Find fun things to See & Do in Historic Downtown Hilo!
Historic Hilo Walking Tour
Explore downtown Hilo’s historic center while strolling to 21 significant landmarks in 6 square blocks.View the walking tour online, or pick up a copy of the walking tour brochure at the Destination Hilo kiosk.
View the Map
If you’re new to Hilo, start your visit with a stop at the Destination Hilo kiosk next to the Mo’oheau Bus Station. Helpful Aloha Ambassadors can provide you with information on accommodations, activities, and dining in East Hawai’i, as well as maps, brochures, and bus schedules. Destination Hilo strives to perpetuate authentic Hawaiian experiences for visitors through its Greetings and other programs. http://www.destinationhilo.com/about/about-destination-hilo/
Hilo Farmers Market
Hilo’s world-famous farmers market runs 7 days a week; on Wednesdays and Saturdays over 200 vendors fill 2 blocks with locally grown and prepared fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants, baked goods, honey, coffee, specialty foods, crafts, clothing, and gift items. An exotic sensory overload of colors, smells, tastes… From dawn till it’s gone, at the corner of Mamo Street and Kamehameha Avenue. http://hilofarmersmarket.com/
Hilo’s town square for over a century. Hilo became a visiting place of King Kalākaua, who ruled from 1874 to 1891 and designed the first county complex at this. The park contains a sundial bearing the inscription: “This sundial was erected in the Fourth Year of the reign of King Kalākaua, A.D. 1877, Hilo, Hawai`i.” The trees in the park were planted during the King’s time, making them over one hundred years old today. The park also contains a memorial inscribed with the names of the dead from Hawai`i Island from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
The Historic Palace Theater
The art deco-style Palace Theater was built and opened in 1925, originally part of a small chain of theaters owned and operated by Adam C. Baker. The “stadium” seating was a new innovation that gave customers unobstructed sight lines and created room for a spacious lobby in its limited property size. Today this historic theater, restored after heavy damage suffered in the 1960 tsunami, is a popular venue for concerts, stage plays, musicals, film festivals, movies, gatherings, and celebrations; providing Hilo’s residents and visitors with a full artistic menu.
Between 1863 and 1890 a landing wharf and U.S. Coast Guard lighthouse were built at the foot of Waiānuenue Avenue. Passengers and freight were transported to steamers anchored in the bay. Legends note that the site served as a campground and favorite surfing spot for King Kamehameha I, and is where Hilo town earned its name. As Kamehameha set off from Kaipalaoa, he left his servants to stand watch over his canoe. As time passed, they became worried for his safety. They made a rope by twisting ti leaves together, and left the canoe. Such twisting is called ‘hilo.’ They found Kamehameha, unharmed. At first angered that his men did not watch the canoe, Kamehameha was surprised that they knew how to make such a rope and declared that this place be called Hilo.
Pacific Tsunami Museum
Featuring exhibits to promote tsunami education and preserve history, and to share deep insights into Hilo’s past. Hilo experienced two major Tsunamis in the last century; in 1946 and 1960, reshaping the social and economic structure of the Hilo community. The Museum serves as a living memorial to those who lost their lives in past tsunami events. Photo archives display before, during, and after pictures of the destruction and of Hilo town as it once was.
Mokupāpapa Discovery Center
Housed in Hilo’s historic, century old Koehnen Building, Mokupāpapa features a 3,500 gallon saltwater aquarium, interactive educational exhibits, life-size models of wildlife found in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, artwork inspired by those islands and Hawaiian culture, and many interpretive panels in both Hawaiian and English. The beauty of the historic Koehnen building has been preserved and refreshed to show off its majesty, including a koa wood staircase, Hawaiian hardwood floors, and high ceilings. Admittance is free.
Lyman Museum and Mission House
The Smithsonian-affiliated Lyman Museum highlights Native Hawaiian culture, island geology and volcanoes, sea shells, minerals and gemstones, as well as the unique array of natural habitats and diverse cultural groups that make up today’s Hawai`i. The adjacent Mission House is the oldest frame structure on the island, a masterwork of 19th-century craftsmanship and décor, and may be seen by guided tour. Built in the late 1830s, it was built by David and Sarah Lyman, missionaries from New England.
East Hawai`i Cultural Center/Hawai`i Museum of Contemporary Art
Located across from Kalakaua Square in the old courthouse building, the center provides programs including Hawaiian culture, hula, and language classes; live music, drama, and dance; and exhibitions of local and international artists.