Visiting Pearl Harbor includes dealing with some heavy themes that some parents may worry are too much for their kids. From the losses suffered that day to the war that followed, it can difficult for younger minds to fully comprehend, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get the most out of a visit to Pearl Harbor. You’ll find there’s plenty to do and see at Pearl Harbor for kids.
While some elements such as the USS Arizona Memorial can be challenging, there is much to be explored that any child’s mind would be fascinated by.
The Pacific Aviation Museum
Arguably the most kid-friendly attraction to be found at Pearl Harbor, the Pacific Aviation Museum invites children of all ages to explore the world of military aviation. Don’t let the word “museum” lead you to believe this is a stuffy display of war memorabilia. It’s two hangars filled with aircraft from throughout the history of aerial warfare.
Though the planes always draw the attention of kids, they also can’t get enough of the Combat Flight Simulator. They’ll jump into the cockpit of a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat that’s been converted to allow for an interactive flight simulation. Wannabe pilots can choose between an F4U Corsair, A6M Zero, P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustang, or the Ki-61 Tony and take to one of two different scenarios.
The museum is also known for presenting educational activities that promote learning about military aviation.
The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park
While the Pacific Aviation Museum turns their attention to the skies, the Bowfin submarine will direct their attention to the depths of the ocean. The museum contains a fine assortment of submarine-related materials and artifacts, but it’s the Bowfin herself that will likely enthrall them.
Children above the age of four get the opportunity to climb aboard a real US Navy submarine and experience the cramped quarters on board. Once inside, they learn about how a submarine works and how the crew keeps her running.
The museum even offers a Junior Submariner program for kids from 5-16 years old, with age-appropriate worksheets that, when completed, earn them an iron-on patch.
The audio tour is offered in two versions, adult- and family-oriented.
Any child with an interest in boats and submarines will marvel at the sheer size of the vessel dubbed the “Pearl Harbor Avenger.”
The Battleship Missouri
Probably the most uplifting element of the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, the USS Missouri served as the place where representatives of the Empire of Japan signed the surrender documents that ended World War II.
Like the Bowfin, kids can explore all over the ship to see the inner workings of a real World War II-era US Navy battleship.
There is so much at Pearl Harbor for kids to see and do, and not all of it is somber and tragic. While the attack and the devastation that stemmed from it can be felt throughout the harbor, these points of interest tone down the horrors of the 1941 attack for a great introduction to the historic naval base that every kid can enjoy.