Panama City With Kids

Author: Dan Brewer

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To be honest, we didn’t know much about Panama or Panama City when we first kicked around the idea of coming here. We had previously really enjoyed a family trip to Costa Rica, and a separate trip to Colombia with kids, so given Panama is right in the middle of these two amazing countries, we figured we’d love it too!

It didn’t take us very long to figure out we were going to love visiting Panama City with kids! We’re generally not big into cities, but Panama City is one of the few mega-cities on Earth with a thriving national park right next door.

Dan Brewer, owner of FamilyCanTravel.com, and his kids enjoy pedaling a 4-person bike on the Amador Causeway in Panama City, Panama.
Having fun while watching ships leave the Panama Canal on the Amador Causeway.

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Read on to discover what we did on our family trip to Panama City.

10 Fun Things to do in Panama City with Kids

During our 5 days in Panama City with kids, we got out to Soberanía National Park twice. We also found many other kid-friendly things to do in Panama City which were fun for the whole family.

The following list of 10 things to do in Panama City with kids are listed in the order the we enjoyed them, with our favorite activities at the top. If you want a sense for how these activities worked into our schedule, keep reading as we share our 5-day Panama City with kids itinerary below.

The Brewer kids have fun on the colorful "Panama" sign in Cinta Costera Park during a family vacation to Panama City.

1. Private Jungle Tour Soberanía National Park

One of the main reasons we chose to visit Panama City with kids is its proximity to Soberania National Park. A tropical rainforest, just minutes outside Panama City, Soberania National Park is bursting at the seams with wildlife and is the perfect location for a guided family hike to teach kids about rainforest wildlife.

We’ve learned from a recent trip to Manuel Antonio National Park with kids, that it’s really hard to find wildlife in the jungle without the trained eyes of a guide. So, we arranged a private jungle tour of Soberania National Park.

Celine Brewer and her kids enjoy a private jungle tour in Jungle Tour Soberanía National Park just outside Panama City, Panama.
Our guide hard at work looking for wildlife.

Our guide recommend we arrive at the national park was early as possible to get the best wildlife experience possible. He picked us up at our hotel at 6am sharp and we were on the Soberania National Park hiking trail by 7 am.

Our guide took us to Pipeline Road, which is the most common trail for wildlife spotting in Panama. Again – good luck finding the elusive jungle wildlife without a guide. For example, several people who were independently walking along Pipeline Road stopped to listen to our guide as he talked about something he found in the dense rainforest.

The Brewer family looks for wildlife while on a private jungle tour near Panama City.
Look how dense the jungle is…

Our guide was bang-on with his recommendation about getting there early, as we had an incredible wildlife encounter in our first 10 minutes. He spotted a male 3-toed sloth up high in a tree above us, with a troupe of howler monkeys in the adjacent tree.

Normally sloths are sleeping and just look like a brown blob in a tree, but this early in the morning, the sloth was very active, moving around the tree – it was amazing!

a 3-toed sloth in a tree in Soberanía National Park just outside of Panama City, Panama.
A 3-toed sloth.

The howler monkeys were an afterthought compared to the excitement of an active sloth, but when we finally got around to enjoy them, we noticed one of the mamma monkeys had a tiny little baby howler monkey with her. So cute!!

This turned out to be our best wildlife encounter during our private tour in Soberania National Park, but we had a ton of excellent wildlife encounters during our 4 hour tour.

The Blue Morpho butterfly is my favorite butterfly in the whole world. Normally they are pretty rare to see in the wild, but we saw so many of them, we were actually getting bored of them by the end! Haha!

There was one moment where we heard something very large racing through the forest towards us – it was a little unsettling to tell the truth! It turned out it was a troupe of white-faced capuchin monkeys passing through our area and over the trail. You may know white-faced capuchin monkeys as they are the species who played Marcel on Friends. (We also saw a second troupe of howler monkeys too).

A troupe of white faced capuchin monkeys swings over the Pipeline Road in Soberanía National Park, Panama City.
A couple white faced capuchin monkeys.

