Destination: Hawaii: Oahu
America’s only royal residence, the palace was built in 1882 for King Kalakaua. After the monarchy was overthrown in 1893, it became the capitol, first for the republic, then for the state of Hawaii. The building undergoes regular renovations, and now operates as a state museum. Don’t miss the throne room, where King Kalakaua’s and Queen Liliuokalani’s thrones are on display; the downstairs galleries hold the royal jewelry.
Pearl Harbor Memorial
If you have time for only one side trip while on Oahu, this should be it. The site of Japan’s attack on the American naval fleet in Pearl Harbor in December 1941, propelling the U.S. into World War II, is memorialized with the U.S.S. Arizona monument, where the sunken ship—the tomb of 1,177 crewmen—is visible beneath forty feet of water. More than 1.6 million people each year (many of them Japanese) come to pay their respects. Also moving is the U.S.S. Missouri, the battleship where Japan surrendered in 1945. The construction of a new Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum & Visitor Center is under way (the current one is sinking into the landfill); it will be nearly twice the size of the old museum, with more exhibition spaces for displaying artifacts related to the attack.
TIP: The lines to get into the memorial can be very long, particularly in summer. 4,500 tickets are available to the public daily, but they are often gone by noon. To escape the crowds and be assured of getting in, go early (it opens at 7:30), though it’s best to call ahead because there may be schedule changes during the construction. Also, visitors cannot bring in any bags whatsoever and you have to check everything in rented lockers by the parking lot.
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