From LAX, American, LATAM Airlines Group, COPA and TACA offer connecting service (change of plane) to Montevideo. Restricted round-trip fares from $693, including taxes and fees.
U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter Uruguay.
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 598 (country code for Uruguay), 2 (Montevideo area code) or 52 (Colonia del Sacramento area code) and the local number.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Iberia, 1097 Maldonado, Montevideo; 2901-3633, http://www.hoteliberia.com.uy. This modern hotel is a few blocks from the ocean-side Rambla boulevard and offers free Wi-Fi. Doubles from $64.
Club Hotel Casapueblo, Punta Ballena; 4257-8611, http://www.clubhotelcasapueblo.com. The whimsical white hotel and museum of Uruguay artist Carlos Paez Vilaro is in Punta Ballena, outside Punta del Este. Splurge-worthy. Doubles from $134.
La Viuda del Diablo, Playa de la Viuda, Punta del Diablo; 9864-0792, http://www.laviudadeldiablo.com. This sleek hotel is a new upscale game in town. Doubles from $190.
Posada Mariemar, Cabo Polonio; 4470-5164. This 50-year-old guesthouse is right on the beach. Its restaurant offers fresh seafood. Doubles start at $100.
Posada Don Antonio, Ituzainago 232, Colonia del Sacramento; 4522-5344, http://www.posadadonantonio.com. This hotel right next to Colonia's main street has an interior courtyard with a pool. Doubles start at $150.
WHERE TO EAT
Mercado del Puerto, Montevideo; http://www.welcomeuruguay.com/montevideo/port-market.html. Try the grilled meats and vegetables or go for a chivito. Entrees $3-$20.
Lo de Charlie, No. 819 Calle 12, Punta del Este; 4244-4183. Spoil yourself with baby squid, breaded stingray and cheese-flavored ice cream washed down by a fruity Uruguayan viognier at this premier Punta del Este restaurant, decorated with works by local artist Carlos Paez Vilaro. Entrees run $16-$33.
Comipaso, Cabo Polonio. Try shrimp empanadas or a fish chivito in this casual, fast joint near the main plaza. Entrees $2-$8.
Lentas Maravillas, 61 Santa Rita, Barrio Histórico, Colonia del Sacramento; 4522-0636. Settle in for tea and cookies or a glass of wine as you enjoy the gorgeous river views or check the dinner menu, which changes daily. Entrees $5-$14.
El Rincon, 41 Misiones de las Tapes, Colonia del Sacramento; 9967-5202. Grab the best barbecue in town and settle in under a big tree while listening to Latin American beats. Lunch only. Entrees $8-$15.
TO LEARN MORE
Exito Latin American Travel Specialists, 108 Rutgers Ave., Fort Collins, Colo.; (800) 665-4053, http://www.exitotravel.com