Other highlights included seeing countless Agouti, a very friendly white-nose Coati, a bat, a red-tailed squirrel asleep on a vine, a massive beehive, a Jesus Christ Lizard (it can literally walk on water), sleeping plants (our kids favorite!), and a few tarantula nests (although we couldn’t entice them to come out).

the wildlife in Soberanía National Park makes it a great place to visit with kids in Panama City, Panama.
A curious Agouti.

Pipeline Road is a famous trail for birders in Panama, and we saw several exotic birds including two trogons – one with a red chest and one with a yellow chest. Trogons are part of the same family as the famous Resplendent Quetzal bird (the national bird of Costa Rica). We also saw three very large lineated woodpeckers feasting on bugs on the same tree.

We didn’t see them, but we also heard many exotic birds such as parrots and tucans.

Our guide for the private Soberanía National Park tour, was great with the kids and was one of the most knowledgeable guides we’ve ever had for a wildlife tour. We had an excellent time learning about the wildlife of Soberanía National Park, along with lots of interesting facts about Panama and its history.

Celine Brewer and her kids enjoy a private jungle tour in Jungle Tour Soberanía National Park just outside Panama City, Panama.

Recommended Tour

We had so many amazing wildlife encounters on this jungle tour. We highly recommend this private tour of Soberanía National Park!

2. Private Kayaking Tour on Chagres River

One of the main reasons we chose a family vacation in Panama City was it’s close proximity to some world-renowned national parks. The Chagres River is the main water source for the Panama Canal.

It flows through the heart of Soberania National Park, which is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife. Our family loves to get out on kayaks to enjoy the wonders of nature from the water, so when we discovered a private kayaking tour on the Chagres River, we quickly signed up.  

Our family was provided with two wide, stable kayaks, so each parent teamed up with a child. We were on the water precisely at 8am – the entry point is very close to the Panama Canal, but there were no ships passing by, so we headed upstream instead.

Celine Brewer and her son enjoy a private kayaking tour near the Panama Canal during a family trip to Panama City.

Despite going upstream, the water was as smooth as glass, and you could barely detect any current at all. This was super easy kayaking – great for families!

The Chagres River is surrounded on both sides by dense jungle, although a huge 5-star resort can be seen through the trees on the far side for the first little bit. The sides of the river are lined with many beautiful floating plants, including ones with white lotus flowers and beautiful purple flowers.

An 8-year old boy dangles his feet in the water while on a family-friendly kayaking tour near Panama City, Panama.
Always having fun!

It’s hard to see land mammals on a kayak tour, so we weren’t surprised when we didn’t see any one our tour. We heard tons of howler monkeys – if you’ve never heard one, you must – you’ll never forget the primal sound!

We did see an enormous amount of birdlife, including a Tiger Heron which I’ve never seen before. The other bird species were so numerous, I lost count and unfortunately can’t remember any names, but they were beautiful and plentiful.

A 10-year old girl is all smiles while on a family kayaking tour in the Chagres River near Panama City, Panama.

The wildlife sighting of the day goes to our daughter, who saw a sea snake swimming through the water between our kayaks. It was just a cute little thing, but it caused our kids to stop hanging their feet out of the kayaks for a while! Haha!

We stopped at an indigenous village for a while as there was a chance they were going to appear in their cultural clothing, but they didn’t arrive in time (tours to these indigenous villages are quite popular from Panama City).

An indigenous village on the shores of the Chagres River in Panama.

It’s quite common for this Chagres River kayak tour to get as close as allowed to the shipping channel of the Panama Canal, but sadly luck wasn’t on our side today. I was really hoping to see one of the huge cargo ships from the perspective of a kayak, but it wasn’t meant to be. Perhaps you’ll have more luck than we did!

Celine Brewer and her son enjoy a private kayaking tour near the Panama Canal during a family trip to Panama City.

Recommended Tour

We had an outstanding time on this beautiful & easy private kayaking tour in the Chagres River.

