A stop in Santa Cruz, a sabanero (cowboy) town typical of inland Nicoya, provides some local flavor missing from foreign-dominated beach towns. Unfortunately, there aren’t any attention-worthy sights, so most travelers’ experience of Santa Cruz consists of changing buses. However, the town is an important regional administrative center, and a good base for visiting Guaitil. At certain times of the year you can also witness the Guanacaste bull-riding tradition in the city's bullring. In Costa Rica, the bull is never killed, but brave (or foolhardy!) citizens take their chances dodging them.
In 1993, about three central city blocks burned to the ground in a devastating fire. An important landmark is the vacant-lot-looking field known as Plaza de Los Mangos, which was once a large grassy square with three mango trees. Soon after the fire, the attractive and shady Parque Bernabela Ramos opened 400m south of Plaza de Los Mangos.