Best of HONOLULU Family 2020: PLAY

Our readers’ and editors’ picks for family playdates in Honolulu.


Best Behind-The-Scenes Program


Photo: Jennifer Carlile Dalgamouni

HTY On Stage Workshops

Approachable, fun-loving and talented, the actors and actresses of Honolulu Theatre for Youth are like rock stars to keiki of Oʻahu. What better way to join the party than at an HTY On Stage Workshop hosted by cast members themselves? The workshops take place on the same weekends as performances and immerse kids in acting lessons and backstage tours. When HTY temporarily closed due to the stay-at-home order, the theater’s cast and crew immediately went to work creating funny videos called, “The HI Way.” Kids were able to watch livestream performances at home on TV, on Facebook and on HTY’s website. How’s that for reaching out to young fans?

Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Tenney Theatre, 229 Queen Emma Square, (808) 839-9885.


Best Way to Spend a Starry Night


Illustration: Getty Images

Public Star Parties by the Hawaiian Astronomical Society

How do you explain globular clusters and nebulae to your kids? (Confession: We tried, but to no avail.) That’s why we take our kids to Public Star Parties hosted by the Hawaiian Astronomical Society, a friendly group of amateur astronomers who love sharing their knowledge with keiki. The monthly stargazing parties take place in open parks on weekend evenings in ‘Ewa Beach, Kāhala and Mokulē‘ia. All you do is show up with a picnic dinner and jackets for your family in case nighttime temperatures dip. The society provides telescopes, stargazing equipment and everything else. After two months of the stay-at-home mandate, star parties are a perfect way for keiki to reconnect with the outside world.

Parties are held one Saturday a month,

See also: 🏆 Best of HONOLULU Family 2020: EAT

Best Place to Experience Cultural Activities


Photo: Courtesy of Polynesian Cultural Center

Polynesian Cultural Center

Where on Oʻahu can kids throw spears and start fires, learn the Maori haka, watch a 3D movie about the Hawaiian islands, and meet friendly ambassadors from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Aotearoa, Tahiti and Hawaiʻi? That’s the beauty of Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC), a 42-acre park in the North Shore town of Lā‘ie. The center is known for “Hā: Breath of Life,” a theatrical production featuring 100 singing-dancing cast members, animation and special effects. For food and shopping, there is adjacent Hukilau Marketpace, a restaurant and retail center resembling old-town Lā‘ie in the 1950s.

55-370 Kamehameha Highway, Lā‘ie, 1-800-367-7060, and

Best Amusement Center


Kids learn the “tinikling,” a traditional Filipino dance using bamboo sticks. Photo: David Croxford

Children’s Discovery Center of Hawaiʻi

Adults raising kids in Honolulu remember their own childhood visits to the Children’s Discovery Center of Hawaiʻi, which has evolved over the years to appeal to a new generation of keiki. What we love about the center is that it promotes local values that run strong in Hawaiʻi’s families: environmental preservation, cultural sensitivity, respect for elders and history, community-mindedness, healthy lifestyles, and much more! In addition to year-round classes for kids, the center is noted for its Keiki Swap Meet, held three times a year to encourage children to own and run their own businesses.

111 ʻOhe St.Honolulu(808)

Finalist: Bishop Museum. 1525 Bernice St., (808) 847-3511.




Best Annual Pass Value

WINNER: Wet’n’Wild Hawaiʻi. 400 Farrington Highway, Kapolei, (808) 674-9283.

Finalist: Honolulu Zoo. 151 Kapahulu Ave., (808) 971-7171.


Best Family-Affordable Getaway

WINNER: Hilton Hawaiian Village. 2005 Kalia Road, (808) 949-4321.

Finalist: Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa. 92-1185 Aliʻinui Drive, Kapolei, (866) 443-4763.


Best Pau Hana With Kids

WINNER: Moku Kitchen. Salt at Our Kakaʻako, 660 Ala Moana Boulevard, Suite 145, (808) 591-6658.

Finalist: Dave & Buster’s. 1030 Auahi St., (808) 589-2215.


Best Family-Friendly Hotel

WINNER: Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa. 92-1185 Aliʻinui Drive, Kapolei, (866) 443-4763.

Finalist: Hilton Hawaiian Village. 2005 Kalia Road, (808) 949-4321.