3. Miraflores Locks Visitor’s Center

Everybody in the world has heard about the Panama Canal, and rightfully so – it’s an engineering wonder of the world. On our trip to Panama City with kids, we figured we couldn’t miss a chance to show them this feat of human achievement, so we hopped in an Uber and visited the Miraflores Locks Visitor’s Center.

The Miraflores Locks Visitor’s Center is the main location for tourists to take in the wonders of the Panama Canal. We arrived right at 2PM when the afternoon ships were about to begin their transit. Apparently the massive ships only transit through the locks in the morning and afternoon.

A container ship enters a Panama Canal lock in front of the Miraflores Locks Visitor’s Center.

We immediately made our way to the massive viewing area and got a good viewpoint of the ships waiting to transit through the locks. Up front were two sailboats and behind was a massive container ship.

To be honest, watching the ships transit through the locks was a slow process. First, the container ship was slowly dragged into position. Then the water level very slowly started to drop – a process which took about 8 minutes. Then, once at the lower water level, the container ship very slowly inched its way out of the lock. Our kids were quite bored and didn’t see the big deal.

a large container ship transits the Panama Canal in front of an audience at the Things to do in Panama City with kids - Miraflores Visitor’s Center - a top tourist attraction in Panama City.
Huge!!

The container ship departed just in time for us to rush over and catch the other main attraction at the Miraflores Locks Visitor’s Centre – the IMAX 3D show on the Panama Canal. Watching a 3D IMAX movie got our kids attention!

The IMAX show was very well done, giving a full explanation of the history of the Panama Canal and it’s construction. It would have been better to watch the film first, but that’s not the way our schedule worked on our visit.

Celine Brewer, owner of the Family Can Travel blog, has fun with her kids prior to the IMAX movie at the Things to do in Panama City with kids - Miraflores Visitor’s Center.

Although our kids found the ships moving through the Miraflores Locks to be boring, I think it’s one of those experiences that they will be glad to have had later in life.

A container ship enters a Panama Canal lock in front of the Miraflores Locks Visitor’s Center.

Recommended Tour

Although it’s easy enough to hop in an Uber to visit the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center, you can also make it easy on yourself with this half-day tour of Panama City.

4. The Ancon Lookout Family-Friendly Hike

If you follow our family travel blog, you’ll know that we can’t be in one place too long without going for a family hike. Not sure where to start, I browsed through some of the most Panama City hikes in the AllTrails app. I was able to find the Ancon Lookout Traila very popular family-friendly hike in Panama City which takes you up a tall hill just outside of Old Town.

It’s a 1.7 km walk up a pedestrian-only paved road from the base of the hill to the top. It’s a nice shady family-friendly hike through dense jungle forest to the top. We looked hard for jungle critters but without a guide, we didn’t see anything but birds.

Two kids enjoy a family-friendly walk in Panama City on the Ancon Hill lookout trail.
I love how there is dense jungle in the middle of Panama City.

There are views all the way up the Ancon Lookout hike, but the three viewpoints at the top are the best. The first viewpoint is an excellent view of old town, while the second gives a great view of the modern district.

Our favourite viewpoint on the Ancon Lookout Trail was the final one, where we could see a huge tract of the Panama Canal, ranging all the way from the Pacific Ocean all the way to the Miraflores Locks and beyond. It was an excellent add-on to our Miraflores Locks visit the day before – it really helped pull it all together for our kids.

Two container ships are at different levels in the Panama Canal are visible from the Ancon Lookout Trail in Panama City.
Sorry it’s a bit blurry… but you can really see the different heights of the two ships though.
The Family Can Travel kids enjoy a great view of Panama City Old Town on the Ancon Lookout hike.

Recommended Tour

If you’d like a guide to help find the sloths and toucans which call this park home, check out this sunrise nature tour on Ancon Hill.

