INFORMATION: Chilean Tourism Promotion Corporation, 866-YESCHILE;http://www.visit-chile.org .
Aerolineas Argentinas will get you from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and back for about $634 (subject to change); a recent check found Mexicana with the lowest one-stop O'Hare-Buenos Aires fare, at $852 for the round trip; United, American and Delta also do one-stops at fares ranging from $943 to $993. So we're talking about $1,500 to $1,600 for the whole trip.
NOTE: You can do the whole circuit -- O'Hare to Ushuaia, Ushuaia to Punta Arenas, Punta Arenas to O'Hare, using a variety of airlines -- for a total cost within a couple of hundred dollars of that Chicago to Ushuaia fare. You might want to see a travel agent to work that out.
If you're staying in the center, you'll walk everywhere. When walking isn't an option -- airport runs, getting to Tierra del Fuego National Park, trying a restaurant on the fringe of things -- metered taxis are surprisingly easy to find and refreshingly inexpensive, never more than a couple of dollars. Supplementing the taxis are buses, the best way into and out of the national park. There are multiple companies, which generally charge 25 pesos (about $8) for the round trip.
Most attractive of the in-town lodgings is a relatively new boutique hotel, the Hotel Lennox ($170 doubles, subject to change and seasonal variation;http://www.lennoxhotel.com.ar ), with stylish rooms, a dazzling rooftop breakfast area and location right in the middle of things. The Hotel Albatros ($160; http://www.albatroshotel.com.ar ), nearby, is larger and almost as nice. Next door to the Albatros is the Hotel Canal Beagle ($134; http://www.hotelcanalbeagle.com.ar ), plain, clean, competent and nothing special -- but OK for the price. Across the street from the Lennox, the spotless Hotel Cesar Hostal ($60; http://www.hotelcesarhostal.com.ar ) is a good-value option -- yes, rooms have private baths -- but some rooms are pretty tight; consider upgrading to a triple for the $10 difference. The only five-star (for now) is the Hotel y Resort Las Hayas ($262; http://www.lashayas.com.ar ), way above the city (but only a $2 or $3 taxi ride), boasting awesome views and, in its Martial Restaurant, the handsomest dining room around. A few steps up a path and sharing Las Hayas' owner and great views (but not its facilities), the new four-star Los Acebos Ushuaia ($185; http://www.losacebos.com.ar ).
Aside from the Las Hayas restaurant, Ushuaia's dining scene is largely casual with a Buenos Aires flavor: lots of beef, milanesas (breaded veal), pastas and pizza. Avenida San Martin, the main drag, abounds in parrillas -- places featuring char-broiled steaks and other cow parts -- though we went for a local speciality, spit-roasted lamb, at La Estensia Parrilla ($7.65). Also enjoyed, at cozy Bodegon Fueguino a couple of blocks away, lamb chops with spring onion and leek sauce ($7.65), one of its several saucy options. Being on the water, there's plenty of fresh fish and seafood here, notably centolla -- king crab -- in lots of variations. At La Casa de los Mariscos, we had the crab, a generous portion, in a tomato-based sopa ($5), then in a crab-octopus cazuela (that's a casserole, $15.60) that was bread-sopping good. Also yummy: tallarin (like spaghetti) and seafood sauce ($9.25) at La Cantina Fueguina de Freddy. Also, for snacks, we found empanadas, those luscious little meat pies. You will too.
INFORMATION: Ushuaia Tourist Board,http://www.e-ushuaia.com ; or the Argentina Tourism Office, 212-603-0443; http://www.turismo.gov.ar.