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Buenos Aires

Updated: March 27, 2012 02:20 PM EDT


By Michael Luongo

Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina, on the east coast of South America where the Río de la Plata meets the Atlantic Ocean. Its neoclassical architecture, cafe culture, and international vibe give the city a strikingly European feel, earning it the nickname of "the Paris of South America." But Buenos Aires is also decidedly Argentine, with its tango salons, creative clothing boutiques, and culinary focus on local staples such as Pampas grass-fed beef. Whether you're looking for designer fashion, exquisite cuisine, or nightlife that doesn't stop, this vibrant metropolis leaves little room for disappointment.

Things to Do -- Wander the purple-blossomed Palermo parks; take in Latin American and European art in the museums lining Avenida del Libertador; and marvel at the grand marble and bronze buildings lining Avenida 9 de Julio, the world's widest boulevard, and Avenida de Mayo, Buenos Aires's answer to Paris's Champs Elysées. Porteños, as the residents of Buenos Aires call themselves, love to be on display, and the city boasts countless outdoor activities -- in parks, at outdoor markets, and on cafe-lined boulevards.

Restaurants & Dining -- Buenos Aires restaurants are famous for their steaks, and excellent parrillas (Argentine steakhouses) can be found everywhere, from the Puerto Madero waterfront district to historic Recoleta. Also not to miss is Argentine fusion cuisine, in which chefs blend local ingredients with European and Asian flavors. Most of the city's best restaurants are in Palermo, where you can dine outdoors on cobblestone streets or indoors by romantic candlelight.

Shopping -- Buenos Aires is a shopper's paradise, whether you're seeking big-name design or local fashions found nowhere else. For the latter, head to Palermo Viejo, popular for its concentration of creative boutiques. On Recoleta's Avenida Alvear you'll find a mix of top European names and local designers, offering items ranging from antiques to wedding dresses. And what is a visit to Buenos Aires without a leather purchase? Find bargains on Calle Florida downtown, or in Calle Murillo's factory outlets.

Nightlife & Entertainment -- Let the sexy kicks of tango mesmerize you at one of the city's show palaces, and then hit a milonga (tango salon) to try the dance yourself. The city by night offers more than just tango, from Broadway and West End-quality shows on Avenida Corrientes to jazz clubs in Palermo Soho and San Telmo. Grab a drink at a cozy bar notable, then head to the Costanera district, where mega clubs blast techno music until the sun rises over the Río de la Plata.

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