Viña del Mar is Santiago’s closeby seaside cousin, just a little bit over an hour away on one of the country’s busiest highways. Viña, as it is commonly called calls itself the garden city, for the profusion of flowers, all over the city, and at Quinta Vergara, the large park there, as well as the iconic flower clock that faces the ocean walk so popular among locals and visitors.
In the summer, Viña fills up with Chileans as well as Argentines from just across the Andes, and international visitors as well. There are restaurants and nightlife, close proximity to more historical Valparaíso, and of course, the long Pacific coastline. Viña del Mar also has a casino and a couple of other points of interest, including a castle you can visit, and the aforementioned Quinta Vergara park, where the summer song festival is held ever February. And there are also a couple of museums, with the most famous being the Francisco Fonck Museum of Archaelogy and Natural History marked by a stone moai outside. The museum houses artefacts from many indigenous Chilean cultures, including the Rapa Nui (from Easter Island). It also has a large display on insects, including giant crickets, blue morphos butterflies and iridescent scarabs.
Even if you weren’t planning on going anywhere, be sure to check out the MERVAL, or local train. With a view unlike any other subway you’ve ever been on, straight over the Pacific Ocean, it’s well with the couple of dollars it will cost you.