Located in the center of town under the shade of palm trees, the pretty central park is a nice spot for taking a rest, reading the paper, or just people watching. The park is a gathering spot for locals and is bordered by several restaurants, shops, a bank, the court house and the Catholic church.
Built in 1908, this beautiful church is very well-preserved and remains a focal point for many of the town’s practicing Roman Catholics.
Just one block from the park, the town market is a hub of activity. Local buses depart for smaller towns and several sodas (small restaurants serving traditional food) sell delicious lunches for around $2-$3. Shop for fresh produce or pick up your favorite cut of meat from one of three butchers. There is also a health food shop, shoe store and a jewelry vendor. A statue of Saint Rafael, the Patron Saint of Atenas, stands in the courtyard of the market.
Boyero Monument (National Oxcart Driver)
Located in Los Angeles de Atenas, on the old oxcart road (known locally as La Presa) that once led to Puntarenas, this statue is a tribute to the tradition and hard work of the oxcart drivers.
Central America School of Farming (ECAG)
In Balsa de Atenas, seven miles from the center of town, this agro-ecotourism and animal husbandry school is one of few specialized institutions of its kind in Latin America. ECAG offers courses (in Spanish) in forestry, wildlife, food technology and animal husbandry. Situated on 1300 acres of primary forest, the school provides tours of its crocodile and tilapia farms and livestock paddocks. Visitors to ECAG can also buy fresh dairy and beef products. ECAG hosts an annual Agro-Festival in November that includes tractor tours, dances, horse rides, rodeos, bullfights, tipico food and agricultural displays.
Half-day tours can be arranged that include cheese tasting and lunch for groups of 10 or more; contact ECAG in advance to arrange tours for smaller groups. Note that if booking tours directly through ECAG, visitors are encouraged to reserve one month in advance, although exceptions are made. Tel: 2455-1000
Zoo Ave is a wildlife rescue and breeding center that houses 250 animal species native to Costa Rica and other parts of the world. Its 50 acres of lush grounds offer a spectacular bird collection including macaws, toucans, peacocks, ostriches, and resplendent quetzals. Zoo Ave’s mission is to breed endemic animal species for reintroduction into the wild. To get to Zoo Ave by bus, take either the Alajuela or La Garita bus from Atenas.
Open: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Admission: $15 adults, $4 children
Botanical Orchid Garden
Learn about orchid cultivation and observe hundreds of orchid species. Trails meander through extensive gardens where a permanent orchid flower exhibition is always on display. Facilities include a coffee shop and souvenir store. Located in La Garita.
Open: Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Admission: $12 adults, $6 children ages 5-12.