We used a Lonely Planet Panama book to find things to do in El Valle. We ended up spending half the time hiking, half of the afternoon at the zoo and a little bit of time at the tourist/artisan market.
Pre-Columbian Rock Carvings
Our first stop was a hike to see some waterfalls and a gigantic rock with Pre-Columbian (that is, before 1492 when Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas) drawings. The picture above is of Hubs and I under the drawings. Unfortunately nobody knows what the pictures mean, but they are interesting to see. This hike was $5 per person.
After that hike, we went to see what Lonely Planet called "the square-trunked trees". We thought these might be some kind of man-made spectical, but weren't sure. We couldn't find any type of visitor center or place to pay, so we went into the nearby hotel to ask. A lady there took our money ($3 per person) and led us to a rusty little gate in a patch of woods beside the hotel. From there we walked for 15 minutes or so until we reached the square trunk trees.
Our third stop at El Valle was the zoo. This was probably my favorite stop. Like many other things in Central America, the zoo was rather old and out-of-date, but there were plenty of animals to see. There were lots and lots of birds here, with colors so vibrant I couldn't have designed them myself. And I adored the old-fashioned bird cage design!