5. Family Cycling the Amador Causeway

The Amador Causeway is a long, skinny peninsula which protects the Pacific Ocean entrance to the Panama Canal. It’s a 4 km long man-made peninsula stretching from the mainland to a small set of islands.

Thankfully the designers had the foresight to line the Amador Causeway with palm trees and put walking and cycling paths along its length. The pathways allow families to easily enjoy beautiful views of Panama City as well as the jungle just outside the city. It’s also fun to watch the cargo ships entering and leaving the nearby Panama Canal too!

A giant container ship exits the Panama Canal as seen from the Amador Causeway.
A cargo ships leaves the Panama Canal.

We elected to enjoy the Amador Causeway by renting a 4-person bike. The family-style bikes have two seats side-by-side up front for the kids (without pedals), while the adults have two seats with pedals (and a brake) in the back.

We took an Uber from our hotel to Burke Bikes, which is located at the far end of the Amador Causeway. They have a massive selection of bike rentals, ranging from bikes for little kids, all the way to the family bikes we rented.

Dan Brewer and his kids enjoy cycling a 4-person bike on the Amador Causeway in Panama City, Panama.
Beautiful scenery along the Amador Causeway.

Over the course of our hour-long family bike rental we rode along the Amador Causeway all the way to the Smithsonian Nature Center and back. We had a lot of laughs and stopped to enjoy the beautiful Panamanian scenery along the way. The kids especially liked the series of shipwrecks along the shoreline.

I won’t lie – it was a lot of work with only two people pedaling the family bike, but it was a ton of fun. I wouldn’t recommend renting a family bike for more than an hour though.

Dobongsan Trail Map on AllTrails

AllTrails Map

You can see the full length of the Amador Causeway biking trails on the AllTrails app.

6. Metropolitan Natural Park

We returned to Panama City for an afternoon after spending 6 days in Bocas del Toro with kids. We had a free afternoon, so we went to the Metropolitan Natural Park for a family hike.

After a quick Uber ride from our new Panama City hotel, we arrived at the visitor center. The staff were very helpful and showed us a map of the hiking paths through the park. I had already downloaded my Metropolitan Nature Park hiking map on AllTrails, but it was nice to get some background on the family-friendly trails. 

Celine Brewer and her kids enjoy a family hike in Metropolitan Nature Park while on a family trip to Panama City, Panama.

We skipped the lower Mirador Trail and walked up to the upper loop. It’s amazing how a major city like Panama City can have such a huge tract of jungle within its limits. We hiked roughly 4 km though this amazing jungle looking for wildlife along the way. 

If you’ve ever doubted the value of a nature guide, try finding wildlife in the jungle without one. It’s next to impossible. We managed to find some turtles, leaf cutter ants, lots of blue morpho butterflies, a scary spider, but that’s about it. 

Although a guide would have helped a lot, we still enjoyed this beautiful walk on the final day of our family trip to Panama. There were several viewpoints along the way where we enjoyed views of the Panama Canal and of the skyscrapers of the modern district. 

An 8-year old boy sits and enjoys views of Panama City from a hiking trail in the Metropolitan Nature Park.
Celine Brewer and her kids enjoy a family hike in Metropolitan Nature Park while on a family trip to Panama City, Panama.

Recommended Tour

This half-day wildlife tour of Panama City visits both Ancon Hill and the Metropolitan Nature Park.

7. Taboga Island – Restinga Beach

Panama City has an enviable location right on the Pacific Ocean, but unfortunately there are no decent beaches for people to enjoy in town. Thankfully, Taboga Island is a fun little island getaway just a 30 minute ferry ride away from Panama City.

The Taboga Express Fast Ferry sails from the Amador Causeway to Taboga Island several times a day. The ferry is a large catamaran, which seats roughly 100 people. You need to prebook your tickets, and I advise you to do so early, as we discovered the most popular sailing times sell out in advance.

The Taboga Express Fast Ferry at its pier in the Amador Causeway in Panama City.

The ferry ride to Taboga Island was a lot of fun as we sailed right through the middle of the giant cargo ships waiting to transit the Panama Canal.

