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Museum Guide for Honolulu

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Visitors to Honolulu will discover more than just sand, sun, and surf in this sunny paradise. Inquisitive minds can explore the layers of history that have blended into a modern and multicultural city, and art lovers will find plenty to stoke their creative sides. Ducking into a museum is also a nice way to beat the heat or to take cover on a rainy day. Here, find the best museums in Honolulu.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover

7 Places

3 City Tips

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Map

7 Places

Bishop Museum

Specialty Museums

Honolulu Museum of Art

Art Museums

Shangri La

Art Museums, Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites

Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House

Specialty Museums

Hawaii State Art Museum

Art Museums, Government Buildings

Iolani Palace

Historic Sites, History Museums, Specialty Museums

Pearl Harbor / WW II Valor in the Pacific National Monument

Historic Sites, Historic Walking Areas, Military Bases & Facilities

Malia Y's City Tips

  • Support the local economy by avoiding chains whenever you can. Many small, family-run shops and restaurants depend on your business to keep up with Hawaii's high cost of living.
  • Whatever you do, be sure to get out of Waikiki. The tourist strip is convenient, but it's not a true representation of life in Hawaii.
  • You should be able to get to most — if not all — of these sites via Honolulu's "The Bus network." A four-day unlimited pass may be the most cost effective choice.
  • Save
    Bishop Museum
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    Bishop Museum is one of the best places on the island to learn about the culture and natural history of Hawaii and the Pacific. Originally built to house Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop's extensive collection of artifacts and royal family heirlooms, the museum is now home to millions of items, including photographs, that help tell the history of Hawaii and other Pacific cultures. The permanent collections will take you on a journey from pre-contact Hawaii through the monarchy period and into the present day, and there are also many exhibits to get visitors (young and old) interested in science and natural history. My favorite part of the Bishop Museum has always been the planetarium, with its daily presentations on the current constellations visible in Hawaii's night sky.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The museum is closed on Tuesdays.
    • Don't miss the Hawaiian Hall, which features three stories of exhibits from Hawaii's past and present.
    • Detailed sky maps of Hawaii's night sky, as well as sunrise and sunset times and various "sky events" are available via the museum's website.
    • On the first and third Saturdays of each month, the museum holds "Stars & Guitars," an evening program featuring a discussion of the skies and a live classical guitar performance.
    • Parking is always free.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #25 of 351 things to do in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Not amazing but not terrible... 09/17/2018
    • Going back for more.... 09/14/2018
    • Bishop Museum
    Address:
    1525 Bernice St
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96817-2704
    Phone:
    +1 808-843-7654
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Honolulu Museum of Art
    Art Museums
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    Opened in 1927, the Honolulu Museum of Art has long been one of the city's greatest treasures. The grounds are beautiful, the collections are extensive, and the traveling exhibits are often world-caliber. Here you'll find everything from Chinese calligraphy and Japanese woodblock prints to works by O'Keefe and Picasso.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The museum is closed on Mondays.
    • On the last Friday of the month (Jan-Oct), the museum hosts ARTafterDARK (6-9pm), drawing a trendy local crowd with a rotating theme, live music, and food/drink vendors.
    • Your admission also entitles you to visit the Honolulu Museum of Art's second location, Spalding House, with its sculpture gardens overlooking Honolulu.
    • Admission is free on the first Wednesday of every month and the third Sunday of every month.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #29 of 351 things to do in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Culture Hour 09/18/2018
    • Is there no truth in beauty? 09/16/2018
    • Honolulu Museum of Art
    Address:
    900 S Beretania St
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96814-1495
    Phone:
    +1 808-532-8701
    Hours:
    Sun
    1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
    Tue - Sat
    10:00 AM - 4:30 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Shangri La
    Art Museums, Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    The former home of tobacco heiress Doris Duke is not only one of the most architecturally significant homes in Hawaii, it also houses an extensive collection of Islamic art, collected by Duke during her global travels. Perched on Black Point, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Shangri-La is an oasis of tranquility, harmonizing beautiful art and architecture with stunning natural surroundings. It is an extension of the Honolulu Museum of Art, and tours are arranged via the museum where they also begin and end.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • Reservations are required and usually fill up months in advance. If you've missed booking ahead, check Tue-Sat at the Honolulu Museum to see if space is available for walk-ins.
    • Tours are available Wednesday through Saturday at 9am, 10:30am, and 1:30pm.
    • Visits to Shangri-La are by guided tour only, which take about 2.5 hours, beginning and ending at the Honolulu Museum of Art.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #14 of 351 things to do in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • STUNNING!!! 09/14/2018
