Central America is a place full of cool and interesting outdoor adventures that will surely take your family out of the comfort zone. The place is filled with so much beauty, color, and history that you won’t get anywhere else, making it a great travel destination for everyone around the world. If you’re planning to explore this area, you might want to check out this list of the best places to travel in Central America and kickstart your trip with an awesome itinerary.
10 Best Places to Travel in Central America
1. Arenal, Costa Rica
For those families who are always in for epic adventures, don’t miss out on going to Costa Rica and visiting their best-known volcano, the Arenal Volcano. The volcano towers 5,436 feet above sea level, packed with stunning views and different exciting activities for you and your kids!
Not afraid to get muddy and explore the lush tropical fields? You can go on an ATV tour and experience the beauty of nature. You can also go to the Arenal Volcano National Park or check out the place’s rivers and see their rich and diverse, beautiful wildlife. The place offers various adventures for adrenaline lovers including zip lines, hanging bridges, horseback riding, kayaking, rafting, and many more! You’ll never run out of things to do in this magical place!
They even have canopy tours that are great for those who’d like to enjoy the stunning view. You can also check out their soothing thermal springs and allow your weary body to relax. Not to mention that there is a wide range of wonderful hotels and accommodations in La Fortuna, a nearby town and people’s go-to location around Arenal. It’s among the perfect kid-friendly places in Central America.
2. Antigua, Guatemala
Visit the Spanish colonial crown jewel of Guatemala, a town called Antigua, and take your family to a different world! The place is surrounded by mountains and three volcanoes, all of which are still active today. You’ll never get over their pastel-hued buildings and unique cobblestone streets you can stroll around or go pedaling. Antigua is also full of church ruins that are still as beautiful as ever. It’s especially a great place for those families with older children who’re up for the challenge of climbing a volcano or zip-lining.
You also enjoy their coffee or macadamia nut tours with the local farmers themselves. They even offer interesting chocolatey tours that can educate you about this dark treat’s history as you make your own choco delights! And did we mention their foods are so amazing? Expand your palette and go on their guided “Streets and Eats” for a tour bursting of flavors.
Moms can get the chance to bring home the secrets of the place’s traditional dishes by joining in some cooking classes. That way, you can easily reminisce about the trip with your family as you cook in your own home the same flavors of the place’s cuisines. Everyone can definitely immerse in their lovely culture and learn a lot throughout the trip. It’s a great place for fun-filled activities and a fresh view of the world.
3. Ajaw Chocolate, Belize
What do adults and children have in common? They both love chocolates! And this place’s tradition and heritage are full of this very treat! Ajaw Chocolate in Belize is a beautiful farm that brings you to the origin of the cacao beans, which is the very foundation of what we know as chocolates today. The place’s demonstration room will show you the traditional way of grinding the roasted cacao beans. Note that their beans are all organic and were harvested right at their own cacao farm! You’ll get to know the mano y metate or their old-fashioned grinding tools they make with stone, as it slowly turns the hard beans into a dark paste.
These will then be molded into 70-90% dark chocolate squares that are sometimes added with different spices like ginger for extra flavor. But if you want a more traditional way of enjoying the beans, try their delicious drink called xocolatl. It’s the ancient Mayas’ mix of choco spice drink that sure does pack a punch. And since it’s a chocolatey tour, they will give chocolate wine shots for everyone to enjoy! The owners are quick to make it clear to everyone that they are not a chocolate factory of some kind but is instead a place that offers a hands-on experience of this rich historical product of Belize. It’s a perfect place for all kids and kids at heart.
4. Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
Are you ready to visit the deepest lake in Central America? Pack your bags and bring your kids with you as you go to one of the most beautiful lakes to ever see in this lifetime. Lake Atitlán, in Guatemala, was actually voted as one of the Seven Wonders of the World- and for all the right reasons. Its beauty is just immaculate! The lake is encased by volcanoes and mountains, filled with beautiful blooming wildflowers all around. In fact, the place itself was formed by a volcanic eruption about 84,000 years ago.
