Zoo Ave

Zoo in La Garita

Image by Brian Pieters Getty Images

About 10km west of Alajuela is this well-designed animal park with more than 115 types of bird on colorful, squawking display. The tranquil 14-hectare setting is also home to all four species of Costa Rican monkey, reptiles, wild cats and other species, many of which have been rescued and rehabilitated. Though technically a zoo, it is also an important animal-breeding center that aims to reintroduce native animals into the wild; admission fees fund wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, release and conservation programs.

The park's restaurant, Cafe David, serves buffet food ($US11), à la carte dishes like grilled sea bass and penne bolognese, or salads and sandwiches.