We have several articles on this site about traveling to Costa Rica with kids. In this post, we’re going to get super specific and focus on traveling with young kids to La Fortuna (babies, toddlers, and preschoolers). As parents, we know it can be hard to figure out which activities will be best for your family. And what’s good with 0-5 year olds can be a lot different than with older children. In this post, we’ll share some awesome things to do with young kids in La Fortuna/Arenal. We pull from our own experience, traveling with our two young boys.
Best Things to Do in La Fortuna with Young Kids
Here are our top picks for things to do in La Fortuna/Arenal with young kids.
Hikes and Nature Walks
The Arenal/La Fortuna area is brimming with thick jungle. But you don’t have to go far to experience the area’s amazing nature and wildlife.
La Fortuna has a few different places to hike with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Ecocentro Danaus is a great option. This is a small reserve right outside the downtown. It has one main loop that is only about a half-mile long and flat. This makes it perfect with little kids.
We have visited with our two-year old, and he walked almost the whole trail by himself!
The pebbled trail takes you through lush rainforest, with lots of nice shade so it doesn’t get too hot.
From the well-maintained path, you can see some of the area’s wildlife, like sloths, frogs, lizards, and birds.
There are also some stops along the way that are fun with kids. A butterfly enclosure will let them frolic among blue morphos and other beauties. At a frog pond, you can search for blue jean poison dart frogs or red-eyed tree frogs. And if you need a rest, you can take a break at the big green lagoon, while searching for caiman (small crocodiles).
Ecocentro Danaus can be done with a sturdy stroller with larger wheels.
Here is a link to our post, Ecocentro Danaus: Easy Wildlife Viewing Near La Fortuna, for more information.
For a longer hike but still doable with little kids, there’s the Bogarin Trail. This reserve is also right near downtown La Fortuna.
The Bogarin Trail is known for its many sloths that live on the property. You also can see a lot of birds. Even our kids were excited at some of the species we spotted on our last visit. We saw a group of Gray-headed Chachalacas (a large pheasant-like bird) flying awkwardly across the trail, Laughing Falcons (which our five-year old declared was a hawk), and even a Black and White Owl sleeping in a tree.
The trail is 2.5 km (1.5 miles) long. It is dirt, but hard packed and very easy to walk on. It would be fine with a stroller.
The Bogarin Trail has a pond near the entrance/office with a lot of tropical plants. These plants attract birds and other wildlife. Our kids loved spotting a huge crab in the little stream.
For more information about the Bogarin Trail, check out our post, Sloths, Birds, and More: The Bogarin Trail in La Fortuna.
Arenal Volcano National Park
If you want to see the volcano close-up, one of the best options with young kids is Arenal Volcano National Park.
Arenal Volcano National Park has two sectors. The main trail gets you a nice volcano view. The trail is mostly flat, but 2.5 miles (4 km), so you’d probably want a baby carrier for little kids.
For an easier hike, there’s the Peninsula sector of the national park. This newer sector has a nice, paved trail. It goes through dense jungle and leads to an awesome view of Lake Arenal and Arenal Volcano. About mid-way through the walk, there’s a viewing platform that you can climb up.
For more information on visiting, check out our post, Hiking in Arenal Volcano National Park.
Hiring a Guide
For nature hikes, it’s a good idea to hire a guide so that you see the most wildlife. Sloths, monkeys, and other animals are often hiding high up in the trees. And it can be hard to spot things like frogs unless you know what you’re looking for. Some places, like Ecocentro Danuas, will have a guide for only your family. This is nice because they can cater the tour to you and your kids.
Chocolate/Coffee Tours for Young Kids
A fun tour with young kids is a chocolate or coffee tour.
These are usually really interactive, with a lot of moving around to keep the kids busy.
La Fortuna has several coffee and chocolate tours.
One good one with kids is Rainforest Chocolate, which focuses solely on chocolate. The guides here are really fun and get the kids and adults involved in the whole process. There are even some funny jokes mixed in to lighten it up. There’s not too much walking around on this one too, making it great for little kids.