This unique site will make you and your family fall in love! You can hike around the lush forest and go bird watching as it’s also the home of a wide variety of bird species. If you’re lucky, you can even spot their national bird called Quetzal. The villages around the lake are very welcoming to the tourists, offering a warm and festive atmosphere to all visitors. Each has its own “personality” or theme, allowing you to choose based on your specific travel needs.
Overall, it’s a colorful and peaceful place filled with beauty and joy that you can appreciate with your kids. If you’re looking for a more laid-back tropical vacation in Central America, this is the place to be. Relax and just simply release all your worries as you breathe in the tranquility of Lake Atitlán.
5. Macaw Mountain Bird Park & Nature Reserve, Honduras
If you’re a bird enthusiast who’d want to share with your kids the love you have for these beautiful creatures, visiting Macaw Mountain Bird Park & Nature Reserve must be on your travel list. This wonderful destination provides a huge space for bird sightings like no other. Located in the country of Honduras, Central America, this ten-acre forest is carefully designed to cater to the needs of an array of tropical bird species. It was created to provide a home to those birds that were stressed out and mistreated. As of now, they have around 100 birds in the area
The place is surrounded by beautiful mahogany, fig-trees, and Spanish cedar. Coffee plants are even scattered all around. The place also boasts gorgeous orchids you can easily spot on the trails. Walk into their wonderful botanical garden and even let your little ones watch the butterflies flap their elegant wings.
This rehabilitation center takes care of some of the most amazing tropical birds you can see including scarlet macaws, red-throated parakeets, keel-billed toucans, and emerald toucanets. The population is so diverse you can even see owls and hawks in recovery from neglect and abuse. And if you want to cool down a bit, a natural bathing hole is also available on site. For a one-of-a-kind getaway experience, visit this colorful and lively place with your family!
6. Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Protect the turtles! Tortuguero National Park welcomes everyone who cares for the environment and who would love to see the natural beauty of turtles. In fact, the word “Tortuguero” actually translates to “turtle catcher”, with the mission to protect these precious animals from hunters and poachers. Let your children see the wonders of life and even inspire them to be among its protectors. Sometimes you get to see stragglers lay out eggs from a safe distance during the daytime. Yet for increased chances, it’s best to do it at night by arranging an accompanied watching with a guide. Three kinds of turtles usually nest on their beaches including Green Sea Turtles or Tortuga Verde, leatherback or Tortuga Baula, and Hawksbill or Tortuga Carey.
Under the beautiful starlight, you and your kids would be delighted to see them slowly dig up their nests to lay their eggs peacefully. If you’re even lucky, you’d be able to see the eggs hatch and the little turtle hatchlings race to the sea! To those who are feeling more adventurous, your family can also take a trip on a tour boat to see more animals around the freshwater creeks and lagoons. You may get the chance to see some of its seven river turtle species and many more like Capuchin Monkeys and Southern River Otters. Lastly, you can go out of the park and try fishing in the nearby area.
7. Granada, Nicaragua
A place filled with interesting aesthetics and a lovely culture, Granada is the oldest city in Nicaragua. This gem is full of colonial charm and incredible outdoor activities perfect for families. It is among the elegant and refined cities with pastel buildings, red tile roofs, and cobblestone roads, looking as if time has stopped in this area. Not to mention that they have some of the most memorable churches and cathedrals you can visit. The place is a mixture of colorful and traditional styles, this is perfect for family travelers who want to get into the rich culture. They even have a chocolate museum your kids will surely enjoy!
Aside from its impressive architecture, the place is actually known to have one of the happiest people in the world and boasts its low crime rate. Not to mention it’s surrounded by the world’s natural beauty! Among these, the most popular is their Masaya volcano. Let your children see something cool and drive to this small volcano, allowing you to personally see real-life hot, bubbling lava. You can do this both during the day and night.
