Take a Break from the Ordinary at the Top 9 Zoos and Museums in Honolulu!

Zoos, museums, and aquariums all offer you the opportunity to see something out of the ordinary. And when those museums and zoos happen to be in an island paradise like Hawaii, you’re guaranteed to see something truly spectacular. So, if you’ve always wanted to see an Asian elephant or learn the inside story behind the attack on Pearl Harbor, read on. We’re about to tell you all about the best zoos and museums in Honolulu.

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Honolulu Zoo

Surround yourself with wildlife in a zoo built “for the children of Hawa’i.”

Antelope, monkeys, and black rhinos await you at the Honolulu Zoo. Image courtesy of Yelp.

151 Kapahulu Ave | Waikiki/ honoluluzoo.org

Many rare and amazing animals await you at the Honolulu Zoo, the only zoo within a radius of 2392 miles. Black rhinos, cheetahs, and even penguins are just a few of the extraordinary sights you can expect. Enjoy a fun day touring the many exotic exhibits and viewing meerkats, orangutans, and the Galapagos tortoise.

Want to celebrate your next birthday somewhere special? The Honolulu Zoo lets you plan multiple events complete with menus offering local, organic dishes made with fresh ingredients and complete entertainment coordination. You’ll be able to enjoy Hawaiian culinary delights in an atmosphere that’s both festive and exotic. Expand your knowledge and appreciation of wildlife by spending time at the Honolulu Zoo!    

“The most beautiful zoo we’ve ever been to! We did the twilight tour and got to see sooo many animals!” — Yelp Review

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Waikiki Aquarium

Go under the sea and learn about Hawaii’s rich ocean life

Get up close and personal with jellyfish and other exotic marine life at the Waikiki Aquarium. Image courtesy of Yelp.

2777 Kalakaua Ave. | Kapi’olani Park/ waikikiaquarium.org

Get up close and personal with an amazing array of aquatic wildlife at the Waikiki Aquarium. Their Amazing Adaptations Gallery lets you observe multiple species of Hawaiian pipefishes, seahorses, and Austalian seadragons in a 3000-gallon tank of water. Their Coral Farm showcases their efforts to cultivate corals in aquariums. And their Koko Head exhibit simulates the undersea environments enjoyed by many of Hawaii’s abundance of sea life.

Waikiki Aquarium also offers special events to provide educators with resources about ocean life as well as classes for community and family groups. This fun and educational attraction provides the ideal venue for people who want to know more about the wonders of Hawaiian sea life.

“They have a lot of tropical fish, corals, and every different type of seahorse and sea dragons you could imagine” — Yelp Review

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Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center

Kids and adults get to explore Hawaii with new eyes at the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center

Plenty of hands-on exhibits make this a great place for children. Image courtesy of Yelp.

111 Ohe St. | Kaka'ako Waterfront Park/ discoverycenterhawaii.org

Both young and older museum goers will appreciate the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center which promotes a venue where children can learn more about the world around them in an immersive environment. Rainforest Adventures shows kids the importance of the world’s rainforests — including the ones in Hawaii.

Your Town enables children to experience what it’s like to contribute to a community as a fireman, banker, or mechanic. And Hawaiian Rainbows puts the spotlight on Hawaii’s unique history in several hands-on exhibits. Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center may have been built for kids, but it appeals to adults as well.

“The center recently upgraded their rainforest area (near the front of the center) which makes it even more fun!” — Yelp Review

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Bishop Museum

Immerse yourself in Hawaii’s rich cultural history at the Bishop Museum

Fascinating exhibits abound at the Bishop Museum. Image courtesy of Yelp.

1525 Bernice St. | Kalihi district/ bishop.museum.org

Want to learn more about Hawaii’s unique culture and history? Then head on over to Bishop Museum, which offers a variety of exhibitions designed to immerse you in Hawaii’s many realms.

Hawaiian Hall explores many Hawaiian gods and legends, as well as the importance of nature in people’s daily lives. Pacific Hall examines the connections between the diverse peoples of Oceania. And you’ll find galleries of Hawaiian art, rare books, collectibles, and portraits of the Hawaiian Monarchy. For those curious about Hawaii’s rich history, Bishop Museum is a can’t miss attraction.    

