Category Archives: History

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park
Location: Mariposa, California
Length of visit: half day to multiple days
Major draws: Iconic granite, scenic views, wildlife
Strenuosity: 0 to 6 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $30 per vehicle or free with America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: High elevation, steep trails
Description: Giant sequoia trees, massive waterfalls, and miles of hiking trails make this one of the most heavily-visited National Parks in the world, but it was fairly quiet the week before Thanksgiving.

Fort Bowie National Historic Site

Fort Bowie National Historic Site
Location: east of Wilcox, Arizona
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Ruins of a fort, scenic views
Strenuosity: 3 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: 3-mile roundtrip hike to visitor center
Description: There aren’t any other NPS sites we can think of that require a 1.5-mile one-way hike to access the visitor center, but as a bonus when you arrive you’ve earned an I Hike for Health pin. This fort dates from the Civil War and late-1800s Apache Wars.

Tonto National Monument

Tonto National Monument
Location: Roosevelt Lake, Arizona
Length of visit: 1 hour
Major draws: Ruins, scenic views
Strenuosity: 3 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $5 per adult or free with America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: Steep but short hike to ruins
Description: Not far east of Phoenix is this beautiful cliff dwelling ruin, which makes for a great half day trip and scenic drive past Roosevelt, Apache, and Canyon Lakes.

Dole Pineapple Plantation

Dole Pineapple Plantation
Location: central Oahu, Hawaii
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Pineapple Express train, world’s largest maze, Dole whip dessert
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $7 per adult for maze
Additional considerations: Crowded when tour buses stop
Description: Even on a rainy day we had fun finding the 8 hidden stations in the world’s largest maze. To celebrate we split a Dole whip (pineapple soft serve).

Byodo-In Temple

Byodo-In Temple
Location: Kahalu’u, Oahu, Hawaii
Length of visit: 1 hour
Major draws: Buddhist temple, koi pond
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $3 per adult
Additional considerations: Slapping mosquitoes is not very Zen
Description: Byodo-in Temple is a scale model of a structure in Japan. Set against the steep Ko’olau Range on the wet windward side of Oahu, it is incredibly photogenic.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Kalaupapa National Historical Park
Location: Molokai, Hawaii
Length of visit: half day
Major draws: Scenic views, historic buildings
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $249 per person from Honolulu
Additional considerations: Nobody under age 16 allowed, public only allowed into Kalaupapa while on a guided tour
Description: This isolated peninsula on the island of Molokai was selected as a quarantine zone for those suffering from Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in the 1800s. There are still about 20 patients living here today even though they are no longer forced to segregate from society due to effective medical treatments.

Diamond Head State Monument

Diamond Head State Monument
Location: Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Scenic views, popular trail
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $1 per person walk-ins or $5 per vehicle
Additional considerations: Very limited parking, people jams on trail
Description: Diamond Head is an internationally recognized landmark standing above bustling Waikiki Beach. A continuous line of humanity climbs the 1.5-mile roundtrip trail to the top all day every day.

WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument

WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument
Location: Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii
Length of visit: half day
Major draws: USS Arizona Memorial, submarine, museum
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Free tickets for ferry limited each day
Description: We achieved our goal to witness the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 2016. We also managed to nab two of the limited tickets to ferry out to the USS Arizona Memorial that day where we saw scuba divers preparing to inter two survivors remains on board the ship.

Luau Kalamaku

Luau Kalamaku
Location: Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: 3 hours
Major draws: Food, hula lessons, entertainment, fire twirlers!
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: About $100 per person
Additional considerations:
Description: We chose this luau because it had the best reviews for its entertainment program, which told the story of discovering Kauai from Tahiti through song and dance. The food was great, too, especially the pit roasted pig.

Kauai Backcountry Adventures Tubing

Kauai Backcountry Adventures Tubing
Location: eastern Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: half day
Major draws: Tubing, historic hand-carved tunnels
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: About $100 per person
Additional considerations: Water temperature is invigorating
Description: To get the rainwater from the wettest spot on earth to the sugar plantations below, workers dug miles of irrigation ditches and tunnels by hand. Now it’s a really fun not-so-lazy river.