THE GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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The area to the north of Balboa, which was also part of the American Canal Zone, has undergone considerable development since being handed over. The former U.S. Army airfield of Albrook is now Panama City's domestic airport, Aeropuerto Marcos A. Gelabert; next to that are Albrook Mall and the city's impressive bus terminal, the Terminal de Transporte Terrestre, called "Terminal de Buses" by locals.
To the northeast of Albrook is a large swath of rain forest protected within Parque Natural Metropolitano, which is home to more than 200 bird species. To the northwest, the former army base of Clayton is now called the Ciudad del Saber, or City of Knowledge; many of its buildings are occupied by international organizations. Across the road is the first set of locks on the Pacific side of the canal, the Esclusas de Miraflores (Miraflores Locks), an area that is much more visitor-friendly than it was when the canal was U.S. property. The Panamanian administration built a state-of-the-art visitor center, with a museum and observation decks, making it one of Panama City's top attractions. From there the road follows the canal northwest through the rain forest of Soberanía National Park to the small canal port and community of Gamboa, on the shore of Gatun Lake.
Follow the road north from the locks through the forest of Camino de Cruces National Park to the former American enclave of Summit, which holds Panama City's only golf course, a botanical garden and zoo, and one of the city's best hotels.
Panama City's historic quarter is known as the Casco Viejo (pronounced CAS-coh Bee-EH-hoh), which translates as "old shell." It's spread over...
For the better part of the 20th century, the area to the west of Casco Viejo held the border between the American Canal Zone and Panama City...