Based on the ferry times we booked, we only had about 4 hours of island time, so we headed straight for Restinga Beach – the nicest beach on Taboga Island. It’s a double sided beach, with one side of the beach facing the open Pacific Ocean and the cargo ships waiting to transit the Panama Canal.

The other side of the beach faces the town on Taboga Island and has virtually no waves. This is the more popular side of the two beaches.

Restinga Beach has a gritty, golden brown sand which has a lot of small rocks and large seashells intermixed. The kids thought it was great for beachcombing. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas, and there are jet skis for rent on the ocean side.

Restinga Beach on Taboga Island is a popular day trip for families from Panama City.

There are food stands on the pathway leading to the beach, featuring a mix of fish dishes and American standards. There are also bars selling drinks out of pineapples, etc.

We recommend you watch for a nice lady who walks with a basket on her head. She sells a variety of Colombian / Panamanian cakes and coconut treats. We bought one of everything she had and everything was delicious!

We loved the coconut treats we enjoyed during our family day trip to Taboga Island from Panama City.
So good!

Restinga Beach is a pretty nice beach, and a good option if you need a beach day while in Panama City with kids, but it’s not the tropical beach of your dreams either.

Two kids show off their seashell collection at Restinga Beach on Taboga Island, Panama.

Recommended Tour

If you want to make Taboga Island a full day activity, check out this All-inclusive Taboga Island Catamaran Tour.

8. Smithsonian Punta Culebra Nature Center

If you have a spare hour to kill, another fun thing to do on the Amador Causeway is the Smithsonian Punta Culebra Nature Center. This fun, nature-themed Panama City attraction is on a small peninsula, with several small themed buildings surrounded by forest.

The forest is fun as it is home to several sloths (we saw two) and many iguanas. Just ask the staff, and they’ll point you in the direction of the nearest sloth.

A sloth rests in a tree at the Smithsonian Punta Culebra Nature Center in Panama City, Panama.

The first building we entered was the amphibian house, where they featured displays of many of Panama’s frogs. Our family not only loves frogs, but we love competing to see who can find the frogs first, so this was right up our alley! There were many beautiful and colorful frogs in the exhibit, including the ever-popular strawberry poison-dart frog (sometimes known as the blue jeans frog or even the Spiderman frog).

A Spiderman frog on display at the Smithsonian Center in Panama City.
We love blue jeans frogs!

Our next stop at the Smithsonian Punta Culebra Nature Center was a science exhibit. Here the kids got to see and touch all sorts of cool animal stuff, like turtle skulls, dolphin skulls, shark jaws, etc.

Next up was a pool with some local fish, including a few nurse sharks. The was followed by a tank with some turtles, then another with starfish and the biggest sea urchin I’ve ever seen.

Our final stop was the small aquarium, which had a variety of tanks on display highlighting the different aquatic life in both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Our favorites were the clown fish (Little Nemo) and a huge moray eel.

a 10-year old girl looks at a shark jaw at the Smithsonian Center in Panama City.
So much cool stuff to see at the Smithsonian!

9. Cinta Costera Park Ocean Front Walk

One of the best family walks in Panama City was between our hotel in the modern district and the Old Town district. We went for a walk in Cinta Costera Park on our first morning in Panama City with kids and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Cinta Costera Park is a beautiful oceanfront park with a dedicated walking pathway alongside a dedicated biking / scooter / inline skating lane. The green park is lined with palm trees, playgrounds and lots of vendors offering cool treats. The views of the modern Panama City skyline are especially nice from the Cinta Costera Park.

Dan Brewer, of the Family Can Travel blog, walks along the oceanfront walkway in the Cinta Costera Park in Panama City.
What a beautiful family walk in Panama City!

Tip

You can see the Cinta Costera Park oceanfront walking trail on Google Maps.

10. Casco Viejo  – Old Town Panama City

We visited the Panama City Old Town (Casco Viejo) on our first day in Panama City with kids. We walked all the way there from our kid-friendly hotel in the modern district via the Cinta Costera Park, with a stop for some carnival fun along the way.

