Discovery Center | Fun Family Activities | Oahu Hawaii

As far as family activities, there are more than beaches and hiking when in Hawaii. If you find yourself on Oahu and craving a day of air conditioned fun, where the kids can be entertained, than let me show you a little slice of heaven.

What To Know

Tuesday through Friday…..9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday……10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Closed Mondays 


The Discovery Center is a bit pricey with general admission running $12 for anyone over 1 year. If you are local or military it is $10. Is it worth it for the price? Look on and judge for yourself.

The only other part that is a total bummer is the outside of the building. There is a homeless encampment directly out the doors and across the street and it can make you feel a bit uneasy right off the bat. Sadly, you will find that through most of downtown and Oahu in general.

Once inside you will be transported to another world of magical discoveries.

The first room you come to in the center is one of my favorite. It offers an immersive water play area that also has a gated tot section. Here the kids get to learn about nature, rainforests, natural resources, and how to take care of our environment.

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There are clouds that rain down the mountains and travel to the lower pond. Here kids can fish and play hands-on with ocean and water related toys.

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There are splash guard aprons to wear if you don’t want to worry about your littles getting to wet. There will be splashing. This is also a great environment to learn about sharing and cooperating with other children.

There is a tree house the kids can climb to look down on it all and tons of little interactive activities. We may have spent way too much time playing with the smoke dome. This room closes earlier than the rest of the center so make sure to come early and make it your first stop.

Once you leave this room there is a multitude of other rooms with hands on play to explore.

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There is fun mirrors, magnetic play, hidden rooms, a room to play indoor baseball, a stage to dance on that gets shown on a big screen. And that is just the beginning of the kids activities.

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This room held thousands of these blocks to build whatever you could imagine. There were bins full of humongous blocks, small blocks, magnetic blocks, and building blocks.

While the boys built and destroyed, my daughter and I took our turn at being a vet. This little room had clipboards with pictures of animals in the room. There was info showing what was wrong with them and how to treat them. We would find the animal and administer shots and medicine or give them a good teeth or ear cleaning. She loved it.

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There were many other rooms in this area where kids can be a grown-up for a day, and learn how a community functions. They can dress up and play a fireman, a banker, a mechanic, a doctor, and more.

The kids loved dressing up as little chefs and cooking for us. We sat down at the diner and ordered food from the menu. The menus showed pictures of what the meal consisted of and our chefs were able to go to the pantry and find all the ingredients. There was a stove for cooking and all the pots, pans and utensils needed for a kids kitchen.

In the doctors room, there were babies to take care of, beds for sick daddies to get shots, and even an x-ray machine.

The kids knew all about grocery shopping and were eager to show they could take care of the food picking. The cart was loaded with fish, ice cream, and chocolate milk. Apparently that is all you need.

Dressing up as a fireman is tough work. It may be a job in itself. Cooper loved putting on the whole outfit and running around pretending everything was on fire. There is also a big “truck” to sit in, drive, and climb around in the back. The area was even complete with a slide down pole. Though it is blocked from the top for obvious safety reasons. Dang.

Once fireman duty was over it was time to learn how to keep up a car as a mechanic. I had lots of experience with broken cars when I was young from driving my first beater. Where was my little mechanic then?!

When it is time to get out from under the cars they can go up in the sky! Cooper made the cutest pilot in the plane room, and willow pushed the beverage cart down the aisle to serve the seated guests.

The huge bubbles is the main attraction for our family. At one point during our second visit my husband actually said, can we just get to the bubbles already! Yes babe, lets go blow some bubbles!

In this area you can also learn about what makes living in Hawaii so special. From the plantation days to modern Hawaii, there is a lot to learn and discover.

Explore a rainbow of cultures, countries and celebrations from different parts of the world. Take a trip to far away places and experience how life is similar and different in other areas of the world.

A great family activity, there is so much to see and do here. I recommend making a day of it. We came the first time when rain cancelled some of our outdoor family plans and we couldn’t have been happier.

With rooms for all ages you can bring the whole family. Even mom and dad will have a blast here and I promise you will fill up your camera roll with all the cuteness.

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Have you been to the Discovery Center or one like it? We are always looking for childrens museums and family activities all around the world so don’t hesitate to share your favorites!

Old Pali Road Hike With Kids | Oahu Hawaii

Old Pali Road is a favorite family hike on Oahu. What’s not to love about an old abandoned and overgrown highway, hanging off the side of a mountain. There are even “secret” paths to hidden waterfalls and ancient ruins.

You can hike from the bottom starting at Ko’olau Golf Course, or the top from Nu’uanu Pali Lookout. We started from the top and worked our way down for the immediate views.

