Panama City: Urban Playground
During my time in Panama I’ve discovered some neat ways to utilize the things around me in Panama City to make it my own “urban playground” where I can step outside and doing something active anytime of the year. Here are some of my favorite things I enjoy doing and most of these activities are free or really cheap:
Every Sunday from 6am to 12pm a lane is closed on the road from Panama Viejo all the way to the end of Cinta Costera 3 in Chorillo for biking, roller blading, walking, running, and anything else recreational. I love biking and as soon as this initiative started I searched Encuentra 24 for a used bicycle and now every Sunday I can go directly from my apartment in San Francisco to the Ciclovia lane a block away and enjoy an approximately 22 km bike ride from my apartment and back.
And don’t worry if you don’t have a bike! There are 300 biclyes available to rent for FREE at the Cinta Costera parking lot closest to Multicentro. Just bring your cedula or passport and you can use the bike until 11:30am.
Did you know we can actually use that big ocean surrounding Panama City? One of my favorite new hobbies is paddle boarding and a company called Panama Paddle offers lessons right from Casco Viejo. I find it to be relaxing and I get a great workout from it! I love being able to paddle out into the ocean and view the city skyline in the distance while pelicans dive down a few feet away from me for fish.
For more information on setting up your first paddle board lesson and what you can expect, check out my article Exploring Panama By Paddle Board (PTY Life readers also get $10 off their first lesson).
Panama City has an insanely beautiful long stretch of waterfront park where you can go running, biking, do yoga, use free workout equipment, play basketball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, pingpong, or just sit on a bench and people watch while enjoying a raspao.
The Amador Causeway is another spot to go running and biking and is normally less crowded than Cinta Costera. There are plenty of spots for bike rentals and a few restaurants and smoothie places to go to after a hard workout.
Parque Omar is like Panama City’s version of a tropical Central Park. It’s located in the San Francisco neighborhood and has a 3.5km running track surrounding the park with tons of green space. They also have some free outdoor workout equipment you can use near the library within the park. After going for a run I love going to get an ice cold pipa (coconut water) from the cafe near the entrance and drink it right from the coconut.
I’ve tried yoga out a few times and it’s not something that I have cared for in the past, but I accidentally stumbled across some people doing Acro Yoga at Parque Omar and decided to give the class a go and I actually really enjoy doing it. I’ve only been to the class a few times so far but it’s a great way to improve core strength and flexibility. The Acro Yoga class is currently every Thursday at 7:30pm at the club house next to the library in Parque Omar and costs $5. They also have a few other yoga style classes during the week so be sure to check out the Acroyoga Panama Facebook Page to confirm when classes will be held.
Panama City is surrounded by apartment buildings with 30+ levels and you most likely live in one yourself or know a few people that do. Try jogging in the stairwell of an apartment building from the bottom floor to the top and your legs and butt will be on fire!
When I don’t feel like making the 15 minute walk from my apartment to Parque Omar I simply go for a run around the Atlapa Convention Center if there isn’t an event going on because I live right next to it. It’s great because there aren’t any cars and only a few other people around doing the same thing. I then use the Nike Running app to track my distance.
Many people may disagree with me, but Panama City IS a walkable city and I know this because I try to walk anywhere within a 25 minute radius of where I need to go (further than that the heat is usually too much unless I’m in workout clothes). There isn’t really a walking culture here like in other major cities around the world and I’ve encountered way too many people that drive as little as two blocks somewhere to avoid walking. I hope this is something that more people realize we can and should do in Panama because there are a lot of benefits. I’m not adding to the drastic growing number of cars on the road and I get to count it as additional exercise for the day. The holes and uneven sidewalks also make it like an obstacle course for my urban playground 🙂
We have two awesome spots to go hiking within Panama City: Cerro Ancon, which is the highest point in Panama City and has the flag viewable from the top and Parque Metropolitano which is a large natural rainforest within the city limits with hiking trails. The hike at Cerro Ancon is very easy and paved all the way up while Parque Metropolitano offers more rugged hiking trails. Both spots have stunning views of Panama City from the top.
What are some of your favorite “urban playground” activities to do in Panama? Leave a comment below: