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San Jose with seven kids for two days, suggestions...

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San Jose with seven kids for two days, suggestions...

Other than suggesting that we lose the kids as fast as possible!!!

We will be in San Jose for two days before flying out,, having been in Santa Teresa and Playa Grande for three weeks..would love some suggestions of things to do while there.

Kids are aged 20 down to 2...but can split up into groups if needed.

How safe is it for the older ones to be around San Jose during the day if they wanted to look around on their own?

Is it okay in the markets? I figure I will backpack the little one.

Seem to be a few museums etc in the area.

Also, would LOVE any recommendations of a good family hotel close enough to things to do, haven;t booked yet.

Thanks so much.

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1. Re: San Jose with seven kids for two days, suggestions...

San Jose and kids do not have a good fit.

I would not let the older kids out on their own due to pickpockets, lack of clear street signs, and other reasons. Markets are the worst for anybody as crime thrives in crowds. Especially pickpockets looking for tourists.

Take them to the museums in a group and keep an eye open. I would use two taxis to get where you want to go.

As a grown adult I feel uneasy walking the streets of San Jose in the daylight and never at night. Never.

Tampa, FL
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2. Re: San Jose with seven kids for two days, suggestions...

For the most part I agree with MrsYe. This could be done but kids and downtown SJ are really not the best fit. I feel perfectly safe walking around SJ during the day, but I know my way around and am street savvy. Hauling young kids around, you'd have distractions that the rest of us wouldn't which could put you all at greater risk. Letting your teenagers wander around on their own they might be OK if they don't go too far and depending on where you let them loose but would probably be an invitation to trouble. The safest thing would be to take cabs whereever you went.

The Central Market is interesting but is famous for as a haven for pickpocketing. If you want to do some souvenir shopping, you should do it at one of the shops away from the market or stick your spouse with the kids for a while and go on your own.

Museums are a good idea. They have a Children's Museum (Muse de Nino) that is supposed to be pretty good and it is located in an interesting building that used to be a Penitentiary. If you stay in a hotel in the area south of there (such as the Best Western) be aware it is none as the Zona Roja and is definitely not safe to walk around after dark. The other museum's are good, particularly the National Museum which is in an old fortress which still bears bullet marks from the revolution of 1948(?) but I don't know if any of them hold enough to keep the attention of small children.

Another city site you might be tempted to visit because of the children is the Simon Bolivar Zoo. I would skip it. The cages are dirty and the animals ill-kept (at least when I was there last and I doubt it has changed).

Which brings me to my questions or recommendation. Why do you want to stay in SJ? Will you have a car? If you have a car it is definitely more convenient to stay outside of the city because parking and driving around downtown is a real pain. If you don't have a car I could understand why you would want to be in the center of things from a transportation perspective but I don't think that is necessary or in your particular case desirable.

There are many really nice hotels that would be great for families that are in the areas around the outskirts of the city or in the surrounding hillsides. You could still all jump in a cab or two to head into town for an afternoon to explore but there is so much to do around the central valley that wouldn't even be necessary. For example, some things that would be perfect for kids include the Cafe Britt Coffee Tour (better for kids than the Cafe Doka version), Zoo Ave (to see all the animals you failed to see in the wild), the Aerial Tram to really learn about the rainforest canopy (not to be confused with a zip-line "canopy" tour though your older children would probably love those too), Poas Volcano would hold a child's interest and is educational (or possibly Irazu but it doesn't have a visitor's center) and the lovely La Paz Waterfall Park with its waterfalls, trails, butterfly and hummingbird gardens. If you stay at place that is less urban, you might even have a few small nature trails around the hotel that you could let your teenagers explore on their own if they wanted to.

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3. Re: San Jose with seven kids for two days, suggestions...

I am so grateful for the advice, thank you.

I am completely unfamiliar with this area, we normally holiday in South East Asia, but have decided to come to Costa Rica as it seemed safer, but now I am not so sure. There are posts about muggings with machetes in the Tamarindo area, where we will be for the first week, and now San Jose doesn't seem a safe option....

We need to be in San Jose as we leave Mal Pais on the 10th, flying into San Jose lunchtime, and then take a plane lunchtime on the 12th back to USA and then home to New Zealand. We will not have a car so I figured staying downtown would be easier, but now I favour your idea of staying outside San Jose.

