Our Guide: The Best Kids Play Areas at Oʻahu’s Malls
When your keiki get bored shopping, explore a treehouse, jump in water jets, climb up a maze or ride a surf board.
Parents usually try to shop without their keiki. But, sometimes we need to snap up a deal or pick up a last-minute present with a squirming toddler or swinging Tarzan in tow. So, we’ve put together a list of the best free areas where your children can play, or at least let off a little steam, at Oʻahu’s shopping centers.
International Market Place (Waikīkī)
Built around a huge banyan tree, with a flowing fountain and stream, this Waikīkī shopping center is full of places for children to let their imaginations run wild. They can explore Don the Beachcomber’s treehouse and run around tree-top walkways (on the second floor near Kalākaua Avenue) or run around Queen’s Court’s artificial grass and smooth, round granite stone seats. Throughout the shopping center, you can lounge in koa wood rocking chairs and other comfy island-style seats while the little ones play. Families tell us that security guards informed them that the Celestial Pool on the ground floor is not meant for kids to splash in, still, every time we’ve stopped by we have found little ones wading around. The International Marketplace is located at 2330 Kalākaua Ave. The first hour of parking is free with a $10 purchase. $2 for every additional hour for up to three more hours. shopinternationalmarketplace.com.
Ala Moana Center (Honolulu)
The largest open-air shopping center in the world recently got a new play structure. The 20-foot tall, 40-foot wide Luckey Climber is a vertical maze of platforms for little monkeys. You’ll find it on the third level of the Mauka Wing next to the new Target. The climbing structure was inspired by the motion of an ocean wave and is surrounded by a net of vinyl-coated steel cable to keep keiki from falling. There are only four entrances, and the openings in the net are not very big. So, expect traffic jams at peak times. We tried it! See what our kids thought of it here.
Ala Moana Center also has artificial grass mounds to sit or play on along the second floor of the ʻEwa Wing as well as koi ponds. Keiki can play games and ride little rides for a fee at Jungle Fun on the ground floor near Center Stage. Ala Moana Center is located at 1450 Ala Moana Blvd. alamoanacenter.com
Windward Mall (Kāne‘ohe)
Windward Mall has an underwater-themed play area for children 42 inches or shorter in front of Macy’s. The enclosed area has seven climbable plastic sculptures set on a soft floor. Keiki can pose on a surf board, climb in a boat or on a sea turtle or dolphins or slide down a dock. We tried it! See what our keiki thought of it here.
For a fee, there are also small rides around the mall and an 808Bounce with a selection of inflatables on the second floor. Windward Mall is located at 46-056 Kamehameha Highway., Kāneʻohe, windwardmall.com
Ka Makana Aliʻi (Kapolei)
This outdoor mall in Kapolei can get hot. So, bring a change of clothes and let your little ones run through the fountain of water jets near ʻŌlino Theatres. They even have colorful lights in the evening. There’s also an open area with a large, artificial grass lawn that keiki can run around on at Center Court. Ka Makana Aliʻi is located at 91-5431 Kapolei Parkway, Kapolei. kamakanaalii.com.
Royal Hawaiian Center (Waikīkī)
Head to the Royal Grove and play on a large lawn of artificial grass, explore koi ponds and look at statues. Entertainers and hula dancers perform almost daily. Or, when the stage is free, your keiki can jump up and perform for you. The Royal Hawaiian Center also offers free classes to kamaʻāina as well as visitors, including hula, lei-making, lauhala-weaving and ʻukulele lessons. See the full list of programs here or call Helumoa Hale Guest Services for up-to-date information, (808) 922-2299.
The Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is located at 2201 Kalākaua Ave. The first hour of parking is free with a $10 purchase. $2 for every additional hour for up to two more hours. royalhawaiiancenter.com.
Pearlridge Center (‘Aiea)
If your kids get bored at this mall, you can try out the only monorail on the island. The Skycab runs between the Uptown and Downtown phases of the mall and has views of the watercress farm below. Although it’s slow and only lasts a few minutes, it can be a fun $1 distraction from shopping. Pearlridge also has an 808Bounce, where keiki can jump in several inflatables for a fee. Uptown Center Court often features keiki events including a Butterfly Conservatory exhibit, E-magine Fun play zone, CANstruction Competition and visits with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. This area also has seats and space for little ones to move about. You can find more seats and space to stretch on the ground floor in front of Macy’s in Uptown and in front of Sears in the Downtown area. Pearlridge Center is located at 98-1005 Moanalua Road, ʻAiea, pearlridgeonline.com
Kāhala Mall (Kāhala)
Kāhala Mall has a Fun Factory where keiki can play games, win prizes and ride little rides for a fee. In the same area are Thinker Toys and Animation Magic. There are benches down the center of that wing and little ones can toddle around the carpet in air conditioning. At the other end of the mall, near California Pizza Kitchen, are more seats and space. For littlest ones, the most popular event is Toddler Time, which offers interactive stories and activities from partners of the mall every Wednesday, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Toddler Time is on holiday break right now, but will return in January. Kāhala Mall is located at 4211 Waiʻalae Ave. kahalamallcenter.com.