Myself and two of my friends (ages range from 26-30) are heading to Costa Rica next week. It is the first time for all of us and we are very excited! We plan to stay the first night of our trip in San Jose, as that is where we are flying into and our flight does not land until later in the evening. The next day we plan to take a shuttle to Jaco, where we will stay the next four nights. I am curious if you have any suggestions for us for the short time we are in San Jose and for things that we may be able to do to occupy our time for the four days that we are in Jaco. In San Jose, we are staying in a hostel near the center of the city. What are some good restaurants nearby? What are some good bars/clubs that would be fun for young adults? Where should we avoid in San Jose? What is your recommendation for a good brunch/lunch spot before we leave San Jose for Jaco? Secondly, aside from the beach, and the abundance of restaurants and bars that are available in Jaco, what are some excursions near the town that you would recommend. We will not have a vehicle so we will be limited to taxis or other forms of public transportation. Any advice that you may be able to provide would be greatly appreciated!
San Jose can be a really fun place to hang out and there are lots of bars and restaurants near the city center. Our post, How to Spend 1-2 Days in San Jose lists some good ones like Stiefel Pub and Cafe de los Deseos, which are hip, pub type places. Your hostel should be able to tell you if there are any rough areas/streets to avoid near where you are staying but in general the main strip (AV Central) from the National Museum to the Central Market is busy with people and generally very safe. Of course take normal city precautions like not walking alone in the dark, keeping your valuables hidden, etc.
For Jaco, definitely check out our Jaco Post which has info about some activities (farmers market, sunset at Villa Caletas, etc). If you are up for taking the bus you could also make a day trip south to Manuel Antonio and visit the beach and National Park. Carara National Park, just to the north of Jaco, also has some good trails where you can see wildlife. Additionally, keep in mind that many tour operators (zip-lines, crocodile river tours, etc) will include pickup from your hotel, so that is a good way to get around.
Hope you and your friends have fun!