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The beaches, hiking, and cuisine of Hawaii have the propensity to cloud one’s vision. With so many relaxing activities available just moments from your door, stopping to consider the history and culture of this island chain may feel like you’re taking your foot off of the gas on your way to a memorable vacation. However, as you’ll quickly see after a survey of Oahu’s museums and cultural spaces, Hawaii’s history is unique and fascinating. Dating back to as early as 300AD, the story of the development of America’s 50th state is one filled with many different characters and events, and today, there are many ways to satisfy your inner trivia buff. Give yourself the gift of some knowledge of this fascinating culture and history with a trip to some of these Oahu museums and historical sites!

Iolani Palace

Fort DeRussy State Park And US Army Museum

Staying local and around Waikiki, you can step out of the Ewa Hotel and make it to this former Military outpost in just 20 minutes on foot! The site is now home to the US Army Museum of Hawaii, where artifacts include items from World War II, Vietnam, and Korea, as well as exhibits that examine the history of Hawaii pre-statehood. Admission is free, and you can head to a favorite beach of locals right afterwards!

The Bishop Museum

Hawaiian history dates back centuries, and for a look into how those early inhabitants lived and developed the islands, a trip to the Bishop Museum is necessary. Many aren’t familiar with the Kingdom of Hawaii and the royalty that were instrumental in constructing the culture that is so important to the region’s identity. This study of this period is known as Hawaiiana, and the degree to which this museum has sought to educate and preserve the relics of this portion of history cannot be overstated. The museum also has plenty of exhibits and information on some of the flora and fauna that call Oahu home. You’re sure to leave knowing more than when you entered!

Iolani Palace

Home to the last monarchs of the Kingdom of Hawaii, you can visit the former residence of King Kalakaua and Queen Lili’uokalani, used until 1893, today. The grandeur and elegance of the grounds are fit for royalty, but the building was occupied after the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893 and used by the provisional government and as makeshift archive for kingdom records. The palace stands today as a symbol to an important chapter of Hawaii’s history.