Panama draws children and adults alike with its rich culture, lush rainforests, beaches and mountains. Learning Spanish prior to your trip will enable you to overcome language barriers and engage with locals more easily.
Children will love an exciting tour of the Panama Canal, watching massive ships pass through Gatun Lake while learning more about its history and economic significance.
1. Casco Viejo
Panama City’s historic heart is an essential stop for families. A maze of pastel and brightly-hued neoclassical buildings with an inviting tropical vibe, its historic core draws comparisons to both Havana in Cuba and New Orleans’ French Quarter.
Walking through Casco Viejo with children is the ideal way to explore its neighborhood. Start off your exploration at Iglesia San Jose church, famous for its golden altar (legend has it that priest painted it black to stop Captain Morgan’s pirate attacks on it!). From there, make your way towards Iglesia Santa Ana or Iglesia San Jose churches where children will enjoy playing.
Also take time to visit the National Theater with its stunning murals adorning its ceiling and still used for performances, followed by Museo de la Mola which houses nearly 200 molas handmade by Guna indigenous women and is used for exhibition.
After exploring Casco Viejo and modern Panama City, round off your day with an evening drink at one of Panama City’s many rooftop bars that provide panoramic views – the Tantalo Rooftop offers unparalleled vantages of both.
2. Panama City Beach
Panama beaches boast some of the world’s whitest sand, making them an ideal spot to bring children. Here, they can run, play and build sand castles; while parents can relax while admiring its tropical surroundings.
Cinta Costera, Panama’s waterfront path, provides an enjoyable way for families to get some exercise. This walkway passes through Casco Viejo and Amador Causeway while being lined with parks and grass sections that give children plenty of room to run freely.
The new BioMuseo Panama offers visitors an excellent way to discover its biodiversity, from plants and animals, to its unique habitat. Sponsored by Smithsonian Institution and designed by Frank Gehry, this museum serves as a wonderful way to educate visitors about Panama’s incredible ecosystem.
The Embera Village Tour provides an incredible opportunity to discover Panama indigenous groups, especially its Embera people. These native Panamanians produce medicinal plants as well as fabrics, bracelets, baskets and other crafts for crafts that must be seen! Definitely recommended for families visiting Panama with children!
3. Playa Caracol
Panama beaches are an attraction for families, offering soft sand and peaceful waters for bathing and splashing around in. Many local beaches, like Playa Caracol in Punta Chame, remain pristine and uncrowded during weekdays; furthermore, Playa Caracol ensures there is entertainment and food options specifically catered to families with young children.
Boquete is an ecotourism hotspot. Tourists come here for shade grown coffee sampling and hiking trails through the cloud forest, while birders search out elusive quetzals while adventure travelers enjoy white water rafting and zip lining activities.
Children will love exploring the BioMuseo Panama, designed by Frank Gehry and supported by the Smithsonian Institute. This stunning museum provides an exciting window into Panamanian flora and fauna.
4. Gamboa Rainforest Resort
Gamboa Rainforest Resort, nestled within Soberania National Park on the Chagres River banks is Panama’s most remote rainforest resort with all the facilities of a luxury hotel – perfect for experiencing tropical scenery just 30 minutes from Panama City!
Take a boat tour along the River Chagres to witness sloths, crocodiles, and many other species who reside here. Additionally, visit nearby Embera Village to gain insight into one of Panama’s indigenous groups.
Casco Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with charming streets, beautiful buildings and charming plazas is an excellent way to introduce children to Panamanian history. Additionally, visiting the zoo can provide them with fun learning experiences by petting lemurs, feeding giraffes and alligators or feeding alligators themselves!
Kids of all ages will delight in Panama City’s Frank Gehry-designed BioMuseo museum of biodiversity, which covers geological history of Panamanian isthmus as well as teaching children about local flora and fauna.
5. BioMuseo Panama
Frank Gehry designed this new museum that showcases Panama’s remarkable biodiversity. It tells its incredible tale: how an isthmus connected continents, separated oceans, and altered global flora and fauna – making this experience one of the top things to do in Panama for both children and adults alike. It makes an unforgettable educational experience.
On entering, you are met by a darkly lit and compact space with an immersive seafloor-inspired soundscape that transports you right into the ocean. Following that experience, you are then taken through several glass tunnels where guides assist in touching starfish, sea cucumbers and other marine life – truly an immersive journey into marine life!
The museum features an open-air exhibit, Punta Culebra Nature Center, turtle pool and “touching” pool where visitors can touch starfish with assistance. Panamarama is also worth seeing: this three-story projection space with ten screens immerses visitors into an audiovisual rendition of Panamanian ecosystems.
Take day trips while staying in the historic district to explore nature and culture. Visit larger islands with villages inhabited by indigenous Guna tribe members famous for their colorful molas; or embark on a tour to observe wildlife around Panama Canal such as on Gatun Lake and in rainforest areas.