Panama City vacations RSS Feed

Shares
92
Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends










Submit

If you’ve been paying any attention to the Orbitz Travel Blog this year, you already know our team of travel-obsessed writers and staffers have explored pretty much every corner of the Earth these past 12 months. While many of their travels are already well documented here on the blog, we asked them each to call out the one single most memorable and profound moment they had during their travels in 2016. Here’s what they told us, listed in no particular order.

RELATED: These are the 5 travel trends to watch in 2017

Photo courtesy of Jason Heidemann

Photo courtesy of Jason Heidemann

1. Moonlight dinner in Panamanian ruins
“I needed a break from an extended visit with my parents in South Florida this year and took a chance on Panama City, Panama, thanks to a dirt cheap round-trip flight from Miami. What I discovered was an off-radar metropolis in the midst of re-inventing itself. Beyond the glassy facades of some pretty dull waterfront skyscrapers lay innumerable urban treasures including a gorgeously landscaped coastal lane trafficked by joggers, pedestrians and skaters, the breathtaking Panama Canal and nearby Frank Gehry-designed Museum of Biodiverity, and the crumbling, gorgeous Casco Viejo. This so-called “Old Quarter” is the city’s crown jewel. A neighborhood once overrun by gangs is now home to hip hotels, rooftop bars and tucked away foodie gems including Tomillo, where I dined alone on a gorgeously humid night in the restaurant’s enormous outdoor patio housed in the ruins of the city’s first train station headquarters. Panama City is ready for its close up.”—Jason Heidemann, Associate Editor, Orbitz Travel Blog

Photo courtesy of Martina Sheehan

Photo courtesy of Martina Sheehan

2. Finned creatures make waves in Big Sur
“We were relaxing in the sand at beautiful Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur this summer, watching the waves crash out over the rugged rock formations that jut out from the churning water. Suddenly, we saw three dorsal fins cut ominously through the waves. Just before I could yell shark!, the creatures leapt from the water, joined by a few others, twisting and turning in the waves like some kind of synchronized water aerobics act. Turns out these showboaters were actually dolphins and they stuck around to put on an incredible 15-minute show of leaps and twirls for beachgoers. Total magic.”—Martina Sheehan, Editor, Orbitz Travel Blog

Photo courtesy of Sarah Preston Gorenstein

Photo courtesy of Sarah Preston Gorenstein

3. A perfect sunset with friends in Arizona
“In November, I went on a long weekend getaway to Scottsdale, Arizona with five of my closest friends—we have 13 kids among us, ranging in ages from 3-13, so getting away for three days wasn’t the easiest thing to schedule. We hiked the Lost Dog Wash Trail in Scottsdale Mountain, had a great dinner at One North Italia in Kierland Square, but spent most of our time by the pool in 80-degree weather in November! Roasting marshmallows by the fire pit, watching the sun set over the mountains—the clearest skies, most beautiful pink sunset I’ve ever seen—and laughing till our abs ached was all we needed to recharge.”—Sarah Gorenstein, Orbitz Head of Content

RELATED: These 17 photos will inspire your next Arizona road trip

Photo courtesy of Monica Pedraja

Photo courtesy of Monica Pedraja

4. Clear waters and Crystal Caves in Bermuda 
“This past June I went to Bermuda for a friend’s wedding. Bermuda wasn’t at the top of my travel list, but I’m glad I had a reason to go. I fell in love with how beautiful the island is—its pastel houses and white roofs, clear waters and lush greenery. Every Bermudian we met was so friendly and so proud to chat about the island and its history. We explored the Crystal and Fantasy caves, rode a catamaran and snorkeled, and had one too many Rum Swizzles. It was the perfect summer getaway.”—Monica Pedraja, Photo Editor, Orbitz Travel Blog 

detroit-michigan_top-travel-moments

City view of Detroit

5. Witnessing Detroit’s revitalization up close
“This Spring, I spent a week visiting family in my suburban Detroit hometown with my husband and son. We’ve made the trek a zillion times over the years, and I’ve known the city inside-out from my younger days, so my expectations were rather predictable. For decades, Detroiters have clutched to their visions of the city’s future, but on this trip, it was clear they were coming to life: Woodward Avenue was gouged up for miles, the pavement primed for the M-1 Rail expansion, which will link downtown well into the suburbs. A crop of groovy tech start-ups were making nests in funky lofts, next to neighbors like Twitter and John Varvatos. But this buzz wasn’t just palpable downtown. One afternoon in the burbs, my mom took me on a work errand through this very unassuming corporate parkway, to an equally anonymous looking building. After we were buzzed into the main office, the space opened to a marble and granite plant. It was breathtaking to watch giant gleaming slabs of marble, onyx and limestone wobbling on cables overhead, and stacked along the floors as far as the eye could see. Then on the flight back to Chicago (a fast one, amazing for toddlers, btw!), I think my world was officially turned upside down; the pilot stopped to give my son the travelers badge of honor: a pair of wings.”—Kristin Dillon, distribution manager, Orbitz Travel Blog