But if you’re not comfortable with that, you can opt to take a boat tour with your kids at Lake Nicaragua or Cocibolca and visit the Islets of Granada. The place covers a series of 365 small islands surrounded by the lake. Among these is a volcanic island called Isla Zapatera which is well-known for its collections of some of the oldest ancient petroglyphs in the world! The place offers among the most interesting trips to your family. Note, though, that the air in the area is humid and hot, which may not be some people’s cup of tea.
8. Panama Canal, Panama
When thinking of the best places to travel in Central America, the world-famous Panama Canal may be among those that first pop out in your mind. This incredible engineering feat is a must-visited site when in Panama, with its 48-mile waterway impressively connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean! The problem is younger children tend to not appreciate the view and its rich history. Thankfully, the place ensures that it’s family-friendly, offering activities for you and your kids.
You can observe the giant cruises or visit their museum. An artificial lake in the canal named Gatun Lake also offers an up-close river cruise experience for everyone. There, your children can enjoy seeing various animals including birds, turtles, and monkeys. If you’re up for some cycling, you can also visit the Amador Causeway. It’s a boardwalk on the beachside right at Panama Canal’s entrance. The trail stretches up to four miles, providing enough space for you and your kids to safely move around. Bike and pedal cart rentals are also available in the area for your convenience. Plus, their craft market has playgrounds to keep your little ones engaged. See this historical canal up close and marvel at the brilliance of the human minds that created it.
Website if relevant: https://www.pancanal.com/eng/
9. Las Flores Surf Club, El Salvador
See the exotic beauty of a black sand beach caused by the neighboring volcanoes’ outflows and have some epic getaway with your family. Do you love the ocean? Are you up for some unique salty fun? Well, Las Flores Surf Club in El Salvador is the place to go! Appreciate the beauty of its natural cove, Playa Las Flores. The dramatic landscape of the bay is among the best and is even compared to the Bolivian salt flats. But the charcoal sands don’t compare to its impressive waves that are perfect for surfing. Hence, the place offers lessons for all ages, catering to both newbies and experienced surfers. Its strategic placement provides an accelerated learning curve to the students, allowing you to enjoy the sport even for a short period of training.
Las Flores is also just 2 hours away from the airport, making it extremely accessible to the crowd. This place, though, is best for those with older children who are able to enjoy this beach activity to maximize your trip. And if you want to explore a bit further, you can bring your family to a nearby small fishing village called El Cuco. You can visit the vendor huts by the beach or even stay until sunset to enjoy the view.
Website if relevant: https://www.lasfloresresort.com/
10. Tikal, Guatemala
When planning to visit Central America, you should never miss seeing at least one of their Mayan ruins. There’s something about their structure that fleshes out the rich history of the place. And among these ancient sites, Tikal in northern Guatemala is the best place to explore with your kids. See the lovely temples inside the exciting jungle of Tikal and make memories with your family that will surely last a lifetime. After all, the place is a UNESCO world heritage site and was a major Mayan city before.
Kids can get in for free in the Tikal National Park wherein they can enjoy exploring actual excavated sites for a glimpse of the past. You can even cautiously climb up to the top of some of their pyramids! Parents should keep in mind, though, that the place doesn’t have much shade. So, the sun may be a bit harsh to the skin. Make sure to explore and appreciate the beauty of each temple and don’t forget to visit the Grand Plaza and the Lost World Pyramids. If you’re done going around the place, you can also slow down and take some time to spot some of their monkeys.
Website if relevant: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/64/
And there you have it- the ten best places to travel in Central America. Whether you want a historical exploration and cultural trip or an adrenaline-pumping vacation full of interesting activities, these destinations can cater to any of your needs. Don’t forget to let us know how your trip went and share your personal experiences in the said places. If you have more suggestions as to where to go when in Central America, we would also love to hear your thoughts.