Peru has been on our travel bucket list for as long as we can remember. The country quite literally checks off every box for us: culture, history, food, surf, proximity, value. Now, without hesitation, it has easily topped the list of our favorite places.
Our boys were 13 months and almost 3 years old at the time of our trip to Peru. We spent two weeks exploring Peru with toddlers, including Lima, five days in Ica/Huacachina, and five nights in Punta Hermosa.
Getting to Peru with a Toddler
Most US cities offer direct flights to Lima. However, we chose a flight with a connection in Florida.
Travel tip: When flying with toddlers, layovers can actually be great – it gives your toddler a chance to use a real bathroom and, more importantly, get some energy out.
This also allowed us to avoid a red-eye flight, because our older son is not a good plane sleeper. From Florida, it was just shy of 6 hours to Lima. Upon arrival, we sped through immigration and customs because there were dedicated lines for families with small children, pregnant women, and elderly travelers.
Getting Around Peru with a Toddler
When traveling with our kids, we always rent a car, and this trip was no different. All of the major rental companies operate in Peru, so making a reservation was easy and straight forward. We used Budget, and had a great experience with fair pricing.
We always bring car seats when traveling too, because they are free to check on the airplane and then I know that my kids will be safe traveling through a foreign country. I also throw our diapers, wipes, bed bumpers, and portable high chair in with the car seats to avoid overweight charges with our checked bags.
In general, road signage was excellent, roads were in good condition, and we had no issues with parking throughout Peru. There was never a time that we felt unsafe while driving, nor did we feel like conditions were dangerous.
Where to Stay in Peru with a Toddler
In each place that we visited, we opted to rent apartments through AirBnB. The space, amenities, and value that we can find by renting a vacation home are just unrivaled.
Where to Stay in Lima with Toddlers
We spent two weeks in Lima, specifically Miraflores. Lima is home to more than 11 million people, so, like most large cities, it is broken up into neighborhoods and each is quite different.
Often grouped with San Isidro, Miraflores is home to the wealthiest residents and ex-pats, and is the only neighborhood that I would recommend to families traveling to Lima. Neighboring areas made for great afternoons and offered their own vibe, but none could compare to Miraflores.
Situated along the oceanfront cliffs, Miraflores is home to the Malecón, an oceanfront scenic walkway that weaves through parks, tennis courts, art displays, and soccer fields. Almost daily, we walked the two blocks from our AirBnB to the Malecón to play at the playground and take in the views.
Our boys were lucky enough to meet and play with Peruvian children, reminding us that the language barriers while traveling really don’t matter. As a family, we felt safer in Miraflores than we do in many US cities. There were security personnel situated throughout the neighborhood.
While every hotel chain offers a luxury stay in the Miraflores/San Isidro area, we opted for an AirBnB. We were able to snag a three-bedroom apartment for less than $65/night. The building had 24/7 security, a parking garage, elevators, game room, and green space. We could walk to countless restaurants and food halls, stop into small grocery stores down the street, and watch the local soccer matches without having to load everyone into the car.
Where to Stay in Huacachina/Ica with a Toddler
While in Ica/Huacachina, we also chose to stay in an AirBnB apartment in Ica. We had planned to explore the dunes in Huacachina and visit the many wineries in the region.
I would not recommend staying in Huacachina with kids – it’s becomes a party town when the sun sets, and tour operators and vendors are very focused on catering to the tourists. Ica was safe and central: exactly what we needed for our family vacation in Peru with toddlers.
Where to Stay in Punta Hermosa with a Toddler
To end our Peruvian adventure, we stayed for a long weekend in Punta Hermosa. It’s an up and coming beach town that is about an hour south of Lima. Initially, we chose it because my husband is an avid surfer, and Punta Hermosa has a reputation for consistent and sizable surf.
After a few hours, we realized that it was way more than another surf town. We learned that it’s where many Lima residents own vacation homes. This was noticeable in the amount of construction of luxury buildings along the waterfront.
We secured an apartment rental in a luxury high rise for less than $100/night. The apartment had pocket sliding doors opening to a direct view of the Pacific, with a hot tub and gas grill. It was, hands down, one of the nicest places that we had ever stayed in.
Tips to Traveling to Peru with a Toddler
- Take advantage of the family friendly perks!
Airport security, immigration, even some tourist attractions have dedicated lines and staff for families. When they don’t, we found Peruvians to be overly kind and helpful; they would usher us ahead in lines, collect and return dropped socks and toys, and give lots of high fives and smiles.
- Restaurants, bars, wineries, and stores are all kid friendly.
Every restaurant had highchairs. Bars and wineries offered us extra space so the kids could play. Stores had either multi-child carts or allowed us to store the stroller at the front when space wasn’t plentiful. There were changing tables in almost every place we went, and in the event that there was no changing table, the staff found a reasonable alternative.
- Feeding toddlers in Peru is easy (even with the world’s pickiest toddler)!
Grocery stores had either the same toddler products as the US, or a comparable alternative. In truth, our kids actually prefer the yogurt smoothies, like Danimals, in Peru. Their superstore, PlazaVea, had dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets, apple sauce pouches, and peanut butter.
While we did bring diapers with us, when we needed more, I had plenty of options to choose from. Further, most restaurants either had a children’s menu or offered smaller portions for the kids. And if your kids are fans of chain restaurants, they’re also in Peru.
- Bring your favorite travel stroller.
We brought a double travel stroller with us. It went EVERYWHERE with us. Not necessarily because both kids wanted to sit the whole time, but because we always had a diaper bag, jackets, cups, and snacks to bring along. Our almost three-year-old chose to walk, while our one year old mostly hung in the stroller.
- Bring a toddler carrier too.