Photo courtesy of Kevin Aeh

Photo courtesy of Kevin Aeh

6. Cooking with a local chef in Los Cabos, Mexico
“I rarely cook in my Brooklyn apartment, so when I went to Los Cabos, Mexico a couple of weeks ago, I was most excited about getting a cooking lesson from a local chef. Huerta Los Tamarindos is an off-the-beaten path organic farm and restaurant not far from the area’s sandy beaches. Chef Enrique Silva gave me a tour of the farm (where I was tempted to snack on lemon basil, tomatoes and other fresh items right off the stalk) and then a hands-on cooking session in the outdoor kitchen where I learned how to make mint ceviche, pork shank with green mole and dulce de calabaza (a traditional, homey dessert that reminds most Mexicans of their grandmothers). I don’t know if I’m confident in my cooking skills to try these on my own, but since the restaurant offers one-off cooking classes and meals to the public, I can’t wait to come back with a group of friends.”—Kevin Aeh, contributor

Photo courtesy of Carol Waller

Photo courtesy of Carol Waller

7. Dancing on the Great Wall
“Upon reaching the end of the one-mile-plus steep climb on the Badaling section of the Great Wall about 40 miles from Beijing, my friends and I launched into a silly happy dance, to the tune of “Rocky.” As soon as we were done, one of the Chinese visitors watching us responded with a beautiful deep baritone version of a song from a favorite opera, “The Monkey King.” Then, we all took photos of, and with, one another.”—Evelyn Kanter, contributor

Photo courtesy of Sarah, Compass and Twine

Photo courtesy of Sarah, Compass and Twine

8. A microlight flight over Oman’s Musandam Peninsula
“In March we visited Six Senses Zighy Bay beachfront resort on the Musandam Peninsula in northern Oman, about a 2-hour drive from Dubai. The setting was nothing short of breathtaking, as Musandam’s rugged, lunar-like landscape collided with the brilliant turquoise waters of the Gulf of Oman. While the scenery from the ground was beautiful enough, I had a spurt of courage one morning and decided to take it all in from above by hopping on a microlight flight, which is basically a lightweight, 1 or 2 seat trike with a small engine and wings. Sitting behind the pilot, we soared down to within feet of the water and high up to the craggy mountain tops, where the pilot cut the engine and we flew like a hang glider in the wind. Thrilling and scary all at once, it certainly made for an incredible start to the trip.”—Sarah Driggs, Compass + Twine, contributor

RELATED: Island hop the Florida Keys by sea plane

Photo courtesy of Michele Herrmann

Photo courtesy of Michele Herrmann

9. Walking along the rooftop of the Oslo Opera House
“During a visit to Norway in July, my cousin, John, and I spent a few days in Oslo. During one of them, we went on a free guided walking tour of the city, which took us by the Oslo Opera House. The building sits right next to a fjord and it was designed to look like a floating iceberg. Our tour guide told us that not only are visitors able to visit the interior, but also walk right up the building and onto the rooftop. Later on, John and I decided to give it a try. It’s an easy uphill climb (just wear well-soled shoes). At the top, we lingered for a while and took in panoramic views of the sky, fjord and Oslo itself.”—Michele Herrmann, contributor

Photo courtesy of Getting Stamped

Photo courtesy of Getting Stamped

10. Stargazing from an overwater bungalow in Maldives
“Our top travel moment of 2016 would have to be ticking off a bucket list item we’ve been dreaming about for years: staying in a hut over the water. We called a bungalow suspended over the turquoise waters of the Maldives home for a week. During our stay at this overwater accommodation, which were part of the Summer Islands Maldives resort, we spent our days swimming, diving and lounging on the white sand beaches. At night the floor of our room was made of glass to see the fish swim by and lit up like our very own aquarium. As amazing as the entire experience was, the moment that will stick in our minds forever was the night on the deck of the bungalow where we could see every star in the sky, a highlight of our travels we won’t soon forget.”—Hannah & Adam, Getting Stamped, contributors

Photo courtesy of Laura Mitchell

Photo courtesy of Laura Mitchell

11. Girls’ weekend of sun and fun Fort Myers, Florida
“In June, I got together with a few good friends from college to celebrate a bride-to-be in Fort Myers, Florida. It was the first time in several years we had all been together, and it felt so natural the way we all laughed and enjoyed each other’s company, like no time had passed. We spent the weekend taking in amazing sunset views over the water with fresh seafood and tropical drinks at the rooftop Sun Deck restaurant at Lani Kai Island Resort, and relaxing to the sound of ocean waves on Fort Myers Beach during the hot afternoons. It was the perfect girls trip!”—Kristen Mitchell, contributor

Photo courtesy of Laura Pearson

Photo courtesy of Laura Pearson

12. A romantic outdoor escape in Washington State
“One of my travel highlights this year was a trip back to Washington, a state I called home for a short but formative time after college. I have lived in the Midwest for most of my life, but the Pacific Northwest is a part of the country that has always held special meaning for me, chiefly because of its proximity to stunning nature: Douglas fir forests, San Juan Islands and snow-capped peaks. This time I brought my boyfriend, who had never been to Washington, and we enjoyed a few days each in Seattle, on Whidbey Island and in my former stomping grounds of Bellingham. I’ll never forget staying in a modern, cabin-like studio, which was tucked in the woods off Chuckanut Drive, taking a hike to the top of Oyster Dome (just down the road) and following the hike with oysters and wine on the back patio of The Oyster Bar overlooking the Puget Sound. It felt good to share this experience and landscape with someone I love and who (as of very recently) I’m now engaged to!”—Laura Pearson, contributor

