Stroll around downtown, the heart of Hilo, with dapper historical buildings, unique shops and a variety of eateries. On Wednesday and Saturday, the Hilo Farmers Market will be teeming. Visit the Pacific Tsunami Museum for a sense of Hilo's true grit. In the afternoon, pack a picnic or pick up a poke bowl at Suisan Fish Market and leisurely explore the picturesque Japanese gardens of Lili‘uokalani Park. End you day with dinner at Hilo Bay Cafe, a foodie favorite for gourmet locavore dining.
Next morning head to Richardson's Ocean Park for a beach day. Got little kids? Opt for the safe shallow pools at Onekahakaha Beach. In the afternoon, visit Lyman Museum & Mission House for a primer on geology, ancient Hawai‘i and plantation life. (Don't miss the two antique shops across the street.) For dinner, head to Restaurant Kenichi for delicious local-style Japanese food or, for a fancier night out, to Jackie Rey's Ohana Grill, in a classy historical building downtown.
On day three, walk along the Hilo Bayfront Trails in the morning and then later visit ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i, especially if heading to Mauna Kea. Finally, stop at Big Island Candies for scrumptious gifts (or splurge-worthy snacks for the road).