FAMILY VACATIONS IN PERU: Lima with Kids – Many travelers bypass Lima when they visit Peru, preferring to start their adventure in the picturesque colonial city of Cusco, instead. But this large, modern city actually has a lot to offer travelers, not least its incredible food. Lima is one of the world’s top food capitals and the culinary scene here is second to none.
Positioned on the rugged Pacific coastline, the city spreads out along the shore with much of the capital perched high up on imposing cliff tops overlooking the ocean. Its seaside location means that the city can be grey and drizzly at times but fortunately there are lots of indoor events to enjoy. Peru’s capital is home to excellent pre-Columbian museums, contemporary art and photography galleries, and some fun, hands-on activities for families.
If you’ll be visiting Lima with kids, here are my 4 top-recommended activities, along with suggestions for 1 great place to stay and 1 great place to eat while you are there.
Activity 1: Learn and Create at the ChocoMuseo
Lima might be most famous for its ceviche and cuy (yep, that’s guinea pig!), but kids are more likely to enjoy its chocolate. And what better place to learn about this food of the Mayan gods than at the ChocoMuseo?
Lima is home to two branches of this popular Latin American chocolate museum and workshop chain, one in the neighborhood of Miraflores and the other in Barranco. Both museums offer the same menu of activities allowing kids, and adults, the chance to get their hands dirty. Particular favorites for younger children are the ‘Bean to Bar’ and the Mini Chef classes.
Both workshops give a brief history of chocolate before children are let loose to create their own chocolate bars topped with all manner of brightly coloured sprinkles. Both branches also have a café where you can enjoy a hot chocolate or just a very good coffee. Find out more: https://www.chocomuseo.com/english/our-locations/miraflores-per/
Activity 2: Get Snap Happy at MATE
Peru’s most famous photographer is also the founder of the popular MATE – Museo Mario Testino. Established in 2012 by the fashion photographer himself, the space showcases Testino’s work alongside that of Peruvian artists and a handful of international talents. The ground floor houses Mario Testino’s permanent collection and includes shots of celebrities including Kate Moss and Madonna (who my nine-year-old daughter did not recognize in the slightest!).
Upstairs is the excellent Alta Moda series, a series of portraits of Peruvian locals from the Andean region of Cusco, taken by Testino. There is also a separate room dedicated to the photographer’s portraits of Princess Diana. The prints are enormous, with many covering entire walls, and the museum was one of our trip highlights. Find out more: http://www.mate.pe/en/
Activity 3: Stroll (or Bike!) El Malecón
Often referred to as the Garden City, leafy Lima has some wonderful parks, especially in the upmarket neighborhood of Miraflores. Here, the government has poured money into renovating El Malecón, a six-mile stretch of green space that runs along the cliff tops with views over the Pacific Ocean. This long, paved pathway is ideal for walking, running, paragliding or cycling.
Along the way you’ll pass statues created by famed Peruvian artists including the Intihuatana (sun anchor) and El Beso (the kiss) that sit either side of the Villena Bridge. Bike Tours of Lima rents bikes for kids aged 10+. Baby bike seats (for kids aged 1-5 years) are also available. Find out more: www.biketoursoflima.com
Activity 4: Dance in the Fountains
Guaranteed to please the kids is Lima’s fantastical Circuito Magico del Agua (The Magic Water Circuit). This complex of 13 illuminated fountains in the Parque de la Reserva was inaugurated in 2007. It fast became one of the capital’s main attractions.
The star of the show is the Fuente de la Fantasia (Fantasia fountain): a 120-metre-long fountain that bursts into life every evening. It’s a spectacular choreographed show of lights, lasers, water and music. What the kids will really love, however, are the interactive fountains including the Laberinto del Ensueño (Maze of Dreams). Good luck trying to reach the center of the maze without getting wet.
Tip: Bring a change of clothes! Find out more: http://www.circuitomagicodelagua.com.pe/
1 Great Place to Stay: Tierra Viva
Tierra Viva is a small chain of cozy hotels located in Peru’s main destinations. The hotels are comfortable, personal and very good value for money and the Lima branch is no exception. Located in the upmarket Miraflores neighbourhood, not far from the Malecon, this is a great option for families looking to explore Lima’s main sites. Rooms are simple and welcoming but not built for spending much time in – you’ll be too busy sightseeing instead!
The hotel operates on a B&B basis only meaning you’ll have to go elsewhere for lunch and dinner. Fortunately, you can simply stroll to some of Lima’s best restaurants. Also nearby is Kennedy Park, once famous for being home to dozens of stray cats. The feline residents are being moved on but you might see one or two still lying out in the sunshine. Find out more: http://tierravivahoteles.com/
1 Great Place to Eat: La Barra Moreya in Astrid y Gaston
You will eat well almost everywhere in Lima. However, if you’re looking for a top-notch Peruvian dining experience treat yourself to a meal at Astrid y Gaston. This chichi restaurant is located in a beautifully renovated 17th century plantation house, Casa Moreyra, and is frequently ranked as one of the best in in Latin America (if not the world).
Not surprisingly, such accolades come at a price. So if you’re looking for something a little more wallet-friendly, try their casual dining option, La Barra Moreya. Located in the same building, adjacent to Astrid y Gaston, the food here is excellent. We ordered a few dishes from the various menus – del mar (from the sea), del campo (from the countryside), and de la ciudad (from the city) – and everything was absolutely delicious. As were the pisco sours! Find out more: http://www.astridygaston.com/