Honolulu Museum of Art: The downtown section of the museum is on Beretania Street, built on the site of Charles and Anna Cooke’s home, the couple that began the collection. The building itself is an architectural landmark from the 1920s, the work of Bertram Goodhue and Hardie Phillip. Collections include Hawaiian, American, European, and Japanese and other Asian art. There are always special exhibits around which to plan a trip. The museum is generally open Tuesday through Sunday (check for hours). The price of admission also includes entry to the Spalding House section of the museum.
Washington Place: Now serving as the state’s Governor’s Mansion, Washington Place was built in the 1840s by the Dominis family. Queen Liliuokalani married into the Dominis family and lived here both before she became Queen and after she was deposed. This beautiful Greek Revival mansion is across the street from the State Capitol building. Public tours are available on Thursdays. You must reserve a tour by filling out the online form.
Cathedral of St. Andrew: The Cathedral is the seat of the Episcopal Bishop of Hawai’i. King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma gave part of their royal garden for the site of the building. The King translated the Book of Common Prayer into Hawaiian in preparation for the first Bishop being consecrated at Lambeth in 1861. The church has been holding worship services since 1862. The French Gothic building has beautiful stone from France and Oahu and is filled with art treasures from its lifetime. Be sure to take time to study the Great West Window. Completed in 1958, it’s a memorable mixture of Biblical and Hawaiian history, including the first Anglican Bishop of Hawaii, King Kamehameha IV with Queen Emma, and Jesus walking on water with his surfboard. The Memorial Building to the side of the Cathedral contains the lovely Parke Chapel with its vaulted wood ceiling. [Fans of Magnum, P.I. will recognize it immediately.] Out front is a contemporary water feature with St. Andrew and dolphins.
Foster Botanical Garden: Honolulu and Oahu have many wonderful botanical gardens. The oldest is the Foster garden, downtown near Beretania and the H1. The garden is an amazing quiet space in the bustle of Honolulu with trees dating back to 1850. Tropical plants, a commerce garden (spices and dyes), and ferns and cycads round out the collection. Named for Mary and Thomas Foster, the garden is open every day but Christmas and New Year’s. Tours are offered at 1 pm. The self-guided tour is a great option using the visitor map.
Chinatown: This Historic District is one of the oldest in the US. It’s home to all kinds of markets, temples, and the best lei shops in the city. Chinatown is also being rejuvenated with lots of bars, restaurants, and First Friday art walks. Two terrible fires in the past destroyed Chinatown. [The story of one of them is the climax of the movie The Hawaiians (1970).] Our favorite lei shop is Cindy’s on Maunakea Street. We visit 2 or 3 times when we are on Oahu to get tuberose, ginger, hala, and cigar flower leis for ourselves, family, and friends.
Aloha Tower: This is one of the icons of Hawaii. The tower is at Pier 9, a central dock area for cruise ships, and was finished in 1926. Today it is surrounded by a casual shopping marketplace along with the bookstore and a dorm for Hawaii Pacific University.
Grabbing a bite
The Honolulu Museum of Art Café is open air in the courtyard in the center of the museum. It is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday. A Coffee Bar is also available.
Little Village Noodle House is well known in Honolulu. The menu has many Chinese favorites along with some you might not have tried. They are open for lunch and dinner.
Lucky Belly is open for lunch 11am to 2 pm and for dinner 5pm to midnight Monday through Saturday. Lucky Belly is a modern Asian-fusion bistro in Chinatown where you can find bao, ramen, kimchi, and oxtails.
Highway Inn is open 7 days a week, check the website for exact times. The Kaka’ako location on Ala Moana Boulevard is near downtown. This is the place for “ono local kine grindz”, with a diner feel welcoming to both kama’aina and malahini (visitors.) The open kitchen lets you watch taro preparation and poi pounding. There are plenty of options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, from kalua pork, pipi beef stew, and poke to veggie omelets and hamburgers.
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, part of the national beer pub chain, is in the Aloha Tower Marketplace. Salads, pasta, tacos and burgers are all available for lunch and dinner.
- The art museum is at 900 South Beretania Street. From Waikiki, take Ala Wai Boulevard to McCully. Continue north and turn left on Beretania Street, 2 blocks before the H1. The museum has a parking lot about a block before the museum, on the left hand side of the street near the Good Will store. There is also on-street meter parking. The #2 bus also stops in front of the museum.
- Washington Place is at 320 South Beretania Street. From Waikiki, you can take the Number 1 or Number 2 bus to Beretania and Punchbowl Streets. If you’ve rented a car, bring change with you for parking. You can find short-term street parking near the State Capitol (Punchbowl Street). See the link below for more parking options.
- The Cathedral’s address is 229 Queen Emma Square, on the corner of South Beretania and Alakea. There are some visitor spaces in the church parking lot. Buses 2, 13, 19, and 20 make stops in front of the State Capitol, a short walk away.
- The Foster Botanical Garden’s address is 180 North Vineyard Boulevard. There is a fairly large parking lot. Or take buses 2 or 13 from Waikiki to Liliha and Vineyard.
- Chinatown stretches between River Street and Bethel Street. Beretania Street passes through it. We always use the parking deck on Maunakea Street near Cindy’s Lei Shop, though there are many other choices. Buses 2 and 13 also go to Chinatown Cultural Plaza Shopping Center.
- Aloha Tower has a pay parking lot. You can get there from Waikiki on Buses 19 or 20.
- Honolulu Museum of Art
- Washington Place Foundation
- Cathedral of St. Andrew
- Foster Botantical Garden from Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation
- Click on Chinatown, Mini Tour for a map of things to see.
- First Friday Honolulu
- Cindy’s Lei Shop
- Aloha Tower Marketplace
- Downtown Honolulu parking from Parkopedia
- The Bus information for Honolulu
Let’s talk story
Honolulu is such a vibrant, busy city. I love the sea and the mountains. I also love that art museums, cathedrals, and historic sites are also there to enjoy!
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