Parque Kennedy, the unofficial main square of Lima, sits at the center of the Miraflores district. Curiously named after U.S. President John F. Kennedy, Parque Kennedy is the forefront of modern Lima and a meeting point for locals and travelers alike.
Less than a mile away from the city’s coastal walkway known as the Malecón and close to many of the top hotels in Lima, Parque Kennedy is a great location to begin city exploration. Surrounded by top restaurants, cafes, shops, and just about everything the capital of Peru has to offer, checking out Parque Kennedy is a must for anyone visiting Lima.
Table of Contents
- Parque Kennedy Overview
- The Park’s History
- What to Do and See
- Where to Eat
- Parque Kennedy Bars
- At a Glance
Last updated by Melissa Dreffs in July 2020.
Parque Kennedy Overview
Parque Kennedy occupies an area of about 5.5 acres or 240,000 square feet. The park is home to a Catholic church, the Virgen Milagrosa Church built in 1939. The park also hosts the Municipal Palace, headquarters of Miraflores’ local government. The Chabuca Granda Amphitheater and some smaller squares are where you can find everything from handicrafts and artisans to street food vendors and live performances.
Colorful flower beds frame the park and tall shade trees add to the park’s beauty. Unexpectedly, Parque Kennedy has become a natural shelter for dozens of friendly cats and kittens. The cats wander around the green areas, sharing the space with visitors who can even adopt one.
In recent years, the park has also become the main station for Mirabus, a city sightseeing service that connects several tourist spots throughout Lima – departing from and arriving at Parque Kennedy.
The Park’s History
Parque Kennedy is located at the center of Miraflores, one of the main districts of Lima. By 1900, the area that Parque Kennedy currently occupies was known as Parque Central and was just a church and an open area.
In the 1960s, Parque Central became two separate public areas split by a busy street:
- The Parque 7 de Junio, June 7th Park, commemorating both an important battle in Peruvian history and the national Flag Day.
- Parque Kennedy, Kennedy Park, honoring President John F. Kennedy and the role that the Alliance for Progress played during mid-century Peru.
The street cutting through the park has since been closed to cars and now pedestrians can cross between parks with ease. Although the area technically has two parks, most people refer to the entire area by the name of Parque Kennedy.
What to Do in Parque Kennedy
A visit to Parque Kennedy is one of the top things to do in Miraflores. Experience any of the following attractions while there.
Street Food Vendors
Street food has been a large part of Lima’s culinary boom. Yet for visitors, it can be risky to try some of the street delicacies available in Lima. However, that is not the case for Parque Kennedy’s street food. The municipal administration and public health department certify all vendors and their products in the park.
Although options are somewhat limited, you should feel free (and safe) to try the food sold in the park. Some tasty options include:
- Butifarras: turkey breast and ham sandwiches topped with fresh chopped onions and lime juice.
- Picarones: a traditional Peruvian dessert resembling a fried doughnut. Picarones are made with sweet potato flour and have honey drizzled on top for extra sweetness.
- Chicha morada: a refreshing juice made from purple corn and flavored with cloves, cinnamon, and sugar.
Miraflores Cat Park
No one knows how it originally started, but Parque Kennedy has become a haven for stray cats. These days you can see dozens of friendly cats walking around the park, climbing on the trees, and otherwise sharing the space with locals and visitors.
The municipality carries a detailed account of the cats in Parque Kennedy, including the population size and their sanitary conditions. More importantly, cat lovers founded an association, Gatos Parque Kennedy, to care for and defend the rights of these felines. Along with the municipality, the group provides sterilization for the cats living in the park. The association also feeds the cats daily and oversees the adoption process in case someone wants to take one home.
Painters in Parque Kennedy
Since the early nineteenth century, paintings and street art have been a key aspect of Lima’s cultural scene. While Peru was seeking its independence, an Afro-Peruvian painter named Pancho Fierro (1810-1879) used watercolors to portray Lima’s daily life in years of social turmoil. This artistic style later became known as Costumbrismo: an interpretation of the day-to-day practices.
When visiting Parque Kennedy you will find some of the inheritors of Pancho Fierro’s talent: popular painters observing, interpreting, and portraying their urban surroundings. While many of them now produce works intended to sell well among tourists, some are more daring and venture further into the Costumbrismo style. A careful look at their art is definitely worth your time.
Chabuca Granda Amphitheater
Peruvian Creole music blends together Spanish, African, and indigenous Andean sounds into a genre representative of the Peruvian national identity. Chabuca Granda (1920-1982), a Huancayo-born singer and composer, ranks among the top Creole artists. Her song “La Flor de la Canela” is like a second national anthem for Lima’s residents. Miraflores honored her musical and cultural legacy by naming an amphitheater after her.
The Chabuca Granda Amphitheater hosts young artists, dancers, and bands, which otherwise may not have a public space to perform. Most shows are free and the space tends to get crowded quickly – so consider yourself lucky if you manage to get a good spot.
A monthly schedule of events, the “Agenda de actividades”, is available on the main page of the Municipality of Miraflores. When not used by artists, people stop here to eat a quick snack, people watch, or simply enjoy a nice day.
Where To Eat
Around Parque Kennedy, you can find many food options, including well known American chains and local Peruvian restaurants.
Here are a few recommended places to eat near Parque Kennedy:
- Haití: a historical, old-fashioned café famous for its aromatic coffee and wonderful omelets.
- La Tiendecita Blanca: a Swiss restaurant that offers a good number of cheese-based dishes and classic sandwiches. They also serve breakfast foods all day!
- La Lucha: a quick stop for tasty Peruvian sandwiches. It celebrates Peruvian flavors and serves some of the best French fries in Lima!
Parque Kennedy Bars
Parque Kennedy also is a meeting point for Peruvian youth and visitors at night. There are several bars, pubs, and clubs nearby.
- Check out BarBarian or Nuevo Mundo for a taste of craft beer brewed in Lima.
- For pisco, Peru’s national liquor, head to the Museo del Pisco to try a pisco sour or chilcano.
- Less than 3 blocks away sits La Destilería, a comfortable cocktail lounge and one of the 10 best bars in Lima.
Shopping is another main activity when visiting and walking around Parque Kennedy. On either end of the park, you can find a large department store: Saga Falabella on the north side and Ripley on the south side.
If you are looking for jewelry in Lima, Joyería Murguía offers quality pieces of fine jewelry and watches. For top quality Peruvian leather, visit Renzo Costa: a prime store that offers almost anything that can be made out of leather.
At a Glance
- Location: Parque Kennedy lies at the intersection of Manuel Pardo, José Larco, and Diagonal Avenues in Miraflores.
- Busiest Times: 7:00 – 9:00 AM , 6:00 – 9:00 PM, and weekends
- Shops: Saga Falabella, Ripley, and small street vendors
- Banks, ATMs, and Money Exchange: GlobalNet, BCP, and Scotiabank
- Favorite Restaurants: Haití, La Lucha, and La Tiendecita Blanca
- Franchises & Fast Food: McDonalds, KFC, Pinkberry, Starbucks, Burger King, and Bembos
- Favorite Bars: Barbarian, Nuevo Mundo, Museo del Pisco, and La Destilería
- Transportation: Accessible by bus and taxi. Metropolitano is within walking distance. Limited paid parking available.
Former guide with Peru for Less and now professor of Latin American and Latino/a Studies at a college in the United States, Javier contributes his endless knowledge of Peru’s past and present.