THE GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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By the time you get this far west in the Central Valley, you’re likely headed for Costa Rica’s famed Central Pacific beaches, but the countryside holds some splendid scenery, from the steep coffee farms around Atenas to the tropical forests of the lowlands. Known for its excellent climate—National Geographic once dubbed it the world's best—Atenas ("Athens" in Spanish) is a pleasant,
friendly town surrounded by a hilly countryside of coffee and cane fields, cattle ranches, and patches of forest. The small city is off the tourist circuit, which means that here, unlike other highly popular destinations, you'll walk alongside more locals than foreigners and get a more authentic idea of the country. Gazing at the tree-covered peaks and exploring the coffee farms are the main activities in this traditional town. Atenas's center has a concrete church, some well-kept wooden and adobe houses, and a park dominated by royal palms.
Because of its proximity to the international airport (5–10 minutes away) many travelers spend their first or last night in or near Alajuela...
In the wilderness of Carara National Park and surroundings, you might encounter white-faced capuchin monkeys in the trees or crocodiles lounging...