For Spring Break, my father and I decided to take our yearly "adventure trip" to Panama City, Panama (there's also a Panama City in Florida so I thought I'd be super specific). Though I've traveled to countries that are (kind of) in the area (the Dominican Republic and Guatemala), I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this new addition to our adventure book, and was equal parts nervous and excited.

Marie Chantal Marauta

What I didn't anticipate is how peaceful yet invigorating, and how simultaneously thrilling and relaxing, Panama City would be. Below are a few reasons why I absolutely love this gorgeous city, and why you should hop on the next plane and check it out for yourself. 

1. Fresh AF (and Cheap AF) Seafood 

Marie Chantal Marauta

Our first night in town we hit up Sirena, a quaint seafood restaurant right on the historic and glittering boardwalk, the Amador Causeway. Sirena is just one of many hotspots whose easy ambience and richly-flavored fish dishes make one revel in relaxation and foodgasms, and the unbelievably fresh fish comes at an unbelievably affordable price, too. As you eat an entire lobster (pictured above) and enjoy refreshing cocktails, feel the salty breeze brush your face and look out at the tourists and locals taking a relaxing evening stroll by the sea. 

2. Amazing Alcohol

Marie Chantal Marauta

What would a vacation be without some yummy alcoholic beverages? I think I've averaged on two Mojitos a day, as they're perfect for cooling you down as you sit on the beach or by the pool, and they're also great for a light buzz at dinner time. While I've reveled in the flavor of fresh mint and lime mixed with rich rum, my father has more often opted for a light Panamá beer. 

My favorite moment so far, however, has been sipping on straight rum as a post-dinner digestive, lounging under the dim lights and letting ourselves get carried away by soft jazz.

3. Casco Viejo: A Time Traveler's Land

Marie Chantal Marauta

Casco Viejo, the city's historic district, will take you on a trip back in time. Whether you roam around the ruins (pictured above), admire the majestic and pristine Las Bovedas monument, or simply wander around and marvel at the well-preserved 17th Century architecture, this World Heritage Site will make you feel like you've walked right into a period drama. The best part? There aren't too many tourists around, so you have all the space and time to connect with this city and it's history and truly soak it all in. 

4. Flavorful Panamanian Fares 

Marie Chantal Marauta

Restaurant after restaurant will offer you an array of traditional Panamanian dishes, whether it be lightly-salted grilled fish with Patacones (smashed and fried plantains, pictured above), or more adventurous plates like Ropa Vieja (shredded beef with spices and cooked vegetables, resulting in overall quite a sweet dish), your tummy will never be empty or unhappy. Visit places like Diablicos, in Casco Viejo, where you will not only get delicious local food but also a dinnertime show of folk dances from different regions of Panama!

5. World-Famous Canal

Marie Chantal Marauta

Whether or not you're a history nerd like myself, you'll have probably heard of the Panama Canal. Construction on the canal began in 1881, and was a project handled first by the French and then by the United States. Since it began operating in 1914, the canal has greatly facilitated the passage of ships between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. As one of the grandest and most difficult engineering projects ever done, the canal has been named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World

From the balcony of the Miraflores Visitor Center, watch as large container ships slowly move through the colossal locks and along the canal's vibrant blue waters, and bask in the sunshine that illuminates the hills beyond. If you would like to sit and chow down on some Panamanian food, the Center has it's very own restaurant, Atlantic & Pacific Co., overlooking the canal. 

6. Proximity to Beaches

Marie Chantal Marauta

If you want to take a break from being a tourist in the city, you can take a short boat trip to a number of remote beaches where you can lay back, relax, and listen to the calming ripple of the waves. From the San Blas Islands, to Isla Contadora on the Pearl Islands, to Playa Estrella on Isla Colón, to many, many more, you have a vast selection of mini paradises to choose from. 

7. Overpowering Serenity  

Marie Chantal Marauta

The overarching theme of our trip is that after the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, my father and I found a sense of serenity and peace in this gorgeous and relaxing city. Our hotel overlooked the Canal itself, and so we spent hours on end lounging by the pool, watching boats (and container ships) glide past us, and feeling the rays of the sun wrap us up in a nice, warm hug.

Everyone (and yes, I mean everyone) here is so relaxed, so friendly and so willing to share the wonders of their beautiful city. Unlike many other places I've traveled to, I didn't have someone try to sell me overpriced goods every two minutes, and I wasn't at all stressed out about safety. It's the perfect place to go if you want to explore somewhere new, vibrant and different while being totally chilled-out.

If you'd like a musical mood, it's as though there's a Frank Sinatra ballad about escape, sunshine and love playing as the soothing soundtrack to your holiday.

Marie Chantal Marauta

If you're wondering where to go on your next adventure, look no further. Panama City will provide you with the perfect balance of adventure and relaxation, and whether you want to swim on remote beaches or learn more about the region's fascinating history, this is the place to be. Now, if you excuse me, I'm going to go sip a Mojito and take a dip in the fresh water. 

For more on Panama and food, check out these articles: 

-25 Drool-Worthy Restaurants In Panama

-Veggie, Vegan and Healthy Eats in Panama

-7 Places to Drink in Panama City That Will Take You to Heaven