Hang out with more than 100 cats at Parque Kennedy. // © 2015 Valerie Chen
Feature image (above): Miraflores is one of more than 40 districts in Lima. // © 2015 Valerie Chen
As the capital of Peru, Lima is a bustling city with almost 10 million inhabitants. One of its 43 districts is Miraflores, an upscale neighborhood that buzzes with restaurants, bars, shopping and more. It’s also known to be safe and walkable, further luring travelers from all over the world who are looking for a taste of classic Peruvian culture.
There’s dining in a nice restaurant — and then there’s dining at a nice restaurant next to a pre-Inca archaeological site. At Huaca Pucllana, contemporary dishes are reinterpreted by owner and Cordon Bleu-trained chef Marilu Madueno.
To start, order a pisco sour, said to be Peru’s national drink (though Chileans might protest otherwise), along with ceviche’s less-famous sibling: Japanese-inspired "tiradito," delicate slices of sea bass and corn. Having to choose between classic "lomo saltado" and its more refined version, "seco de lomo" (beef fillet, rice and a potato puree), may be the only unpleasant aspect of the experience.
For an unobscured view of the roughly 1,500-year-old ruins, be sure to request a table on the terrace.
Facing the Pacific Ocean and conveniently located, JW Marriott Hotel Lima is hard to beat for a stay in Miraflores. Service is impeccable, and accommodations are spacious, with luxuries such as marble bathrooms. Those who book an executive or upper-level guestroom also get access to the hotel’s 24th-floor executive lounge, which boasts views of the occasional paraglider and the uber-modish (and Westernized) Larcomar, a shopping center that’s set into the beachside cliffs.
Open 24 hours, the lounge includes complimentary Wi-Fi access and impressive spreads of food at no extra cost. Best of all is the choice of afternoon snacks, which might be wine and cheese one day and burgers and beer the next.
Named after late U.S. president John F. Kennedy, Parque Kennedy (Kennedy Park) is a well-kept public park in the heart of Miraflores. Though it may have the typical fixtures of a park — scattered benches, manicured grass, street-food vendors, pop-up markets and visitors of all ages loafing about — some of its regulars are furrier than others.
More than 100 stray cats roam the grounds of Parque Kennedy, which has, in turn, earned the nickname “Cat Park.” Having taken residence at the park for about 20 years, the felines are generally friendly and unafraid of flocking to people. Nonprofit group Kennedy Park Kittens feeds the cats, provides vaccinations and raises funding for such tasks. Though it’s advised to pet with caution, the attraction can be a fun surprise for travelers.