“The center of the building is a model of a volcano and you can learn how the islands were created via a show” — Yelp Review

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Hawaii Army Museum Society

Learn about Hawaii’s extensive military history

Discover how Hawaiian soldiers lived at the Hawaii Army Museum. Image courtesy of Yelp.

2131 Kalia Rd. | Waikiki/hiarmymuseumsoc.org

Military history enthusiasts will want to pay a visit to the Hawaii Army Museum Society. This museum offers many exhibits that spotlight the contributions and sacrifices made by Hawaiian soldiers across multiple generations.

Go back over 1000 years before Christopher Columbus’ time and learn about the social and military systems developed by Hawaiians, including sacrifices, prayers, and orations to the gods. Learn about Battery Randolph, a reinforced concrete coastal gun battery that defended the island of O’ahu from attack by sea. And spend some time at the Gallery of Heroes where recipients of the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross are recognized and honored.

“The exhibits all tell a story of local boys who took that extra step and became heroes.” — Yelp Review

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Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

Get an in-depth look at the “day that will live in infamy.”

See warbirds, jets, and helicopters at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. Image courtesy of Yelp.

319 Lexington Blvd. | Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam/ pearlharboraviationmuseum.org

Regarded as one of the country’s top aviation attractions, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum offers an in-depth look at the events that occurred during the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. You’ll see an actual World War II aircraft inside a former seaplane hangar from the 1940s. You’ll also see the bullet holes and battle damage to the windows of a historic hangar filled with warbirds, jets, and helicopters.

Spend some time in a flight simulator that lets you experience an aerial dogfight. Those curious about the “Day that will live in infamy” will appreciate the insights offered at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.

“The best aviation museum I’ve ever visited.” — Yelp Review

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Movie Museum

Expand your mind with a great independent, foreign, or classic film!

See foreign and independent films at the Movie Museum. Image courtesy of Yelp.

3566 Harding Ave. | Kaimuki/ kaimukihawaii.com

Not all museums feature galleries full of paintings or ancient artifacts in glass cases. Located in Kaimuki, the Movie Museum offers a state-of-the-art digital projection theater where you can see all sorts of independent, foreign, classic, and contemporary films.

Spend a relaxing day lounging in leather recliner chairs and selecting a film from the Movie Museum’s extensive video rental collection. This is a popular location for movie buffs, so be sure to make a reservation!

“Laid back, comfortable, interesting selection of movies, loads of rentals, unique experience.” — Yelp Review

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John Young Museum of Art

View one of the most extensive exhibits of Asian-Pacific art

The John Young Museum of Art offers a wide array of Asian-Pacific art exhibitions. Image courtesy of Yelp.

2500 Dole St. | Manoa/ hawaii.edu/johnyoung-museum/

A 2000+ square foot complex complete with workshops, galleries, an outdoor courtyard, and even a small research library, the John Young Museum of Art is the venue for Asian-Pacific art exhibitions.

Enjoy an extensive collection of artworks from many lands including Africa, Mesoamerica, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Southeast Asia. Guests of the John Young Museum of Art will gain a whole new perspective on Asian-Pacific culture and history thanks to the illuminating exhibits.

“Will definitely be returning to this spot soon again to view the artwork and take in the relaxing environment!” —Yelp Review

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Hawaii State Art Museum

Enjoy a family-friendly exploration of Hawaiian art and culture!

The Hawaii State Art Museum features a variety of art exhibits by artists connected to Hawaii. Image courtesy of Yelp.

250 S. Hotel Street | Downtown/ hisam.hawaii.gov

Established in 2002, the Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM) seeks to interpret, preserve, and share works of art that express the character of the Hawaiian Islands. As such, you can expect to see exhibits featuring works by artists with a strong connection to Hawaii and its culture. Everything is family-friendly, making it a good place to explore with the kids.

Admission to the museum is free! You can also enjoy high quality local style dishes at the Hawaii State Art Museum café. And be sure to take a piece of Hawaiian culture with you from the Hawaii State Art Museum’s Gallery Shop that features artwork “by artists for artists.”

“Cool building, fun garden, and outdoor sculptures. Diverse contemporary and Hawaiian collections.” — Yelp Review

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