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San Antonio de Areco, San Antonio de Areco

San Antonio de Areco
Argentina's insider take:

A popular weekend escape and a mere 70 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, the sleepy outpost of San Antonio de Areco is the place to get in touch with your inner gaucho. The town, which sprouted up in the 1720s along the main road to Peru, was once perched on the border between Spanish territory and uncharted native lands, and the frontier feeling survives. There are cobblestone streets, rustic one-story buildings, traditional parrillas (steakhouses), and even a museum devoted to gaucho history and culture (Museo Gauchesco Ricardo Güiraldes). Best of all, San Antonio de Areco (easily reachable by bus from B.A.) is surrounded by endless grassy plains—those famed pampas that have fed untold generations of blue-ribbon Argentine cattle. To get the most out of this cow town, check in at one of the many estancias (ranches) scattered around the surrounding country. These outback retreats were once (or may still be) the gracious country homes of Argentina's cattle barons and landed aristocracy. They range in architectural style from adobe fortresses to French château to Tudor mansions, and they meld the manorlike gentility of the great English country houses (à la Brideshead Revisited) with the cowboy spirit of, say, Ponderosa.

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