The Essential Guide to Parque Kennedy in Lima

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Miraflores Tu Corazon / Flickr

At the center of Lima’s Miraflores district, you will find what has become the unofficial main square of Lima, curiously named after an American President. Parque Kennedy has become the symbol of how Lima and the country at large would like to present themselves. It is the point of convergence of both locals and travelers alike, and arguably the forefront of modern Lima. Surrounded by a vast array of restaurants, cafes, shops, and about every other thing the capital of Peru could offer you, visiting Parque Kennedy is a must for any visitor.

Lima is a growing and ever-evolving city. We’ve refreshed this popular article, originally published in 2013, with updated details to keep it relevant so that it continues to be a useful reference for travelers like you. Enjoy!

Content
Parque Kennedy Overview
A Mini History Lesson
What To Do & See
For Travelers
At a glance

Parque Kennedy Overview

Parque Kennedy occupies an area of approximately 240,000 square feet. As most main squares of Lima, Parque Kennedy has a Roman Catholic temple – the Virgen Milagrosa Church – built in 1939, and also hosts the Municipal Palace, headquarters of Miraflores’ local administration. The Chabuca Granda Amphitheater and a number of smaller mini-squares within are where you can find everything from handcrafts and artisans to street food vendors.

Colorful flower beds frame the park and tall trees add to the park’s beauty. Curiously, Parque Kennedy has become a natural shelter for dozens of cats and kittens, which harmlessly wander throughout the green areas, sharing the space with visitors who very often decide to 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

Parque Kennedy is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) away from Jorge Chávez International Airport and about 7 mi (11 km) from Lima’s colonial main square. It lays at the intersection of three main avenues of Miraflores: Manuel Pardo, José Larco, and Diagonal. It is less than a mile away from the city’s coastal area known as Malecón Cisneros and about a mile away from Lima’s main highway, the Paseo de la República, through which Lima’s official bus system – the Metropolitano – transits.

A Mini History Lesson

Parque Kennedy is located at the very center of Miraflores, one of the main districts of Lima. Miraflores was founded in 1856, though the area was known before that as a coastal locality for Lima’s upper classes. By 1900, the area that Parque Kennedy currently occupies was known as Parque Central and was solely occupied by a church and an open area.

In the 1960s, Parque Central became two separate public areas: the Parque 7 de Junio, commemorating one of the most important battles of Peruvian history and the National Flag day; and Parque Kennedy, honoring President John F. Kennedy and the role that the Alliance for Progress played during mid-century Peru. Although the park’s official name is Parque Central, most people refer to it by the name of the largest area.

Parque Kennedy, Lima, Peru For LessView of Diagonal Building from Parque Kennedy, ca. 1940.
Photo by Municipalidad de Miraflores

 Parque Kennedy suffered the daunting years of civil conflict during the 1980s and 1990s in Peru. Since the return to democracy, after the collapse of Fujimori’s regime and the recovery of the country’s stability, Parque Kennedy has become the symbol of how Lima and the country at large would like to present themselves.

What To Do & See

Street Vendors 

Food is an essential part of urban environments in Peru, and street food has been part of the culinary boom observed internationally. Yet for visitors it is often risky to try some of the street delicacies available in Lima. That is not the case as far as Parque Kennedy’s street food is concerned. Although options are somewhat limited, you should feel free (and safe) to explore and try what vendors inside the park have to offer. The municipal administration and public health department certify all these vendors and their products.

Picarones are a tradition dessert sold by vedors in Parque Kennedy.
APEGA Peru / Peru

Street Vendors – Popular Food Options

  • Delicious butifarras are turkey breast and ham sandwiches topped with fresh chopped onions and lime juice.
  • Picarónes are a traditional Peruvian dessert. It kind of resembles a fried doughnut, its dough prepared from sweet potato flour, and then drizzled with honey for extra sweetness.
  • Refreshing chicha morada is a juice made from purple corn and flavored with cloves, cinnamon, and sugar.

Painters

Since the early nineteenth century, popular paintings and street art have been an essential aspect of Lima’s cultural scene. Back in the years when Peru was seeking its independence, a painter named Pancho Fierro (1810-1879) – allegedly of African descent – used watercolors to portray a vivid image of Lima’s daily life in years of social turmoil. The result was a quintessential expression of what later became known as Costumbrismo: a visual interpretation of day-to-day practices.

When visiting Parque Kennedy you will find some of the inheritors of Pancho Fierro’s talent: popular painters permanently observing, interpreting, and pictorially portraying their urban surroundings. While many of them follow a formulaic aesthetic that intends to sell well among tourists, some are daring enough to escape such rule and venture themselves into becoming twenty-first century costumbrista painters. A careful look at their art is definitely worth your time.

