Casco Viejo is up-and-coming part of Panama City. Which might sound like an odd thing to say about some of the oldest parts of the oldest city on the Pacific coast of the Americas.
North, Central, & South America
Fort Moultrie isn’t as famous as its neighbor, Fort Sumter, but it has played crucial roles over the centuries in defending Charleston Harbor.
Sitting high above one of Mexico City’s best green spaces is Chapultepec Castle. It sits on top of a hill that has been a sacred place for Aztecs and housed a military academy, imperial residence, and presidential home. Now, it’s a museum.
Mexico City’s impressive National Museum of Anthropology showcases the region’s endlessly rich and diverse pre-Columbian cultural heritage.
Dominating the northern side of the Zocalo in the historic quarter of Mexico City, the Metropolitan Cathedral is the the largest Roman Catholic Cathedral in the Americas.
Panama isn’t an island, but with such a high proportion of coastline to land, it might as well be. So it’s only natural that seafood figures prominently in Panamanian cuisine.
Dedicated to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Templo de San Bernardo dates to 1680 and was once part of a larger convent complex. Now only the church remains.
It’s not the most lavish of the many churches in Mexico City’s Centro Historico district, but this church dedicated to Saint Agnes of Rome is one of the more tastefully decorated.
While it’s not as opulent as some of the other churches nearby, Iglesia de la Santisima Trinidad has a charm of its own as a quiet sanctuary from the bustle in the busy streets around it.
The open-air observation deck on the 44th floor of the Torre Latinoamericana offers spectacular views out over Mexico City.
The bell tower of Iglesia San Francisco de Asis stands tall above the rest of Casco Viejo, on the waterfront of the historic heart of Panama City, Panama.
Iglesia San Jose, in Casco Viejo and dating to 1673, is most famous for its massive Golden Altar (Altar de Oro) that survived pirate raids in 1671.
You can spot Ancon Hill from all over Panama City. It makes for wonderful views out over Panama City and the entrance to the Panama Canal. It also has historical significance.
Dating back to 1680, La Iglesia de la Merced sits in the heart of Casco Viejo, just a couple of blocks from Independence Square.
The Iglesia Santo Domingo in Casco Viejo is mostly crumbling ruins but is best known for its Flat Arch spanning the interior that stood without supports for centuries.
The Catedral Metropolitana in Casco Viejo, Panama City’s old quarter, is one of the largest churches in Central America at dates to 1688 to 1796.
Opened in late-2014, the Frank Gehry-designed Biomuseo focuses on Panama’s biodiversity and how the isthmus of Panama has changed the world.
With its colorfully painted buildings, cobblestone streets, and Spanish colonial architecture, Granada is a picturesque town that wears its history on its streets.
Parque Central is a hustling, bustling center of town. As in so many Spanish colonial towns, the park forms the heart of a grid that radiates out through the city’s streets.
Behind the run-down facade of Iglesia de la Merced is one of the most important churches in Granada. And its clock tower offers the best view of the city.
La Capilla Maria Auxiliadora isn’t the grandest or most famous of Granada’s churches. But it makes a credible claim to be the most beautiful.
The distinctive yellow and white Granada Cathedral dominates the city’s skyline and is Granada’s most important of the city’s several churches.
Historic and pretty Granada is on Lake Nicaragua (Lago Nicaragua), but the lakefront isn’t all it could be.
Granada’s market is especially good. It’s large and colorful, pungent and bustling. And it’s the only show in town, so everything is concentrated here.
Behind that impressive facade, standing above most of the city of Granada, is the city’s main museum. Its exhibits are rather eclectic, but many of them relate in some way to the history of Granada and the nearby region.
Granada’s city cemetery is Nicaragua’s oldest. And because of Granada’s historical significance, the cemetery is unusually beautiful and ornate.
La Recoleta Cemetery’s most famous resident is Eva Peron. But her plain burial site might just be the least ostentatious in the whole cemetery.
Santiago’s Mercado Central is a mecca for fresh seafood. And a series of restaurants in the center of the market serve up delicious market-fresh meals.
Ushuaia claims the title of the world’s southernmost city. These days its main industry is tourism, serving as a gateway to Antarctica. But the town also has charms of its own.
Punta Arenas, in southern Chile, reveres 16th century explorer Ferdinand Magellan. A massive new sculpture on the waterfront helps celebrate him and the ocean.
The Metropolitan Cathedral has pride on place on a corner of Plaza de Armas, a the historic and cultural heart of Santiago, Chile.
It’s the jail at the end of the world. It would have been very cold, very drafty, and, even compared to the low bar set by late-19th-century prisons, altogether rather unpleasant. But if you could sneak to a window, what a view!
