Built in the early 1880s, 'Iolani Palace is a graceful Italian Renaissance structure and America's only royal palace which was home to Hawaii's last two rulers. When American businessmen overthrew the monarchy, they used the palace as the capitol until 1969; after it was vacated by the state government, restoration was begun. These days, three of the building's four floors are open to tours, and visitors can glimpse the ornate throne room, koa-wood staircase, and a wealth of plasterwork and elaborate furnishings.
Iolani Palace — Photo courtesy of Kate Ure
You'll no doubt recognize the names King Kalakaua and his sister, Queen Liliuokalani, if not before then after your trip. This was their home until the overthrow, and eventually the queen was imprisoned inside after the political upheaval, and the palace today is a meaningful cultural element for Hawaiians. Amazing antique jewels and artifacts are available for viewing in the galleries. Guided tours are not open to children under 5 (they are allowed in the gallery tour). Reservations are strongly recommended for guided tours no matter the day of the week.
Palace interior — Photo courtesy of Coconut Wireless
This is one of just two museums to visit in Honolulu and shouldn't be missed. Visitors can also book the palace to hold weddings, luncheons, galas and other celebratory and social events.