Savvy globetrotters have long documented the Euro-Latin appeal of hip Buenos Aires, but where do local Argentinians go to escape the hustle and bustle of their sexy capital? They cross South America’s Rio de la Plata, a 180-mile-long estuary separating Argentina from Uruguay, and make way for Montevideo. Uninterrupted stretches of white sandy beach form a sun-drenched border around this lively city — picture a pint-size Manhattan if the Hudson actually featured bronzed sunbathers — where a vibrant Ciudad Vieja, or Old Town, is steeped in perfectly preserved Spanish, Italian, and art-deco architecture. More than half of the country lives and sunbathes here (population: 1.4 million), while the rest scoot off to fashionable Punta del Este, a chic beach getaway located 80 miles to the east. Log on to www.visit-uruguay.com for more information. American Airlines begins seasonal nonstop service between Miami and Monte­video on December 16, 2004.
— Kevin Raub