Planning a family vacation can be exciting, but it’s essential to find activities that will keep both kids and adults entertained. Luckily, Panama City in Panama offers a wide range of family-friendly attractions and experiences that are sure to create lasting memories.
From exploring the historic Old Town to marveling at the engineering wonders of the Panama Canal, this vibrant city has something for everyone, including the little ones.
Let’s dive into the top things to do in Panama City with kids!
Get lost in the Old Town (Casco Viejo)
Step back in time and wander through the picturesque streets of the Old Town, also known as Casco Viejo. This UNESCO World Heritage site is filled with historic buildings, charming plazas, and beautiful cathedrals.
Take a leisurely stroll as you admire the architecture and soak in the vibrant atmosphere, stop by the Plaza de la Independencia where kids can run around and enjoy the open space and make your way to the water front.
I must mention that while the area is perfectly safe during the day, some sections might seem otherwise once the sun goes down. If you’re visiting with kids you’ll be fine if you’re near the cathedral but might want to avoid wandering further.
Don’t forget to try some delicious local street food, ice cream, or enjoy some of the fine bakeries in the area!
Take a Bike Tour Along Amador Causeway
For an active and enjoyable family adventure, rent bikes and explore the scenic Amador Causeway, one of the top Panama activities to do with kids. This four-mile stretch of road connects Panama City to three small islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Enjoy stunning views of the city skyline and the ocean as you cycle along the causeway. Kids will love the feeling of the wind in their hair and the freedom to explore this picturesque area!
We did our bike ride tour with Dameslfly Tours, which we found when strolling along Casco Viejo. Our guide Nicolas was lots of fun, and the bike tour was great as well! Lasting over two hours, it took us around Old Town, along the Amador Causeway and all the way to Avenida Balboa.
On the way back we stopped for some ceviche (included in the tour) at the fishing marina. It was delicious!
Stroll Along Avenida Balboa
Avenida Balboa is a prominent street in Panama City, Panama, known for its stunning waterfront views and vibrant atmosphere. Located along the shores of the Pacific Ocean, this bustling avenue offers a plethora of recreational activities and entertainment options.
Whether it’s taking a leisurely stroll or biking along the picturesque promenade, visitors can revel in the breathtaking ocean vistas and the lively energy of the city.
Visit the Biomuseo
Make learning fun at the Biomuseo, a unique museum dedicated to the biodiversity of Panama. Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, this eye-catching building is a work of art in itself. Inside, interactive exhibits captivate visitors of all ages, making it an excellent place for children to learn about the natural history and conservation efforts of Panama.
From colorful displays to educational games, the Biomuseo offers an engaging experience that combines education and entertainment.Teo liked most the interactive representations of animals, including some that are extinct, as well as being able to touch rocks that are millions of years old and come from volcanoes.
Watch Ships at the Panama Canal
No trip to Panama City is complete without witnessing the marvel of the Panama Canal. Head to the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center, where your family can observe massive ships passing through the locks and learn about the history and significance of this engineering masterpiece.Miraflores lock , located in Panama City, is a vital component of the famous Panama Canal. This lock is one of the three sets of locks that facilitate the transit of vessels through the canal, enabling them to traverse the elevation changes along its route. Miraflores lock features two chambers that raise or lower the ships by utilizing the force of water.The lock operates by filling and emptying these chambers, allowing the vessels to smoothly transition between the different water levels. Its strategic position and efficient mechanisms make Miraflores lock a crucial element in facilitating international trade and maritime transportation.
With informative exhibits and a chance to see the canal in action, it’s an educational and awe-inspiring experience for kids and adults alike. Makre sure you don’t miss the 3D movie, though the information given in it is quite dated as it mentions the constructions of a new set of locks in the future…which have actually already been made and have been operative for a few years.
This said it is very well made, informative, and kids will love it! Our son Teo loved it so much that he wanted to watch it again, I was able to persuade a security guard and let us do so.As a tip, you don’t really have to pay to see the canal and or docks. Further down the same road you take to get there you actually drive past the canal, and cross it with a bridge!
Have Fun with Monkeys on Monkey Island
Just a short boat ride away from Panama City lies Monkey Island, a sanctuary for these curious creatures. Set sail through the Gatun Lake and get ready for an adventure your family will never forget. On the island, you can witness different species of monkeys in their natural habitat, swinging from trees and playing with each other. Kids will love observing these adorable creatures up close and may even get the chance to feed them- as Teo did!
We did our tour with Barefoot Panama, a local company that has several tours to other attractions as well. The guide actually went the extra mile once the full tour was done and asked us if we’d like to have lunch at a local restauarant that he know of, and when all the group agreed we made our way there.
Remember, it’s essential to respect the wildlife and follow the instructions of the local guides to ensure the monkeys’ well-being.
Learn about Sloths at the Sloth Sanctuary
Panama is famous for its incredible biodiversity, and what better animal to learn about than the beloved sloth? Take your kids to the Sloth Sanctuary, where they can discover fascinating facts about these slow-moving creatures.
