Panama is literally the center of the Americas. But most outsiders know it only for two of its icons. Of course, there's the Canal, which is now undergoing a $5 billion expansion in honor of its 100th birthday. And there are those famous Panama hats (still meticulously fitted by hand, if you know where to look). Lately, though, travelers seeking the next fascinating destination are finding a lot to love about Panama City. "It's like Hong Kong meets Costa Rica," says KC Hardin, who co-owns the Ace's new American Trade Hotel (photo) in Panama City. "You have this vibrant, eclectic city backed up against an amazing landscape." Here, Hardin and three other experts divulge their favorite spots.