For people looking to see another side of life in Argentina without getting too far away from Buenos Aires, there are a few historical gaucho (Argentine cowboy) towns in the nearby provincia that make perfect day trips. In particular, San Antonio de Areco is a well-known and picturesque little town, located just a couple hours outside of the city, making it the perfect place for a day trip.
Being quite the city slicker, I often resist leaving my beloved Capital – but during the end of March, my boyfriend and I decided it would be the perfect time to explore something beyond the city limits. So we piled into the car one sunny Saturday morning and headed north.
We arrived around lunch time, and decided that the best first stop would be at a parrilla, or Argentine barbecue. Near the small river that runs through the town is the Avenida Zerboni, where many parrillas line one side of the street and on the other side is a beautiful park full of families and children, making the most of their holiday weekend. Since we were getting pretty hungry, we did a quick survey and picked out the one with the grill that we liked best. We ordered a parrillada para dos, which comes with a variety of different meats and sausages so that we could try a bit of everything, and we were not disappointed!
After lunch we decided that it would be a good time for some dessert – since it was quite a warm sunny day, that meant just one thing: ice cream. Some of the locals recommended that we try El Tokio, located at the Plaza Arellano (a small plaza just a few blocks away from the Avenida Zerboni). While this café and heladería (ice cream parlour) had all of the “classic” Argentine flavors, such as Banana Split, Sambayón, Dulce de Leche, and a few different kinds of Chocolate, we were pleasantly surprised to find Arándano (blueberry) added into the mix – it was delicious, and something I have yet to find in Capital.
After our refreshing snack, we went to the park and crossed the Puente Viejo to the other side of the river, where we found a place where you could rent horses to ride. I used to horseback ride for many years, and jumped at the chance. So we hopped on and, followed by our 10-year-old tour guide (I kid you not), we wandered around the dirt roads on the outskirts of the city for about thirty minutes, and I even got the chance to trot!
All that hard work and wandering worked up an appetite, so we paid a visit to a local almacén de campo, a store that sells locally made cheeses and cured meats. This shop, called El Batará, was always full of people whenever we went by, and was the perfect spot to get a sandwích de lomo y queso. This is a simple and very common type of sandwich made with thinly sliced lomo ahumado, a prime, smoked cut of meat, some cheese (as the name would indicate), and bread – but even though the ingredients seem simple, it’s delicious and made for a perfect mid-afternoon snack. They prepared it right in front of us and kept us satisfied for the drive back into the city. While we unfortunately didn’t have enough time to visit all of the museums in San Antonio de Areco, we did get a full days worth of fun and relaxation.
As a final note, anyone without a car can take an easy bus ride (about 2 hours) from Retiro Station in Buenos Aires up to San Antonio de Areco, just be sure to check the schedules in advance so that you’re able to leave when you intended. Here is their official website where you can find many touristic information and current event schedule of this lovely gaucho town.