Great Escapes: Our guide to Honolulu, HI

Get ready for sun all year round, fresh poke, and sand between your toes.

The skyline of Honolulu.

Let’s head to paradise.

Photo by SJtoday staff

Table of Contents

Planning a getaway? Check out Honolulu, HI, a booming center for nightlife, beaches, and great food — all on the sunny island of Oahu.

Hey all — SJtoday City Editor Alyson here. 👋

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve enjoyed family trips to Hawaii hitting almost every island (The Big Island, Oahu, Maui, Lanai’i), but nothing quite compares to the destination that is Honolulu. Now, I know that this city is a tourism hot spot, but I’m here to give you some insiders on local gems that some guides may have missed.

Why go?

  • Along with having perfect weather conditions all year round, Honolulu offers amazing cuisine, beautiful scenery, and an aloha vibe that will make you feel welcome anywhere you go.
  • Throughout the year, Honolulu hosts a variety of festivals — my favorite is the King Kamehameha Floral Parade in June that features traditional Hawaiian dancers on top of vibrant floats.
  • Some other guides that may come in handy: A City Guide to Honolulu, The Hawaiian Islands Guide, The Travel Guide to Honolulu
A burger, drink, macaroni salad, and a side of chili from Rainbow Drive-In.

You got to get a little bit of everything from Rainbow Drive-In.

Photo by SJtoday staff

Act like a local

  • Food: Be prepared, I’m a foodie. You’ve gotta try the famous chili plate from Rainbow Drive-In, garlic chicken from Side Street Inn, malasadas from Leonard’s Bakery, any flavor of shave ice (with azuki beans and condensed milk) from Waiola’s Shave Ice, coco puffs from Liliha Bakery, and last, but certainly not least, the fresh poke from Taniokas Seafoods and Catering.
  • Drink: The Orange Bang from Zippy’s is basically an orange creamsicle in a drink — what’s not to like?
  • Outdoors: For lush scenery and breathtaking views 2,200 feet above the clouds, hike Kuli’ou’ou Ridge. Enjoy a mostly shaded 4.7-mile trail around and back near Honolulu.
  • Shop: Imagine a Hawaiian-themed Valley Fair Mall — that’s Ala Moana Center. And don’t miss the best place for affordable souvenirs (and practically everything else) at Don Quijote. If you’re looking for Hawaiian snacks or some quality fish to cook up in your condo, make a grocery stop at Foodland.
  • Explore: The best part about being on a smaller island? You can explore it in a daycheck out Go Tours’ Hidden Gems of Hawaii Circle Island Tour for a packed tour of Oahu favorites.
A Vrbo rental listing showing a bedroom with an ocean view.

How would you like to wake up to the ocean breeze?

Photo via Vrbo

Where to stay