For a more local feel, off the traditional tourist path of La Sexta and Granada, Parque del Perro is definitely the place to be in Cali.
Located in the residential San Fernando neighborhood and a five-minute walk from the Estadio MIO Station, this circular park is filled with benches, stone framed sidewalks, and of course, the namesake dog statue in the center of the park. Carrera 34 circles around the park, which acts as a roundabout, and a variety of bars and restaurants are scattered around the exterior.
Start the night out at any of the small cafes that dot the park – most of which offer sidewalk seating for excellent people watching. For a café style restaurant (with free WI-FI!) try Primos on the corner of the park; the sandwiches and friendly staff won’t disappoint you!
Another great option is the chain-restaurant Carne y Maduro serving a variety of meat, platanos maduros, and delicious drinks. They make a fabulous pitcher of sangria and many weekend nights they also have live music on the back patio!
For drinks there are plenty of options, from cheap little tiendas to the well-decorated bars. For an American-themed retro experience try the Marilyn Monroe inspired locale, Blondie’s. The drinks may be a bit pricey, but the couches are super comfortable and the English-language playlist consists of 80′s rock and 90′s alternative music. This might be just the break you need from the constant salsa rhythms of Cali!
If you are on a tight budget, walk down Carrera 34 towards Calle 5 (La Quinta) to the supermarket Carulla. Full of delicious snacks, a salad bar, and cheap beer this is the perfect place to stock up on picnic supplies before a night in the park. They also have a great wine selection, so bring your own opener!
Also located within blocks of the park are a variety of chain restaurants which all live up to their names. For excellent pizza and one of the only places to find good beer in Cali, try Pizza 1969. They serve excellent personal or large pizzas and Tres Cordilleras beer, straight from the brewery in Medellin!
For wings and cheap margaritas stop into Mister Wings, or if you are into reasonably priced pizza and pasta, stop byArchie’s. For some unique flavor try Monchis, an excellent lunch or dinner spot with bagels, not commonly seen elsewhere in Colombia. Located right across the street from Carulla!
Backpacker’s Tip: Located on the west side of the park is Extremo, an outdoor store with quality merchandise for any traveler. Items like backpacks, hiking shoes or clothes, headlamps, etc. are not always easy to track down in Colombia, so if you are missing an item from your backpack this is a great place to stop in and stock up.