    • interesting and educational outing 08/27/2018
    • Shangri La
    Address:
    4055 Papu Cir
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96816-4850
    Phone:
    +1 808-734-1941
    Other:
  • Save
    Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    A visit to this satellite of the Honolulu Museum of Art is always a peaceful escape for me. Located in the upper Makiki area and known for its large collection of contemporary art, this museum also has a beautiful and sculpture-filled outdoor lawn to walk through and enjoy.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Admission to the Honolulu Museum of Art on the same day is complimentary. Both are closed on Mondays and free on the first Wednesday of the month.
    • Pre-order a picnic basket from the museum cafe, and then enjoy it on the lawn — plus it's BYOB with no corkage fee!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #121 of 351 things to do in Honolulu
    • Private Residence Turned Museum 05/22/2018
    • Situated high above Waikiki in a nice residential neighbourhood 04/15/2018
    • Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House
    Address:
    2411 Makiki Heights Dr
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96822-2547
    Phone:
    +1 808-526-0232
    Other:
  • Save
    Hawaii State Art Museum
    Art Museums, Government Buildings
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    With a focus on contemporary Hawaiian artists and FREE admission, the Hawaii State Art Museum is a good choice for those visiting the downtown area. The beautiful 1928 Spanish Mission-style building that houses the museum is listed on the National Historic Register.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • The museum itself is quite small, so it's best to combine a stop here with nearby attractions, such as 'Iolani Palace.
    • The museum is open 10am-4pm Tuesday through Saturday.
    • The museum participates in the First Friday downtown gallery walk; from 6-9pm on the first Friday of each month.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #70 of 351 things to do in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Currently half under renovation 07/15/2018
    • Beautiful find.... 05/13/2018
    • Hawaii State Art Museum
    Address:
    250 S Hotel St
    Second Floor
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96813-2831
    Phone:
    +1 808-586-0300
    Hours:
    Tue - Sat
    10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Iolani Palace
    Historic Sites, History Museums, Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    The only royal palace on U.S. soil, 'Iolani Palace is a must-see spot for visitors to the islands. The lovingly preserved structure allows you to step back in time providing a fascinating and poignant look into the history and overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Self-guided audio tours are available, but I'd recommend a docent-led tour if possible. The volunteers provide a wealth of information and anecdotes that add to the experience.
    • The palace is open Monday through Saturday and closed on Sundays.
    • Most Fridays, the Royal Hawaiian Band plays free outdoor concerts on the lawn. Even if you can't catch a concert, bring a picnic and soak up the beauty of the palace grounds.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #23 of 351 things to do in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Iolani Palace 09/20/2018
    • Spoiler alert 09/19/2018
    • Iolani Palace
    Address:
    364 S King St
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96813-2900
    Phone:
    +1 808-522-0822
    Hours:
    Mon - Sat
    9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Pearl Harbor / WW II Valor in the Pacific National Monument
    Historic Sites, Historic Walking Areas, Military Bases & Facilities
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    One of Hawaii's top attractions is a somber one, commemorating Japan's 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that drew the United States into World War II. Today, Pearly Harbor is both an active military base and a National Historic Landmark, and visitors can visit a number of WWII sites and memorials here, including the submarine USS Bowfin and battleship Missouri. Perhaps the most moving, however, is the USS Arizona Memorial, which sits offshore, above the original ship of the same name, that was attacked that fateful day. Bearing the names of crewmen who were killed in the attack, and with cutaways that reveal the ship's skeleton below, the memorial is both thoughtful and serene.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Tickets to visit the park are free, but as they often run out during peak season it is wise to reserve in advance online (for a small fee).
    • No purses or bags of any kind are allowed; you can stow your items for a small fee in the storage facility near the entrance to the park. Don't leave them in your rental car!
    • On land, a self-guided walk gives insight into the attack, and galleries cover everything from the lead-up to the attack to the treatment of Japanese Americans during the war.
    • Be mindful that this is also a burial site — in the rush to prepare for war, the US Navy left the deceased servicemen buried at sea, so kindly maintain a respectful silence.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 351 things to do in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Stunning and informative 09/22/2018
    • A mixed visitor experience 09/21/2018
    • Pearl Harbor / WW II Valor in the Pacific National Monument
    Address:
    1 Arizona Memorial Place
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96818-3103
    Phone:
    808-422-3300
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    7:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
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