Along the Pan American Highway, 295 mi/475 km north of Santiago, La Serena, Chile, has become a beach resort popular with Chileans from Santiago and Argentines from the central Andean provinces. It is one of Chile's oldest cities, but its Spanish colonial-style architecture is misleading, as only a few buildings are truly colonial—most date from the mid-20th century. The Iglesia de San Francisco does date from the 17th century, and there are also colonial Dominican and Jesuit churches.
Sandy beaches stretch from La Serena some 9 mi/15 km south to the port of Coquimbo, whose rejuvenated Barrio Ingles is a 19th-century neighborhood that is the hub of the area's nightlife.
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