Set in the mountains west of San Jose is the charming town of San Ramon. Many tourists drive right through this small city on their way to and from the famous destination of La Fortuna (Arenal). In this post, we’ll share why San Ramon is a great place to stop for a visit and absorb some of Costa Rica’s warm, friendly culture.
Location and Landscape
San Ramon is located on the northwestern side of Costa Rica’s Central Valley. Costa Rica’s largest airport, SJO International, is less than one hour away.
While in a rural mountain setting, San Ramon has a concentrated downtown with a small grid of city streets. Like most authentic Costa Rican towns, there is a large church and public park in the center.
Outside San Ramon, the hills are filled with forests and farm fields. Because of its location along Costa Rica’s Pacific slope, you can see all the way to the Gulf of Nicoya from some spots around town.
San Ramon enjoys moderate temperatures because of its higher altitude. The town sits at about 1,050 meters (3,460 feet) above sea level.
Temperatures are generally warm during the day and cooler at night. Daytime temperatures can be in the mid-70s to low-80s °F (23-28 °C), cooling down into the mid-60s °F at night (18 °C).
As with much of Costa Rica, there is a dry season between December and late April. During these months, Sam Ramon receives significantly less rain, and during some months, almost none. May through August has more moderate and occasional rain. And September through November can be quite rainy but it may not rain every day.
San Ramon’s Central Park
At the heart of San Ramon is its central park. This important green space has a large, modern playground, park benches, gazebo, mature shade trees, and colorful flower gardens.
Here, you will find neighbors catching up with one another, children playing, and teenagers hanging out. We spent several hours here with our kids and found the locals to be really nice and welcoming.
San Ramon Nonato Church
Adjacent to the central park is the historic Nonato Church. This is home to the San Ramon Nonato Parish (Parroquia San Ramón Nonato).
The beautiful church opened in 1954. This was a momentous occasion, as townspeople worked voluntarily for more than 20 years to replace the previous church, which had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1924.
The new structure has a metal frame, twin bell towers, and an altar that was imported from Italy.
Museo de San Ramon
Also near the park is the San Ramon Museum (Museo de San Ramon). This small museum includes historical displays about the settlement of San Ramon and its history.
There are also exhibits about the local flora and fauna. Some include fossils and replicas of extinct animals like giant ground sloths or ancient sea creatures from the time of the dinosaurs.
The museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday (closed Sunday & Monday). Admission is free. They also organize periodic events for children and adults in the community.
Adrian’s Coffee Tour
Coffee is an important crop in Costa Rica and coffee farming has been going on for generations in San Ramon. At Adrian’s Coffee Tour, you can learn how coffee is grown on a small scale, harvested, dried, roasted, and get to taste some delicious samples.
To learn more about our experience visiting this authentic coffee farm and to plan your own visit, read our post, Adrian’s Coffee Tour Near San Ramon.
Madre Verde Nature Reserve
For a leisurely hike or picnic, there is Madre Verde Nature Reserve in the neighboring town of Palmares. This conservation area has easy to moderate hiking trails that loop up and down a large hill. There are several viewpoints, a pollinator garden, and plenty of forest to explore.
Read about how to visit and what wildlife we encountered with our post, Madre Verde Nature Reserve in Palmares.
Cloud Forest Hikes
In the mountains north of San Ramon, the landscape quickly turns into cloud forest. With misty winds converging along the Continental Divide, the habitat changes to trees covered with moss, giant ferns, and many interesting species hidden within it all.
A couple of cloud forest hikes near San Ramon worth mentioning are El Silencio de Los Angeles Cloud Forest Reserve, located on the Hotel Villa Blanca property and Nectandra Cloud Forest Garden. Both offer walks with naturalist guides where you can learn more about this unique ecosystem.
If you’d like to visit these reserves, it is best to contact the properties in advance to check availability and current road conditions. Some of the local side roads can be rough.
Just 30 minutes east of San Ramon is the town of Sarchi.
Sarchi has been made famous for its many woodworkers. In the past, these tradespeople built oxcarts to transport coffee and other goods from farms to ports along each coast. Each oxcart was painted with bright geometric patterns. Today, Sarchi is a popular place to buy handmade furniture.
A visit to Sarchi can be fun and cultural. There are a couple of old oxcart museums/demonstrations and a beautifully painted giant oxcart in the center of town. Read our post, the Painted Oxcarts of Sarchi, for more information.
San Ramon Restaurants
When in San Ramon, a stop at Green Garden is a must. Chef and owner Chris is a local who spent many years in New York City learning recipes and techniques from an Italian chef. He returned to his hometown and has brought those flavors with him.
Green Garden has a large menu of pizzas, calzones, handmade pastas, paninis, burgers, quesadillas, and salads. There is a kids and vegetarian section of the menu as well.
Beer Garden at Manada Coyote Brewery
This local brewery outside town serves up fresh artisanal beer and tasty BBQ. The Beer Garden offers bocas like grilled shrimp kabobs, a veggie platter, sausages, tacos, and nachos. They also have specialty burgers and smoked meats like brisket and ribs.
The brewery and restaurant is high on our list but was closed for a holiday on our last visit. We are already planning a way to stop here during future travels.
Octubre 29 Gastrobar
Located right in the downtown, Octubre 29 Gastrobar offers fresh pastas, focaccias, and pizzas. There is also a special’s menu with more refined dishes.
While the food is good, what makes a visit to Octubre 29 special is the eclectic décor. They have a mix of antique furniture, funky lights, colorful art work, and playful decorations. The restaurant is named for the date that Costa Rica learned about its independence from Spain.
Accommodations in San Ramon
Because San Ramon is a local town without a lot of tourism, there are not that many hotels. Below are a few options. Some vacation rental websites like Airbnb have listings as well.
Hostel Bouganvilia Bed & Breakfast
The helpful owners of this affordable dormitory-style bed and breakfast are what make the experience. Located just five minutes from the center of town, Hostel Bouganvilia has simple rooms with either bunk beds or two twin beds. A typical breakfast is included. Around $50/night. Check Rates and Availability Here.
Batsu EcoLodge & Coffee Farm
This farm stay in the mountains outside San Ramon offers rustic wood cabins in a beautiful setting. The onsite restaurant serves traditional Costa Rican-style meals. The hosts make for an extremely authentic experience. $100-$150/night. Check Rates and Availability Here.
Villa Blanca Hotel & Nature Reserve
Set in the cloud forest north of San Ramon, Villa Blanca is one of the only upscale options in the area. Each cabin is nicely decorated with local wood furniture and a fireplace. The views from the terraces and porches are outstanding. Onsite restaurant and spa are very nice. $180-500+/night. Check Rates and Availability Here.
San Ramon may not be a normal tourist destination; however, for an authentic experience it is well worth a visit. With its busy central park, many shops, good restaurants, and proximity to San Jose, it has also attracted a fair amount of expats. Next time you drive through San Ramon, we hope you’ll take the time to stop and get that much closer to the culture.
Have a question about visiting San Ramon or want to share your experience? Leave a comment below.
Looking for more authentic Costa Rican towns? Check out these posts:
San Isidro de El General – Located in the southern central part of the country, this small city is the hub for dozens of smaller towns around it.
Atenas: A Glimpse of Authentic Costa Rica – Not far from San Ramon, this popular expat town is thought to have one of the best climates in the world.
Orosi: A Valley of Green – Located southwest of San Jose, this small valley has a lot of history, including one of the oldest churches in Costa Rica.