By now, you've heard about the thriving food-and-nightlife scene in this once-sleepy colonial city. What you may not know is that Cartagena — less than three hours from Miami — can be fully enjoyed in as few as four days. Base yourself in the old city, at the palatial Casa San Agustín (from $266 a night) or the funky Delirio (from $111 a night) and do what the locals do: Take a long lunch of ceviche and grilled octopus at a small restaurant like El Boliche Cebichería. Then watch the sunset with a limonada de coco on the old city walls at Café del Mar.
In the evening, Cartagena's Getsemaní neighborhood is full of packed cafes, small galleries, and nightclubs blasting raucous Afro-Colombian house music. For a beach day, take a 45-minute boat ride to Playa Blanca on Isla Barú, lined with small huts stocked with cold beer and grilled fish. If you get too chilled out, no problem: You can stay the night at Hotel Playa Scondida Baru ($225 a night).