San Antonio de Areco, along the banks of the Areco River, is an easy day trip from the city of Buenos Aires. It is just 70 miles northwest by car, so visiting San Antonio is a pleasant way to trade the frenzy of the city for the laid-back atmosphere of the Argentine countryside and this lovely little town. Home to many estancias it is an easy place to get to, relax in and explore on foot to enjoy its natural and man-made beauty and treasures.
There are lots of places to see gauchos in Argentina. Among them is the lovely, laid back town of San Antonio de Areco, located 70 miles northwest of the city of Buenos Aires. You can pay an agency $150/US for a day trip there to a private estancia (ranch), where you will see ranchers at work, enjoy local music, eat an authentic asado (barbecue) and take a stroll around these private estancias.
Or, you can rent a car with a GPS and drive to the town yourself and have the freedom to wander as you like. That’s what we did when my sister Josephine and her friend Jane visited from Chicago in March. Estrella, a Uruguayan friend who lives in Buenos Aires, joined us for our “día del campo” road trip.
A 1-1/2hr. car ride brought us to the quiet, pretty central plaza where free parking was ample and a good starting point to enjoy the colonial architecture and relaxing atmosphere of the town. Among its highlights are the Museu Gauchesco and the Parque Ricardo Guiraldes, the Culture Centre Usina Vieja, the Town Museum and the Old Bridge.
A walk along the Puente Viejo (old bridge) takes you to the Gaucho Museum and the adjoining Pulperia de Blanqueada, once an old grocery store located alongside the museum, where in years past, the local gauchos shopped for their supplies. One part of the museum campus houses a local artesan who dyes wool with natural dyes, spins it herselfand makes beautiful blankets, carrying on the traditional methods that were followed during the 19th century. She enjoyed teaching us about the dyes, the weaving methods and the traditions carried down from her teacher’s teacher to her and so on.
Local artesans’ shops and cafes lined the old section of town. The town museum houses the newly initiated artesan’s cooperative where women artesans display and sell their crafts. A walk in the adjacent Ricardo Guiraldes Park, offers views of old farming equipment alongside flowering trees of the park, including a wide variety of birds from the La Pampa region, and huge cactus plants filled with the edible, deep red prickly pear fruit. We especially appreciated the colorful entrance to the city museum, webbed by interlocking, colored plastic cables and stays that appeared to form a sort of webbing that drew you inside.
A relaxed lunch at a parrilla restaurant along the river was the perfect spot to enjoy
an asado, drink a beverage or two and take in the local scenery before heading back to the car, and eventually back to the busy city of Buenos Aires. While we never really saw any gauchos, we certainly enjoyed the outdoor beauty of the town where many have lived and armed over the past centuries.
For a day of greenery and relaxation, head to San Antonio de Areco!