Honolulu: Downtown, Chinatown & Fun For Kids

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SEE Hawaii State Art Museum
No. 1 Capitol District Building, 250 S. Hotel St., 2nd Fl., 808/586-9958, state.hi.us/sfca
Opened in 2002, the museum exhibits the work of Hawaii's best contemporary artists. As elsewhere in Honolulu, the islands' rich mix of cultures is apparent, from Japanese-style embroidery to traditional folk art. Free. Closed Sun.-Mon.


SEE First Friday Honolulu
808/521-2903, chinatownhi.com/firstfri.asp
On the first Friday of every month, art galleries, artists' studios, and boutique shops stay open until 9 p.m. Live music and free pupus (snacks) in the galleries and on the streets. The ARTS at Marks Garage (1159 Nuuanu Ave., 808/521-2903, artsatmarks.com) ignited the arts revival in the neighborhood, and it's the best place to start.

SEE Hotel Street
Between Bethel and Smith Sts.
A notorious strip lined with bars and brothels during World War II. Smith's Union Bar (19 N. Hotel St., 808/538-9145) is the last vestige of the area's seedy past. These days, hipsters head to thirtyninehotel (39 N. Hotel St., 808/599-2552, thirtyninehotel.com) where Honolulu's best DJs spin. The brand-new Next Door (43 N. Hotel St., whoisnextdoor.com) hosts Chinatown's independent film fest every summer, as well as edgy films and music acts year round.

SEE Kuan Yin Temple
170 N. Vineyard Blvd., 808/533-6361
A Buddhist temple dedicated to Kuan Yin bodhisattva, the goddess of mercy. Leave your shoes outside, bring a gift of fruit or flowers to place on the altar, or burn "paper money" for prosperity. On feast days there are vendors outside the temple; otherwise, buy the fruit and funny money in the shops nearby.

Maunakea St., between N. Beretania and King Sts.
Locals buy leis as gifts to celebrate occasions-birthdays, graduations-and to welcome special visitors. You'll smell the flowers long before you actually see the tiny stores with open doors that line this street. Simple flower strands with purple orchids or sweet-smelling ginger are a good bet at $5; more intricately woven creations can cost $25 or more.

SHOP Viet Hoa
162 N. King St., 808/523-5499
An Asian herb shop where the walls are lined with tiny drawers filled with dried flowers, ground-up roots, and who knows what else. Consult with the herbalist about what ails you and you'll get a prescription on the spot.

SEE Hawaii Theatre
1130 Bethel St., 808/528-0506, hawaiitheatre.com
Concerts, opera, dance, theater, and even the occasional hula contest (buy tickets online, from $10). Tours of the historic art deco theater-which was completely restored in 1996-are given on most Tuesdays at 11 a.m. $5.


SEE Honolulu Theatre for Youth
2846 Ualena St., 808/839-9885, htyweb.org
Hour-long plays suitable for all ages. Musubi Man, Hawaii's answer to the Gingerbread Man story, was a recent hit. Performances take place all over the island. Buy tickets online or over the phone; from $16 adults, $8 kids.

PLAY Honolulu Zoo Twilight Tours
151 Kapahulu Ave., 808/971-7171, honoluluzoo.org
Guided tours of the zoo after sunset let visitors see the nocturnal animals come out and play. Every Saturday in summer, and one Saturday a month (near the full moon) during the rest of the year, 5:30-7:30 p.m.; $12 adults, $8 kids. "Snooze in the Zoo" throws in dinner, breakfast, s'mores around the campfire, and an overnight under the stars (bring your own tent and sleeping bag). $39, ages 4 and up.

PLAY Pineapple Garden Maze
Dole Plantation, 64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy., Wahiawa, 808/621-8408, dole-plantation.com
Made up of more than 11,000 plants (including pineapple and hibiscus), the Dole maze made Guinness's list in 2001 as the world's largest ($5 adults, $3 kids). To see the rest of the grounds, hop aboard the Pineapple Express train for a 20-minute narrated ride ($7.50/$5.50) or take a self-guided tour of the gardens ($3.75/$3).

SPLURGE Polynesian Cultural Center
55-370 Kamehamaha Hwy, Laie, 800/367-7060, polynesia.com
Learn to crack open a coconut or throw a Tongan spear at this 42-acre cultural theme park offering crafts, music, food tastings, and interactive activities from seven Polynesian islands: Hawaii, New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, Marquesas, Tonga, and Samoa. Arrive when the doors open at noon to avoid the crowds, and plan for at least a two-hour visit. Skip the dinner luau and pay only for general admission: $36 adults, $25 kids. A full-day pass including night show is $50 adults, $34 kids, or $65/$49 with transportation from Waikiki.

SPLURGE Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park
400 Farrington Hwy., Kapolei, 808/674-9283, hawaiianwaters.com
Twenty-five acres of wave pools, slides, inner-tube flumes, and swimming pools. Da' FlowRider creates a constant set of waves so surfers and boogie boarders can hang 10 all day long. Adults $35, kids $25.

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