Family Vacation Guide: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Often referred to as the “Paris of South America,” Buenos Aires has a sophisticated European feel while still offering plenty of lively fun from its colorful buildings to its impromptu tango performances that break out in the squares. Famous for its steakhouses, wine, leather goods and cowboys (or gauchos as they are called there), the Argentinian capital has plenty to feed appetites of all types. It’s an ideal getaway during our winter months, but even during their coldest months the highs rarely drop below 50°F. Plus, the dollar is exceptionally strong in Argentina currently, meaning you can have a fairly lavish vacation without having to spend a fortune.
What to Do
Explore Palermo Soho
This trendy neighborhood has it all. Boutiques for shopping, cafes full of neon lights and indoor plants, breweries where you can sip on a local beer while the kids play on the patios outside, street art by famous graffiti artists and more. To really get the most out of this area, consider taking a neighborhood walking tour with a local. Though you won’t find her through your hotel concierge (she likes to keep her business more off-the-grid than that), you can reach out and book a personal tour with Eugenia who can take you through some of the history of the area, as well as to the best maté spots (more on that later) and show you the alleys with the best artwork. Her tours are all custom so they can be tailored to your family’s needs and kids’ interests and ages.
Take a Ride at a Ranch
The family can unleash their inner cowboy with a day trip to Estancia El Ombú de Areco. This stunning property features a main house that’s over 100 years old. With plenty of grassy acres for playing and a pool for cooling off, kids will love it here. You can even go for a trail ride on the friendly horses and enjoy a delicious lunch on the porch after. Don’t miss the performance of some of Argentina’s traditional dances (you can even take part and learn a few steps yourself). If just the day here isn’t enough, they also have several cozy casitas that you can stay in for the night.
Visit a Museum
There are many museums to choose from in Buenos Aires, but two top favorites are MALBA and The National Museum of Decorative Arts. At MALBA, you’ll find a vast and varied modern art collection. By contrast, The National Museum of Decorative Arts gives visitors a peek into what was once the private residence of a wealthy and connected Argentinian family. Designed by famed French architect Rene Sergent, the building alone is worth the visit.
Go Antiquing in San Telmo
Perhaps a lesser known fact about Buenos Aires is that it’s a haven for antiquing. Though you can visit the plentiful antique shops lining the main drag in San Telmo anytime, the best day of the week in Sunday. That’s when you’ll find the famed Feria de San Telmo happening. You can spend hours navigating the market that occurs all along Defensa devoted to everything from vintage magazines and toys to collectible coins.
Get a History Lesson at the Cemetery
While visiting a cemetery may sound like a strange family activity, this is no ordinary cemetery. Kids can wind their way through a maze of intricate tombs that are all above ground, rather than your traditional affair of headstones. There’s also plenty of history to be learned here since many notable figures are buried here from Eva Perón to past presidents of Argentina and Nobel Prize winners.
Snap a Photo in La Boca
Yes, this area is touristy and could even be called the Times Square of Buenos Aires, but it’s still worth the visit. Kids will love the super colorful buildings along El Caminito and the bright area makes for the ultimate background for snapping a fun family photo.
What to Eat & Drink
Stop in here to satisfy your sweet tooth. Handmade chocolates and creamy gelato will make little travelers very happy. And these aren’t just your average gelato flavors either. Try the Lemon Pie or Triple Tentación (with chocolate mousse and Italian merengue) for a truly decadent treat.
Steak is the name of the game here and it’s worth the splurge. Buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cuts are served up in large portions. A word to the wise: order your meat one step up from how you usually like it cooked, since rare here truly means rare.
Maté is a whole way of life in Argentina, with special straws, cups and rituals for drinking it. The slightly bitter tea drink can be found at almost any cafe in the city and comes in many flavors. If you’d like to take some home for yourself, grab some from Mate & Co. The cute packaging looks straight out of Anthropologie and you can even buy a kit with a mug, straw and maté flavor of your choice.
This ultra chic restaurant and bar is ideal for a delicious and fresh lunch in a verdant surrounding. The vibe is cool, but fun. The drink menu is presented on a record and each drink is named for a different artist and even has a scannable code with a Spotify playlist. The food menu comes on the record sleeve. Kids will love exploring the attached bookstore and flower shop.
Where to Stay
The Park Tower hotel features large rooms stylishly decorated and offering city views of Buenos Aires. You also have access to a pool and tennis court and are just a short 15-minute walk from nearby landmarks like Plaza de Mayo and the waterfront area of Puerto Madero. For a budget-friendly option, the Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel & Convention Center is connected to the Park Tower hotel and even shares some of the same facilities.
By Hannah Freedman