RELATED: Your ultimate Pacific Coast Highway road trip

Photo courtesy of Sharael Kohlberg

Photo courtesy of Sharael Kolberg

13. A sophisticated mother-daughter weekend in San Francisco
“In August, my teenage daughter and I spent a five-star girl’s weekend in San Francisco. The weather was amazing—sunny and warm—no fog! We were spoiled with a stay at the opulent Omni San Francisco Hotel with elegant Austrian crystal chandeliers, Italian marble floors and mahogany walls. We hopped on the iconic cable car to nearby Union Square where we shopped and had high tea at one of my favorite places—The Rotunda restaurant in Neiman Marcus, which offers elegant fine dining under the landmark stained-glass dome overlooking Union Square. It was an amazing weekend in the City by the Bay.”—Sharael Kolberg, contributor

Photo courtesy of Erica Bray

Photo courtesy of Erica Bray

14. The healing power of nature in Iceland
“Sometimes Mother Nature gives you a magical embrace in the middle of nowhere, and you never forget it. This happened for me when I traveled to the Westfjords of Iceland, which my guidebook described as “one quirky region that’s far away from anywhere else.” From the fishing village of Islafjord, I rented a car to drive over a white-knuckle mountain pass—solo—to the edge of one of the region’s most pristine fjords. I passed three cars on the way there, and maybe two dozen sheep. After hiking to the Dynjandi waterfall, I found a nearby patch of grass that overlooked the expansive fjord. I sat for what could have been an eternity, drinking in the quiet beauty, grateful that places like this existed to hush my worries and put the absolute wonder of life on this planet into perspective.”—Erica Bray, contributor

Photo courtesy of Jelisa Castrodale

Photo courtesy of Jelisa Castrodale

15. Rooting like a local for the Liverpool Football Club
“Look, 2016 has been start-to-finish terrible, but it did have a couple of bright moments that weren’t just sparks from this ongoing dumpster fire. Although I had some fantastic experiences in France and Spain, the real highlight for me was a recent visit to Liverpool, England. I am a lifelong supporter of Liverpool Football Club and have seen them play several times, but I’d never been to a match at Anfield, their home stadium, until that afternoon. Although the game itself was a frustrating draw, the experience was everything I’d hoped for, especially singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and losing my voice in a chorus of 54,000 others—before kickoff.”—Jelisa Castrodale, contributor

RELATED: How to spend 3 perfect days in Chicago

Photo courtesy of Dalia Colon

Photo courtesy of Dalia Colon

16. A family goes Western at a Central Florida dude ranch
“My best vacation of 2016 was actually a staycation. Our family welcomed Baby Benji in May, so we’ve been sticking close to our home in Tampa Bay. A weekend at Westgate River Ranch in Central Florida was just the getaway we needed. The Western-themed resort is less hectic than the nearby theme park scene, but it’s just as family-friendly. We wore boots and bandanas, 4-year-old Norah got to ride a pony, and we all cheered on the cowboys and cowgirls on horseback. It was our first rodeo—literally—but certainly not our last.”—Dalia Colon, contributor

Photo courtesy of Judy Sutton Taylor

Photo courtesy of Judy Sutton Taylor

17. Smooth summer sailing in Chicago

“My family was lucky enough to take some amazing trips in 2016, including a Spring Break beach vacation to St. Martin and a summer road trip to visit baseball parks around the United States. But my favorite was a one-day escape right in our own Chicago front yard, when we rented a sailboat for an afternoon on Lake Michigan on my kids’ last day of summer vacation. Watching them swim with their friends against the amazing backdrop of the city skyline reminded me why people say the whole world would move to Chicago if it was summer here year-round.”—Judy Sutton Taylor, contributor

Photo courtesy of Rosalind Cumming Yates

Photo courtesy of Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

18. A game of victorious camel polo in Dubai

“My most memorable travel moment for 2016 was in Dubai. This over-the-top city is famous for cloud topping buildings and incredible wealth but my best memory involved none of those things. What I’ll always remember was going out to the local polo club and playing camel polo! It was not an easy game to play and bumping up and down on those humps is really uncomfortable, but my team actually won. I’ll always remember racing through the field on a camel and leaning over to hit the ball!”—Rosalind Cummings-Yeates, contributor

jasper-national-park_mira-tempkin

Jasper National Park | Courtesy of Mira Tempkin

19. Serene beauty in the Canadian wilderness
“In September, I rode the Rocky Mountaineer rail through the breathtaking Canadian Rockies. We stopped for a luxurious overnight at the Fairmont Hotel, right inside Jasper National Park. I jogged around the emerald green Lake Beauvert to get a glimpse of a friendly elk or lovely whitetail deer. Playing a game of hide and seek with the wildlife, I walked along the trail, taking in the peaceful scenery, experiencing all the glory of the changing colors.”—Mira Tempkin

Orbitz, app, iPhone, travel, deals

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Tagged: Beach Vacation, California Vacation, Caribbean Vacation, Chicago Vacation, Europe Vacation, Family time, Florida Vacation, Foodie vacations, International vacation, Long weekends, Mexico Vacation, Top 10 Lists

Orbitz Travel Blog Editors

Orbitz Travel Blog Editors

We're the editors of this travel blog, brought to you by Orbitz!
Orbitz Travel Blog Editors

Latest posts by Orbitz Travel Blog Editors (see all)

Shares
1
Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends










Submit

Looking to book a vacation with a conscience without having to log in the kinds of heavy hours required of a volunteer vacation? If you’re in a Giving Tuesday mood, consider booking a room at one of the following hotels where guests are either invited to partake in a charitable activity at their convenience or a donation is made via the booking process.

