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30 Things To Do In Oahu With Kids

things to do in oahu with kids




Written by:

Barbara Mighdoll

We love Hawaii. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the United States (maybe even the world) to visit and it’s completely family-friendly. One of Caden’s very first trips was to Kauai, and it was an amazing experience! You can read more about going to Kauai with kids here, but today I wanted to talk about visiting another popular family-friendly Hawaiian island: Oahu! 

Kauai is the northernmost island of Hawaii and to the southeast of that is Oahu. This is where Honolulu is located. Oahu is another incredible vacation spot for great views, unforgettable activities, and valuable family bonding. The unique thing about Oahu is you still get those “big city” amenities like a Costco, Target, museums, but you also get to enjoy the slower paced island vibes.

We stayed on the North Shore of Oahu this past fall for 10 days of a “workaction,” island-style working remote (we brought our au pair with us which allowed us to work during the weekdays). Honolulu was just a 45 minute drive, allowing us and our kids to have some fun daytime adventures to “the big city” while enjoying slow afternoons and evenings on the more peaceful side of the island (with the most incredible sunsets). We hope to do a similar trip again next year!

With that in mind, I’m sharing a round-up of things to do with kids of all ages in Oahu. Here are some of our favorite activities, attractions, and sites: 

30 Things To Do In Oahu With Kids 

Best Activities for Toddlers (And Older Kids Alike)

Learn through play at the Discovery Museum

For toddlers, the Discovery Museum in Honolulu is a must. It’s a children’s museum that focuses on learning through interactive play. They have several exhibits that are perfect for toddlers both in terms of being developmentally appropriate and the right height for easy accessibility.

Kids can splash on a massive water table at “Rainforest Adventures,” pretend to be a working adult in “Your Town,” learn about the human body in “Fantastic You,” and experience the cultural significance of Hawaii at “Hawaiian Rainbows.”  

Learn through play at the Discovery Museum

Have fun at Kids City.

Kids City is less about learning through interactive play and more just about having a blast. From big foam pits to huge climbing structures, your toddlers will play for hours and get totally wiped out for nap time. Plus, while they play, you can relax in one of Kid City’s massage chairs.  

Have fun at Kids City.

See fish at Waikīkī Aquarium

Zoos, in general, are great for toddlers, but aquariums are particularly special. There are no tall railings to look over or expert animal spotting skills you need to see wildlife. The aquatic life is bright, up close, and abundant, meaning your toddlers will have no trouble finding the aquatic creatures. With 15 exhibits, the Waikīkī Aquarium will definitely keep your family busy for most of the day! 

Waikīkī Aquarium

Visit story time at Waialua Library

If your hotel or accommodations are near Waialua Library, stop by for story time. It’s a good low-key activity that is all for your toddler. Make sure to call ahead and confirm story time hours and days. 

Swim in the Honu Lagoon

This lagoon was made for our little swimmers. The waters are super calm – like zero waves – the sand is soft and groomed, and its just the best little hidden secret for young families looking for some sunshine and swim time.

Honu Lagoon on Oahu - kid friendly beach

Shop and play at Ala Moana Mall

Ala Moana Center is a huge mall in Honolulu that’s very family-friendly. It’s open air, so everyone can enjoy the amazing Hawaii weather and the view of the ocean across the street. It’s a particularly good spot to shop if you have toddlers because they have a large play structure near Target that Caden and Willow love to climb on! (Just check the map beforehand and steer clear of the candy store if you want to avoid a meltdown.) 

Have a blast at Keiki Kingdom or Keiki Republic

Keiki Kingdom is in Honolulu and Keiki Republic is in Windward Mall. They’re all big kid gyms focused on toddlers and younger elementary-aged kids! Each one has dozens of different play areas promoting different types of play, so it’s a great place to run off any extra energy. 

Cool down at Mililani Playground and Splash Pad.

Splash pads are wonderful for toddlers because they can experience all the joy of water play without the stress of open water. Even infants can enjoy themselves at a splash pad! One of our favorite ones to go to in Oahu is the Mililani “Recreation Center 4.” This park not only has a splash pad and toddler-friendly playset, but it has a pool too if you have older kids as well that have aged out of the splash pad fun.

