9 Family-Friendly Touristic Activities To Do in Panama With Kids
For adventurous families, there are tons of things to do in Panama with kids! In fact, this Central American nation is one of the fastest-growing international destinations for U.S. travelers.
Panama is a slice of tropical paradise nestled between Costa Rica and Colombia. It boasts jungles, mountains, beaches, over 1,000 islands, a rich indigenous culture, and a bustling capital city.
After an unforgettable trip to Panama, your kids will have memories and stories of birds, monkeys, sloths, and other exotic animals. Panama’s impressive biodiversity makes it a joy to explore its national parks and rainforests.
Furthermore, traveling to Panama as a family is affordable. The Panamanian government considers tourism a priority, so prices are low compared to many other travel destinations. What’s more, Panama uses the U.S. dollar!
Ready to explore the natural wonders of Panama? Keep reading for the best family-friendly things to see and do with little ones in Panama!
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9 Fun Things To Do in Panama With Kids
The best things to do in Panama with kids take place in both adventurous and relaxed environments. Be sure to pack comfortable, lightweight clothes and shoes, a swimsuit, hat, sandals, hiking shoes, and cash. Get ready for a family-friendly good time!
1. Visit the Panama Canal
The Panama Canal fascinates travelers of all ages. It’s arguably the best-known attraction in Panama. Some 800,000 ships pass through the 50-mile waterway each year!
Take your kids to the Miraflores Locks’ Atlantic & Pacific Restaurant for lunch. There’s a fun IMAX Panama Canal 3-D Movie to see, as well as a kid-friendly museum of the 100-year-old canal.
Watching the ships as they transit across the Miraflores Locks is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The visitor center is the ideal spot to get a good look at the giant ships and containers.
2. Explore the Old City, Casco Viejo
Dating back to the 16th century, the old town of Panama City has picturesque cobblestone streets and plazas, as well as plenty of restaurants, shops, and cafes. Kids will love the opportunity to learn about the history of the area—including pirates!
Its historical landmarks include Plaza Francia (France Plaza), Plaza Herrera (Herrera Plaza), and El Altar de Oro (the Gold Altar). It’s full of ruins, ancient cathedrals, and fountains. The architecture and colorful tropical landscape make it one of the excellent family things to do in Panama with kids.
3. Go on a Wildlife Tour
When you visit the Panama Canal, why not take your kids on to see the wildlife living nearby. Take an expedition boat that crosses Gatun Lake, which sits alongside a rainforest.
Your children will love witnessing iguanas, monkeys, crocodiles, and keel-billed toucans (among other wildlife) in their natural habitat. The Monkey Island Boat Tour takes you just outside Panama City for an authentic rainforest experience. (The tour also passes the huge ships near the Panama Canal locks!)
4. Visit an Embera Village
Catch a fascinating glimpse into the life, culture, and mystic rituals of the Embera, one of Panama’s seven indigenous groups.
Take your family to meet members of the tribe, dance, sample local food and drink, and buy handicrafts. The Embera produce medicinal plants and handicrafts like shawls, bracelets, and baskets.
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5. Relax in the San Blas Islands
You reach the remote San Blas archipelago in the Caribbean Sea by plane. The inhabitants of the area regulate tourism there, keeping it pristine, uncrowded, and gorgeous. Stay for a few nights in a lodge on a tiny island enjoying the simple pleasures of snorkeling and lazing in a hammock.
Try the Yandup Island Lodge or Kuanidup Huts and explore the stunning beaches with your family. Visit larger islands with villages to interact with and learn about the Guna indigenous tribe. They’re famous for their colorful molas (embroidered cloth) and beaded bracelets.
6. Visit Gamboa Rainforest Resort
Just a half-hour drive from downtown Panama City, the Gamboa Rainforest Resort is the perfect place to spend a few days. It’s ideal for families, with easy access, swimming pools, and buffet meals.
The resort organizes Gatun Lake boat tours, night safari tours, and visits to the Emberá indigenous tribes. This unique site is a great launching pad for your children to explore the area’s wildlife, nature, and culture.
7. Take a Whale-Watching Tour
If you’re visiting Panama with kids during the humpback whale season (June to November), several operators offer whale-watching tours!
During the season, whales migrate to Panama’s Pacific Ocean to mate. Humpback whales are visible off the coast of Panama City, near Isla Taboga and the Pearl Islands.
8. Go to the BioMuseo
Panama features spectacular museums for kids! Nature lovers will adore BioMuseo Panama. Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, its permanent collection, “The Bridge of Life,” encompasses eight galleries!
Encourage your children to discover Panama’s fascinating flora and fauna here at Panama City’s most famous museum. It covers the geological history of the Panamanian isthmus and its impact on the planet’s biodiversity. Best of all, it’s a family-friendly museum where children can run free!
9. Explore Punta Culebra Nature Center
Punta Culebra (Snake Point) Nature Center in Amador is a small, open-air museum dedicated to marine science and conservation. It’s a fun place for kids with exhibits including a turtle pool and a pool where kids observe and touch starfish, sea stars, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins with assistance.
Operated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, this unique site also gives children a chance to visit sea life exhibitions, watch the Fabulous Frogs of Panama exhibit, and walk through a tropical dry forest.
Speak the Language of Panama
Now you’re filled to the brim with things to do in Panama with kids. All of Latin America is a gem for travelers with not only delicious cuisine but also beaches, mountains, jungles, cloud forests, and more.
Break through the language barrier by learning Spanish before your trip! Being bilingual empowers you to travel more easily and communicate with the 121 million people in Latin America (and another 53 million in the United States).
Homeschool Spanish Academy helps you achieve fluency through live 1-on-1 instruction with friendly native-speaking teachers, high-quality programs, and affordable payment options. Give it a try today! To get your family comfortable with conversational Spanish before your trip to Panama, sign up for a free trial class at Homeschool Spanish Academy.
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