Iolani Palace#15 in Best Things To Do in Honolulu - Oahu
Built in 1882, this 10-room historic house and museum details the reigns of King Kalakaua and his sister, Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's final monarchs. It is the only official state royal residence found in the U.S.
Recent travelers appreciated the unique glimpse into Hawaii's culture that this structure offers. However, you'll need to keep a few rules in mind when touring the property. Picture-taking is forbidden throughout the palace, and kids younger than 5 must be strapped into a child carrier or stroller at all times. Wearing cloth booties to protect the palace's koa wood floors is also required.
You'll find Iolani Palace next to the gold and black statue of King Kamehameha in downtown Honolulu. Hour-long guided tours, which cost $21.75 per adult and $6 for each child between 5 and 12, take place every 15 minutes between 9 and 10 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and from 9 to 11:15 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. You can also opt for a self-led audio tour for $14.75 per adult and $6 for each child. Audio tours last 45 minutes and are available from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with extended hours on select days.
Tours include access to the property's basement galleries and first and second floors, and you'll also find a gift shop and restrooms on-site. Multiple buses make stops near the palace, or you can drive (limited garage and metered street parking is available nearby) or take Waikiki Trolley's Red Line. Check out Iolani Palace's website for more information on specific tour hours and fees.
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#1 Waikiki Beach
Nineteenth-century Hawaiian royalty used to come to the Honolulu neighborhood of Waikiki to relax and surf, just as scores of tourists do today. That's because this area's famous beach (which is a string of several beaches dotting the island's southwest coastline) is the go-to spot for its soft, honey-colored sand and the high waves that lap the shores during the winter months. But you don't have to be a surfer to appreciate Waikiki Beach; just lie back on a beach towel, relax and gaze up at the majestic Diamond Head State Monument in the distance.
When you need a break from the beach itself, there are scores of shops and restaurants lining the adjacent Kalakaua Avenue. The street is home to some of the world's most exclusive (read: expensive) designer boutiques, including Cartier, Coach, Hermès and Louis Vuitton. Many of the best Oahu hotels also overlook Waikiki Beach.
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