Things to do in Santa Cruz when its cold and raining!

by BoliviaBella
(Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia)

At least you're not here!!!

At least you're not here!!!

So you planned this great trip to Santa Cruz and then what happens? One of our well-known "surazos" blows in from Patagonia and drops temperatures from 30º to 12º overnight. (That's a sudden 30-degree drop from 86º to 53º, if your brain thinks in Fahrenheit).

If you're from the northern hemisphere like me you're probably thinking "Pffffff! That's not so cold". The problem is, Santa Cruz is known for its 9-10 months of hot weather, and mostly outdoorsy attractions and that's probably what you planned for when you got here. So what's a tourist holed up in a hostel to do on a cold and rainy day in "the tropics"?

Don't let the weather make you miserable. Be proactive and get to know our city! After all, you're the one who just said "it's not that cold".

Treat your self to a tour of our museums and art galleries.

Now, most tourists I know aren't that into museums. But Santa Cruz has some awesome contemporary artists and some way-cool historical, cultural and archeological stuff in some eccentric museums and art galleries you probably didn't know existed - over 40 to be exact. Most of them are small and can be visited in about 15 minutes each. Plus, you're here to learn about Bolivia and its cultures, right? So treat yourself to a half-day museum tour! In the downtown area, you can visit at least 10 of them in a 10-block radius. Check out our page on museums and art galleries in Santa Cruz and design your own museum tour.

Form a group with other tourists and go hit the lanes.

Santa Cruz has a bowling alley on the west side of Plazuela Blacutt called Cosmic Bowling. If you walk about 10 blocks straight down Independencia street from the central plaza you'll arrive right at the bowling alley doors. Don't like walking in the rain? All the taxis know where Blacutt is.

Galaxy Bowling is open every day of the week from 9:30 am to midnight. Monday - Friday the cost per person is Bs. 75/hour from 9:30 am to 2:00 pm, Bs. 85/hour from 2:00-7:00 p.m. and B. 95/hour from 7:00 pm to midnight. On Saturday, Sunday and holidays the cost is Bs. 85/hour from 9:30 to 7:00 and Bs. 95/hour from 7:00 pm to midnight. Shoe rental costs Bs. 5 per person.

Aren't "into" bowling? Or you don't know how to bowl? That will just make it all the more fun as you and your new friends fall over laughing at your terrible skills.

Get a tattoo. It could take hours.

The tattoo parlors inside the Shopping Bolivar mall (right on the central plaza) tell me that a large percentage of their customers are tourists. There are about 4 tattoo parlors in the mall. A 5-6 inch tattoo will cost anywhere from Bs. 300 to Bs. 800 or so, depending on the complexity. I'm not suggesting everyone go out and get a tattoo simply because you are bored and it's raining. If this is not something you would normally do at home or because you really enjoy tattoos, don't forget they're permanent and boredom is NOT a good reason to get one. I cannot personally attest to the talent or hygiene at all of them. However, the equipment used at Blackie Whities is super clean and sterilized. (Why yes... I actually DID get a tat in the name of research for you.)

Make some new friends and make it a movie night.

Santa Cruz has three really nice movie theaters of different sizes. The Cine Center is the largest with numerous screens. It's actually a big mall with lots of stores and banks and restaurants. It's located on the 2nd ring right cross the street from the Trompillo airport. The Cine Palace has only one screen and is located right on the central plaza. It's one of the city's oldest colonial buildings. It was recently renovated and has a snack bar and terrace restaurant. The Cine Bella Vista is located across the street from the Tahuichi soccer stadium. It has 2 screens. All of them show the latest movies, most in English with Spanish subtitles, unless they're for kids, in which case they're dubbed in Spanish. Ask around at your hotel or hostel to see if anyone else wants to go with you. The cost is about Bs. 30 per person. See our page on movie theaters in Santa Cruz for addresses and phone numbers.

No luck with the weather, so try your luck at the casino.