RELATED: North America’s most incredible swim up bars

Photo courtesy of The Hall

Photo courtesy of The Hall

The Hall: Miami, FL

The woof-worthy Giving Tuesday deal at this brand new, pet-friendly South Beach gem is the 5% contribution it’s giving from all reservations to Miami-based Jamie’s Rescue whose work directly improves the lives of shelter animals. Drenched in gorgeous pastels, this 163-room boutique hotel is full of surprises, including candy-striped cabanas surrounding an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a stunning Art Deco facade, Sunny’s restaurant from “Top Chef” alum Spike Mendelsohn and guest rooms that are asbreezyand elegant as the Miami Beach itself.

The Grand Lawn | Photo courtesy of Salamander's Resort and Spa

The Grand Lawn | Photo courtesy of Salamander’s Resort and Spa

Salamander’s Resort & Spa: Middleburg, VA

This tail-wagging deal happens on Giving Tuesday—and all other Tuesdays for that matter. It’s called Yappy Hour and it’s a weekly meet and greet on the resort’s Great Lawn in which guests and their four-legged friends are encouraged to mix and mingle from 5–7pm while boozing, noshing and—if you’re a canine—gulping down dog treats. Best of all, 10% of all profits from the weekly event benefits the Middleburg Humane Foundation. Meanwhile, therest of this luxury resort offers 340-acres of pastoral delights just a short drive from Washington, DC.

Photo courtesy of the Westin Playa Bonita

Photo courtesy of the Westin Playa Bonita

Westin Playa Bonita: Panama City, Panama

We’ve actually done this so we can attest to how amazing and moving it is. The once gang-infested Casco Viejo (old quarter), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is turning into Panama City’s new hub for foodies, night owls and culture vultures. As part of every visitor’s stay at this seaside Westin located on a private beach just minutes from the city, guests are treated to a complimentary behind-the-scenes tour led by reformed ex-gang members. These tours help the docents earn money to support their families while giving them a stake in keeping the Casco Viejo safe for visitors and locals alike. As for the walking tours, they illuminate the history of the neighborhood while showing just how beautiful this centuries old and cobblestoned area is.

ALSO: Orbitz Rewards gives back, too—earn instant rewards on flights and hotels.

aruba-marriott-donkey

Photo courtesy of Aruba Marriott

Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino: Aruba

Yee-haw (or should we say hee-haw) to the charitable initiative offered by this oceanfront resort in sunny Aruba. Unbeknownst to many is that one of the island’s crown jewel attractions (aside from all those amazing beaches) is a donkey sanctuary that houses the descendants of the animals who serviced the island for hundreds of years until the automobile was introduced in the 20th century. As part of the guest experience, guests at the Aruba Marriott can participate in the Support the Donkeys program by donating $10 toward sanctuary upkeep and maintenance and in exchange receive a commemorative purse or backpack.

Photo courtesy of Extended Stay America, Orange County

Photo courtesy of Extended Stay America, Orange County

Extended Stay America: Various locations

This one basically restores our faith in humanity. Through a partnership with the American Cancer Society, this ubiquitous hotel brand provides free and discounted room rates to cancer patients who are traveling away from home to receive treatment. The program, Hotel Keys of Hope℠, aims to reduceone of the largest barriers to patient success—the high cost of lodging while traveling for treatment. Since its 2012 inception the hotel has donated more than 150,000 free and discounted rooms and in the process saved more than 15,000 cancer patients nearly $4.5 million dollars in lodging costs. It helps that the company boasts 629 properties in the United States and Canada.

Photo courtesy of the JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa

Photo courtesy of the JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa

CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort and JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa: Cancun, Mexico

These sibling properties, both major players in Cancun’s frenziedHotel Zone, give their guestsmore to their Mexico vacation besides poolside margaritas and sunburns by teaming up with a local Salvation Army foundation called Escuela de Niños Ejercito de Salvacion, an orphanage that leads programs to assess, nurture and develop children. Guests lodging at either resort can book a family visit to the orphanage and donate their time playing games, handing out snacks and having fun with the children. Now that’s a way to earn an afternoon of guilt free piña coladas under a shaded cabana.

Photo courtesy of Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort

Photo courtesy of Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort

Tabacón Thermal Resort and Spa: Costa Rica

Americans love to visit Costa Rica for its verdant forests, wild creatures and tropical splendors. One such place to experience all of the above is at the sprawling Tabacón Thermal Resort and Spa, an eco-friendly escape set on 900 acres of natural reserve at the base of Arenal volcano. Among the resorts many treasures, including thermal springs, waterfalls and more than 500 species of local wildlife, is the fact that part of the hotel’s profits go toward environmental initiatives such as species tagging, plant-a-tree-programs, integral waste management and water conservation. Future plans include the construction of a bike path as a means of reducing automobile pollution and promoting hiking and walking.

