The celebration kicks off in February with the opening of the Frank Gehry–designed BioMuseo. The $100 million museum, Gehry’s first project in Latin America, will contain eight galleries, including two aquariums, dedicated to displaying the country’s biodiversity (507-314-0097). On the hotel front, the city’s already seen the opening of the Waldorf Astoria Panama (507-294-8000; doubles from $99), the Trump Ocean Club (507-215-8800; doubles from $169), and the Tantalo Hotel (507-262-4030; doubles from $149), but the real talk of the town is the American Trade Hotel, the first Latin American development from the Ace Hotels brand.
The 50-room property—opened in November in Casco Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage neighborhood where dozens of centuries-old buildings are being turned into art galleries, cafés, and microbreweries—features a rooftop pool, a jazz bar, and a farm-to-table restaurant (507-211-2000; doubles from $189).
As for eateries, chef Andrés Madrigal, who’s earned a Michelin star and worked with everyone from Ducasse to Arzak, has opened Madrigal, also in Casco, with a focus on Spanish cuisine (Av. A and Calle 5ta Oeste; 507-211-1956; entrées from $22).
And in Panama City’s San Francisco neighborhood, on the eastern end of town, is Humo, a standout for its Panamanian barbecue (Calle 70 Este; 507-203-7313; entrées from $16); it was launched by local chef Mario Castrellón of nearby Maito, where the emphasis is on local ingredients (Calle 50 Este; 507-391-4657; entrées from $16).