Pearl Harbor Museums
Visiting Pearl Harbor and paying your respects to the lives lost during the Japanese attack of December 7, 1941 is a profound experience. Young and old alike will get that immeasurably deeper sense of the past that comes with actually setting foot on a historical site—in this case, one of the iconic landmarks of the Second World War.
The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor encompasses the USS Arizona Memorial, overlying the wreck of the namesake battleship that was bombed and sunk during the December 7 attack. Touring the National Park Serviced-managed USS Arizona Memorial—which includes watching a short documentary at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater and then taking a boat ride out to the memorial—is free, but you need a ticket, which you can either reserve or pick up first-come, first-served. (The Park Service often runs out of walk-in tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial, so coming early’s a good idea.)
Other fascinating Pearl Harbor sites nearby include the Battleship Missouri Memorial—it was on board the Missouri that Imperial Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945, ending the Second World War—and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, centered on the so-called “Pearl Harbor Avenger” sub that went into service exactly a year after the Pearl Harbor strike. The Pacific Aviation Museum here also offers a wealth of World War II information in its exhibits.
Bernie Pauahi Bishop Museum
The marvelous Bishop Museum, which functions as the Hawaii State Museum of Cultural and Natural History, really has something for everybody: It covers a head-spinning amount of territory. Dive deep into Polynesian history and culture, marvel at the world’s greatest collections of Pacific insects and Hawaiian plants, admire the mounted specimens and bones of beautiful beasts from Hawaii to Australia—and those are just the permanent holdings!
The museum also hosts reliably engrossing temporary exhibits. The current roster includes the Lele O Na Manu display (through July 31), which highlights the diversity, cultural significance, and conservation status of Hawaii’s endemic birds, and Planet Shark: Predator or Prey (through September 5), which’ll bowl you and the whole family over with its collection of fossil and modern-day shark jaws and teeth and its striking walk-through exhibits introducing you to the world of these majestic, powerful, and woefully misunderstood marine predators. In addition, the Bishop Museum presents a variety of daily planetarium shows, from night-sky adventures specially aimed at children to primers on traditional Polynesian sea-canoe navigation.
From lions and tigers to World War II memorials, from the architectural splendor of Hawaii’s royal heritage to wild coral gardens, your entire family’s sure to fall in love with Oahu. And we’d be honored if you made the Kahala Resort your HQ for the occasion!
Nobody can visit this regal palace—built in 1882 as home for King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani, replacing a predecessor from the mid-1800s—and not come away impressed. The sumptuous Hawaiian renaissance architecture of the main palace, the handsome Coronation Pavilion, the coral-hewn Iolani Barracks, an ancient royal burial mound—this is one of downtown Honolulu’s hallmark destinations.
The Iolani Palace welcomes visitors Monday through Saturday, when you can join a docent-led foray or follow a self-guided audio tour. While there’s a fee for the tours, a free introductory video, “A King’s Noble Vision,” plays on the half-hour in the Barracks. And if you’ve got kids younger than 5 years old, they’re admitted without charge (though they need to be in a front-held carrier or a free Palace-provided stroller).
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