Talk about the best of both worlds. When you first land in Panama City, the skyline is a futuristic shocker. The country is, after all, the economic shining star of Central America. So spend an afternoon at the Miraflores locks of the Panama Canal, enjoy the pulsing nightlife, and then grab a backpack and head out into the jungle. There's as much biodiversity here as in the Amazon, and it's much more accessible, with a lot fewer anacondas. The best part? It's all just a three-hour flight from Houston.
A carnival queen atop a float during Carnival festivities in Panama City.
Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger Mary Forgione likes to hit the dirt when she's on vacation. An avid hiker and runner, Mary likes speed-touring cities on foot and sightseeing by running marathons.