Activity Finds: Downtown

Iolani Palace

Once home to Hawaiian royalty, the ‘Iolani (ee-oh-lah-nee) Palace is the very picture of luxury, innovation and historical intrigue. Today it remains the only palace in the United States that has housed a reigning monarch. Grab lunch to go from your favorite Downtown Honolulu eatery and plan a picnic here on Fridays when the Royal Hawaiian Band performs on the grounds, for a regal treat.

Built in 1882 by "The Merrie Monarch," King David Kalakaua (kah-lah-kow-wah), as a symbol of the Hawaiian kingdom's promise the ‘Iolani Palace featured European architecture including Hawai‘i's first electric light system, flush toilets and intra-house telephones. Two monarchs ruled from beneath its roof - King Kalakaua and his sister, Queen Liliuokalani (lee-lee-ooh-oh-kah-lah-nee) who was imprisoned at the palace until the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893.

The palace was restored and reopened to the public in 1978, and today takes visitors on a tour of the palace's throne room and private living quarters - including the upstairs bedroom where Queen Liliuokalani was imprisoned - and artifacts of Hawaiian regalia including swords and the crowns jewels worn by the king and queen.


Know Before You Go


You can prance through the palace on a guided or self-guided audio tour Tuesday through Saturday.


Grab a bento and plan a picnic -- the Royal Hawaiian Band performs here every Friday, for a royal treat.

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