Observe sloths being rehabilitated before being released back into the wild and gain a deeper understanding of their conservation needs. This educational and heartwarming experience will surely be a highlight of your trip.
We visited the sloth sanctuary with Monkey Adventures, a local company that turned out to offer a fantastic service. The guide was very nice and the van was spotless! We also took the aerial tram right before visiting the sanctuary.
On this tram you float above the tree canopy and we got to hear a howling monkey! There’s also an observation deck with breathtaking views of the area, totall y worth making your way to the top.
Visit an Embera Tribe Village
Expand your family’s cultural horizons by visiting an Embera Tribe Village. Immerse yourselves in the rich traditions and customs of Panama’s indigenous people. Kids can participate in hands-on activities like traditional dance, crafting, and face painting, hear fascinating stories from the tribe members and gain a deeper appreciation for their way of life.
This unique cultural experience will leave a lasting impression on your entire family, and especially the younger ones!There are several Embera villages, but there’s one just beyond the sloth sanctuary, only reachable by boat. The experience is totally worth it.
Teo felt like an explorer!
We did our tour with Barefoot Panama as well, part of the same tour in whihc we had fun with the monkeys.
Eat Local Panama Food
No family vacation is complete without indulging in the local cuisine. Panama City offers a myriad of culinary delights that will tantalize your taste buds. From traditional dishes like ropa vieja to fresh seafood and tropical fruits, there’s something to please every palate.
Ropa vieja is a flavorful and popular dish in Cuban cuisine. This traditional recipe features tender and juicy shredded beef cooked with a variety of aromatic ingredients, including bell peppers, onions, garlic, and tomatoes. The name ” ropa vieja ” literally translates to “old clothes” in Spanish, which refers to the shredded appearance of the beef resembling old and tattered fabric.
This savory dish is typically served over a bed of fluffy white rice, accompanied by sweet plantains or crispy tostones for a perfect balance of flavors. Ropa vieja is a must-try culinary delight for anyone craving a taste of authentic Cuban cuisine.
Explore local markets and food stalls, where you can discover the diverse flavors of Panama. Don’t be afraid to try something new – let your kids be adventurous and embrace the culinary journey!
Enjoy Your Hotel Pool
After a day of exploring, let your kids unwind and have some fun at your hotel’s pool. Many hotels in Panama City offer family-friendly amenities, including pools with water slides and play areas.
Take advantage of this relaxing time to bond as a family and reflect on the day’s adventures. Kick back in a lounge chair while the kids splash around, enjoying the warm weather and beautiful surroundings.
This said, I do have to mention that what we loved most was the food. The room was certainly nice, as was the pool area and gym (I was training for an ultra trail marathon due a month after the trip), but if the food was unreal.
All the dishes were superb, but I do have to say that their version of the brownie is the best I’ve ever had anywhere (not kidding) and the buffet breakfast is one to enjoy slowly (which we couldn’t because of the tours!).
Tips for your Panama City Visit.
- Use Uber better than taxis to get around. The trip will cost about a third and the cars are in better shape.
- Panama is a safe city, but once the sun sets streets do get dark. Make sure you know where you are, or stay close to your hotel if traveling with kids.
- There’s much more to Panama (city) than shopping. We met several couples and families that only had shopping in their plans because they thought there’s nothing else to do. Wrong!
- You don’t have to pay to se the Panama Canal. Read above to get the details.
What Are 5 Things Panama is Known For?
- Panama Canal: One of the most famous engineering marvels in the world, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
- Biodiversity: Panama is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, including tropical rainforests and diverse wildlife.
- San Blas Islands: A stunning archipelago with pristine beaches and a unique indigenous culture of the Guna people.
- Casco Viejo: The historic district of Panama City with its colonial architecture, vibrant street life, and cultural attractions.
- Panama Hat: Contrary to its name, the Panama hat originated in Ecuador but gained international fame when worn by workers during the construction of the Panama Canal.
Panama Canal: A must-see for its engineering brilliance and the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center.
Panama Canal: Take a tour to understand the history and operation of this iconic waterway.Casco Viejo: Explore the historic district’s cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, and vibrant atmosphere.
Outdoor enthusiasts can hike, birdwatch, or indulge in water sports, while those interested in history and culture can visit museums, colonial sites, and indigenous communities.
Contrary to what many people think, Panama City is a treasure trove of family-friendly activities and attractions. From the enchanting Old Town to the awe-inspiring Panama Canal, this vibrant city offers a blend of history, culture, and outdoor adventures that will captivate both kids and adults.
Whether you’re exploring the charming streets of Casco Viejo or getting up close with monkeys on Monkey Island, there’s never a shortage of excitement.
So pack your bags, create lifelong memories, and embark on an unforgettable journey to Panama City with your loved ones.
Accommodation in Panama City
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Tours in Panama
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