Beyond the Usual: 14 Mini-Adventures into a Buenos Aires Many Never See

Every city has their iconic sights that are iconic for very good reasons - Argentina's fascinating capital is no exception. But Buenos Aires is a city that rewards further scrutiny, revealing its true self the further you wander from the beaten path. Here, ten beyond-the-usual experiences to add to your list.

The local's La Boca

The Caminito – a colorful corner of the La Boca district – is undoubtedly one of the most famous (and most visited) places in all of Argentina, but right at its southern edge and off the radar of many visitors, you'll find the decidedly non-touristy Fundacion Proa galleries, known for cutting-edge art, as well as a collection of Latin American classics -- including works by Diego Rivera (Pedro de Mendoza 1929). Afterwards, go off the beaten path to nearby Il Matterello for lunch, a favorite for top-notch pastas (Martin Rodriguez 517).

A little bit country

The weekly Feira de Mataderos, held in a section of the city once dubbed Nueva Chicago for its (now shuttered) slaughterhouses, provides an instant hit of gaucho culture and cooking Open Sundays, year-round, and Saturdays during the summer months. (feriademataderos.com.ar)

See it on wheels

Get a whole new perspective on the city with a private, customized cycling tour, available with Urban Biking. No matter your interest or skill level, their guides will work with you to build a memorable excursion. Regularly scheduled group tours are also available, if you don't mind making a few new friends. (urbanbiking.com)

Watch the market

The old ways are still celebrated at the Mercado del Progreso, a classic food hall in the workaday Caballito neighborhood; you'll find it conveniently located next to the Primera Junta stop on the Line A subway. (Av. Rivadavia at Del Barco Centenera)

Theatre of the mind

A century or so after the Teatro Gran Splendid opened on Avenida Santa Fe, you'll find a rather unusual show playing out on its stage, with a cast of dozens of avid readers, poring over books and sipping espressos. What was once one of the city's impressive theaters – hosting the likes of tango legend Carlos Gardel – is now El Ateneo, one of the world's impressive bookstores. (Santa Fe 1860)

Art by night

Galleries, cultural institutions and shops stay open late for regularly-scheduled Gallery Nights organized by the city in Recoleta and adjacent neighborhoods; key streets close down for this very sophisticated block party, where have the fun is watching what's going on around you. (gallery-nights.com.ar)

Explore the waters

Tired of walking? Sign up for a fun and informative kayak tour with outfitters Puro Remo, located at the yacht club right in Puerto Madero, just a short walk out of downtown and adjacent to the vast Costanera Sur ecological reserve, an underappreciated swath of open land that's roughly the same size as the city's historic center. (puroremo.com.ar)

Eat healthy

Organic? Vegetarian? In Buenos Aires? Sure thing! It's actually not that hard to be healthy in this meat-obsessed city, believe it or not. On a warm summer day, smart spots like Bio in Palermo (Humboldt 2199) or the more casual Origen, just off the Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo (Humberto Primo 599), provide great alternatives to heartier traditional cuisine.

Beyond the graves Just steps from the famous Cementario de la Recoleta and hiding in plain sight, get a hit of high culture at the Centro Cultural Recoleta, a spot for rotating art exhibits and cultural events aimed squarely at a local audience but great for visitors as well. (centroculturalrecoleta.org)

Drink real coffee

Buenos Aires has never been short on cafes. Good ones. Terrific ones, really. The coffee, however? As in so many other places in Latin America, anyone who knows how to pull a shot might find themselves disappointed, again and again. Step into smart, newer shops like Negro, however, and you'll see the future unfolding – a future filled with properly steamed milk, smartly-sourced beans and cold brew in bottles. There are three locations around Centro. (negrocuevadecafe.com)

Take a trip to the Holy Land

Next year in Jerusalem? How about right now in Buenos Aires? The city's rather unusual Tierra Santa theme park brings the bible to life in a series of tableaus, topped off by a roughly-on-the-hour resurrection featuring a giant mechanized Jesus emerging from a fake mountain to great fanfare. Need to unwind? There's a water park next door. (Av. Costanera Rafael Obligado 5790)

Party all night in Las Cañitas

Hip you can do anywhere, these days – one of the most fun nightlife districts in the city feels in some ways like a little bit of Miami Beach, without the ocean, with a hilariously flashy crowd that sometimes seems like they're auditioning for the next hot reality show. It's always plenty of fun, though, more so the later it gets – head for Calle Baez and soak up the scene. Need a steak? One of the most talked about parillas in town is just a short walk away – El Secretito is no longer all that secret, but it's still a lot of fun. (Av. Dorrego 2720)

Get to church

Hiding in plain sight near the entrance to the famous Cementerio de la Recoleta, you'll find the simple but lovely Basilica Nuestra Senora del Pilar, relatively unknown to tourists but considered a national treasure by Argentines. Dating back to 1732, this understated Spanish-style church is the site of many a high-profile wedding; the adjacent cloisters, built in 1716, house a small museum, worth a look simply for the moody space itself. (Plaza del Pilar)

Go out late for ice cream

Portenos love nothing more than a late night stroll for ice cream, and in few neighborhoods is the walk as romantic as Recoleta. Head through the quiet streets down to the corner of Av. Callao and Melo, where local favorite Un' Altra Volta keeps the lights on until at least 2 o'clock in the morning – 4 o'clock on weekends. Whether you stay and enjoy it in the smart café, or eat it on the go, make sure to order the dulce de leche. (Callao 1402)

Have a look at current deals to Buenos Aires from all over the US and Canada.

Still looking for things to do while in Buenos Aires? Put these on your list:

Tigre Delta Day Trip from Buenos Aires

Malbec Wine Tour in Palermo

Become a Polo Player: Day Trip to Puesto Viejo Estancia