The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

Tropical zone


From LAX, Copa offers nonstop service and Copa, American, Delta and Mexicana offer connecting service (change of planes). Restricted round-trip fares begin at $530.


To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 507 (country code for Panama) and the local number.


Hotel El Panama, 111 Vía España, Panama City; 215-9000, fax 269-3309, Historic, tropical-style hotel where salsa singer Rubén Blades gave his first professional performance, centrally located in the banking district. Doubles begin at $125, including continental breakfast.

Gamboa Rainforest Resort, P.O. Box 7338, Zone 5, Panama City, 314-9000, This full-service resort, just 30 minutes from downtown Panama City on the banks of the Chagres River within Soberania National Park, offers a spectacular natural getaway featuring an aerial tram over the jungle canopy. Doubles from $175.

Hostal La Casa de Carmen, Calle 1ra No. 32 El Carmen, Panama City; 263-4366, Billed as Panama's first bed-and-breakfast. The budget hostel is in a quiet neighborhood just one block from Via España. Doubles begin at $30, including continental breakfast.


Manolo Caracol, Avenida Central y Calle Tercera, Casco Antiguo, Panama City; 228-4640. This trendy fusion restaurant in the historic quarter offers art exhibitions and a fixed-price menu with up to 11 courses, all for $16.

Parrillada Jimmy, Via Cincuentenario, Panama City, 226-1323, Across from the Atlapa Convention Center and the Tourism Ministry headquarters, this casual family restaurant is a favorite lunch spot for Blades. Known for its steaks. Entrees $4.50-$15.50.

Restaurante Miraflores, Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal. Food is passable. Dining on the outdoor patio watching huge ships pass through the locks only yards away: priceless. Most expensive item $15.


An extensive website,, with information on travel, investment, retirement and more.

Official site of the Instituto Panameño de Turismo (the government's tourism ministry),

-- Agustin Gurza

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