 Orbitz, app, iPhone, travel, deals

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Tagged: Caribbean Vacation, Eco-Tourism, Florida Vacation, International vacation, Mexico Vacation, Miami Vacation, Uncategorized, Washington DC

Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is an associate editor at Orbitz, a social media marketing consultant and a freelance cultural reporter for numerous publications. His works has been featured in the Huffington Post, Time Out, Passport, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and many others.
Shares
7
Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends










Submit

The world is getting smaller—and gay friendlier—by the day, but with time and money in tight supply for some of us, it can be hard to choose which rainbow path to travel down next. Stateside destinations like Florida and Las Vegas are often the smart budget choice, but would you believe a strong U.S. dollar isputting previously pricey vacation getaways within reach? Read on and discover why these international gay hot spots might now be perfect for the penny-pinching queer.

RELATED: 3 perfect days in Cape Town

London, England

London, England

London, England

Britain’s swinging capital is not “cheap” by any means, but if London is calling you, know that prices these days are falling and insiders say go now. Post Brexit, the pound is dropping—fast. Consider that ten years ago it was an excruciating 2 t01 against the dollar and even six months ago it was at 1.5. Today it’s drawing close enough to even (1.22 to 1 as of this writing) that the best of gay London, including a West End show, a booty shaking night at Heaven (yes, it’s still going) and lodging at a hip hotel (some sources say lodging prices have dropped by half) are now within reach for Americans.

Guadalajara, Mexico

Guadalajara, Mexico

Guadalajara, Mexico

Remember the old timey days when a “Price is Right” contestant would lose their mind if the grand prize was a six-night stay in Acapulco? Mexico is no longer an outof reach getaway and these days is downright affordable. Puerto Vallarta has long been a fashionable gay destination and the entire Yucatan peninsula is buzzing right now, but in places like PV and Cancun you’ll pay tourist prices. Happening Guadalajara, meanwhile, is somewhat of an off-radar gay mecca boasting a dozen gay bars, a buzzy food scene, the birthplace of mariachi and posh hotels at dirt cheap prices.

Molson Mural

Molson Mural outside The Barn & The Stables near Church Wellesley Village in Toronto | Flickr CC: Alex Guibord

Toronto, Canada

That groaning you hear? That’s the sound of Canadians bemoaning the cost of visiting the U.S., thanks to their weak dollar. (1 Canadian dollar is worth .75 cents which means the entire country is basically 25% off.) Now is truly the time to shout “Oh, Canada!” Montreal is sexy and chic as all heck and Vancouver rules when it comes to the great outdoors, but urban enthusiasts should get their cute gay booties to Toronto stat. Try a stay at hip, queer-friendly hotels like the Drake and Gladstone (whose queer parties are quite the fête), and don’t miss dinner at Nuit Social or brunch at the Commodore.

ALSO: You deserve a big gay treat! Reward yourself with Orbitz Rewards.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

The most expensive part about visiting Africa’s stunning southernmost cityis getting there. Flights from North America will set you back a penny or two, but gay-friendly Cape Town promises the thrill of a lifetime without breaking the bank. A true mecca that even includes gay rights in its constitution, this seaside metropolis boasts a queer bar for every traveler type, a half dozen gay owned hotels (several are men only) and two gay-popular beaches. Best of all, a mid-range double room will set you back a mere $100, and a day visit to Kruger National Park (think lions, zebras, elephants and rhinos) is less than ten bucks!

Panama City, Panama

Panama City, Panama

Panama City,Panama

As Americans flood Costa Rica in large numbers and countries like Nicaragua and Belize continue to lag on LGBT rights, less visited Panama is a true Central American gem. Nonstop flights from Miami can be found for as little as $150 round trip and bargains abound in the glitzy, gay friendly capital. Not only does downtown boost several gay bars, but the newly revitalized Casco Viejo (or Old City) is buzzing with food trucks, rooftop bars and boutique hotels. As costs go, places like the Waldorf Astoria and HardRock are a fraction of what they’d cost stateside, and an Uber will take you anywhere for around $2-$3.

Orbitz, app, iPhone, travel, deals

Save

Tagged: Beach Vacation, Caribbean Vacation, Europe Vacation, International vacation, LGBT travel, Mexico Vacation

Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is an associate editor at Orbitz, a social media marketing consultant and a freelance cultural reporter for numerous publications. His works has been featured in the Huffington Post, Time Out, Passport, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and many others.
Shares
14
Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends










Submit

Looking to steal in one last vacation before the leaves start falling and the little ones start heading back to school? August may be your best bet as destinations, particularly Gulf Coast states, drop prices for summer travelers:

Also: The best restaurants to eat at during Miami Spice

San Antonio, Riverwalk, Texas

San Antonio Riverwalk

Peak summer travel season may be reaching its end but that doesn’t mean one last vacation isn’t in order. According to new date from the Orbitz® Insider Index, air and hotel rates to several U.S. hot spots are dropping. Traveling to top destinations in Florida, Louisiana and Texas in August can save travelers approximately 7 percent on air and another 10 percent on hotels, on average, compared to June and July travel.

