Free For All


Feeding the ducks and fishing at Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden: one of our favorite free activities. 

Can you believe November is here already here? To me, that means the holiday season is officially upon us, even though stores have had their Christmas trees up for weeks already. And to me, this also means a tighter budget—all those holiday gifts aren’t going to buy themselves. With my wallet already quivering in fear over the next two months, this means our family fun time had better be cheap. And by cheap, I mean FREE. Lucky for us, on Oahu we have plenty of free entertainment, even beyond the beach. Here’s a list of my favorite go-to family fun spots when I can’t spend a dime. The best things in life are free, right?

Free admission days
My family absolutely loves exploring Bishop Museum, and we always try to take advantage of their free admission days. The next one will be on December 16 to celebrate Bernice Pauahi Bishop’s birthday. For more info, click here.
The third Sunday of every month, the Honolulu Museum of Art has the Bank of Hawaii Family Sunday, with free admission. The next one will be November 18, with a “swords and thrones” medieval theme. Click here for more info.

Oahu Urban Garden Center
I recently visited the Children’s Garden (see the blog here), which amazed my kids. Admission is always free, but this Saturday, in honor Arbor Day, you’ll also get a free tree! Select from plants, fruit trees, or shade trees while supplies last. The experts will help you pick one best for you, and you’ll get a free planting guide. Click here for more info on the Garden Center, and here for more info on Arbor Day events.

Library Storytimes
I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for a book. I’m too much of a cheapskate to buy children’s books at the store, when the library is a perfectly good treasure trove. Plus, it’s more fun for everyone. My kids can pick whatever they want, I don’t have to say “no” to anything, and I don’t spend a cent. Well, that is, except for that time my son tore all the pages out. I had to pay for that. They also offer lots of free children’s story times. For more info, click here.

Fishing at Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden
This gorgeous spot offers free catch-and-release fishing every weekend. I had a recent not-so-successful fishing trip there (you can read about that misadventure here) but we had a blast nonetheless. Even if you don’t fish, it’s a beautiful place for relaxing and picnicking. For more info, click here.

Play Tourist
OK, I’ll fully admit that sometimes we cruise the hotels and resorts just for fun. (And not as a paying guest. Sorry, hotels and resorts.) One of my kids’ favorites is to watch the dolphins at the Kahala Resort. We’ve also checked out the aquarium and roaming Disney characters at Aulani, and the birds and fish at the Hilton Hawaii Village. Does this make me feel kind of tacky? Sure. But did we get some free entertainment in? Definitely.

Hit the Malls
Most of the shopping centers on Oahu offer free, kid-friendly entertainment. Pearlridge has Keiki Tuesdays (10:30am -12pm), Kahala Mall has Toddler Time every Wednesday (10:30-11:30am), and Windward Mall has a free children’s play area (a total lifesaver for me, and one of my kids’ favorites places ever).

Festivals and Fairs
Almost every weekend, there always seems to be a free community fair or festival to check out. And you know how I keep up with them? A little shameless plug for HONOLULU Family Magazine here: I always use the handy mobile app to find out about the latest local events. This weekend, for instance, we’ll be checking out the Celebrate Kaimuki Kanikapila. Find more event info here

What are some of your favorite free things to do with the family? Share them with us on HONOLULU Family Magazine’s Facebook page!

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