A number of pretty country towns not far from Alajuela and the international airport have become very popular with expatriates. Located within 20 kilometers of Alajuela – the main city serving the area – the communities of Atenas, La Garita, and Grecia have seen substantial increases in land prices, reflecting the rising demand in real estate in these areas.
Although close to the airport and with good bus connections to San Jose and the beaches, the city maintains a rural character with nearby coffee and sugar cane farms and regular horse events. Many small hotels and restaurants, points of interest, shopping and night spots exist in this area.
Central Park, with shady mango trees, is a fun place to visit. People watch, feed the squirrels at the "squirrel tree" on the south side and enjoy band concerts on Sunday mornings and Thursday nights. The Cathedral, on the north side, and its gardens date back to the 1890s and are open to the public; side doors accommodate wheelchairs. One block north in the old fortress building is the Juan Santamaria Museum. A block west of the park is the busy Central Market. Locally made cheese, leather goods, jewellery and area-grown food can be found here. One block north, facing the Juan Santamaria Plaza with the erroneously-dressed statue (soldiers in 1856 did not wear uniforms) is the new Municipal Theatre.
The City of Mangoes as its known locally, Alajuela was founded in 1782 when nearby villages were combined to form La Juela, which later became Alajuela. This is the home of national hero Juan Santamaria who, at the battle of Rivas on April 11, 1856, torched the headquarters of the invading U.S filibusters. The day is celebrated with parades, street dances and festivals.
The weather in Alajuela is similar to the rest of the Central Valley. It's summer from December through April and rains mostly in the afternoons during the months of May to November.
The temperatures don't vary that much between summer and the rainy season, fluctuation between 75 to 85 degrees.