If your toddler still enjoys it, a toddler carrier for travel is a great idea. Unfortunately, our youngest has lost interest in the carrier.
Best Things to do in Peru with Toddlers
Below is a list of some of our favorite places and activities in Peru.
Travel tip: Create a saved list, that you share with your partner, on Google Maps! Whenever we received a recommendation, we would add it to our list. Then, when we were looking to grab a quick bite or see what points of interest where nearby, we had it all conveniently saved and in map form.
Best Things to do in Lima with a Toddler
Malecón de Miraflores
We were on the Malecón daily. It weaves along the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and has countless soccer fields, tennis courts, statues, and playgrounds. One afternoon, we stumbled on a preschool soccer clinic and our 3-year-old jumped right in!
Located in various parts of the city, this is a great stop with kids of all ages. It’s actually a shop, but they show how chocolate is made, offer samples, and sell some great products.
Museo del Pisco
So, admittedly, this isn’t a museum either, but it’s a great stop (for Mom and Dad). Pisco Sour is my all-time favorite cocktail, and they teach you how to make it.
Mar Adentro Excursions
This was a highlight for us. Just off the coast of Lima, there are the islands of Callao that are home to thousands of sea lions. The company takes you on a coastal boat tour out to Palomino Island where you can swim with the sea lions. They provide life jackets for the ride and wetsuits for swimming.
Fortaleza del Real Felipe
In the Callao neighborhood (across the street from the Mar Adentro meeting point), is the coolest fort that is still used by the Peruvian military. It was a great stop for kids because they can tour around the walls, climb through the tunnels, and catch military exercises. Our three-year-old got to join the military for a march and was recreating it for the rest of the day!
Basilica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima
This was the only museum/church tour that we did in the historic center of Lima. The church was breath-taking, but the best part were the catacombs beneath it. The guides were very knowledge, multi-lingual, and the front office staff stored our stroller and diaper bag in a locked room while we were inside.
Plaza Central Lima
If you’re checking out any of the tourist and historical sites in el centro historico, you’ll most definitely land in the central square. Post up in one of the many cafes that line the exterior, and let your littles enjoy the live music!
Circuito de Magico del Agua
The magic water show is a must see for everyone while in Lima! Water fountains coordinated with a music and light show run multiple times every night. Before or after the show, you can take a walk around the picturesque grounds.
Huaca Pucllana Site
Huaca Pucllana is an ancient site of remains dating back to 200 AD. Even better, it’s located within city limits. You have to take a tour, which admittedly we cut short due to a toddler tantrum. Nonetheless, the clay and adobe stepped pyramid is a must visit, and has a cool restaurant on site that overlooks it.
Bridge of Sighs
Located in the Barranco neighborhood, the bridge offers a beautiful view of the city. Once you’re done at the bridge, wander the streets of Barranco to see some of the best street art. This neighborhood is a great stop before dark; after bedtime, it becomes a party town.
Best Places to Eat in Lima with a Toddler
Mercado San Ramon
We love food halls. With choices of every variety at unbeatable prices, food halls are made for families with small children. Mercado San Ramon is no different: our three-year-old ordered pizza, my husband and I had traditional Peruvian cuisine, and the one-year-old had a little of everything.
A Peruvian sandwich chain is a must for breakfast or lunch while in Lima. With a few locations throughout the city, you can get a great sandwich at an even better price. Not to mention, toddlers love their papas fritas.
Get here early, although you’ll probably still have to wait in line. We learned after the fact that Siete Sopas is a popular late-night spot, but we loved it for the traditional Peruvian fare in a family friendly atmosphere.
Visiting Huacachina/Ica in Peru with a Toddler
Huacachina Desert Oasis
A lagoon hidden in the desert, it’s a must see. You can rent pedal boats, arrange dune buggy tours, and even go sandboarding.
Pisco is a brandy made exclusively in the Ica region in Peru. There are countless bodegas that offer tours and tastings. Here are some of our favorites.
- Hacienda Destileria La Caravedo
- Pisco Nietto
- Bodegas Vista Alegre
The wineries have some great restaurants attached, so check their schedule and plan to spend enough time to enjoy a meal too! Huacachina doesn’t really have any noteworthy restaurants, many are simply tourist traps that are overpriced for the region.
Visiting Punta Hermosa with Toddlers
The best things to do in Punta Hermosa with toddlers is to enjoy the slow pace of wandering through town. Punta Hermosa has a skate park, playground, and some great restaurants (especially cevicherias).
For those interested in surfing, stop into any of the surf shops and ask about surf lessons!
What to Bring to Peru when Traveling with a Toddler
Along with all your regular toddler travel essentials, here are the things I would not leave behind when traveling to Peru with toddlers:
- Travel stroller – We brought our double travel stroller for our time in Peru with toddlers. We love the double City Select City Mini. It folds flat and is relatively lightweight.
- Portable sound machines – We love the Yogasleep hushh because it operates with a battery and has a variety of sounds. A portable white noise machine is ideal for travel with toddlers since it helps create that familiar sleep environment.
- Inflatable bed bumpers – Inflatable bed rails for toddlers work perfectly when staying in vacation rentals. Your toddler can sleep on a bed and you don’t have to worry about him falling out. We use the Hiccapop bumpers.
- Non-wifi Monitors – We use Babysense monitors and they’ve been great baby monitors for travel, especially when staying in vacation rentals!
This article was written by Sarah Platt
Sarah and her husband Ryan have visited over 27 countries together, and have passed the travel bug to their two children, Colby and Connor. Now, as a family of four, they continue to travel every chance they get in search of culture, surf, and adventure. Traveling with toddlers isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but it’s always worth it. Follow their instagram account, @PlattFamilyPassport, to see where they’re going next!