The Marine Corps Sunset Parades at the Iwo Jima Memorial are one of Washington DC’s summer treats. Here’s information and schedule on the 2016 season.
Despite a checkered history, Our Lady of Pilar Basilica in Buenos Aires has survived as the second oldest church in Buenos Aires and looking none the worse for wear.
Cenote Xkeken, near Valladolid, is one of the prettiest of the 3,000 or so underground cenotes scattered across Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.
Although not the highest or even the wettest, Niagara Falls might just be the most famous waterfalls in the world. And they’re very easy to visit.
I took this panorama of Boston’s city skyline at night from the end of Long Wharf looking back at the city. At one point during the colonial era, Long Wharf was the busiest pier in America. It was also much longer at the time–in the centuries since, landfill has created reclaimed land, but originally the shoreline was up near Faneuil Hall.
You’d never know it today, but Coba, on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, was once an important and powerful Mayan city. But it has long been in ruins.
Quebec City is a kind of Paris-in-miniature, set on a beautiful spot on the Saint Lawrence River and full of old-world charm. At Christmas it really shines.
Tikal, in northern Guatemala, was once one the largest and most powerful of the Maya cities. Today it has been most taken over by jungle.
Newark, New Jersey, isn’t exactly known as a jewel of the American northeast. But from certain vantage points, it can actually be quite pretty. Glittery, even.
Central America is where American school buses go to retire. In the balmy tropical climes of places like Guatemala and Honduras, they’re given a new, colorful lease on life.
I’m on a real Caribbean island. But it’s 100 miles from the sea.
Just outside Antigua, Pacaya is one of several active volcanos that make up the Central American Volcanic Arc.
Heavy snow shuts down Washington DC, but it also transforms the National Mall, its monuments, and other Washington landmarks like the White House into a winter wonderland.
Gallows Point Resort on St. John in the beautiful US Virgin Islands is a fantastic place to watch some stunning Caribbean sunsets.
The Hoover Dam was one of the great engineering feats of the Great Depression of the 1930s in the United States.
It made for a stunning winter wonderland in the Canadian Rockies along the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper.
There are many Maya civilization sites on the Yucatan Peninsula, but none has a more beautiful location than Tulum, not far from Cancun.
Chichicastenango is a town where buying and selling is everything. Its markets are reputed to be the largest in Central America; the range of wares on offer is truly impressive. And the indigenous Maya culture adds a distinct local flavor to the town.
If God and the government had their way, Antigua wouldn’t exist. But it’s a good thing it does. With charming Spanish colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and a vibrant cultural life, it’s a wonderful place to visit.
Guatemalans sure love their fireworks. And Chichicastenango, in the Guatemalan highlands, is not a place that considers fireworks only night-time entertainment.
Ocracoke’s lighthouse is one of the oldest on the East Coast that’s still in operation.
I came across this deserted gas station while driving along the highway of the endless flat plains of Kansas.
Guatemala City isn’t a popular tourist destination, in large part because of the scourge of violent crime, but there are some things worth seeing in this otherwise crowded and poverty-stricken city.
Austin is a city that’s young, fun, and takes pride in being a bit off-kilter.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio, is the largest and oldest air force museum in the world.
St. John boasts some of the Caribbean’s most picture perfect beaches. White sands from the coral reefs and beautiful turquoise seas, along with reliably warm tropical weather, make for an idyllic setting.
Excellence Playa Mujeres resort, just north of the traffic and bustle of Cancun, is a great place if you’re looking to just get away to relax by the beach.
The interior of Old Montreal’s Notre Dame Basilica has to rank it as one of the most stunning churches or cathedrals in North America.
Zihuatanejo is a small fishing village on Mexico’s Pacific coast that’s just bursting with local flavor. From the beautiful scenery, laid-back and welcoming locals, and ultra-fresh seafood, it’s a great place to be.
One of the world’s most visited museums, the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum has an incredible array of original artifacts from the history of flight and space exploration.
It might not be for the vertigo-challenged, but getting to the top of the Acropolis at Ek Balam is definitely worth the effort. It is, quite literally, a view fit for a king.
There’s much to love about Zihuatanejo on Mexico’s Pacific coast, and the beach fish market is one of the town’s gems.
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a manicured, safe, and family-friendly area of an otherwise hardscrabble city.
Valladolid is a place to stop and savor. A charming Spanish colonial town in the center of the Yucatán Peninsula, it’s within easy striking distance of Cancun and Merida.
Chichen Itza is one of the most famous, most impressive, and most visited of the Mayan ruins sites on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Chattanooga, Tennessee, is clearly a city that puts heavy emphasis on being “livable,” and so far it seems to be doing a pretty good job of it.
The Virginia State Capitol building, completed in 1788, is the seat of the oldest legislative body in the United States, the Virginia General Assembly.