Pearl Harbor Visitor Center

1 Arizona Memorial Place
Honolulu HI 96701
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On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the U.S. military bases at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, thus instigating America's entry into World War II. The USS Arizona was sunk with 1177 lives lost, and the battleship has remained in Pearl Harbor's waters ever since. In 1962, a memorial commemorating the tragedy was opened to the public, and it's since become one of Honolulu's top visitor attractions. What's now called the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center was last remodeled and modernized in 2010, but the heart of the experience remains the boat ride that takes you to the memorial; a long white structure that's moored above the sunken ship, and features an entry room, assembly room, and shrine, with the names of everyone who lost their lives on the ship. The grounds of the Visitor Center also have other exhibits and plenty of places from which to survey "Battleship Row."

How to get to Pearl Harbor Visitor Center
Numerous tour companies and shuttles offer trips to Pearl Harbor. For public transportation via TheBus, take route 20 or 42. From Waikiki by car, go west on H1 to exit 15A, the Arizona Memorial/Stadium exit, and follow the signs.

Best and worst times to go to Pearl Harbor Visitor Center
Crowds are lighter earlier in the day. Much of the Center is outdoors, so this isn't a good "rainy day" option. If it's a special occasion — the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7 for example — it will be a lot more crowded.

Admission to Pearl Harbor Visitor Center
The main attraction is the boat launch to the sunken Arizona, and tickets are free. Walk up tickets are available on a first come, first served basis. Tickets can also be reserved up to two months in advance, either online or by calling (877) 444-6777. The Visitor Center is open from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Must see/do at Pearl Harbor Visitor Center
Don't miss the two exhibit galleries, which feature a lot of interesting information. Be sure to take at a look at the Arizona's bell and anchor, which are mounted on the grounds. Audio tours are also available, and you can find one of a kind souvenirs at the book store.

Other places to visit near Pearl Harbor Visitor Center
You can delve even deeper into World War II's history at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, which is part of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. You can also buy tickets for the USS Missouri Memorial tour and the Pacific Aviation Museum at the Visitor Center; shuttle buses then take you to each attraction.

Insider tip for visitors to Pearl Harbor Visitor Center
Bags of any size are not allowed on site. So make sure you're wearing something with pockets, where you can keep your wallet and camera. Bag storage is available, for a fee.

Author's bio: Gillian G. Gaar is a Seattle-based freelancer who writes about music, entertainment, and travel. Hawaii is one of her favorite destinations.