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O grant me, Heaven, a middle state Neither too humble nor too great More than enough, for nature’s ends With something left to treat my friends. ~ Imitation of Horace, David Mallet, 1705-1765

What makes the Central Valley, or Meseta Central, surrounding San José so fascinating are the many smaller communities where you can absorb a real slice of Costa Rican life. We often base ourselves in the capital and take day-trips to explore and enjoy the attractions in nearby cities. If you have the time and self-discipline to relax and wander on a vacation (rather than jam everything in at once), towns like Cartago, Heredia, Zarcero and Orosí are like treasure chests to open. You’ll find gems of shops, bars, restaurants, art galleries, flower and vegetable markets, little churches and community affairs. The next time you come to Costa Rica you may find you want to stay in one of these instead of San José. We look at locales southeast of San José first, then northwest.

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