Every town has its story but Lahaina has histories – centuries of history that have helped shape it and keep it vibrant. If you’re thinking you’ve seen it all, you may not be aware of these special places that happen to be free to explore. Some are hidden gems and others are right in front of you, if you know where to look. Here are the Top 5 Free Things to Do in Lahaina to get your fix on history:

5) Pioneer Mill Co. Smokestack & Locomotives – This outdoor exhibit on Lahainaluna Road on the mountainside of Honoapi‘ilani Highway is open everyday from sunrise to sunset. The two locomotives, “Lahaina” and “Launiupoko” were actually used by the Pioneer Mill Co. to haul sugar cane stalks from the field to the mill. The iconic smokestack can be seen from miles away but up close you can read the names of people and families involved in over 100 years of sugar plantation life. Interpretive signs around the antique mill and cane field equipment tell the story. Learn more

4) Plantation Museum – Tucked away on the top floor of The Wharf Cinema Center is a museum that complements the Pioneer Mill exhibit. This small but well arranged museum features family heirlooms, home appliances and tools from plantation camps in Lahaina as well as a poignant video, “The Last Harvest.” Check out the wall of black & white photos depicting the pineapple and sugar plantation lifestyle in the early 20th century. Open daily from 9 am to 6 pm. Learn more

3) Hale Pa‘ahao/Lahaina Prison & Botanical Garden – Behind the imposing coral block wall at the corner of Prison and Waine‘e Streets is a real gem:  the beautiful botanical garden and cool, shady lawn of the Stuck-in-Irons House, or the Lahaina Prison. Not only can you see what a whaling era cellblock looked like, you can also get the real story of what it was like in the old calaboose by a jailed sailor, and learn what kind of “crimes” would put you there. Take a stroll around the yard and read the botanical signs in front of the many trees, flowering shrubs and medicinal plants, then read the adventure story behind the whale boat on display in the yard. Open daily from 10 am to 4 pm. Learn more

2) Old Lahaina Courthouse/Lahaina Heritage Museum – Standing regally in Banyan Tree Park between Front, Hotel, Wharf and Canal Streets is the grand dame of historic buildings, Old Lahaina Courthouse, one of many repurposed buildings in Lahaina yet perhaps the one with the most varied and colorful history. From jail cells in the basement to the former Post Office on the main floor and old courthouse on the second floor, this structure is full of artworks, historic photography, interactive exhibits and interesting Lahaina Heritage Museum, which tell the story of Lahaina through the centuries to today. The entire building is open everyday from 9 am to 5 pm. Learn more

1) Ala Hele Mo‘olelo O Lahaina/Lahaina Historic Trail – Lahaina has identified 65 significant sites, museums and buildings that represent the history and culture of the town over a period of 600 years. These sites are marked by interpretive signs standing along Front Street and its environs and wall plaques on Front Street’s distinctive buildings. Large maps installed in wooden kiosks show the trail and site markers. Explore the trail at your leisure, or pick up a fold-out brochure with map in the Lahaina Visitor Center and at Lahaina Restoration Foundation museum locations, and plan your route. Learn more