Lima is a majorly underrated destination for travelers with kids in tow. Peru’s capital city has plenty to keep families entertained: hands-on museums, beachfront promenades, a zoo, and a water park popular with locals, to name just a few.

Tourists used to stop in busy Lima on their way to and from Peru's world-class attractions—but today, the city is much more than the gateway to the Andes and the Amazon. The capital city offers many reasons to linger, regardless of your age.

If you're traveling with kids, start with a stroll along the cliffs through the beachfront Miraflores neighborhood, stopping at a lighthouse. Then explore a restored ancient pyramid before checking out one of the world's only zoos to feature a major archaeological complex. Discover how family-friendly Lima can be with these suggestions for traveling with kids in Peru's capital city.

Discover the Perks of Traveling With Kids in Lima

Children playing outside a school in Lima, Peru
Children playing outside a school in Lima, Peru

Peru is famously welcoming to children. If you're traveling with kids, you'll experience Lima in an enhanced way: cultural barriers come tumbling down when kids unknowingly break them. And much of the city is inviting for children, from leafy plazas to family-friendly restaurants. Parque de las Leyendas, in the northwest of Lima, with a zoo, botanical gardens, and a major archaeology site, would be considered a wonderful family attraction anywhere in the world. And Lima's museums, covering everything from chocolate to colossal restored pyramids, can be great fun for young travelers.

It's true that Lima used to be known as dangerous, but the city is slowly shaking off that reputation. To be on the safe side, stick to tourist-friendly neighborhoods like Miraflores and neighboring Barranco. Steer clear of the traffic-clogged main roads when walking: use pedestrian-friendly pathways instead. If walking longer distances is too much for your kids — or too much for parents who have to carry children when they get tired — consider taking a bus tour around the city.

Looking for the perfect place to stay in Lima? Check out this article on the city's most family-friendly hotels.

Meander Through Malls, Parks, and a Pyramid

Paragliding over Larcomar, a fancy clifftop mall in Miraflores
Paragliding over Larcomar, a fancy clifftop mall in Miraflores

The neighborhood of Miraflores, with great diversions for kids, is the perfect place to kick off a family-friendly exploration of Lima. Start the fun down at the southern clifftop end of Avenida Larco at Larcomar, a high-end shopping mall perched on the cliffs above Playa Redondo beach. In addition to family-friendly eateries and around 70 shops, there's a bowling alley and a stand for renting bicycles. From Larcomar, pathways line the cliffs — they're ideal for walking, running, or cycling. Follow the path a mile or so northwest to colorful Parque del Amor (Love Park), surrounded by snack stands where you can take a break for a fresh-squeezed juice or a popsicle. Just beyond it, you'll find the lighthouse at Parque el Faro (Lighthouse Park). It's not open to the public, but it's still a nice spot to take a break from biking or walking.

Not all of Miraflores' family attractions are confined to the coast. At the north end of Avenida Larco is Parque Kennedy, a pretty park that's famous for cats that freely roam the gardens. There is always some form of street entertainment happening in the park. Tired of walking? If you're ready to hop on a bus tour, many depart from Parque Kennedy.  And if you're ready for a sweet treat, you're also in the right place. Three blocks away from the park, look for Choco Museo, a bean-to-bar chocolate factory where visitors of all ages can learn how to make chocolate.

Huaca Pucllana, a surreal restored ancient pyramid, in Miraflores
Huaca Pucllana, a surreal restored ancient pyramid, in Miraflores

Further north, you'll find the neighborhood's most novel attraction: the bizarre Huaca Pucllana. These ruins of a pre-Incan pyramid, dating back 1500 years, were an important center for Peru's Wari culture. The ruins are impressive, but having dinner among them (at the appropriately named Huaca Pucllana Restaurant) is even better — at night, the whole place is spectacularly illuminated, with the ruins soaring up amid the high-rises of Miraflores. 

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Walk Through a Wacky Water Park

The Circuito Magico de Agua (magical water circuit) in Lima is brilliant fun for kids
The Circuito Mágico del Agua (Magical Water Circuit) in Lima is brilliant fun for kids

Kids (and kids at heart) — this watery fantasy world is for you. The Circuito Mágico del Agua (Magical Circuit of Water), located between Miraflores and central Lima, is a beautiful park with a series of spectacular fountains, including a musical fountain, that visitors can stroll through. Or run through, depending on how hot it is.

The park has a substantial fan base, mostly comprised of young local families. It's no wonder: the Circuito Mágico is billed as the world's largest fountain complex. At night, light shows heighten the experience.   

For more ideas on how to experience Peru like a local, read these suggestions for improving your cultural experience while traveling around the country.

Gaze at Animals and Archaeological Wonders

Cute animals such as the capybara, the world's largest living rodent, can be seen at the zoo in Parque de las Leyendas
A capybara, the world's largest living rodent, at the zoo in Parque de las Leyendas

The family-friendly credentials of Parque de las Leyendas are impressive. Out in the northwest corner of the city, this sprawling park contains a zoo that represents the dazzling diversity of Peru's wildlife. Look for capybaras, the largest living rodents in the world, as well as monkeys and birds that you'd be lucky to spot on a trip into the Peruvian jungle.

The excitement doesn't end there. Right next door is the pre-Incan archaeological site of Maranga, built in seven phases by seven different cultures, with substantial ruins remaining to this day. There are also botanical gardens — highlights include a cactus garden and a large butterfly sculpture made entirely from plants — and the Parque de la Imaginación, an interactive science center.

Ready to pencil Lima exploration into your itinerary? Click here for more on how to spend the perfect day in Lima.