To see the Panama Canal in person is to dive deeply into that nation’s history. Coming from the capital, the closest entry point is the Miraflores Visitor Center. Dedicate enough time to check out exhibitions that reveal why the waterway was built here and how the route shaped Panama’s international profile. Head outside to see how the canal works. The structure has several levels, and the third level is always crowded with visitors seeking photo ops. (There’s a restaurant on level four.) If you have time, the Agua Clara observation center on the canal’s Caribbean side offers views of newer, wider locks that opened in 2016.

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