Many of the attractions surrounding Santiago are east of the city, and you’ll need at least a couple of days to do them justice. Cool and fresh, the mountains of the Sierra de la Gran Piedra make an excellent break from the harsh Santiago heat, and the giant Gran Piedra is an extraordinary lookout point. Nearby, there’s the atmospheric, little-visited Museo Isabelica, set on one of several colonial coffee plantations in the mountains; and the formerly lovely Jardín Botánico, totally wrecked by Hurricane Sandy and closed to the public for the foreseeable future. Spanning the east coast is the Gran Parque Natural Baconao, not so much a park as a vast (and currently hurricane-raddled) collection of beaches and other tourist attractions, among them a vintage car collection and the Comunidad Artística Verraco – home, gallery and workplace for several local artists.
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