This Central American nation's reputation for all-around beauty, adventure and affordability is well deserved. Start with the markets, museums and nightlife of capital city San Jose, then head to Arenal—the kind of rumbling, lava-spewing volcano you may have thought existed only in movies. And if an active volcano isn't enough to get your adrenaline flowing, dive into Manuel Antonio national park to cavort with monkeys, or just go take a hike—no, we really mean take a hike—in the cloud forests near Monteverde and Santa Elena along the continental divide.
Get There: Round-trip flights from New York to San Jose, Costa Rica, on Spirit start at $441; round-trip flights from Denver to San Jose, Costa Rica, on Frontier start at $429.
Stay: Hotel Presidente, in San Jose, offers boutique hotel style in a convenient central-city location and includes a complimentary continental breakfast buffet (Central Avenue Blvd., 7th Street, San Jose, Costa Rica, hotel-presidente.com, doubles from $89).