Lima was the first international trip for our 7-year old son. I’m so glad we took the time to visit the city, rather than rushing straight away to Machu Picchu. Lima is a great place for children.
Although Lima has a population of 8 million, it doesn’t feel like your typical mega-metropolis. Over the few days we spent there, we were able to wander around parts of the city that were practically empty. We had a lot of space to ourselves.
Many travelers hang out in the Miraflores area. This is the upscale area of the city; more tourist-oriented with high end hotels. We stayed in Barranco, which is considered the ‘bohemian’ district. I didn’t find it to be too bohemian, honestly. But it’s an adorable residential area with plenty to see and do.
Take a taxi to Reserve Park, home of the Magic Water Circuit. This is the largest outdoor fountain complex in the world, with multiple lighted fountain displays. Many of the fountains are interactive. The locals bring their kids here in the evening to get soaked in the fountains and watch the laser light shows. Go early in the evening before sundown and spend a few hours wandering around as the sky grows dark. It’s enchanting. Ask your driver for Parque de la Reserva, or El Circuito Mágico del Agua. Entry is 4 soles, or about $1.50 US. Wednesdays through Sundays starting at 4:00pm.
Walk along the Lima bluffs in the Barranco district. Find the Malecon Paul Harris in Barranco to start your walk. There are gardens and paths all along the bluffs with magnificent views. If you’re heading south along the bluffs, be sure to take a stroll down Avenida Saenz Peña, a wide promenade showcasing beautiful historic mansions.
Check out the Bridge of Sighs. Often listed as a must-see when in Lima, I found the area surrounding the bridge to be far more interesting than the bridge itself. A giant sculpture of a monkey stands at the entrance to the bridge and makes for a great photo op with kids. On one end of the bridge is a beautiful park, and you’ll probably find an ice cream cart somewhere around there. Cross over the bridge and find a stone walkway leading down to the Pacific. Stroll down to the restaurants at the end of the walkway for lunch and magnificent ocean views.
Larcomar Mall is the trendy shopping center built into the bluffs along the ocean in the Miramar district. The shopping here is lackluster and the restaurants are overpriced, but there’s a quaint little playground here full of local families. Let your kids run loose while you enjoy the ocean views.
We found more playgrounds in Lima than anywhere else in the world, making it a top-notch destination for families in my book. Even after the sun goes down, you’ll find these playgrounds full of local children. Be sure to add a day or two in Lima on your way to Machu Picchu. The kids will love it.