Another option our family has enjoyed is North Fields Café. They take you through their coffee fields and do both coffee and chocolate-making demonstrations. We were so surprised, but our boys enjoyed not only the chocolate part, but also the coffee segment. They loved picking the red coffee cherries from the plants and plucking out the white bean inside.
For more information about the North Fields tour, read our separate post.
La Fortuna Waterfall
Little kids usually love water, and what better way to play than at a waterfall in the jungle!
La Fortuna Waterfall is a five-minute drive from the center of town. It’s very easy to access. There’s a nice visitor’s center where you buy your tickets, and they even have a restaurant.
From the visitor’s center, you have to walk down about 500 steps. But they are well maintained, concrete. You’ll also find benches to rest.
Once at the bottom, you can enjoy the gorgeous waterfall. The powerful cascade plunges 230 feet (70 meters) into a turquoise pool. All surrounding you is thick tropical greenery, made lush by the constant spray of mist.
Although the water in the main pool is often too strong for swimming, there’s a tranquil river just next to it.
Bring water shoes for the kids to help with the rocks. A baby carrier is handy for getting the little ones back up the stairs after.
Hanging Bridges for Young Kids
Hanging bridges provide built-in fun. These long suspension bridges wobble a little as you walk, bringing out the Indiana Jones in everyone. Although they sound scary, there is a great, safe option in La Fortuna.
Mistico Hanging Bridges has 16 bridges (suspension and regular fixed bridges) that take you through the rainforest canopy. Connecting the bridges is a sturdy concrete path. This makes it a fairly easy walk for little kids. Our five-year old has done this 2-mile (3.2 km) hike without a problem. Younger kids will probably need to be in a baby carrier most of the time, or you could bring a stroller. Mistico even has strollers available for rental.
The bridges themselves are completely closed in and secure, but we still held our two-year old while crossing.
To learn more, check out our post, Mistico Hanging Bridges: A Treetop Rainforest Experience.
Boat Tours to See Wildlife
A boat tour can be a fun and easy way to see wildlife. It’s a great activity for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers alike.
Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge
One option in the area is a pontoon boat ride at Cano Negro. This is a wetland system north of La Fortuna, near the Nicaragua border. It has tons of wildlife, including monkeys, crocodiles, and many types of birds.
This tour has no minimum age. The boat is sturdy and covered, and the ride is smooth along calm water.
Cano Negro is about one hour from La Fortuna.
Penas Blancas River
For something closer, there’s a safari float on the Penas Blancas River. At only about a half hour from the downtown, it cuts the drive time way down.
The Penas Blancas River has mellow water that is perfect for taking in the view and spotting wildlife. We’ve done this tour with our five-year old, and he loved it. We saw monkeys (white-faced and howlers), sloths, birds, small crocodiles, bats, and Jesus Christ Lizards.
After the rafting, there’s a fun interactive part of the tour. You stop at a house next to the riverbank and do a sugar cane demonstration. This is fun for kids because they can have a chance to grind the sugar cane rod into a sweet juice.
The tour is in an inflatable raft. The guide does most of the paddling. This activity is better for kids ages three and up.
For more information on the experience, read our post, A Safari River Float in La Fortuna/Arenal.
La Fortuna/Arenal is a wonderful place to bring young kids. It will leave them full of wonder about the cool animals and crazy bugs they saw in the jungle. Even if they don’t realize it, they’ll have a new appreciation for nature.
We hope this list of things to do with young kids in La Fortuna has helped narrow your family’s plans.
Have a question about visiting La Fortuna with your young kids or have something to recommend? Let us know below.
Looking for more information to plan your family’s visit to Costa Rica? Check out these posts:
La Fortuna Hotel Guide: Our picks for where to stay for volcano views, pools, and hot springs.
Vacation Rentals in Costa Rica: Safety Tips and What to Look for – Airbnbs are often a great option for families. This article has tips on what amenities are usually included, staying safe, and precautions to take.
Traveling with a Baby in Costa Rica: Our tips after traveling around with two kids. Covers availability of tubs, cribs, and highchairs, and how easy it is to find things.
Family Itinerary for Costa Rica: Rainforest, Beach, and Volcano – Wondering what beach to hit up after La Fortuna? This itinerary has some recommendations.