Any specific recommendations of family hotels that you could share with me, on the outskirts of San Jose?

Really, we would be happy with anything that had a pool, and maybe we can just use this last couple of days to chill, and do a few things in the immediate area and, as you say, just take a taxi to town for a half day.

Your suggestions of things to do outside San Jose is really helpful too. Would ove any additional suggestions, and am VERY happy to help out with any information about New Zealand!

Winnipeg, Canada
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4. Re: San Jose with seven kids for two days, suggestions...

The SJO airport is actually closer to Alajuela. There are several hotels and B and Bs in Alaljuela there that might suit your purposes. It would be less hectic and actually more convenient to the airport. If you wanted to see a few sights in San Jose, you can get there easily by either local bus or taxi.


West Hartford...
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5. Re: San Jose with seven kids for two days, suggestions...

Debnz -

Check out Hotel Buena Vista located in Alajuela and relatively near the airport (they have a shuttle). We're a family of 7 (2 adults, 5 kids) and we plan on staying there. The reviews are good, the price is right, they're able to accommodate our group with relative ease, and they have a number of relatively local tours available. Seems like this could be a good home base for your afternoon, and even if you decide to not head out for any tours, the pool seems ok.

Check out the reviews on trip advisor. The hotel's website is www.hotelbuenavistacr.com

I also noticed that you've decided on Taramindo for your beach destination. Maybe Manuel Antonio would be a better choice?

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6. Re: San Jose with seven kids for two days, suggestions...

Thanks for the information, I am currently checking out the hotel yu recommended, Buena Vista, though it doesn't seem to be available via Expedia, so will try direct.

Re our stay prior to that, we will be in Playa Grande, across the estuary from Tamarindo, which sounds way more laid back and quiet, and better for the kids than Tamarindo. We have rented a house and iwll be with other family, all up 14 people for that part. It is a surf focussed trip, so I figured we should stay in San Jose and experience something different, now I am not so sure as it doesn't sound so safe....

Thanks again for the help

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7. Re: San Jose with seven kids for two days, suggestions...

Hotel San Martino in Alajuela is across the street from Zoo Ave and, the last time I was there, they had free passes. Their pool is great.

San Isidro de El...
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8. Re: San Jose with seven kids for two days, suggestions...

I really enjoy the Orquideas Inn. They even have a tour company that operates out of the office. You can divide and conquer and everyone can enjoy what they want safely.

The Hampton Inn is everything you would expect from a Hampton Inn but it is family friendly and close to the airport and has easy access to all of the fun things recommended to do above if you don't care about having local color.

The Pura Vida hotel is well recommended by many people.

On a more expensive note....Vista del Valle plantation is loved by everyone who stays there and is really beautiful. Not a bad price really except that you have so many! They have drivers here that can take you out on tours as well. Oscar is a favorite.

Zoo Ave is nice place to visit for the whole family. We went with a Tico friend who also brought his 70 yr old father and 10 yr old son. We all enjoyed it.

La Paz waterfall gardens are also a place that the whole family would probably enjoy.

A friend of ours is a tour operator and has his own van that can hold your whole crew if you are interested. He is a lot of fun and speaks very good english.


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9. Re: San Jose with seven kids for two days, suggestions...

Thank you for the information, I have sent an email to your friend asking if he is available that day in July.

Also, have emailed the Vista Del Valle, it looks fabulous! I really hope that they have space for us.

Thank you again.

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10. Re: San Jose with seven kids for two days, suggestions...

a short note on Pura Vida hotel..Don't stay there! Bernie, the owner was a dour, sarcastic and unhelpful man. Both myself, a well traveled woman I met, and another couple, were all staying there on recomendation of our tour group. We all found the hotel to overpriced, the owner to be unfriendly and seemed to be upset at any requests by guests. The hotel guidebook and notes around the room were very condescending and rude. (IE DON"T do this or that!!!)

The grounds themselves are pretty. The rooms had a few problems. (No hot water in one, a leaky faucet), a dark bathroom. But other wise OK. At night we heard trucks and cars driving by at all hours, horns beeping. Not a good nights sleep. And the rate was about $85! Other friends staying in San Jose for half the price for a nicer room with a pool and full restaurant (San Thomas).