Along the Coast

If you have a rental car, excursions to the following beach enclaves – particularly popular with Argentine families – are a snap.

Starting in the north, just south of Pinamar, there are the tranquil and largely residential villages of Ostende and Valeria. Further down the coast is woodsy Cariló, a favorite of well-off Argentines. A jumble of luxury posadas, elegant inns and hotels and homes fit for architectural digest, it's a worthwhile detour at night for its fashionable restaurants or for a stroll under the trees, ice-cream cone in hand.

On the other side of Villa Gesell, continuing down the coast, are Mar de las Pampas and Mar Azul, exclusive beach neighborhoods with expensive lodging (rented only by the week in summer) and upscale services, all dropped into a pine forest that runs to the rolling dunes at the beach. The wide beach here is less crowded, too, making the area a good day-trip destination, even if you're staying in busier Villa Gesell. All of it is linked by a network of sandy roads that snake through the pines, which only adds to the charming, isolated feel. Of these two, Mar de las Pampas has more shopping and dining options.