Air and hotel travel to Panama City, Florida and Gatlinburg, Tennessee are particularly high, but big savings can also be had at larger cities including New Orleans, San Antonio and Orlando. For deeper discounts, books at orbitz.com through August 28th for up to 50% off participating hotels plus an additional 15% discount using promotion code SUMMERTIME.

Orbitz Insider Index: August Wins for Best of Summer Deals

SummerSavings

For great August sales and deals, visit www.orbitz.com/deals.

Orbitz Rewards

Tagged: Hotels, Summer vacations, Travel Deals, Travel news

Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is an associate editor at Orbitz, a social media marketing consultant and a freelance cultural reporter for numerous publications. His works has been featured in the Huffington Post, Time Out, Passport, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and many others.
Shares
4
Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends










Submit

As visitors flock to Central American countries like Costa Rica, Belize—and increasingly Nicaragua—in search of affordable jungle adventures and coastal breezes, it’s downright bizarre that Panama, the lanky east-west landmass smooshed between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, is frequently overlooked. But those days might soon be over.

Also: The 7 best places to live if you’re a super villain

While the Isthmus of Panama may have taken 12 million years to rise from the sea, the capital of Panama City—with its glassy high rises, beguiling old quarter and a certain canal that forever changed the world—is rising much faster. In fact, Orbitz data showed that for spring travel, it had the biggest growth of any destination in terms of hotel bookings over the last five years, at +476%. Here’s how to spend three perfect days in Panama City.

The Waldorf Astoria in Panama City, Panama

Day 1

You’d have to be made of stone not to be affected by the energy, chaos and ongoing development of downtown Panama City, aka the Punta Paitilla. A jumble of skyscrapers, traffic snarls, construction cranes and vintage casinos, there are nevertheless several diamonds in the rough such as the corkscrew-shaped F&F Tower and the upscale Waldorf Astoria.

Panama City, Cinta Costera, Panama, bike, run, highway

Cinta Costera

But the best way to actually see the city is to get some distance from it. The Cinta Costera or “coastal lane” is an expansive waterfront redevelopment project that is reshaping the city for visitors and tourists alike. Sandwiched between Avenida Balboa (the Panamanian equivalent to Chicago‘s Lake Shore Drive) and the Panama Bay, this reclaimed combination of bike lanes, walking paths, gardens, a skate park, outdoor theater, multiple green spaces and much more connects downtown to the old quarter and even beyond it. A late afternoon stroll provides a perfect introduction to the city, but the tropical heat and humidity will bear hug you hard (and never let go) so bring a bottle of water or buy one from a vendor along the path.

The Cinta Costera comes to an abrupt curve at the Mercado del Marisco, a bustling and celebrated restaurant and fish market with outdoor stalls selling ceviche and other seafood goodies at cheap prices. Although many locals give it an enthusiastic thumb’s up, an equal number warn that some of its offerings may be a little rough on tourist palates.

Casco Viejo, Panama City, Central America, Panama

Casco Viejo

Beyond the fish market the Cinta Costera gives way to the enchanting Casco Viejo or “Old Quarter.” Undoubtedly the highlight for most visitors to Panama City, this 350-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated upon a snug peninsula where numerous boutique hotels, rooftop bars, nightclubs and fine dining restaurants intermingle with cobblestone streets, historic plazas and crumbling facades. (The French occupied the area during their failed attempt to build the Panama Canal, hence the resemblance to the French Quarter in New Orleans.) The San Francisco Church, Arch Chato and Society of Jesus are among its unmissable attractions, although just wandering the streets is undeniably enjoyable.

Dinner at Tomillo best exemplifies the rapid transformation of the Casco Viejo into an upscale destination for savvy travelers. Ditch the contemporary dining room and instead head straight for the enormous outdoor patio housed in the ruins of the city’s first train station headquarters. Here large fans, artfully strung lights and flame lit torches provide a romantic backdrop for sampling regional small plates. Order the Ceviche de Tuna and the Cachapas con Pato Carinta with a cocktail or two and nudge convivial owner Felipe into sharing his recommendations for eating and drinking around town.

Day 2

Mornings bring low tide to the Westin Playa Bonita Hotel and while this can mean muddy oceanfront views, it also affords the opportunity for visitors to roll up their trousers and wade through numerous shallow tide pools in search of sea shells and other ocean treasures. Panama City is not a beach town and thus the Westin is a lodging rarity in that it offers a coveted expanse of private beachfront (which it shares with nearby adults only Secrets) a generous stone’s throw from the hustle of the city and close to the Bridge of the Americas and the Panama Canal. Other highlights include its spa—the largest in Central America—numerous restaurants and a fitness center where President Obama once worked up a sweat.

Frank Gehry, Panama City, museum

Biomuseo

Mid-morning is the perfect time to explore the Biomuseo, the city’s museum of biodiversity designed by celebrity architect Frank Gehry whose wife is Panamanian. The facade is pure Gehry and consists of a shingled exterior made up of a riot of colors tailor made for shutterbugs and also for admiring the beautifully manicured grounds that line the Amador Causeway where the museum in situated. Although unfinished as of this writing, the museum is still an engaging journey revolving around biodiversity and the integral role the Isthmus of Panama played in bridging the Americas.

