Located on the Pacific Coast of Peru, the thriving capital city of Lima offers plenty of things to do for visitors of all ages, and if you're traveling with children, there are many activities that are perfect for younger tourists. While Lima's museums, art galleries, and adobe-brick archaeological sites aren’t exactly prime destinations for kids, the various recreational parks, zoos, and other kid-friendly attractions in the city can make great additions to your family trip itinerary.
The Magic Water Circuit (Circuito Mágico del Agua) is a series of 13 illuminated fountains located in the Parque de la Reserva and recognized by the Guinness World Records as the largest public water fountain in the world. For families, a trip to this centrally located attraction provides hours of entertainment where kids can play in the fountains, many of which have interactive elements that respond to motion and touch. A great way to beat the heat on a hot day in Lima, the Magic Water Circuit is open Wednesday through Sunday from 3 to 10:30 p.m., but the fountains are best viewed at night.
Although it might be a bit scary for younger children, the catacombs beneath the San Francisco Monastery (Basílica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima) are a truly fascinating place to visit for the brave of heart. Located in the Historic Center of Lima at Plazuela San Francisco, these extensive catacombs are the final resting place for over 25,000 bodies, neatly organized to form geometric patterns. The catacombs were used for burial up until 1808—when the city cemetery outside Lima was built—and were rediscovered in 1943. For a small fee, tour the crypts every day from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and while you're there, also explore the extensive library of the cathedral, which features over 25,000 volumes of texts dating back to the 15th century.
Known as the first and most prestigious zoo in Peru, Parque de las Leyendas (Legends Park) is located in the San Miguel district and is home to 215 species of mammals, reptiles, and birds. Opened in 1964, the zoo is divided into four zones: the three geographic regions of Peru (coast, highlands, and jungle) and a fourth area for international species.
Legends Park is open Monday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and requires an admission fee to enter. However, the entire site is also built around an ancient archaeological complex, which has its own on-site museum that's included in admission. There’s also a botanical garden, a boating lake, and a playground, so you'll have plenty of options to keep the whole family occupied for a full day of fun.
Ice skating might not be the first thing you think about when you consider the warm, subtropical desert climate of Lima, but it's home to the only ice skating rink in all of Peru: Iceland Park. Opened in July of 2012, this popular rink is open from Tuesday through Sunday year-round and invites guests 7 and older to skate for a small fee. Located in the Jesús Maria district just next to Mini Mundo, the miniature model of the city's important landmarks, the 5,381-square-foot (500-square-meter) ice skating rink also offers classes throughout the year for first-time skaters.
Mini Mundo (“Mini World”) is home to a series of scale models representing various famous sites in Lima and Peru. Included among the 150 models are Lima’s Plaza de Armas, the National Stadium, the Parque de la Reserva and Magic Water Circuit, Plaza San Martin, and Jorge Chavez International Airport, and there’s also a replica of Peru’s most iconic attraction, Machu Picchu. Open Tuesdays through Sundays (and on holidays), this unique attraction gives guests the chance to see a lot of Peru at once for a small fee, and there are also inflatable slides for kids to play on in the adjacent park.
Another miniature attraction in Lima, Divercity is a miniature city theme park that welcomes children between 3 and 13 years old to take on more than 45 trades and professions while learning how the world works. Located on the Centro Comercial Jockey Plaza, this small city restricts access to parts of the park for guests over the age of 13 (including parents) to allow kids to truly choose their own adventure. Divercity is open most days of the year, but the schedule fluctuates each month, and there is a fee for entrance.
Lima is home to not one but four different ChocoMuseos (Chocolate Museums), dedicated to the history and craftsmanship of chocolatey confections. If you're traveling with kids that love sweet goodies, look no further than one of the four locations across the city. Featuring a museum and workshop at each location, these unique attractions also offer various activities for adults and kids including candy-making and arts and crafts. Open from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. seven days a week, the ChocoMuseo is free to attend, but some events may charge a small entrance fee.
The Parque de la Imaginacion (Park of the Imagination) is an interactive space where children can learn more about science and technology in a fun and hands-on manner. The various interactive exhibits allow children to explore such things as the principles of electricity and mechanics, experiment with sound and light, and learn about the human body and the world of water. Located at Block 8 of Avenida José de la Riva Agüero in the San Miguel district, the Parque de la Imaginacion is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and charges a small admission fee to enter.
The Parque de la Amistad (Friendship Park) is a perfect place for families to relax and have fun. The steam train (built-in 1926) is one of the main attractions, with daily rides taking passengers around the park. There’s also a lake with fish, ducks and geese, and paddleboats for hire that take up to four people. Other fixtures include fountains, a playground, a restaurant, a cultural center, and the 100-feet-tall Arco de la Amistad. Located at Block 21 of Avenida Caminos del Inca cuadra in Santiago de Surco, Friendship Park is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily; while entrance to the park is free, train rides and paddleboat rentals do require a small fee.
If you and your kids are feeling active, go for a walk or a bicycle ride along el Malecón, Lima’s cliff-top coastal path that runs six miles through the districts of Miraflores and Barranco. The route is dotted with parks offering views all along the city’s Pacific coastline, and some of these even feature a variety of interesting and historic sculptures. El Malecón is also the most popular place for paragliding in Lima, but the minimum age is 14. If cycling sounds a bit more bearable, you can hire bikes at various places in Miraflores, including the Bike Tours of Lima agency.
If your kids are interested in ships and sailing, they might like to step inside the submarine ABTAO, built in the United States but sold to the Peruvian Navy in 1953. The ABTAO now serves as one of Lima’s war and military museums, with guided tours taking groups of up to 30 visitors into the submarine to see the torpedo, battery, and engine rooms as well as the central command post. Located in Callao, part of the wider Lima Metropolitan Area, the ABTAO is open Tuesdays through Sundays with tours leaving every 30 minutes between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Larcomar is one of the biggest and most popular shopping and entertainment complexes in Miraflores, and it has everything you need to keep the little ones occupied for a full day of fun. Features of the complex include a bowling alley, one of the best cinemas in Lima, the Coney Park amusement arcade, and an ice cream shop as well as a number of local and international shops. While entrance to the complex is free, amusements and attractions each charge a separate fee to enjoy.