Santa Ana, about five kilometers west of Escazú , is a sleepy town set in a sunny mountain valley. The church dates from 1870, and there are still many old adobe and wooden houses clad in bougainvillea. Today it is famous for ceramics; there are some 30 independent pottery shops in the area, many still using old-fashioned kick-wheels to fashion the pots.
However, the area all around the town itself (especially north toward San Antonio de Belén) is the fastest-growing area in the nation and a center for high-tech service industries, new malls, and traffic jams.
Worth a quick stop is the Museo Histórico Agrícola de Santa Ana (tel. 506/2282-8434, www.fundazoo.org/leer.php/9183514 , 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Sat.–Sun., $2), housed in an antique casona (farmstead) and exhibiting machinery relating to coffee and sugar production.
Continuing west you reach Piedades, about five kilometers west of Santa Ana. This peaceful village has a beautiful church.
The road gradually rises to Ciudad Colón, a neat little town about eight kilometers west of Santa Ana. The Julia and David White Artists’ Colony (tel. 506/2249-1414, www.forjuliaanddavid.org ) offers residential artists’ courses May–November.
The San José–Autopista del Sur opened in January 2010, linking the central highlands to the Pacific coast via Santa Ana.
Empresa Comtrasuli (tel. 506/2258-3903, www.comtrasuli.com ) buses to Ciudad Colón depart San José from Calle 20, Avenidas 3/5, every 30 minutes 5 a.m.–10:30 p.m. Monday–Saturday. Driving, take the Santa Ana exit off the Carretera Próspero Fernández freeway. From Escazú , take the road west from El Cruce in San Rafael.