Play at Funtastic Kidzone. 

If you can’t tell, we really like to explore all the kid gyms and children’s museums wherever we travel. Funtastic Kidzone in Pearlridge Center Mall has plenty of play structures and toys to keep any kids under 5 happy for an afternoon. I do warn you, this place is a bit overwhelming with all the bright colors and noisy children, but it’s worth it for the kids. 

Go for a walk at Waimea Falls.

Waimea Falls has an incredible view, and the walk-up to the waterfall is completely stroller-friendly. Your toddlers will be in awe of the sights, and while there, you can visit other cultural sites and see the botanical gardens. 

Kayak the Anahulu River

This is such a fun activity to do with your little ones. Rent kayaks from Surf N Sea. The waters are super calm, and you can enjoy looking for wildlife. The kayak trip there and back takes about 1.5 hours. 

Enjoy smoothies and acai bowls at Sunrise Shack Surf Cove.

You can't complete a trip to Hawaii without enjoying a fresh, fruit-filled acai bowl. And the Sunrise Shack on the North Shore has the perfect set-up!

Enjoy smoothies and acai bowls at Sunrise Shack Surf Cove.

See farm animals at Tsue’s Farm.

If you’ve got an animal-loving toddler at your house (or two, in my case), Tsue’s Farm is a must. They host dozens of happy farm animals that your kids can see, pet, and feed! They have ducks, rabbits, turtles, goats, and more. While there, you can also kayak, paddle board, or grab a smoothie. 

Things To Do In Oahu With Kids List #1

Best Activities for Elementary Age Kids

Jump around at iTrampoline.

Trampoline parks are like leveled-up kid gyms. Luckily, your toddlers can still come along and have a blast at iTrampoline, but your elementary-aged kids will really love it. Beyond dozens of connected trampolines, iTrampoline also has an arcade and a mini golf course. Though it’s not a venue that’ll give you an authentic Hawaiian experience, it’s a great spot to make lasting family memories. 

See wildlife at the Honolulu Zoo.

Really anyone can enjoy the Honolulu Zoo, but it’s the perfect destination for elementary kids. They’ve got everything from large elephants and primates to small birds and reptiles. The zoo is not too big or too small either, so you can easily get to everything in one trip without your big kids losing interest. 

Experience sea life at the Pupukea Tide Pools.

Seeing animals in the zoo is always fun, but it’s really incredible to see animals in their natural habitat. The Pupukea Tide Pools are abundant with marine life like sea turtles, eels, parrot fish, and even massive schools of fish that you can see by either snorkeling or walking along the shallow cove (bring water shoes). It’ll make your kids feel like real marine biologists! 

Become a mermaid with Mermaid Republic. 

This isn’t something we’ve gotten to do yet since Caden and Willow are both still too young, but I can’t wait to try it with them. The Mermaid Republic is a “mermaid school” of sorts that teaches you how to swim like a mermaid and then they equip you with a tail. Then, the new mermaids can snorkel through the ocean or get professional photos taken. From what I’ve heard, it’s a lot of fun!  

Hike Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail.

The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is a smart choice if you have elementary kids because it’s just the right balance of not too easy and not too hard. It’s a relatively short hike, at only a 2-mile round trip, but the big hills make it a little more challenging than the toddler-friendly hike we mentioned earlier. Along the way, you’ll have a beautiful view of the seaside and you’ll come across a historic lighthouse built in 1909. 

Get some sun at Turtle Beach. 

Good for toddlers as well, this beach has a large parking lot, and some of the calmer waters on the North Shore in the winter months.

Turtle Beach

Get wild at Kualoa Ranch.

Kualoa Ranch is a massive private nature reserve that offers a lot of activities and it’s actually one of the main filming locations for the Jurassic Park movies. They host multiple Jurassic Park-themed activities that show you famous spots from the movies, which is huge for a dino-lover. Outside of the Jurassic Park fun, kids do horseback riding, e-bike riding, fruit and flower farming, UTV touring, swimming, and ziplining. 

Explore at the Bishop Museum.

