If you are taking a taxi from San Isidro or Miraflores  into the center, you will travel along a sunken highway known as the Vía Expresa (also nicknamed “El Zanjón,” or The Ditch). The highway emerges on ground level and passes along a series of public parks before entering old town.
One of these is the Parque de la Exposición, which was built in the 19th century and is still thriving today. The park is ringed with a high fence and is best entered at the corner of 28 de Julio and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.
Nearby is an artificial lake with paddleboats and the Kusi Kusi Puppet Theatre (basement of the German-style gingerbread house, tel. 01/477-4249), which has Sunday performances listed in the cultural section of the El Comercio newspaper.
Here too is the Museo de Arte (Paseo Colón 125, Parque de la Exposición, tel. 01/423-4732, http://museoarte.perucultural.org.pe , 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Thurs.–Tues., US$5.50 adult, US$3.75 students), which houses the best range of Peruvian paintings in the country, an espresso bar, and a cinema. The museum contains colonial furniture, some pre-Columbian ceramics, and a huge collection of paintings from the viceroyalty to the present.
Another nearby park is the Parque Italiano, which contains the Museo de Arte Italiano (Paseo de la República 250, tel. 01/423-9932, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., US$3) with a collection of European art mainly from the early 20th century.