Not all vacations in Argentina require an hours-long expedition to lounge at the beach. For those who spend the hot and humid summer days in Buenos Aires, a quick weekend getaway to break the routine can be a boost for the upcoming week.
Whether you’re desperate for a change of scenery or just eager to have some mates under the shade of an ombú tree, here are five of the Herald’s favorite day trip destinations.
Good for: asado and countryside vibes
Located just 86 kilometers northwest of Buenos Aires, the small town of Carlos Keen is ideal for a day in the countryside. Founded in 1888 as a water replenishing spot for trains transporting grain from Luján to Pergamino, the town blossomed until service stopped in the 1970s. Now, the 500-inhabitants town feels like a trip to the past.
The historic train station, the church, and most of the eight blocks of the town preserve their early 20th-century style, making it ideal for photography. The rural museum offers insight into the lives of those settling there over 100 years ago.
Lately, the town’s biggest draw has been the 20-odd restaurants serving traditional countryside food like asado a la estaca — asado nailed to a rack over the fire — empanadas, and more. On weekends you can also enjoy the artisanal fair offering products like cured meats, organic jams, and locally harvested honey.
Good for: everyone
Just 58 kilometers southeast of Buenos Aires, the provincial capital of La Plata is a different spin on city life.
With its 112-meter twin spires, the Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción provides an unmistakable landmark. It is the largest neo-gothic place of worship in South America.
The Paseo del Bosque, 60 hectares of forest full of poplars, oaks, ombúes, eucalyptus, and willows, is great for some rest in the shade. There you can also find La Plata’s Natural Sciences museum, a two-story exhibition on the evolution of nature, from the Big Bang to the beginnings of human cultures. Check out the fossil of an Argentinosaurus, one of the largest known land animals of all time — found, yes, in the Argentine province of Neuquén.
If your kids remain unimpressed, you can take them to the República de los Niños, an educational theme park with child-sized buildings, mechanical games, a train, and plenty more activities to keep the whole family occupied.
Good for: everyone, especially history buffs
We move some 66 kilometers south of the city to find the perfect spot for nature lovers and history buffs. On the shores of the Ojo Lagoon, the city of San Vicente would be a great place for a day trip by itself, but the Quinta 17 de Octubre museum takes it to another level.
As some might’ve guessed from the name, that’s because it’s found at the 19-hectare Quinta San Vicente that former president Juan Domingo Perón acquired with his wife Eva Duarte in 1946. The museum holds the biggest collection of objects and documents belonging to the former president. You can also see the train used by Argentine presidents to travel around the country between 1912 and 1989.
Even if that’s not your cup of tea, there’s the ecological reserve around the lagoon, the Santa Clara de Asís chapel built in 1875, and the plethora of eateries you can check out.
Good for: waterside activities close to Buenos Aires
This one is a classic. If you’re desperate for a day on the beach but can’t visit one of our favorite beach towns, you can always go to Tigre in the northernmost part of the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area.
Located right on the Luján River, a feeder to the Río de la Plata, there are plenty of beaches on the many islands of the delta, often equipped with places to eat and activities to enjoy.
Just blocks away from the Tigre train station are the docks where you can find the botes colectivos to take you for a guided tour of the islands, while the Paseo Victorica offers an incredible display of turn-of-the-20th-century architecture, beach-side restaurants, and an art museum with a collection of Argentine art from the 19th and 20th century.
If you’re in for some shopping, the Puerto de Frutos offers a wide range of decorative and artisanal products in wood, wicker, and pottery. There are also stands offering delicacies like nuts, honey, and different jams.
San Antonio de Areco
Good for: everyone
If the railway station of Carlos Keen feels all too modern for you, San Antonio de Areco is the place to go. Some 119 kilometers from Buenos Aires, the city became the Capital of National Heritage in 2015. The city and the nearby towns provide a good peek of the country at the beginning of the 19th century.
The pick of the bunch is the Museo Gauchesco Ricardo Güiraldes. Named after the author of the Argentine literature classic “Don Segundo Sombra,” tours allow you to spend the day immersed in gauchoesque scenery and daily life.
For a break, you can enjoy empanadas in pulperías where antique riding tackle jostles for shelf space with the dusty bottles of vintage tinctures or stop off in one of the many artisanal ice cream parlors.
The town holds a festival of gaucho traditions every November — plan your trip accordingly to see horse riding displays, dexterous demonstrations of rural stewardship, and traditional dances.