Honolulu is the capital and the largest city in Hawaii. Other than being Hawaii's main gateway to the world, Honolulu is a major hub for international business, finance, and is characterized by a mix of diverse cultures.
While Honolulu is majorly famous for its sun-soaked beaches and being an exotic getaway for tourists, there is so much more that the city has to offer to its visitors. The city has a very rich and interesting history and it is worth taking a break from lying on the hotel resort beach to explore this tropical heaven. Here is a list of some of the best non-beach attractions to visit during your visit to Honolulu.
Visiting Honolulu wouldn't be complete without visiting Pearl Harbor, the site of the infamous Japanese attack on December 07th, 1941 that forced the US to enter WW2. Still an active naval base, Pearl Harbor is also a national historic landmark housing several memorials including the USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, and USS Utah. You can take one of the guided tours that take you through an emotional journey of the events that took place during the day of the bombing. While all the memorials are worth visiting, the most well-known is the USS Arizona which was built over the remains of one of the bombed battleships that claimed more than 1700 lives.
Located in downtown Honolulu, Iolani Palace is one of the last remnants of when Hawaii used to be a monarchy. The four-story palace is built in Italian Renaissance style and is the only royal palace in North America. The palace has a very rich history and has been a territorial capital, a prison for a queen, and even a military base. Visitors can take guided tours, listen to audio recordings and look at the artifacts that used to belong to royalty. Definitely, one of the most unique places to visit in all of the US, Iolani Palace is a must-visit for anyone who makes a trip to Honolulu.
Diamond Head is one of the most recognizable natural landmarks in all of Hawaii. Overlooking the eastern portion of Waikiki's coastline, this volcanic crater is over 300,000 years old. If you are tired of sitting on the beach and are looking for some physical activity, you should consider hiking Diamond Head. The trail to the summit is not too long but is steep and therefore difficult. The views from the trail end are beautiful and you can soak in the spectacular aerial views of water, land, and sky.
Koko Crater Trail
Koko Crater Trail is another popular trail that leads you to unparalleled views of the Honolulu shoreline. The so-called stairs on the trail are actually railroad ties once used by military trams to take supplies to bunkers and lookouts during WW2. While the 1050 steep steps may make the hike physically demanding, you may want to bear the pain for the reward at the trail end. However, if you are not up for the steep hike, Koko Crater Botanical Garden is another great option.
Honolulu Museum of Art
Boasting more than 50,000 pieces, the Honolulu Museum of Art contains more than 50,000 artworks ranging from paintings to hand-painted dolls. If you want to learn more about the culture and history of Hawaii and Honolulu, a visit to the museum is a must. Visitors can learn about the heavy influence that the Asian culture has had on the place as well as view the collection from renowned artists like Van Gogh, Monet, Warhol, and Cezzane. The museum also regularly hosts workshops with local artists for interested visitors.
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