The Miraflores Visitor Center next to the Panama Canal gives you a chance to experience one of the true engineering marvels of the world. From here, you’re able to not only view the Panama Canal and watch ships move to and fro, but also to learn the history of the Panama Canal and how it all works. This is a great place to bring the entire family while on vacation.

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The Heart of the Panama Canal: A Closer Look at the Miraflores Visitor Center

The Miraflores Visitor Center is one of the highlights of any trip to Panama. With a viewing platform that affords detailed viewing of ships passing through the mighty Canal, many visitors spend hours here soaking in the Canal in all its glory. Watch the ships and the locks move while also learning about the history of how the Panama Canal was created. Get a historical as well as an engineering perspective on one of the most essential technological advances in modern history.

Inside the Miraflores Visitor’s Center, you’ll find a wealth of information and helpful staff ready to answer your questions and provide more context on what you’re seeing and learning. The Exhibition Halls lay out the many parts of the Panama Canal and explain how thousands of workers completed this magnificent and complex structure in the middle of the jungle. Exhibits also show the biodiversity of the area. Several large swaths of land near the Canal are protected natural areas, reserved to prevent erosion near the Canal and other hazards modern technology presents to its operation.

Complete with bleachers to watch the ships and an IMAX theater showing an in-depth film about the Panama Canal, the Miraflores Locks and Visitors Center is a must-visit on your next stop in Panama.


Interactive Exhibits: Learning the History and Mechanics of the Panama Canal

The Miraflores Visitor Center teaches people young and old about the incredible feats the builders of the Panama Canal undertook to open this crucial shipping lane.

The Miraflores Visitor Center in Panama features a four-story museum where the interactive exhibits live. Be careful when you visit the museum, you might get lost in the history and the impressive exhibits for so long you could forget to spend time admiring the ships going through the canal! Of course, you can still watch the ships from the museum, with large windows overlooking the shipping lanes. The exhibits explain the history, operations, expansion, and ecology of the area.


Viewing the Locks: A Front-Row Seat to Engineering Marvels

On the top floor of the Miraflores Visitor’s Center is the Canal viewing platform. Here you can sit back, relax, and watch the ships progress through the complex system of locks that allow passage between the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. The top floor offers panoramic views of the entire area, from the locks to the jungle surrounding you.

Visit the museum first to see how the Canal works, then watch it in action from the observation deck. Many viewers find watching the ships slowly work through the locks on their way to or from the Caribbean a relaxing, even therapeutic, experience.

Beyond the Locks: Additional Attractions at the Miraflores Visitor Center

If you miss the rush hour of ships passing through the locks in the mornings and afternoons, you can still enjoy the Miraflores Visitor Center. The restaurant will be reopening soon, and with excellent Peruvian food and a quiet atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to wait for the next line of ships to appear. The museum of course offers a range of interactive exhibits and a short IMAX film explaining how the Panama Canal with its many locks works. There’s plenty to learn about how the Canal was built and why, as well.

If you’re hanging out at the Miraflores Visitor’s Center for a while, you can also visit the gift shop and the surprisingly well-stocked snack bar. Not far from Miraflores is Metropolitan National Park, which makes for an opportunity to stop and view a wild, natural place on your way back from the Canal.


Planning Your Visit: Tips and Best Times to Watch the Ships

The best times to visit the observation deck are between 9am and 11am and 3pm to 5pm, during the shipping rush hour, with high volumes of vessels passing through the Canal. Of course, you will find the largest crowds around these times, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of room on the observation decks to get a good glimpse of the Panama Canal in action.

A visit to the Miraflores Visitor Center is crucial for everyone visiting or living in Panama. Here you can see what the country is most famous for, and learn about the history of Panama along the way.