Panama City is a collection of contrasting neighborhoods and none as tranquil as the old Canal Zone. Set up your home base at the Country Inn and Suites at the Panama Canal. You'll be well positioned from here for easy access to excursions outside the city, think Contadora, El Valle, Taboga Island, Pacific Beaches.
Skip the heat and head out early for a walk or bike ride along the Amador Causeway, with views to city and ships awaiting transit through the Panama Canal and the city skyline.
Check out the Frank Gehry-designed Biomuseum and learn about Panama's rich biodiversity in the different high-tech galleries. Kids will love the multiscreen video presentation. And stop in the Smithsonian's Punta Culebra Nature Center to see the fish tanks in General Manuel Noriega's former hangout.
For lunch or a snack, head to Isla Flamenco where you have your choice of Buccanero's, Cayuco's, Leños & Carbon, Alberto's, Beirut or Bennigan's. Or grab an ice cream at Dolce Idea before returning to the hotel for a dip in the pool.
If the whole family is up for it, take the Hop-on-and-off-Bus for a tour of the city's major attractions on a double-decker bus.
For dinner, try Friday's downstairs in the hotel or the Balboa Yacht Club next door, both with views to the Canal.