Guide to the amazing museums of Oahu, Hawaii.
General: Good For Rainy Days
General: Kid Friendly
|Guide Series: Hawaii Museums Guide
A trip to Oahu shouldn't be all beaches and shave ice. Why not take a little time to learn about the Hawaiian culture, visit the infamous Pearl Harbor, take a train ride, or let the kids explore and be creative. Here's our top Oahu, Hawaii museum picks.
If you only visit one museum on Oahu, it should probably be the Bishop Museum. There is no better place to soak in the history of Hawaii than here. But don't worry, it's also incredibly kid friendly with buildings dedicated to hands on exhibits they keiki will love too. More at: The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum
Okay, if you only visit one museum on Oahu instead make sure you visit two, so you can come here as well. Pearl Harbor is an enormous place and not just a single memorial or museum. While the main attraction for many is the USS Arizona Memorial, you'll also want to explore the Battleship Missouri Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor. More at: Pearl Harbor & USS Arizona Memorial
This is the only royal palace in the United States and you can even take a tour inside. It's full of great, historical information and presented by knowledgeable docents. It's another must-see for those who are interested in Hawaii's history and culture. More at: Iolani Palace
The museum consists of two hangers. The first hanger is air conditioned and contains several aviation related exhibits. There's quite a bit to see and enjoy here. They also offer a video-game-style simulator experience. The second hanger is pretty much untouched from WWII. It still has bullet holes from the Pearl Harbor attack! Inside you'll find several more planes to enjoy.
More at: Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor
This is Hawaii's largest collection of fine arts with over 38,000 permanent works of art from all over the world. For those looking to take things further, book (well in advance) a tour to see the huge collection of Islamic Art at Doris Duke's amazing home, Shangri La. More at: Honolulu Museum of Art
Take a trip back in time to Hawaii's plantation days when the sugar industry was booming. This village is an outdoor museum with authentic dwellings where the immigrants who worked the fields lived so you can get a taste of plantation life. After which you'll certainly appreciate your hotel / resort that much more! More at: Hawaii's Plantation Village
This building was once a palace, and the summer home for Hawaii's Queen Emma. To most of us today, it feels like a small house. Step inside, though, and you can feel the history oozing out and can sort of imagine what the good life was back in the late 1800's. More at: Queen Emma Summer Palace
The King's Guard Museum is a free museum with exhibits of vintage Hawaiian souvenirs and collectables from the 1930s through the 1960s. They offer a look at memorabilia from hotels, movie theaters, restaurants, stores, and Hawaii attractions from the past. You'll find the museum inside the King's Village Shopping Center. More at: King's Guard Museum
If military might is your thing, then you'll certainly want to stop in at the Army Museum in Waikiki. It's located right behind Fort DeRussy Beach Park @ Waikiki, and right next to the Hale Koa Hotel (Military Hotel) which certainly makes sense. Admission is actually free but donations are accepted. More at: U.S. Army Museum Of Hawaii
Another free museum, the Hawaii State Art Museum is sponsored by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and located at the Capitol District Building in Honolulu. More at: Hawaii State Art Museum
The Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House features five main galleries of artwork to enjoy. Outside, strolls through sculpture filled gardens that overlook Diamond Head State Monument and Honolulu. Also onsite is the Spalding House Cafe and a gift shop. More at: The Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House
This is a keiki (kid) focused museum and discovery center aimed at those in the 3 to 10 years old range. It's full of hands on learning, experimenting, and just general fun. Even promises of the beach and shave ice won't tear your kids away from this place. More at: Hawaii Children's Discovery Center
This is the place for railroad buffs to spend some time. It's a closeup look at trains that still function today. In fact, you can even take a 90 minute train ride that will pass through the Ko Olina Resort and a short way up the Waianae Coast before it heads back. Kids and train lovers will enjoy this one the most. More at: The Hawaiian Railway Society
Hawaiian Mission Houses missions is to archive and preserve the heritage of the American Protestant Missionaries. This National Historic Landmark houses documents, artifacts, and other important records from the missionary period. More at: Hawaiian Mission Houses
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