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San Ramón, about 12 kilometers due west of Naranjo and one kilometer north of Highway 1, is an agricultural and university town known for its Saturday feria del agricultor (farmers market). The impressive church on the main square is built of steel manufactured by the Krups armament factory in Germany. It has a beautiful colonial tile floor and stained-glass windows.
The San Ramón Museum (tel. 506/2437-9851, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., free) on the north side of the plaza, focuses on local history and has a motley collection; it features a re-created turn-of-the-20th-century campesino home.
One block east, the José Figueres Ferrer Historic Museum and Cultural Center (tel. 506/2447-2178, www.centrojosefigueres.org, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat., by donation) has an exposition on the life of Figueres and the 1948 civil war.
In town, the Hacienda Espíritu Santo (tel. 506/2450-3838, www.espiritusantocoffeetour.com, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, $10) coffee estate and mill offers one-hour tours that teach about coffee production.
an Ramón is a gateway to the northern lowlands via a mountain road that crests the cordillera, then begins a long sinuous descent to La Tigra. About three kilometers north of town, stop at the Cigar Factory (tel. 506/8342-9517, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. daily), a rather grandiose name for a tiny family-run cigar enterprise where you can watch fine smokes being rolled, then roll your own.
Nectandra Cloud Forest Garden (tel./fax 506/2445-4642, www.nectandra.org, 7 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sun., $60 including guided tour; reservation required), 15 kilometers north of San Ramón, is a botanical garden surrounded by 104 hectares of forest reserve where quetzals can be seen while hiking miles of trails. It has a visitors center and café. Call ahead, as the gates have always been locked when I’ve visited.
One kilometer north brings you to Bosque Nuboso El Cocora (tel. 506/8394-0121, elcocora [at] hotmail [dot] com, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun., $5 adults, $3 children), a small cloud-forest reserve with a netted butterfly garden (with 25 species), hummingbird garden, and trails.
About 18 kilometers north of San Ramón, a dirt road leads west to the 7,800-hectare Alberto Manuel Brenes Biological Reserve (tel. 506/2437-9906, www.so.ucr.ac.cr/Enlaces/RBAMB), created in 1993 to protect watershed forest on the Atlantic slope of the Cordillera de Tilarán. It’s administered by the University of Costa Rica. It has trails, plus cabins available by reservation.
About 32 kilometers north of San Ramón is the San Lorenzo Canopy Tour (tel. 506/2447-9331, www.landsinlove.com/Canopy.htm) with two options. The first features 13 platforms, eight cables, and two hanging bridges spanning two guided trails; or you can take the Adventure Cable Tour by zip line using six cables (the longest is 850 meters). The latter has two parallel cables, so you can race your best friend. Each costs $35 for 90 minutes, or $55 for both. There’s also a canyoning option involving a waterfall rappel ($50).
The nearby San Luis Canopy Tour (tel. 506/8399-6766, www.sanluiscanopytour.com, 8 a.m.–3 p.m. daily) competes.
Getting to San Ramón
Buses (tel. 506/2222-0064) depart San José every 45 minutes from Calle 16, Avenidas 10/12, 5:50 a.m.–10 p.m. daily ($1.60). Taxis operate from the main plaza, or call Taxis San Ramón (tel. 506/2445-5966 or 506/2445-5110).
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition