Panama is a mixed bag as a kid-friendly destination. A share of B&Bs, luxury resorts, and boutique hotels do not accept children under 10 to 12 years of age, and discounts for children are rare. Also, few hotels outside of destination resorts offer activities specifically tailored to kids and teens—though it is easy to book day excursions like snorkeling, jungle treks, or rafting trips, all of which are kid pleasers.
Day 1: Arrival in Panama City
Head to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort, near the Panama Canal, a 45-minute to 1-hour drive from the Tocumen International Airport. Gamboa has a games center, tours, a butterfly farm, and an aerial tram. If you want to stay in Panama City, book your family at the Country Inn & Suites -- Panama Canal, an oceanfront hotel with bike path and pool located near the Amador Causeway.
Day 2: Jungle Cruises & the Canal Zone
Join an early-morning jungle cruise on Lake Gatún to visit "Monkey Island," and view other wildlife like crocodiles, capybaras, and sloths, and motor past huge tankers transiting the canal. Alternatively, ride a dugout canoe up the jungle-shrouded Chagres River to visit an Emberá indigenous community and get painted with jagua juice. At the Gamboa, take a bike ride to Pipeline Road in the afternoon, or visit the resort's serpentarium and butterfly exhibits, and take a ride on their aerial tram. In Panama City, pedal a bike ride along the Causeway and stop at the Punta Culebra Marine Exhibition Center.
Days 3 to 5: From Lowlands to Highlands
Visit the harpy eagle exhibition and see tapirs, ocelots, jaguars, and more at the Summit Gardens Park & Zoo. Afterward, stop at the Panama Canal's Miraflores Locks, tour the visitor center, and have an early lunch at their restaurant looking out over ships transiting the locks. After lunch, transfer to El Valle de Anton, 2 hours from the city, and stay at the Crater Valley Adventure Spa. Relax, bike ride, or let the hotel-activities staff teach your kids to ascend their climbing wall or obstacles course while you have a massage. The following day, book a ride on the Canopy Adventure for a thrilling zip-line ride through the forest. Later, families can organize an easygoing horseback ride, bike ride on country lanes, walk to a waterfall, or explore the amphibian exhibit and minizoo at El Nispero. Spend your last day wandering through the handicrafts fair for souvenirs and gifts to take home.
Day 6 to 8: Descent to the Beach
Drive along the Pacific Coast on the Pan American Highway, stopping for a snack at Quesos Chela. After about 2 hours, you’ll come to Buenaventura, a sprawling beachfront residential complex anchored by a hotel, the JW Marriott Panama Beach & Golf Resort, where you will be staying. Spend the next few days within the complex, visiting the zoo, kicking it lazily by the pool at the El Faro Beach Club or in the sand, and eating at the many restaurants, like Mansa, a coastal Panamanian restaurant and pizzeria from Panama City chef Mario Castrellón. Utilize the resort’s kids club, giving parents the chance to hit up the golf course or spa.
Day 9: Drive to Panama City
Drive back to Panama City to catch your flight home.
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.