Just west of the Vía Norte Sur, Parque O’Higgins is a short walk from its namesake Metro station, on Línea 2.
As Mayor Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna used his influence as a public official to transform Cerro Santa Lucía  into a stunning city park, Luis Cousiño used private resources to turn barren southwestern Santiago  into a pastoral showcase—but at a price. Today’s Parque O’Higgins had its origins as La Pampilla, an area of truck gardens and military parade ground where, in mid-September, Chileans of all social classes gathered to celebrate their patriotic holidays.
The park’s development stimulated construction of graceful mansions in what became a garden barrio, but the automobile’s arrival sparked an eastward movement into the open spaces of Providencia  and Ñuñoa  both before and after World War II. As the elite moved out, the area declined economically—and the park along with it—but it was once again accessible to working-class Chileans.
In the early 1970s, the park’s name was changed in favor of Chile’s independence hero, it was fenced, and new developments ate into its green spaces—from its original 91.7 hectares, the park has shrunk to only 76.7. Parts are still rundown, but it remains a favorite weekend outing for families who can’t get out of the capital.
Recalling the days of La Pampilla, but dating from the 1970s, El Pueblito re-creates a vision (if stereotyped) of 19th-century agrarian Chile, as do the menus at its inexpensive picadas. It also holds the folkloric Museo del Huaso (tel. 02/5550054), paying homage to Chile’s traditional horsemen, open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. weekends.
Also on the park grounds, the children’s theme park Fantasilandia (tel. 02/4768600) opens 11 a.m.–8:30 p.m. daily in summer, during winter holidays, and for September’s patriotic holidays. The rest of the year, hours are 11 a.m.–8:30 p.m. weekends and holidays only except from mid-November to Christimas, when it’s closed. General admission, including unlimited rides, is US$8 per person; children shorter than 140 centimeters get a small discount and those shorter than 90 centimeters get in free.