The Panama City Old Town is so charming, with many beautiful old, colorful buildings with ornate balconies. It reminded us of some other charming old towns on our family trip to Cartagena and our day in San Juan with kids.

A quiet and colorful street in Panama City Old Town (Casco Viejo).

We thoroughly enjoyed walking around Casco Viejo, aimlessly enjoying the colorful streets. It was a Sunday, so most of the stores were closed, but that’s ok as there were less people and traffic too. We stopped for lunch in a plaza, followed by some yummy paletas – a treat we first learned to love in Valle de Bravo with kids.

Paletas are a yummy, cold treat for a hot day on a family trip to Panama City.
A quiet and colorful street in Panama City Old Town (Casco Viejo).

Recommended Tour

Panama City has so much history, it’d be fascinating to explore it with a guide. This half-day tour visits the Miraflores Visitor’s Center before a walking tour of Casco Viejo.

5 Days in Panama City with Kids

Now that you’ve seen our favorite things to do in Panama City with kids, let’s take a look at how we fit it all into our trip. Here’s our 5 day Panama City itinerary with kids:

Day 1 of our Family Trip to Panama City

We began our Panama City family vacation with an enjoyable oceanfront walk along the pathway in Cinta Costera Park. It was a great opportunity to get a feel for this vibrant Central American city, taking in the views of all the main areas of town.

Celine Brewer, owner of FamilyCanTravel.com, walks with her kids on the oceanfront walking trail in Cinta Costera Park in Panama City.

We were incredibly lucky that our family trip to Panama City coincided with their annual carnival celebrations. We couldn’t miss this amazing experience, so we joined in the daytime Panama City carnival celebrations in Cinta Costera Park.

We all had a ton of fun celebrating with the locals in the secure, vehicle-free part of the Cinta Costera Park. Getting soaked by the water trucks in the morning parade was an especially kid-friendly part of the experience.

Celine Brewer, owner of FamilyCanTravel.com, and her kids are soaked afte rbeing sprayed by a Culecos truck at the Panama City carnival morning celebrations.
We got soaked!

We finished off our first day in Panama City with kids with a walk through Old Town (known as Casco Antiguo or Casco Viejo). We didn’t have a particular destination in mind, we just meandered looking for lunch. We loved the colorful buildings and historical feel of the Panama City Old Town – it was a lot of fun to explore with kids.  

Day 2 in Panama City with Kids

Our tour guide picked us up bright and early for our private Chagres River kayak tour. We had an amazing 2.5 hours on the water of this tranquil river which provides the water the Panama Canal uses to operate the lock system. We loved the beauty of the surrounding dense jungle and the abundance of exotic birdlife living along its shores.

a 10-year old girl dangles her feet in the calm waters of the Chagres River while kayaking with her family.
Soaking in the beauty of the surrounding jungle.

After a quick lunch near our hotel, we hopped in an Uber and went to the Miraflores Locks Visitors Center. Celine and I thought it was amazing to watch a gigantic container ship transit through the Panama Canal lock system, but our kids found it pretty boring. They loved the IMAX 3D show about the Panama Canal though.

An 8-year old boy looks cool while waiting to watch the Panama Canal IMAX movie at the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center.

Day 3 in Panama City with Children

Despite not having many plans when we woke up, we had an action packed day exploring Panama City with our kids. After stuffing ourselves at the huge hotel buffet breakfast, we hopped in an Uber and went to the Amador Causeway.

We rented a fun 4-seater family bike and rode up and down the palm tree lined Amador Causeway. The ocean, city and jungle views were amazing and we had a ton of fun along the way.

Dan Brewer, of the Family Can Travel blog, lets his kids drive the 4-person bike on the Amador Causeway in Panama City.

