photo of La Fortuna

A volcano in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. (ThinkStock)

What to do in La Fortuna

The evening entertainment at Arenal Observatory Lodge comes free of charge. Simply grab a seat on the spacious deck and prepare to be amazed by Mother Nature's mesmerizing light show. Looming over the lodge at 5,271 feet, the perfectly cone-shaped volcano, Arenal, remains one of the most active volcanoes in the Western Hemisphere. As darkness descends, you're in for a treat. The hammering of eruptions echoes in the distance and soon a river of red flows down from the crater, followed by large puffs of smoke that fill the air above the smoldering lava.

Watching Arenal Volcano National Park at night will be one of the highlights of your trip to Costa Rica, but don't discount daytime activities in this part of the country. Mountain bike outfitters, including Bike Arenal, will guide you down dirt roads to small villages nestled along lonely rivers, with Arenal standing tall in the distance. Hikes meander deep into the jungle-like interior, where you'll spot toucans and other exotic birds. Activities also include horseback riding through the rainforest, tubing down a river surrounded by wildlife; and, no matter where you are in Costa Rica, a zipline tour is always nearby.

After a day of being active, soak your weary body at the Tabacon Hot Springs. Once the site of a small village wiped out by lava flow in 1968, Tabacon now features a series of pools fed by natural springs. Kids especially enjoy the largest pool, with waterslide and swim-up bar (non-alcoholic drinks are available, of course). The spa offers massages and mud masks—the couples massage is especially exquisite, if you can escape from the kids for a bit. If you want to save money, head across the street to the more affordable and simpler series of pools at Las Fuentes Termales.

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