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Panama City is a vibrant metropolis whose proximity to two national parks and the famous canal and its environs makes it an ideal base for travelers who seek to pack in a lot of adventure and sightseeing, but who'd like to finish the day with gourmet dining, comfortable accommodations, and city nightlife.

Day 1: Getting to Know the City

Start your day at Panama Viejo, to get your historical bearings and learn about Panama in the handsome visitor center. Browse the extensive handicrafts market here. Head to Casco Viejo for lunch at Manolo Caracol, then walk it off with a tour around this picturesque neighborhood. Buy a raspado at the Plaza Francia and enjoy the sea breeze. Check with your hotel for live music and other nighttime events, or drop by a casino at the Sheraton Panama Hotel and Convention Center or Veneto Hotel.

¡Buen Provecho! -- Sample Panamanian food at Las Tinajas, Calle 51 in El Cangrejo (tel. 269-3840) and be entertained by a folkloric dance show. Or go upscale with gourmet Panamanian fare at Las Barandas, Aquilino de la Guardia at Obarrio (tel. 265-7844).

Day 2: Getting Deep in the Jungle

See Day 2 of "Panama in 1 Week."

Day 3: Pirates, Ruins & Gold

See Day 3 of "Panama in 2 Weeks."

Dinner & All That Jazz -- Dine on fabulous Peking duck at Madame Chang, Av. 5A and Calle Uruguay (tel. 269-1313), or soak up the tropical ambience at the restaurant La Posta, Calle 49 at Calle Uruguay (tel. 269-1076). Finish with an evening of jazz at Bar Platea in Casco Viejo.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.