5 Inspiring Places for Family Art Adventures in Honolulu
Amp up the excitement for art appreciation with these hands-on, larger-than-life outings across O‘ahu.
OK, we’ll be the first to say it: Art can be boring for kids. Quiet museums, “no touching” signs and abstract subjects are barriers to discovering the joy of art. So how can we keep our keiki engaged? Our answer: Learn by doing and moving! Turn the stuffy museum stereotype on its head and venture out to explore these active ideas for artistic excursions around the island.
1. Spectacular Street Art
Get their blood pumping and minds ticking with a scavenger hunt to spot kid-friendly murals. First up, the mecca of street art, Kaka‘ako. Each year Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i artists paint this neighborhood from curb to canopy with colorful, evocative art. Kids will especially appreciate the superhero standouts: Hulk, Spider-Man and Captain America on Cooke Street between Halekauwila Street and Ala Moana Boulevard. Then take a turn onto Auahi Street to spot the life-size singing alien robot mural at Lana Lane.
Next, venture over to Mō‘ili‘ili to gaze at the new mural at Old Stadium Park (2237 S. King St.), which depicts the history of the neighborhood. The intense colors, youthful faces, racing cars and baseball references will appeal to keiki, though they may be distracted by the newly refurbished play structure nearby.
Another stop on the hunt is the hidden rainbow tunnel in Mililani. This pedestrian access tunnel under Kamehameha Highway just west of the Mililani High School track and field has been transformed into a colorful cave of wonder. Kids can stretch their legs and check out who has the loudest echo.
What to know: Get your camera ready, because all of these spots offer Instagram-worthy photo ops (as long as your family cooperates). Hitting the pavement is hot, tiring business, so you may need to bribe the kids with a hydration stop at fan favorite Waiola Shave Ice (2135 Waiola St.), conveniently located a block from Old Stadium Park.
2. Parents Night Out Workshops at KidzArt Windward
We can’t tell who gets more excited about this monthly evening drop-off program—parents or kids. The art class-meets-pizza party allows kids ages 3 and up to get creative while parents enjoy a night out on the town (Kailua town, that is). Get your craft brew on at Maui Brewing Co. or Lanikai Brewing Co. while your little Picassos are crafting the night away on projects such as designing a fedora hat, making a puppet or weaving macramé planter pots. With pizza, Capri Sun and pajamas, when 9 p.m. rolls around, your keiki won’t be ready to leave.
What to know: The art room with double sliding glass doors and lānai opening onto lawn areas gives kids space to be inspired and parents peace of mind about airflow and social distancing. Hot tip: Secure your date nights for the rest of the year (August-December) and earn a discount. Also, ask about the sibling discount!
Parents Night Out Workshops are the third Friday of each month. $58 per child for a drop-in or $275 per child for all five events this fall. St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, 93 N. Kainalu Drive, Kailua, (808) 354-5905, kidzart.com, @kidzartwindward
3. Sculpture Garden at the Hawai‘i State Art Museum
A small oasis tucked into the back of the museum, the Sculpture Garden offers a refreshing contrast to the bustle of downtown and the serious feel of the museum’s interior exhibits. The playful sculptures prove that art can be relatable, and even humorous. Kids will laugh at the mashup sculpture, “Mr. Chickenpants,” which stands in the center of the garden. Animal lovers will be drawn to “Jax Bench,” a sculpture of three dogs standing guard. For keiki who would enjoy (almost) defying the laws of physics, “walk” on water at the “Waikui” sculpture, a glass installment representing the YMCA swimming pool that once was there.
What to know: Take advantage of the three picnic tables in the garden as a serene snack spot. The afternoon shade makes it an ideal post-school hangout location complete with artificial grass and plenty of steppingstones for jumping and exploring.
4. Pottery Painting at Clay Café Hawai‘i
From sloths and unicorns to fighter jets and jewelry boxes, keiki will relish selecting an unpainted ceramic piece, planning a design and painting their own project from start to finish. Parents can even get in on the fun with dozens of useful bowls, platters and mugs to dress up. The price is determined by the size of the clay piece you select and includes a two-hour work session with paint, tools, glazing and kiln firing. Return in seven to 10 days to pick up your finished piece. Take your design to the next level by blowing paint bubbles with a straw, splattering color on with a toothbrush or transferring a favorite picture onto your piece.
What to know: “Café” is in the name for a reason. Keiki can get just as creative with their own custom smoothie to sip while they work. And, in case you were wondering, the paint (and smoothies) will wash out of their clothes!
Prices range from $16 for small figurines to $30 for mugs to $130 for large platters. Recommended for ages 7 and up. Reservations are required. McCully Shopping Center, 1960 Kapi‘olani Blvd., unit 208, (808) 589-1808, claycafehawaii.com, @claycafehawaii
5. Messy Monster Art Club at Kroc Center Hawai‘i
Do you have a messy monster at home? Keep your keiki creative (and keep the mess out of your home) with this parent participation class. Kids 3 to 10 years old socialize as they learn new songs and activities each month, and tackle seasonal-themed craft projects. If you’d rather join virtually, you can pick up all the craft supplies in advance and log in to the class from home.
What to know: Artists from 5 to 10 years old can dive into painting, drawing, and sculpture in clay at the Center’s Art Explorations class, which runs on Saturdays from Sept. 11 to Oct. 16, 2021.
Messy Monsters Art Club is offered one Friday every month from 4 to 5 p.m. $5 for members and $10 for nonmembers. 91-3257 Kualaka‘i Parkway, ‘Ewa Beach, (808) 682-5505, kroccenterhawaii.org, @kroccenterhi