While most of the country shivers, sneezes, and digs out from under the latest snowstorm, I recommend a trip south to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Our winter is their summer, so temperatures are warm, the sun is shining, and there's a lot to see and do.
Buenos Aires is a unique South American city, offering travelers a mix of indigenous culture with a strong European influence. There are areas of the city where one could easily be in Paris or Madrid, looking at the architecture and stylish citizens. My wife and I have visited twice, once as a stop on a South American cruise, and once as part of a South American tour that also took us to Chile and Brazil.
Visit an Estancia
A big trend in South American travel, Americans may already be familiar with the experience of a dude ranch. Wannabe gauchos (cowboys) can drive an hour from downtown Buenos Aires and spend a day or a few days riding horses and exploring the countryside.
Estancia El Ombú (Ruta 31, cuartel VI, Villa Lía, San Antonio de Areco) is where we went; they offer both day visits and overnight stays. There's a range of activities including trail rides, carriage rides, and miles of hiking trails along a river. The estancia is also a birdwatcher's paradise and caters to those who enjoy that pastime with guidebooks and binoculars.
Make a Day of It
Estancia El Ombú is adjacent to a beautiful pampa town, San Antonio de Areco, which has a gaucho museum and a range of local goods and merchants. Be sure to seek out the silversmiths, and Spanish-speakers may want to participate in the local auction. Argentine roads are good and it's easy to rent a car in Buenos Aires to visit some of these areas outside the city.
What to Do
For kids and kids at heart, I always like a trip to the local zoo. The Buenos Aires Zoo (Av. Sormiento and Av. La Heras) is in the Palermo neighborhood, and has all the requisite superstars -- lions, tigers, and bears. The National Museum of Fine Arts (Av. Del Libertador 1473) is filled with classical art treasures. The museum is free and closed Mondays.
Where to Stay
We liked the Nuss Hotel (Av. El Salvador 4916) in the Palermo Soho neighborhood. It's close to the tourist sites and major areas of the city, yet situated in a real neighborhood, where people live and work. We liked being able to interact with locals every day. Rooms start just under $200.
Aerolineas Argentinas, part of the Skyteam alliance, is the flag carrier for Argentina and services Los Angeles and Miami.