to justify the high price tag of a trip to La Fortuna hot springs with kids.

Instead, we decided to try out the free hot springs at La Fortuna and to go to a paid resort if we wanted more. As it turns out, the kids had more fun at the free hot springs than they ever would have had at any resort.

la fortuna costa rica with kids

The Free Hot Spring is located right in the river, just below Tabacon Hot Springs Resort, which is one of the more upscale hot spring resorts in the area (costing close to $80/day just for the hot springs). The hot springs are really the entire river, with several pools that have been dammed up to make the water deeper in areas.

It couldn’t be more perfect for active kids. Our kids jumped of little cascades into pools, built their own pools by damming the river, played in the small rapids and had an absolute blast. At a paid hot spring, they mostly could have just soaked and swam, which wouldn’t have been nearly as fun for them. This is a must do stop on La Fortuna.

la fortuna free hot springs with kids

To get to the free hot springs in Arenal, head west out of town toward the Tabacon Hot Spring. About 1/4 mile beyond, there are several guying in vests who will flag you over to a safe parking area. You’ll need to pay about $10 to park here, but they attendants will watch your car so no one breaks in.

From there, you’ll enter the Hot Springs on the southwest side of the bridge, where there’s a short little trail down to the river.

Also Read: San Jose Costa Rica With Kids

El Salto Free Rope Swing and Waterfall

Cost: Free

After a long day of adventure, we almost skipped El Salto rope swing and waterfall. Everyone is beyond thankful that we didn’t!

El Salto is one of the few free things to do in La Fortuna with kids. It’s located just south of town and is where the locals go to cool down on a hot day (that’s always a GREAT SIGN). There is parking on both sides of the bridge (parking attendants will help you), and you walk down to the river on either side of the north end of the bridge.

la fortuna costa rica with kids

Once you get down, you’ll see several large flat rocks where you can hang out and enjoy the views of the waterfall, and the pool below.

There is a rope swing there which is the highlight of visiting here where you can swing into the water over the pool. It was a blast! Most of the kids did the rope swing (over, and over again), and our youngest opted to just jump in at the cliffs edge (about 2.5m). According to the parking guys, the pool gets 8m deep, but based on my jump, I think it’s closer to about 5m deep.

la fortuna costa rica with kids

Ziplining

Ziplining is a popular activity for families visiting La Fortuna, Costa Rica and one of the main reasons to wait to visit until your kids are a little bit older. There are several companies in the area that offer zipline tours, and many of them cater to families with children.

la fortuna costa rica with kids

Children must meet certain age and weight requirements to go ziplining, so it’s important to check with the tour company before booking. Generally, children need to be at least 5 years old and weigh at least 30-40 pounds to participate in zipline tours.

We love that even with young kids, they can zipline through the canopy in La Fortuna, and have just as much fun as teens and adults.

la fortuna costa rica with kids

For younger kids who don’t weigh as much, there are many times that they’ll need to go tandem (they simply don’t weigh enough to make it to the end of the line), but that’s often part of the fun!

Here is a great introductory Lat Fortuna Kids Zipline for kids 6 and older. If you want a true adrenaline experience, this adventure zipline tour will take you over 11 waterfalls and on 25 different lines. Kids have to be at least 7 for this trip, but it’s amazing!

Visit a waterfall

On of the best things to do in Costa Rica with kids is to explore a waterfall. The only downside is that unlike other countries, you’ll have to pay to see almost every waterfall in Costa Rica (except El Salto Mentioned above, but it’s so mall in comparison to the others). Here are the best waterfalls near La Fortuna.

Blue Falls of Costa Rica

Kids 2-12: $7.50
Adults: $15

This is our most recommended waterfall group to visit if you’re headed to La Fortuna. It’s about 1 hour and 20 minutes from La Fortuna, but is right on the road to San Jose, so if you’re flying in or out of there, stop by here on the way.

la fortuna costa rica with kids

The Blue Falls of Costa Ricas are the least crowded waterfalls near La Fortuna and the color is a stunning blue color. It’s amazing. The color was such a bright blue that a few of our kids thought it was fake (the color is made by the minerals in the water reflecting off the sunlight). Here you can see 5 different waterfalls and swim in the pools as well. The water is cold, but it’s so incredible that you can’t resist jumping right in.

la fortuna costa rica with kids

La Fortuna Waterfall

Ages 9+: $18
8 and Under: Free

The La Fortuna Waterfall is one of the most popular natural attractions in the Arenal Volcano area of Costa Rica. The waterfall is located in a lush rainforest and drops 70 meters (230 feet) into a crystal-clear pool below. Visitors can access the waterfall via a steep but well-maintained staircase that takes approximately 20-30 minutes to descend.

