The ultimate Chile guide, part two: Three days in Chile
So, you've won a seat to the PokerStars Festival Chile Main Event, and your flights and hotel are booked. And you've already read part one of our guide to the festival, including everything you need to know about this beautiful country. Great job. What's next?
Of course, your main focus will be playing poker but if you want a break from the tables, then we have some valuable tips on what to do and see when you're in Chile in the next part of this guide to PokerStars Festival Chile.
Viña del Mar Beaches
The Viña del Mar area is well known for its great beaches. The waters of the Pacific Ocean are a little cold, but the beaches are stunning and they're worth exploring near Casino Enjoy.
Playa Reñaca is a 1.3-kilometer-long stretch of beach that is one of the most popular in the area. The surrounding sidewalks are populated by restaurants, ice-cream parlors, cafes and shops. There's the "El Familiar" zone for families and the popular "El Cementerio" zone where Chilean beach society lives and breathes. The Viña del Mar beach scene begins, and often ends, right here.
The best local beach for swimming could be the Playa Caleta Abarca. It's surrounded by a cove that keeps the waters calm and is the perfect place to take a dip.
In the meantime, those that don't want to venture too far will find the Playa Acapulco beach the perfect destination. The waves don't get too big here and it's very close to both the center of Viña del Mar and its restaurant district.
Try A Local Treat
No trip to Chile would be complete without trying a completo. Essentially, a completo is a Chilean hot dog with a variety of unique toppings. This Chilean take on fast food is a colorful treat and different versions of it can be found all over Viña del Mar.
One of the most popular areas for completo goes by the name Sibaritico. Online reviewers rave about the completos at this hole-in-the-wall joint in Viña del Mar's Zona Turistica. The place is small, but the completos are anything but. Here they serve it up Chilean style with avocado, tomato, mayonnaise and ketchup. Or, however you choose.
There is a similar spot in town called Cevasco and the two are always competing for the title of best completo in Viña del Mar.
If you're looking for a venue to celebrate your latest conquest at the poker table in style, you don't need to go very far in Viña del Mar. Entertainment specialists dwell at Enjoy Viña del Mar Resort and the weekends come alive at the OVO Nightclub on the second floor of the casino.
Dance the night away to hit music, taste the flavors of classic and international drinks and let the giant screen, lights and audio technology overload your senses.
Some other great options include Club Om, or if you're looking for something more low-key check out Ston Bar, or San Pedro both good for grabbing a post-poker brew.
Jardin Botanico Nacional
Getting in touch with nature is about more than just hitting the beach in Viña del Mar. In fact, the seaside resort is also filled with great gardens worth visiting on a day off from the poker table. Jardin Botanico Nacional is the premier garden in the area.
It's the National Botanic Garden of Viña del Mar and has been around since 1951. The garden features 395 hectares of natural plant life and public park space. There's 280 species of trees, 670 cacti and a total of 1,168 plant species on the grounds.
It's a great place to explore and learn with guided tours available and an onsite environmental education program from Jardin Botanico Nacional.
Jardin Botanico Nacional is filled with trails, roads, meadows, waterfalls, and lagoons. It is a great place to spend the day getting in touch with the outdoors.
Where To Eat
If you've already had your fill of Completos, but want to continue the trend of eating like a local and trying the most popular local delicacies, empanadas should be next on your list. Think stuffed pastries filled with meat or cheese. The Chilean variety can often have a good little kick.
Viña del Mar has a large number of bakeries and restaurants serving empanadas, and each does it in their own way.
Some say Empanadas Santa Carmela serve the best empanadas in town. Others swear by Empanadas Mauricio. But no matter where you are in Viña del Mar, you won't have to go too far or look too hard to find somewhere serving up empanadas.
Try them all and decide for yourself who does this Chilean treat the best.
Viña del Mar is a great place to go bar hopping. The Journal Cafe is a solid place to start, where you can grab a drink and maybe a snack; they do serve empanadas, after all!
Move on to Bar K where they serve a number of local beers and traditional Chilean Piscola, and then take it up a notch at Cafe Vallarta, , or party all night at Scratch, a popular club for locals and tourists.
When we say all night, you should take that literally. Viña del Mar parties go until dawn and usually end with a great view of the sunrise from the beach.
Chilean Wine Country
Viña Del Mar is right in the middle of Chilean wine country. The Casablanca Valley, Aconcagua Valley, Maipo Valley and San Antonio Valley wine regions are within reach and great for day trips, several of which are offered by tour operators in the area.
They're making everything from Syrah to Malbec in the area and it's worth it to see and taste how the Chileans do it. Most of the vineyards also offer great scenery as well, making a day trip to wine country a great way to explore the Chilean countryside.
Where To Eat
If you want to stick around the Enjoy Viña del Mar Resort, you won't be missing anything in terms of gastronomy. Restaurants on the property include the Amura Cafe, with a variety of coffees, pastries and sandwiches.
The Cenit Lounge offers a buffet for lunch or dinner, and La Barquera is an international five-star Italian restaurant with an ocean view right on the property. Santabrasa is also a must for barbecue lovers.
The City of Valparaiso is just a short drive from Viña del Mar and is widely considered the artistic capital of Chile.
The streets are filled with artists and musicians and it comes alive at night. Ultimately, Valparaiso can offer a bit more in the way of cosmopolitan nightlife than the resort town of Viña del Mar. In fact, the city offers a true taste of the vibrant Chilean culture and nightlife, and since you're this close already, grabbing a taxi to head over and party the night away is definitely worth it.