There are a surprising number of activities and sights to fill your day(s) while in Punta Arenas. When the wind is not overwhelming, it's a lovely town to stroll about. Begin your tour of Punta Arenas in the central Plaza Muñoz Gamero, where you'll find a bronze sculpture of Ferdinand Magellan donated by the region's long-ago wool czar José Menendez. Magellan is surrounded by lounging native Indians, one of whom has a shiny toe polished by the hundreds of visitors who kiss the nub each year; local lore here says that if you kiss the toe, you'll be lucky enough to visit Patagonia once again. The tranquil little plaza, delineated by cypress and other regional trees, has the visitor center gazebo, and several vendors here display crafts and souvenirs for sale. Around the plaza are old Punta Arenas' principal mansions and edifices from its boom times, which have, fortunately, been well kept over the decades.

From the plaza on Av. 21 de Mayo, head north toward Avenida Colón for a look at the Teatro Municipal, designed by the French architect Numa Mayer and modeled after the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. Head down to the waterfront and turn south toward the pier, where you'll find a 1913 clock imported from Germany that has a complete meteorological instrumentation and hands showing the moon's phases and a zodiac calendar. The entire port area is currently being redeveloped, with a giant new hotel and casino set to open in late 2009. There's also a lovely, new wide walkway and boulevard along the coast.

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