Amphitheater Chabuca Granda

One of Lima’s most deeply rooted legacies is the ideal of Criollismo, a largely political project that intended to formulate the notion of a racial democracy in Peru by promoting a somewhat Hispanophile feeling of racial, social, and – most importantly – cultural miscegenation. Chabuca Granda (1920-1982), a Huancayo-born singer and composer, ranks among the top symbols of Criollismo. Her song “La Flor de la Canela” is a sort of parallel national anthem for limeños. Miraflores built and named an amphitheater after her, honoring her musical and cultural legacy while also creating a space for future generations of artists.

Parque Kennedy, Lima, Peru vacations, Peru For LessPhoto by TravelBlog

The amphitheater typically hosts shows of young artists, dancers and bands, which otherwise would not find room for presenting their work. Most shows are free and the space tends to get overcrowded quickly – so consider yourself lucky if you manage to get a good spot. A monthly schedule of events (in Spanish) is available here. When not used by artists, people stop here to enjoy a nice day outside, sitting down to eat a quick snack, or just simply taking five before continuing a demanding work day.

Catland

No one knows how it originally started, but during the past couple of years Parque Kennedy has become a haven for cats. These days you can see several dozens of cats walking around the park, climbing on the trees, and otherwise sharing the space with locals and visitors.

Geraint Rowland/ Flickr

While this might sound unhealthy, you should rest assured the municipality has already properly sterilized most of these cats – except probably for the latecomers – and carries a very detailed account of the number of these little fellows and their sanitary conditions. More importantly, cat lovers have founded an association to care and defend the rights of these felines as well as to supervise the adoption process in case someone is interested in taking one of them home.

For Travelers

Where To Grab A Bite To Eat

Around the Parque Kennedy you can find pretty much everything you may need, want, or crave: from fairly well known American chain restaurants to Peruvian gourmet places. Recommended places around Parque Kennedy include Haití, a historical, old-fashioned café famous for its aromatic coffee and wonderful omelets. If you are among those who like breakfasts at all times of the day, you might want to visit La Tiendecita Blanca, a Swiss restaurant that offers, among other things, a good number of cheese-based delicacies and delicious sandwiches. For Peruvian sandwiches, you can try La Lucha, a place that celebrates both Peruvian flavors and our love for bread. If you do not feel as hungry and are otherwise looking for a relaxed afternoon conversation over coffee and/or tea, Dédalo: Arte y Café offers a combination of good drinks and small art exhibitions.

For more detailed restaurant recommendations in Lima, be sure to check out our digital Lima Restaurant Guide.

Entertainment

Parque Kennedy also is a meeting point for Peruvian youth and visitors at night. There are a number of karaoke places, bars, and pubs. Check out Barbarian for a taste of artisenal beer brewed in Lima. The area is also famous for the so-called Calle de las Pizzas (Pizza Street), a whole street that in fact does include a couple of pizza places but that also turns into a party boulevard after the sunset. Further down on Diagonal Street, you can find a newly established bar named La Emolientería, Gastón Acurio’s latest flimflam proposal of bringing popular traditions upfront with a hype twist.

Shopping

Shopping is another main activity when visiting and walking around Parque Kennedy. On both ends, north and south, there are two main department stores in Lima: Saga Falabella and Ripley, respectively. If you are looking for jewelry in Lima, Joyería Murguía offers quality pieces of the finest 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: Miraflores, approximately 10 miles from the airport
Busiest Times: 7:00 – 9:00 a.m., 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., and weekends
Shops: Saga Falabella, Ripley, La Quinta, and small street vendors
Banks, ATMs, and Money Exchange: Available around the park: GlobalNet, BCP, Scotiabank
Favorite Restaurants: Haití, La Lucha, La Tiendecita Blanca
Cafes and Bars: Barbarian, Dédalo, La Emolientería
Franchises & Fast Food: McDonalds, KFC, Pinkberry, Starbucks, Burger King, Bembos
Disabled facilities: Yes
Public Bathrooms: Available inside the park
Transportation: Parking limited, bus and taxi accessible. Also, Metropolitano is within walking distance.

We hope you make the most of your stay in Lima. And remember, you can always contact us for a customized itinerary. Click “Go Discover” now.

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About Author

Javier complements his scholarly and academic interests traveling as much as possible, which helps him keep his faith in mankind and his conviction that mother nature still rules. Besides writing for Latin America For Less, Javier also teaches college history in the United States.

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