We stopped in Old Town for lunch at our favorite café, before heading north of Casco Viejo (Old Town) to a family-friendly viewpoint hike. The Ancon Lookout Trail is a very popular family hike in Panama City to three viewpoints atop the biggest hill in the area. The three viewpoints are of all the major locations within Panama City – Casco Viejo, the modern district and an excellent elevated view of the Panama Canal.

The Family Can Travel kids enjoy a great view of Panama City Old Town on the Ancon Lookout hike.
Enjoying views of the Old Town from Ancon Lookout.

To finish our busy day in Panama City with kids, we returned to Cinta Costera for the evening parade on the final night of carnival. The kids were up way past their bedtimes, but it was worth it to expose them to such a fun cultural experience.

A carnival queen dances on her colorful float in the Panama City carnival parade.

Read More

It’s hard to find good information in English, so we wrote a guide to visiting Panama City carnival with kids.

Day 4 – Soberanía National Park with Kids

Despite staying up very late for the Panama City carnival parade the night before, we had to set our alarms extra early. Our guide was picking us up at 6 am for our private Soberanía National Park tour.

We arrived at the national park by 7 am and within the first 10 minutes had our best wildlife encounter of the day – a very active 3-toed sloth next to a troupe of howler monkeys (with a baby!).

A 3-toed sloth hangs in a tree in Soberanía National Park, Panama City.
Can you see the sloth?

The Soberanía National Park is so rich with flora and fauna that the wildlife sightings continued for hours. We saw several other packs of monkeys, lots of small mammals, some beautiful birds and even a couple of tarantula nests.

Soberanía National Park is a special place and we were in very good hands with our extremely knowledgeable guide. We had a great time in Soberanía National Park with our kids.

Our excellent tour guide in Soberanía National Park, Panama City.
We were very grateful for our jungle tour guide!

After our jungle tour, all of us were pretty tired, so we did something unusual for our family – we chilled out at our hotel. Sometimes we need to let the kids recharge their batteries for the sake of the upcoming days of our trips.

Exhausted kids don’t make for good travelers. We spent some time in our hotel room catching up on their travel journals, along with some math homework, before we rewarded them with some fun time at the outdoor pool.

Read More

Travel journals are a great way for your kids to capture their memories of your family trips! If you love active family vacations, check out our Travel Journal for Active Kids.

Day 5 of our Family Trip to Panama City

We wanted a little beach time on our final day in Panama City, so we hopped on a ferry to Taboga Island. Once there we claimed a spot on the golden brown sand of Restinga Beach and spent the next four hours enjoying some fun in the sun.

Two kids show off their seashell collection at Restinga Beach on Taboga Island, Panama.

The late ferry was sold out at the time we bought our tickets, so we arrived back on the Amador Causeway mid-afternoon. So, we took advantage and spent an hour at the small, but very entertaining Smithsonian Punta Culebra Nature Center.

Where to Stay in Panama City with Kids

There are two main areas where tourists stay in Panama City with kids. On one hand, you have the Old Town (Casco Viejo) which is in the heart of one of the main tourist areas of town, complete with lots of culture, shopping and restaurants.

Celine Brewer enjoys a family walk in the Old Town of Panama City.

The other main area to stay as a family in Panama City is the modern district. Here is where you’ll find many of the skyscraper hotels. There’s a good mix of American and local restaurants in the area, although it’s pretty spread out.

The F&F Tower in Panama City looks like a corkscrew building.
There are some super-cool buildings in Panama City!

Our Panama City Hotel

We chose to stay at the Megapolis Hotel in the modern part of Panama City. We chose this family-friendly hotel as it was central to most of the attractions we wanted to see in Panama City, and it had some really family-friendly room configurations.

We stayed in a 2-bedroom hotel room on the 29th floor with an excellent ocean view. Having two bedrooms is really nice when traveling with kids as it’s good to have some privacy after the kids go to sleep. Plus, everyone sleeps better when they have their own space, and well-rested kids make much better travelers.

Panama City carnival fireworks as seen from the Megalopolis Hotel.
Carnival fireworks from our hotel room!