American Trade Hotel, Panama City, Panama, Casco Viejo

American Trade Hotel

Perhaps no other structure in the Casco Viejo defines the neighborhood’s newfound ascendency as a “must visit” destination savvy travelers than the arrival of the American Trade Hotel, which is owned and operated by the same folks behind the ballyhooed Ace Hotel chain that is so beloved in places like New York and Palm Springs. At the noon hour its cafe and lobby bar become the perfect shelter and respite from the ubiquitous stinging heat. Importantly, it’s also the starting point for the Forteleza Tours, amazing neighborhood expeditions led by former gang members who once occupied the very building where the American Trade Hotel is now located. (In a canny move, the hotel photographed local gang graffiti before having it removed and turned it into wallpaper which now lines the hotel’s main stairwell.)

It’s worth noting that the Casco Viejo rubs shoulders with El Chorrillo, one of the city’s most famous ghettos and one whose boundaries are carefully pointed out to visitors. If you happen to be sightseeing with the assistance of an experienced guide, see if they’ll drive you through the ghetto which is the sight of imprisoned dictator Manuel Noriega’s former headquarters and also the American-led invasion which ousted Noriega but also claimed the lives of many innocent people.

If there is one thing that the Hard Rock Megapolis, a downtown hotel and hub of both leisure and business travel, does well its that its rooftop pool is among the most inviting in town. Keeping cool in this sun-drenched city is a must and there’s no better place to do it than poolside before the sun sets with a tropical cocktail in one hand and good book in the other. If you stay at the Megapolis we can almost guarantee this will become your go to for a daily afternoon siesta.

Intimo, Panama City, Panama, food, restaurant, prix fixe

Intimo

Ubers are plentiful in Panama City and awfully cheap (the average cost of a one-way Uber trip around town is $2-$4; $27 to the airport), but know in advance that your driver will likely not speak English. Nevertheless they are a handy way to shuttle back and forth between downtown and the old quarter and also to points further afield like the San Francisco area which is home to Intimo, a prix-fixeonly restaurant that is among the very best in Panama City. Tables at Intimo are scarce although a long and skinny bar seats perhaps a dozen or so patrons who come to sample an incredible 11-course dinner for a mere $85 (Panama uses the U.S. dollar so there is no exchange rate for Americans) and consisting of dishes like butternut squash ice cream with pork pancetta, arrow root chips, kale and coffee dust or red beans with a tamarind glaze, pressed milk cheese, aioli emulsion and fermented watermelon. The staff is knowledgeable, attentive and incredibly friendly.

 Day 3

One of the best ways to experience the Panama Canal is to simply drive across the Bridge of the Americas, one of just three connecting the east and west sides of the country and a viewing point for the numerous freighters, cruise ships and tug boats queueing up for as long as 48 hours for passagethrough the busy canal. But most visitors to the nation’s capital are content to visit the Miraflores Locks, where they can witness up close the slow and tedious passage of huge freighter ships as they make their slow journey through the waterway. The top floor provides a visitor observation deck and although it isn’t a particularly exciting body of water, when you consider its global impact, witnessing the canal in action really is a must.

Despite being an urban jungle (the city boasts nearly a million residents) the actual jungle is only a short drive from the city and visitors who are strapped for time can content themselves with a day trip to the sprawling Gamboa Rainforest Resort, an oasis of comfort and panoramic jungle views situated on the banks of the Rio Chagres and servings as a jumping off point for adventure tours too numerous to count. One such excursion is the Gatun Lake Expedition, aka the “Monkey Island Tour” which cruises into hidden inlets within the Panama Canal where howler and capuchin monkeys swing from tree to tree in true “Jungle Book” fashion. Another worthwhile quickie is the Aerial Tram Tour in which Swiss-made trams whisk visitors through the lush forest and toward an observation tower from which you might see toucans, the country’s beloved (and increasingly endangered) two- and three toed sloths and views of the Panama Canal and Gamboa Village.

Donde Jose, Casco Viejo, Panama City, restaurant, food, foodie, travel, tourism, Central American

Donde Jose

Make a reservation plenty in advance for the chef’s table at Donde Jose, a teensy unmarked restaurant in the Casco Viejo where each course is referred to as a “story” and where the experience is so precision timed that guests who show up even five or ten minutes late are barred from entry. (We can’t stress this enough, be on time.) Diners are nevertheless in for a rare treat in the form of a ten-course tasting menu revolving around a theme and focusing on Panamanian cuisine and local culinary traditions. If Michelin came to Panama, they would surely throw Donde Jose a couple stars.

The only box left to be checked is drinks from a rooftop bar. Everyone is making a stampede at the moment for Tantalo, an intimate boutique hotel with colorful and funky rooms and whose rooftop bar is currently the talk of the town. But be forewarned that it’s a noisy and cramped affair. For more elbow room visit the Gatto Blanco bar above the Gatto Negro restaurant right next door to Tantalo. The views here are the same and like the city itself are simply breathtaking.

