Villa Carlos Paz has become a resort town catering mainly to weekend trippers from Buenos Aires and from around Cordoba Province. There is probably not much of any great interest to the international tourist in the town itself. Maybe just the big cookoo clock and chocolate factory (which didn't give out free samples). There are lots of restaurants, entertainment options and a fairly good nightlife.
The activity in Carlos Paz itself centers around the man made lake San Roque. In season there are all sort of activities on the lake and it is a big draw for locals.
I used Carlos Paz as a jumping off point to exploring the sierras of Cordoba and the opportunities to see wildlife there. About an hour away from Carlos Paz deep in the mountains is the newest national park in Argentina, a magnificent place to see the condor in its natural environment.
There was an amusement complex high in the Sierras Chicas. A bit different from an amusement park (since it didn't have rides) it had some nice expositions of different styles of architecture, and manicured gardens. This is a nice place for a break, they had a great exhibit about beekeeping and how it was done in the region and some hiking trails and superb views.
This particular park would be more appropriate for older children and adults of all ages. For the younger children you can take them to the chairlift and entertainment complex just down the street.
Cordoba is the second largest city in the Country, but for some reason it is often bypassed as a tourist destination. In my opinion you should definitely not overlook Cordoba. Geographically, its in the center of the country, bordering most of the major regions of the country save for Patagonia, thus its transportation links are excellent.
Cordoba was of great importance during colonial times. Even today, the historical center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Sight in 2000. Historically, much of Cordoba's primacy was tied up with the fortunes of the Jesuit Order. They founded the estancias (ranches) around Cordoba to be able to finance the university, which today is the oldest university in the country and a very prestigious one.
What you should not miss in Cordoba is the Jesuit block, the churches and institutions of higher learning, the crypt.
There are six Jesuit estancias in Cordoba Province. These were important economic undertakings which served to finance the Jesuits educational institutions in Cordoba City. These are in a ring of 250 km around Cordoba City. They are interesting because here you can see a good glimpse of colonial life, you get some idea of how the Spaniards educated (and Christianized) the natives, the economic functions of the estancia. These were all undertaken at a time when Cordoba was the main city in what is today Argentina. It was a vital stop on the Royal Road (Camino Real) that joined Peru with Argentina.
You can do this trip by either basing yourself in Villa Carlos Paz or Cordoba City.
The estancias are:
Caroya (1616)- Colonia Caroya, 44 km North of Cordoba
Jesus Maria (1618)- 4km north of Caroya, known for winery
Santa Catalina (1622)- 20 km northeast from Jesus Maria estancia.
Largest of the estancias. Specialized in livestock.
Alta Gracia (1643)- 36 km southeast of Cordoba City. Home of the last Viceroy
La Candelaria (1683)- 220 northeast of Cordoba City. Has accommodation.
San Ignacio (1725)-this no longer exists
If you have been to California, you could compare how the estancias were different from the Missions in California, in many ways there were very similar.
The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) set up a group of estancias on the outskirts of Cordoba to finance the university. There were 6 in total, and these were working ranches. The natives were not only educated (Christianized) but also taught useful trades.
The Estancias were self contained economic units. The estancias that surround Cordoba differed in what each one specialized in, however in general they all had substantial livestock holdings, fruit and vegetable production, cultivation of wheat and corn, carpentry, tanning, and in some cases wineries.
These projects came to an end in 1767 when the King of Spain expelled the Jesuits from Spain's colonies in the Americas.
This is Argentina's newest National Park. Located about an hour's drive from Villa Carlos Paz you can already notice a somewhat different scenery than the pretty low hills you saw in the Sierra Chica.
The purpose is to see the magnificent Andean Condor, and though you are warned that depending on the time of day you may not see very many, you take a 5 mile hike into this canyon and you do see them! It was unforgettable.
You would be well advised to go with a guide. Though this is a National Park, the reality is that it offers minimal facilities. Furthermore, because of the landscape it's easy to get lost. Finally, you are advised (rather sternly) that the Park does have a large variety of wildlife, among which are snakes and pumas.
the Town of Cosquin (52 km- 38 miles) from Cordoba city, the main town in the Punilla Valley
hosts two important music festivals.
One is Cosquin Rock, which generally invites rock bands(mostly alternative and indie) from the Spanish Speaking countries. (held in February)
Cosquin Folk Festival occurs in the second half of January. It is a major folk music and culture show that goes on for 9 days. This is internationally recognized and attracts folk music aficionados from throughout the continent.