There’s a lot of good things going for Megalopolis Hotel – the breakfast buffet was really good. It offers a huge selection and has good quality food. The outdoor pool on the 10th floor (approximately) was also a big hit with our kids.

The Brewer kids have a ton of fun in the swimming pool at the Megalopolis Hotel in Panama City.
What a great view from the swimming pool!

Our only hesitation with recommending the Megalopolis Hotel for families traveling to Panama City with kids is the cleanliness. This hotel was formerly known as the Hard Rock Hotel Panama, but it closed down during Covid. It has reopened under a new name, but it feels like some parts of the hotel hadn’t been cleaned in a long time (the hallway carpets for example).

When we first checked in, there was glitter still on the floor in several spots. When we unfolded the sofa bed, a ton of stuff fell onto the floor. One night, when our neighbor had a shower, some water seeped into our room.

Perhaps, this is all a function of a new hotel trying to regain its feet? It gets really good reviews, so maybe we were just unluckily? Or not? You can check it out for yourself on Booking.com.

More Kid-Friendly Panama City Accommodation

If you’d like to explore other kid-friendly hotels in Panama, we always use Booking.com as we really like their Top Picks for Families search feature.

Another alternative for family trips is to get a vacation rental. In addition to kitchen facilities, we also enjoy family-friendly amenities such as separate bedrooms and laundry facilities. Don’t underestimate the benefit of separate bedrooms – they give you some privacy at night, and well rested, kids are much better travelers.

Browse Panama City Vacation Rentals

Where to Eat in Panama City with Kids

Restaurante Tapachula

No matter where we travel in the world, we can always count on the kids eating Mexican food. Restaurante Tapachula is a  colorful, modern Mexican restaurant in the modern part of town. We had an excellent meal here.

Our son got a huge chicken burrito (which he ate all of), our daughter got a cheese quesadilla, while Celine and I got two types of tacos and split them. The food was delicious and the portions were generous.

a 10-year old girl enjoys a meal at Restaurante Tapachula in Panama City.

This turned out to be our go-to restaurant and we ended up eating there three times. Tapachula is a great place for a family meal in Panama City.

See Restaurante Tapachula on Google Maps.

Concolon Panamanian Street Food

We wanted to try some Panamanian food, so were happy to discover this fancy street food restaurant within a short walk from our hotel.

We shared an order of gourmet empanadas to start, then our son had a pepperoni pizza (he’s not very adventurous yet), while our daughter had bao buns (also not Panamanian, but at least it’s better than pizza!).

an 8-year old boy rips into a pizza at Concolon Panamanian Street Food in Panama City.

Celine and I each ordered the Patacones Montados (Fried Plantain with shredded beef). Everything we ordered was delicious.

See Concolon Panamanian Street Food on Google Maps.

Grand Deli Gourmet Cafe

The Grand Deli Gourmet Café is located in the charming Plaza Tomas Henry in the Panama City old town. We thoroughly enjoyed eating our lunch outdoors at a shaded table in the plaza. Celine and I got Cubano sandwiches, while our son got a Mexican wrap and our daughter got a roasted chicken sandwich.

a 10-year old girl shows off her chicken sandwich at the Grand Deli Gourmet Cafe in Old Town Panama City.

See Grand Deli Gourmet Cafe on Google Maps.

Panama City with Kids – Conclusion

As you can see, we had a ton of fun during our family trip to Panama City. This exciting city is the perfect blend of big-city excitement and tropical jungle adventure. We hope you found some inspiration for your own trip to Panama City with kids!

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Dan Brewer is an intrepid family travel blogger with a passion for exploring the world's most captivating destinations. With 58 countries under his belt and a sense of wanderlust that knows no bounds, he has made it his life's mission to share his travel experiences and insights with fellow families who love to travel.

When Dan isn't traveling with his wife and kids, he's either out enjoying the Canadian Rockies he calls home or working on one of his three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Travel Banff Canada and Ultimate Sports Road Trip).