Kamm has passed through Panama City on surf trips every year for the past decade and watched the place change. “I used to want to get through the city as quickly as possible,” she says. “But in the last five years it’s become one of my favorite places.”
Where to stay: American Trade Hotel. Located in the historic Old Quarter, the hotel is within spitting distance of the area’s cobblestone streets, painted doorways, beautiful ruins, and outdoor marketplaces where Kuna Indians sell their crafts.
How to acclimate: Esperanza Social Venture Club’s Fortaleza Tours. Walks are guided by former gang members. For $10 per person they promise you will “never look at our streets the same way again.”
What to explore: Biomuseo. The Frank Gehry designed museum dedicated to Panama’s biodiversity opened in October.
Where to browse: DiabloRosso. The artist collective showcases the work of up-and-comers, some of whose pieces have been purchased by the Tate and Guggenheim museums.
Then there’s the canal: Panama Canal Museum. “Watching ships navigate the locks is surreal,” Kamm says. “If you’re interested in how the world works, this is a must.”
Profile photograph courtesy instagram/Jesse Kamm
This story is part of Los Angeles magazine’s March 2015 Great Getaways package