Half a century ago, Villa Carlos Paz was a bucolic hill town in the Sierra Chica at the outlet of the Río Suquía. Development around sailboat-studded Lago San Roque—the result of a dam project originally built to store drinking water for the provincial capital in the 1890s—made it a summer madhouse for tourists from all over Argentina, as well as a popular weekend destination for Cordobeses.
More recently, a four-lane toll road has turned it into a bedroom community for capital commuters. Packed with upwards of 10,000 hotel beds, receiving 850,000 visitors per year, it has become a small-scale fresh-water Mar del Plata—but without the cultural resources of Argentina’s premier beach resort.
Crawling up and down the south arm of Lago San Roque, 640 meters above sea level, fast-growing Carlos Paz (pop. about 70,000) is 36 kilometers west of Córdoba  via four-lane RN 20. Two-lane RN 38 continues north to the resorts of Cosquín  and La Falda , while RN 20 continues southwest past Parque Nacional Quebrada del Condorito  to Mina Clavero and San Luis Province .
Carlos Paz looks better at a distance, from the 953-meter summit of Cerro de la Cruz, reached by footpath or chairlift from the Complejo Turístico Aerosilla (Florencio Sánchez s/n, tel. 03541/42-2254, www.aerosilla.com ). Since opening in 1955, the chairlift has been a traditional activity for Argentine families—nearly all of whom seem to have purchased photos from its lurking shooters. The chairlift charges US$5 pp round-trip, but many mountain bikers now use it just to get up the hill.
At the summit, a passenger monorail (US$2.50 pp more) loops past grazing goats on other parts of the hillside. Soft drinks, beer, and sandwiches at the hilltop confitería, which offers panoramas of the higher Sierras to the west, are reasonably priced.
Many visitors stay at campgrounds such as ACA’s waterfront Centro Turístico Villa Carlos Paz (Avenida San Martín and Nahuel Huapi, tel. 03541/42-2132, US$5 pp plus US$2 per tent).
Typical of two-star accommodations is the very decent Hotel Alpre (Avenida San Martín 1035, tel. 03541/42-6012, www.hotelalpre.com.ar , US$52–63 s or d with breakfast), where the higher price includes air-conditioning. It also has a pool, a restaurant, and Wi-Fi.
The four-star resort Hotel Portal del Lago (Avenida Gobernador Alvarez and Gobernador Carrera, tel. 03541/42-4931, www.portal-del-lago.com , US$110 s or d) has first-rate accommodations.
The cinema-themed Villapaz (General Paz 152, tel. 03541/43-3230) is primarily but not exclusively a parrilla, with excellent bife de chorizo, outstanding provoletta for a starter, and superb desserts.
Fonobus and Carcor minibuses to Córdoba  leave every 15 minutes from the Estación Terminal de Ómnibus (San Martín 400); Sarmiento Diferencial de Pasajeros (tel. 03541/42-1571) has half a dozen buses daily to Alta Gracia .
Some long-distance companies from Buenos Aires  start and end their Córdoba routes here, and there are also westward routes toward San Luis  and Mendoza . Fares and times resemble those from the provincial capital.