Orbitz Rewards

Tagged: Destinations, Hotels, International vacation

Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is an associate editor at Orbitz, a social media marketing consultant and a freelance cultural reporter for numerous publications. His works has been featured in the Huffington Post, Time Out, Passport, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and many others.
Shares
1
Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends










Submit
Hotel Deals for Mexico City
Hotel Isabel
DF, MEX
Mar 30 - Apr 02, 2017
per night from
$ 10.67
$ 10.67
Hotel Deals for Mexico City
Hotel Faja de Oro
DF, MEX
Mar 30 - Apr 02, 2017
per night from
$ 26.12
$ 26.12
Hotel Deals for Mexico City
Roomies Hostel Condesa
DF, MEX
Mar 30 - Apr 02, 2017
per night from
$ 10.57
$ 10.57
Hotel Deals for Mexico City
Hotel Carlota
Book early and save 20%
DF, MEX
Mar 30 - Apr 02, 2017
per night from
$ 123.93
$ 99.16
Hotel Deals for Mexico City
Real Salamanca
Last minute deal: save 52%
DF, MEX
Mar 30 - Apr 02, 2017
per night from
$ 90.4
$ 43.39

Think spring break’s always and forever about Florida and Mexico beach vacations? While those destinations are perennial favorites, spring break travel is evolving in America, with data showing the rise of new destinations and shifting traveler priorities. The latest Orbitz® Insider Index examines Spring Break trends and identifies emerging destinations with substantial growth over the past five years, based on Orbitz.com hotel bookings.

According to the Orbitz Insider Index, travelers are looking for relaxing alternatives to historically popular Spring Break locations. Fifty-three percent of Americans said relaxation is the main reason they are traveling over Spring Break this year. The Index also found that 61 percent of Americans are traveling with spouses, family or children.

Related: Looking for a break from spring breakers? These are Florida’s most chilled out beaches.

“The need across America to get off the fast track and book affordable travel is driving travelers to seek a new Spring Break experience,” said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor of Orbitz.com. “While crowd favorites like Cancun and Orlando will keep their status as top spring break destinations, we are seeing people take a more thoughtful approach to their spring break options, expanding their trips to locations like Mesa, Arizona, Houston, Texas and even international destinations like Dublin and Panama City.”

Costs are driving travelers to make different decisions about Spring Break travel than they have in the past. Thirty percent of travelers listed either cheaper airfare or cheaper gas as key influencers of their Spring Break travel plans in 2016. However, that does not mean travelers are tightening their purse strings. Macro trends like the strength of the U.S. dollar have also allowed travelers to upgrade their Spring Break trips without breaking the bank, leading to a rise in travel abroad. In fact, 39 percent of travelers said they were looking for a Spring Break destination they haven’t been to before.

Check out the infographic below to see this year’s greatest hits, as well as destinations that have gained in popularity over the past five years.

New spring break trends
SPRING BREAK DESTINATIONS ON THE RISE

According to Orbitz.com hotel booking data, the emerging spring break destinations shown above have seen a minimum of a 50 percent increase in hotel bookings over the last five years for the Spring Break timeframe (March 1 – April 15).

Orbitz.com experts have identified several factors driving the shift in Spring Break travel, from a strong U.S. dollar to evolving traveler priorities. Some of the top drivers changing behavior patterns include:

Mexico Remixed: While Cancun is a perennial favorite for Spring Break travelers, other destinations in Mexico including Riviera Maya and Playa Del Carmen have seen a large increase in bookings, showing that Spring Break travelers are still looking to Mexico for its short flights and affordable airfare and hotels, but opting for relaxation over crowds and fanfare.

Getting More for Your (U.S) Dollar: Panama City, Paris and Dublin are all locations that have seen an influx of travelers over the past several years. With favorable exchange rates across the board, travelers are able to extend the U.S. dollar and upgrade their domestic Spring Break vacations to an international trip.

Domestic Alternatives: Carlsbad, California has become a more relaxing alternative to expensive, more crowded theme park destinations in the state. Mesa, Arizona has seen an upswing in spring training fans over Spring Break, and Houston, Texas has shown that low gas prices can drive regional tourism and attract travelers hoping to cut costs.

North and South of the Border: Toronto is the leading tourism destination in Canada and, according to Tourism Toronto, has seen strong growth over the past six years thanks to an influx of American tourists. In the South, Punta Cana takes the top spot with its commitment to strong yet affordable all-inclusive options.

TOP 10 SPRING BREAK DESTINATIONS 2016

New Spring Break destinations are growing in popularity, but traditional spring break favorites still remain hotspots over the holiday, as the infographic shows. This year, Florida accounts for 40 percent of the top Spring Break destinations, with Fort Myers and Tampa joining Orlando and Miami in the top ten rankings. The top three spots also remain consistent with repeat performances from Orlando, Cancun and Las Vegas. This year, Orlando and Las Vegas traded rankings, with Orlando rising from third to first, Vegas dropping from first to third and Cancun holding on to second place for the second year in a row.

SPRING BREAK SAVINGS

Use the promo code BEACHME when you book your Spring Break vacation on Orbitz.com and instantly save 15 percent off hotels in thousands of destinations around the world.

discount airline tickets

Tagged: Beach Vacation, Mexico Vacation, Spring break, Travel Deals

Orbitz Travel Blog Editors

Orbitz Travel Blog Editors

We're the editors of this travel blog, brought to you by Orbitz!
Orbitz Travel Blog Editors

Latest posts by Orbitz Travel Blog Editors (see all)