Ultimate Guide to Exploring Panama City, Panama With Kids

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Are you planning a trip to Panama City Panama with kids? Panama City offers a mix of cultural, historical, and outdoor activities that are sure to be a hit with every member of your family. If you’re wondering what to do in Panama City with kids, read on for our Panama City Panama itinerary.

Where to stay in Panama City with kids

Are you looking for the best family friendly hotel in Panama City? We stayed at the Megapolis Hotel Panama, which at the time of our stay was a Hard Rock property. Great location, great staff and great rooms.   We booked a one bedroom suite but were upgraded to a two bedroom, two bath suite with a living room as well so that was an upside! We spent every afternoon in the hotel pool, since it was so hot outside in the middle of the day.

The rooftop pool offered great views of Panama City.

Panama City Panama with kids

If you want to see other hotel and vacation rental options in Panama City, check out the interactive map below:

What to do in Panama City with kids

Visit a local mall

Panama City has a ton of malls and you might be wondering why you should visit one, but it’s a nice break from the afternoon heat.  Our hotel was connected to a mall, which made it easy to explore.  The most popular mall is Albrook Mall, the biggest shopping plaza in all of Central America. It was one of the biggest malls we have ever been to, with multiple floors and food courts.  Each entrance had a different animal by it, so if you got disoriented, you can just search for the animal.

We came here on Thanksgiving Day, but you’d never know it was Thanksgiving back home!  We learned that Panama City participates in Black Friday, and signs all over advertised sales that day.  A local told us that it’s so popular there, that people from all over Latin America come to Panama to shop that day and they are considering doing another Black Friday event at another time of the year.

Monkey Island/Indian Village Tour

While in Panama, we did the monkey island/Indian village tour with Barefoot Panama and had an awesome experience.  Everyone on our tour had kids, which was great because Milana had little playmates.  This was by far the highlight of the trip for Milana, she got to hand feed the wild monkeys in the jungle, who hopped right onto our boat!

Panama City Panama with kids
The monkeys jumped right onto the boat!

We also visited a local Indian village by boat, and Milana got to meet some local kids, see baby chicks and see where chocolate comes from. She was very excited to see cocoa beans, until she realized they don’t quite taste like the chocolate she’s used to!

Panama City Panama with kids
Indian village

Visit Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo is Panama City’s Old Town. This historic old town is full of colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and charming plazas. Kids can explore the area and enjoy ice cream or local snacks from street vendors. This is a great area to explore and it’s cool to see the preserved Old Town in the middle of bustling and modern Panama City.

Panama City Panama with kids
Casco Viejo
Panama City Panama with kids

Visit the Panama Canal

Of course, no trip to Panama City is complete without a visit to the Panama Canal! The Panama Canal is one of the world’s most famous engineering marvels. Take your kids to the Miraflores Visitor Center, where they can watch ships pass through the locks, learn about the history of the canal through interactive exhibits, and enjoy a panoramic view of the canal. We got lucky and a ship was passing through as we were there.

Panama City Panama with kids
Looking at the Panama Canal
Panama City Panama with kids
Boat passing through

Day Trip to the Pearl Islands from Panama City

If you have some extra time and are looking to do a day trip from Panama City, we highly recommend taking the ferry to Pearl Islands. Many people go there for a few days, but we decided to make it a day trip. We took the ferry (1.5 hours each way) to Isla Contadora where we rented a golf cart to explore the island. It was so much fun!  The beaches are beautiful and secluded, and they have some really good food on this tiny island.  We ate at Gerald’s, where Milana had shrimp (and we had the fish of the day) and she got to see a baby deer that comes to their garden every afternoon.

Panama City Panama with kids
Obsessed with shrimp!

If you aren’t familiar with the Pearl Islands, the 7th season of Survivor was filmed here. The beaches have crystal clear water and minimal waves, perfect for kids to play. Definitely a must do while visiting Panama!

Panama City Panama with kids

Visit the Parque Natural Metropolitano

This urban rainforest park offers hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and a canopy tower. It’s a great place for kids to experience nature and see birds, monkeys, and other animals in their natural habitat.

Panama City Aquarium

If your family likes aquariums, this is a fun one to visit. This family-friendly aquarium features a variety of marine life, including sharks, rays, and colorful fish. It’s a fun and educational experience for kids.

Biomuseo

If you have older kids, then don’t miss the Biomuseo in Panama City! This biodiversity museum designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry is a visually engaging and informative place for children to learn about Panama’s unique ecosystems and wildlife.

How to get around Panama City with kids

The taxis and Ubers in Panama City are really, really cheap.  As long as you don’t pick one up in front of your hotel, you’ll pay just a couple of dollars for a 15 minute ride.  We found taxis to be the quickest, cheapest and easiest forms of transportation in Panama City so we opted to use them during our trip.

Panama City also has a public transportation system (buses and subway), however it can be confusing for tourists. If you opt to use it, you can purchase a multi day metro card to save some money.

And if you are staying in a walkable area, walk! We love exploring new cities on foot and walked quite a bit while here.

Where to eat in Panama City with kids

Panama City has some really awesome, cheap food however where you eat will depend on where you are staying, I really feel like you can’t go wrong with whatever you choose here. One of our favorite restaurants was El Trapiche. It was about 15 minutes by cab from the hotel, and full of locals so you know it’s good!  We ordered whole red snapper, ceviche, arroz con pollo and Milana had shrimp with garlic sauce.  Everything was excellent, we would definitely return if we ever visit Panama again!

Panama City Panama with kids
Loving the shrimp!

Panama City is one of the best cities to visit with kids.  The city is easy to navigate, the locals are friendly and there is lots of great food. There’s so much to do and see that you can easily spend a week there and keep busy the entire time.  If you’re looking for a great, kid-friendly city vacation, Panama City is definitely the place to go! Want to read this later? Pin one of the images below. 

10 Comments

  • Marta - Learningescapes

    I have always been intrigued by the Panama canal but I had no idea there was so much for families in Panama city: you gave me reasons to go visit, I must add it to my central America dream trip!

  • Suzanne Jones

    There’s so much to see and do around Panama – looks like you all had a fabulous time (including the monkeys!)

  • wanderingwagarschristina

    Your thanksgiving vacation sounds like a lot of fun. I love going to Central America and seeing the monkeys. Funny what you mention about Black Friday. I never would have guessed it would be so popular outside of North America.

  • Stéphanie Langlet

    Sounds like Milana loves the swimming pool and sea a lot. This is the second article I read and she always finds her way to the water 😀

  • 2traveldads

    The Pearl Islands for sure look like a highlight to me. And I think these pics are the first I’ve seen when the Canal wasn’t full of boats. So strange (and what gross water).

  • TravelingMel

    Looks like you had a great trip! I was in Panama in 2005, but other than checking out the locks, we didn’t spend any time in the city. Looks like I need to go back!

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