Old and new, quaint and hip, they magically meld in the county seat of Hilo. The Big Isle’s long-time eastside hub has a bustling downtown with historic storefronts housing mom and pop shops, galleries and restaurants. Park and poke around—don’t miss the colorful Hilo Farmers Market at Kamehameha Avenue and Mamo Street. Hilo is also home base for Panaewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens, the nation’s only natural tropical rainforest zoo, plus edible island favorites such as Big Island Candies and Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts—yum!

Expand your mind with island history and science found at Lyman Museum and Mission House, Imiloa Astronomy Center and Mokupapapa Discovery Center. Natural beauty abounds at Rainbow Falls, the Boiling Points and Liliuokalani Park and Gardens. Further afield, explore the cool interior of Kaumana Caves off Highway 200 or get lost at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.

Photo: Harry Durgin

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