Santa Cruz has a series of casinos called Bingo Bahití. The main and largest one is on the 2nd ring (Avenida Cristobal de Mendoza) between Alemania and Mutualista avenues. Bingo VIP is in Equipetrol and a 3rd smaller Bingo Bahití is located on Avenida Velarde in the southern zone of the city about 1 block before the 2nd ring (about 2 blocks from Cine Center and Plazuela Blacutt). Bahiti Club is located on Av. Monseñor River 1 block down from the Cristo. You can play the machines, traditional bingo, or table games. The large Bingo Bahití has a restaurant. Depending on how much you spend, you may also be offered courtesy drinks. They're open 24 hours, 7 days a week. There is no cover cost, you pay only what you play or consume. Phone: 348-7000.

Update May 2012: The government has closed several casinos so check before you go.

Drive the crazy out of the kids before they drive you crazy!

Family travel can be fun or horrendous, depending on just how much of your trip depended on fair weather. Whatever you do, don't keep your kids indoors all day watching cable TV. I know it's probably free at your hotel, but all they're doing is storing up energy! Energy that will later be released at a most inconvenient time - when they get bored!

Visit a restaurant that has an indoor play area. Burger King is on the corner of the 2nd ring and Monseñor Rivero (just look for the big statue of Jesus) and on the corner of Plazuela Blacutt. Piccolo restaurants are located on the corner of the Plazuela Blacutt, on Ayacucho street 2 blocks from the main plaza, and in Equipetrol on San Martin Avenue. There are several other restaurants on Ayacucho street that also have play areas. Most are "heladerías" (ice cream shops in Santa Cruz are physically huge). So pretend you're all Eskimos and treat them to ice cream on a cold day (after dinner of course).

Lucky for you, cruceños don't sleep much.

Santa Cruz is a very dynamic and vibrant city and its residents take socializing to the extreme. Plus, the (normally) hot, humid weather motivates people to get out of the house and enjoy life outdoors. This translates into the city's nightlife scene too, with most discotheques, bars and cafés being open until the wee hours of the morning. So get out and dance those shivers away! (Prepare to be out late, as in, the real party doesn't start until at about midnight.) Click here to find bars and pubs. Find a place to take some dance lessons or hit one of the many discotecas.

Chicken soup is for sissies.

I know, I know, it's supposed to be the best medicine for a cold, but you're in Bolivia! How can you not try our food!? Get out there and feast on something exotic you've never tried before (as in before you catch that cold). Santa Cruz has hundreds and hundreds of cafés, restaurants, bars, pubs, steakhouses, salteñerías, and more of all types and from all corners of the earth. Click here to find places to eat in Santa Cruz. Take your camera, cuz when you're done eating you can come back here and tell us about your calories=warmth experience in our Bolivia restaurant review.

Go shopping. Maybe you'll score a great sweater.

There are plenty of nice places to spend a few hours indoors and away from the cold, like the many stores and shopping centers in Santa Cruz. Find some great souvenirs to take home to your friends, or a sweater to help you weather the cold. Amble around downtown and you'll find dozens of stores within a 3-block radius of the central plaza. Not too far from the city center you'll find other fairly large malls and shopping centers such as Cine Center, the mall at Fidalga Norte on Avenida Banzer, New York mall right next door on the 3rd ring, and Shopping Cañoto on Cañoto avenue just 6 blocks from the downtown post office.

Or, on Wednesdays and Saturdays only, you can shop for hours indoors for super cheap stuff and thousands of items at the gigantic Feria de Barrio Lindo, a huge market where everything costs about half of what it costs downtown.

The top 100 things to do in Santa Cruz.

Not everything on this list is suitable for cold and rainy weather, but take a look anyway! You'll find something to do, after all, everyone has different ideas of what fun is.

Hang out online with us for a while!

If you really hate the cold and the rain, visit us online. Have some fun exploring the destinations you won't be visiting on this trip, use your down time to share your Bolivia travel stories and photos with us, or TELL BELLA if you need something while you're here. Besides, we live here and we know stuff!

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