The Bishop Museum is perfect for elementary-aged kids to learn and have fun. There’s so much history and art at The Bishop Museum, but they also have a planetarium, a fossil collection, an interactive light exhibit, and more! 

Experience the magic at Aulani, A Disney Resort.

Aulani is really the perfect resort for any age! Like most Disney resorts, they have something for everyone. Whether you want character encounters and beach time or a family spa day and ocean sailing, you’ll find something to do at Aulani!

Things To Do In Oahu With Kids List #2

Best Activities for Middle School and High School Kids 

Paddleboard on the Haleiwa River.

Kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding on the Haleiwa River are some of the best ways to experience Oahu in a totally authentic way. There are lots of companies that host tours, so find the one that fits your price range and has the amenities you want. However, I recommend glass-bottom kayak tours. It just takes the whole experience to the next level for your high schoolers. 

Have a luau at Ka Wa’a Disney Aulani or Toa Luau.

It wouldn’t really be a Hawaiian vacation without a luau! These are perfect for teens who are mature enough to appreciate the cultural experience. During the luau, you’ll usually experience traditional Hawaiian arts, dancing, and, of course, food. For a luxury experience, go to a luau at Aulani (Disney Resort) and for a budget-friendly experience, go to Toa Luau. We love both. 

Bike along the Kailua shore. 

There are 30 miles of beach in Kailua and the best way to experience it is on a bike. If you’re a family who loves biking, consider renting a traditional bike or e-bike and exploring Kailua's breathtaking shoreline. You can also stop at Kailua Beach Park on your ride, which is great for swimming, surfing, boogie boarding, and other ocean fun. 

Snorkel at Hanauma Bay State Park.

Hanauma Bay State Park offers a lot of big kid-friendly activities like open-ocean swimming with dolphins, sailing tours, sea turtle experiences, and snorkeling. It’s a beautiful area and being able to do so many activities in one place is definitely a plus. 

Learn about history at Pearl Harbor memorials.

Got World War II history buffs in your house? Then, visiting Pearl Harbor memorials is non-negotiable! At the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, you can see plenty of aircraft, artifacts, and displays that educate visitors on everything from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the Battle of Midway and beyond. Just 5 minutes away are the USS Arizona Memorial and the Battleship Missouri Memorial. I recommend going to all 3 on the same day for a powerful experience. 

Encounter Hawaiian culture at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center is the perfect way to fully appreciate your Hawaiian vacation. There, you can attend a luau, eat authentic food, see Polynesian performances, and get a tour of the island. 

Hike Kaena Point Trail

A relatively flat hike, this historic trail allows you to walk alongside the ocean. Pack some drinks, snacks and speaker for a relaxing picnic with nearly no one around you.

Hike Kaena Point Trail

Learn to surf at North Shore.

Learning to surf is another great activity for teens! In just one day, they’ll teach you the basics and get you out of the waves. If you have younger kids, North Shore Beach Boyz also offers kid surfing lessons. Plus, they offer SUP Squatch tours, which is like riding on a giant surfboard through the ocean. It’s a lot of fun!

Fish at Ala Moana Beach Park.

There are plenty of fishing opportunities in Oahu, and one of the places you can do it is Ala Moana Beach Park. You can also swim, play tennis, surf, snorkel, or have a picnic. We even like to walk the 2.6-mile perimeter of the park for some exercise and great scenery. 

Ride ATVs or horses at North Shore Stables.

At North Shore Stables, you can ride horses or ATVs along the Oahu shoreline. If your older kids really like the ATVs, they can also zoom through the ATV racetrack or take the farm tour. This one may give you as a mom a few heart attacks, but thrill-seeking teens will love it. 

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Oahu is one of the most family-friendly destinations in the U.S.!

Whether you have a sleepy newborn, a babbling toddler, an adventurous 3rd grader, a moody middle schooler, or an independent teenager, Oahu has something for everyone. I hope this list helped you curate an itinerary that makes sure everyone has the best Hawaiian vacation ever. 

For more trip recommendations and travel advice, head to my blog. I’ve got plenty of information on family vacationing, from toddler travel essentials to the best mom backpacks for your next trip. No matter where you’re going, let me be your guide for a fulfilling and memorable family vacation!


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