Once at the bottom, visitors can swim in the refreshing pool or relax on the surrounding rocks and take in the breathtaking views. The area around the waterfall is also home to a variety of plant and animal life, including toucans, monkeys, and colorful butterflies.

Canyoneering in La Fortuna with Kids

Cost: $60-$90/person

Canyoneering in La Fortuna is one of the most popular activities, and for good reason. You’ll hike up into the canyons, swim through crystal clear pools, rappel down 45m waterfalls, jump off cliffs and slide down natural waterslides. It’s an absolute blast! This Canyoneering tour in La Fortuna lets kids as young as age 5 go.

There are several different options for canyoneering in La Fortuna, depending on your comfort level and how long you want to spend out on the adventure.

Since we’d done so much canyoneering in our home of Utah, we were SO EXCITED to go on a canyoneering trip in La Fortuna through the jungle.

This is one activity that I’m so sad we missed, but we ran into some weather problems and had to cancel our La Fortuna Canyoneering trip with kids.

Hang out in La Fortuna with Kids

While there are more things to do in La Fortuna than you could possibly do in a month, make sure to plan in some downtime. Our kids loved hanging out at the main square in the middle of La Fortuna.

la fortuna costa rica with kids

At the end of the day, families gather here and let kids play and you’ll find some street vendors selling souvenirs and a few different kinds of street food. It’s a nice central location that’s close to most of the restaurants in town so it’s a great place to let the kids run and play for a while.

See a Sloth

Guided Tour: $35 for Adults and $25 for Kids
Self Guided Walk: $15 per person

My kids love the idea of seeing sloths, but as it turns out, they can be close to impossible to spot. After trying several times out in nature, and striking out over and over again, we decided to go on a guided Nature walk at the Bogarin Trail.

The whole trail is only 1.5 miles long, but with a guide, you can see so much! This is one of the best deals for a sloth hike in La Fortuna and the guides were super helpful with the kids. Our kids saw several sloths, exotic birds, incredible insects and even some poison dart frogs.

la fortuna costa rica with kids

Note: The prices on their site are in Colones, but in person, the price they gave us in dollars was considerably cheaper (and they take credit cards).

Go Horseback Riding

When you’re in La Fortuna, getting out and hitting the trail is one of the best things you can do to really appreciate nature around you. While hiking is normally our go-to, it’s nearly impossible to fins a free place to hike in La Fortuna. So, if you’re paying to hit the trail, you might as well put the experience over the top and go by horseback! This horseback riding tour is a great option as it goes along the beautifully blue Rio Celeste. We also love this option since it’s good for all ages (even toddlers in La Fortuna can do this one).

Go For A Night Hike

If you want to see some things that are truly unique, go for a night hike in La Fortuna. We love going on night hikes in Costa Rica since is one of the best times to see wildlife, reptile and other small animals. This guided night hike will give you such an amazing opportunity to really focus on seeing rare frogs and reptiles around La Fortuna.

You may not see as much large wildlife as during the day, but you will still get to experience an incredible side of nature that not many people get to enjoy. Plus, the views at night are just stunning.

Go on a La Fortuna Chocolate Tour With Kids

What kid doesn’t love chocolate, right?!? Teach your family all about where chocolate comes from and how it’s made. This La Fortuna Chocolate tour is the perfect length at just 2 hours and is a great mix of entertainment and education. Of course, you’ll get to do some chocolate sampling along the way.

Do I Need a Car in La Fortuna Costa Rica?

While there are a lot of people that say you don’t need a car in La Fortuna, if you’re going with kids, you’ll absolutely want a car. Having the flexibiilty to set things up around when works best for your kids, instead of just what works for a shuttle driver is priceless. It also allows you lots of flexibility to stay longer exploring something that you really love or to move onto something new if your kids need a change. Having a car in La Fortuna with kids is priceless.

About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

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