These are our best recommendations on what to do in Panama with kids. You’ll have an amazing time with these insider tips!
Panamá – Why I Know What I’m Talking About…
First, I’m writing this FROM Panamá. :) And this isn’t my first trip here, friends.
My parents retired from the US to Panamá many years ago. They purchased a beautiful property up in the mountains of the Chagres National Park. Sloths, toucans, and all manner of wildlife visit their doorstep and we’ve spent a lot of time up here.
Additionally, my brother has a few properties in the country, both in the busy city and far outside. Needless to say, we’ve made ourselves quite comfortable in this beautiful country.
If you’re going during the dry season (December to April), you’re going to want to spend a ton of time outside because the weather allows nearly all-day comfortable excursions. Let’s talk about a few other general tips when traveling to Panamá.
General Tips for Traveling to Panama with Kids
- Stay inside after lunch unless you’re up in the mountains or on the water. It’s hot and can be very humid. The kids will lose energy quickly.
- If you’re out in the afternoon, apply sunscreen often and consider bringing a white, light-weight camp shirt to help protect skin. If you’re wearing makeup, get this powdered sunscreen. #lifesaver
- Hydrate a lot. If your kid gets a dehydration headache, NO ONE is going to have a good time. In the city or developed areas, bottled water is available (we buy all our water).
- Download Google Translate. It’s free and can help if you don’t have an understanding of the language.
- If you have picky eaters, don’t worry. There are many familiar items on menus and in stores. For kids with allergies, be able to say it in Spanish to avoid misinterpretation.
Bio Museum (Bio Museé) and the Amador Causeway
Go. To. This.
It’s a Frank Gehry-designed building, so of course, kids love it! Our daughter had a great time and wanted to go back the following day! Note: the ground sloth is WOW-worthy.
The café is slow to serve but had a decent selection of kid and adult-friendly options. And the gift shop has books for kids and some kitschy toys our daughter loved.
Additionally, on the causeway, you can enjoy the amazing walk or rent bikes to take in the view. Or, you can head to the Smithsonian Institute Marine Center (check for open hours). This area is one of the best things to do in Panamá with kids.
Taboga Island (The Island of Flowers)
Taboga Island is a small volcanic island paradise tucked just off the coast. A ferry will get you there in about 30-60 minutes (depending on the ferry) and it’s definitely worth the ride.
Do you want to:
- lay in the sun on a sandbar? You can.
- go on a day hike through gorgeous trails, old churches, and a fun little town? You can.
- hop on a whale-watching, fishing, or boat cruise? You can.
It’s gorgeous, relaxing, educational, and not a soul will be bored (even the little ones). Bring cash.
Gatun (Lake and Rainforest) – Jungle Land Panamá
My, oh my, Jungle Land Panama an absolute MUST do in Panama with kids! From kayak and canoe tours to getting up close and personal with jungle animals, everyone will have a blast.
Captain Carl Davis was hands down, one of the best tour guides we’ve ever had, in any country. He’s passionate, the kids and adults laugh, learn, and are in awe of his knowledge and love for the area.
It’s been a Trip Advisor Award of Excellence each year and for good reason. Plan on an entire day.
The Panamá Canal (Miraflores Locks and Museum)
From a walking tour to a boat tour, some kids will enjoy this and others will repeat, “I’m bored,” 600 times. If your little ones are inclined to lean towards the bored spectrum, opt for the boat tour. It’s pleasant, even on the hottest of days.
If you can make it out to this little haven away from bustling Panamá City, do so. This was a very relaxing place to enjoy a beautiful beach vacation, get to know some locals, and eat some very good food.
And the sand is an amazing mix of colors that make some amazing designs. We tell everyone about this hidden gem when they’re traveling to Panamá with kids.
If you have a rental car, it’s an easy drive. If you don’t, consider a taxi (expensive, but worth it with kids). Riding on public transportation in Panamá can be a scary experience for little onesThey’ve done a great deal to improve public transportation (Diablo Rojos are mostly gone), it’s still an overwhelming experience.
Panamá Viejo (Old Panamá)
If it’s going to be a hot day, it’s best to do this in the mornings. Making as long a day (or as short) as you want it, it’s fun to walk around the ruins.
The artisan market had some interesting finds (we picked up some beautiful handmade artwork) and also has a spot for refreshments.
It’s easy to get to, is large enough to be entertaining, and boasts one of the largest, most accessible rainforests in the world. It’s actually pretty fun for everyone.
It can get very, very busy so plan ahead.
You can’t miss this major thoroughfare when you travel to Panamá with kids. It’s the really big road which runs along the water in the city, so you can’t miss it. But the park is fun to walk around at night, especially in November for national Independence and in December when it’s decorated for Christmas.
There are some pop-up shops here and there but plan on bringing your own picnic lunch if you’re there with kids at that time.
Over to You
Are you excited to go to Panamá with kids? I know it can seem daunting, but it’s easier than some foreign countries. The people of Panamá will welcome you and your children with open arms.
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