When you get to the entrance of the hike you will notice it is closed off. A bit of bravery and resourcefulness will set you on your chosen path.

This hike is gated and has potential dangers, such as falling rock, so hike at your own risk!
mountain view family hike old Pali highway oahu hawaii entrance adventure with kids

There is quite a bit of fallen rock in piles at the beginning and seems to be the most affected part for this danger. Once around the first bend, it is more overgrown and you are a bit out from the mountain.

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We let our 2 small children walk with us and I wore the baby on my back. We never felt unsafe and had a blast. Cooper lead the way most of the time as he our little explorer.

It doesn’t take long until you get to the first amazing vantage point. The growth clears out and you are awarded with stunning views of the East Side of the island. You will be able to make out Kaneohe, and have an unobstructed view of the Ko’olau Mountains.

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From this area you get mountain views on either side. Here, there is a nice little wall for sitting and enjoying a snack, or to just take in the views.

mountain view family hike old Pali highway oahu hawaii
Music in the Mountains

Then it is time to head back into the brush.

It is wild here and hard to believe this ever used to be a highway!

The overgrowth is spectacular and really showcases the power of Mother Nature.

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There are a few trails off the highway. You can find Likeke falls near the bottom and even the old Kaniakapupu┬áRuins. We didn’t make it to either place this day and still had a great time just exploring the road for our family hike.

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The vegetation runs rampant in parts and it can get quite dark and even a bit spooky. Especially if you read up on the history of the hike. There are ghost stories galore surrounding this place making you wonder what kind of family hike this really is!

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Although there were no ghosts, or spooky happenings for our family adventure, we still enjoyed the beautiful vegetation, flowers, and unique scenery.

This time we didn’t make our way under the overpass to highway 61, and instead turned back. The hike was short though and easy to do with this kids. It is def one you can spend a little or a lot of time on.

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The way back was full of nothing but views and we even caught sight of some dare devils climbing the Pali notches. One of the most dangerous spots on the island.

We decided we don’t need all that for a fulfilling day. Our walk was full of beauty and our adventure on Old Pali Road was one of the best family hikes on Oahu.

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Have you hiked Old Pali Road? What are some of your favorite family adventures on Oahu?

Bishop Museum Family Field Trip with Young Children

The Bishop Museum Is a great experience for the whole family. Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture, History, Art, and Science with kid friendly hands on activities in a beautiful setting.

The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum located in the Kaliki district of Honolulu is quite impressive. The museum itself is stunning. Built in the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style and is home to over 24 million natural history specimens and Polynesian cultural artifacts. 

There is something for everybody in the family here at the different buildings and immaculate grounds.  There is a Planetarium (the oldest in Polynesia), The Sports Hall of Fame, Art and History in the Hawaiian and Pacific Hall, Science Adventure Center, Libraries and Archives, and Native Hawaiian Gardens.  

Before we go any further though I would like to say maybe I am not accustomed to Museums because I thought it quite odd but intriguing all the creepy, morbid, and nude “gems” we found throughout our time here. The kids and I were fascinated around every corner to say the least. Be Forewarned.

The first part of the museum we explored was the planetarium. An educational and research facility devoted to astronomical sciences. They had great hands-on activities for the kids including a small sand bin to shape the earth and build mountains and ravines, that was even equipped with a water shower to fill the oceans you create. There was also small robot arms to control and gravity bowls to throw weighted balls in. Not to mention the planetarium itself!

After that we headed over to the Pacific and Hawaiian Complex Hall that starts off immediately impressive with large hanging marine life like a massive shark and even larger Complete sperm whale skeleton and life like mold. 

These structures were once dubbed “the noblest buildings of Honolulu” and it is easy to see why.  The walls are adorned with a multitude of gorgeous Koa wood display cases. Today this wood is worth more than the original Bishop Museum buildings! 

Each little divet showcases different aspects of Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders history. You will find hand carved statues, replicas of the old ways of living, and plenty of things to make your kids oooh and aahhh. 

My son especially loved seeing all the wayfarers, ships, and other water craft. The collection of tools, old photos, and showcases of expeditions uncovering the old boats was expansive and instilled a sense of wonder in my little ocean lovers. 

There was plenty to keep my touchy kids needs met here also with lots of interactive displays.  There were microscopes to look in, string to weave, ships to build, dress-up in native clothing, and pattern blocking. 

After you wind your way through the four stories you will find yourself on the top floor where you will finally get to come face to face with the behemoth of the sperm whale they pieced back together from the ocean floor. It was truly impressive to see and my kids couldn’t get enough.

When we made our way to the little building that housed the art exhibits things got a little odd but we laughed a lot and thoroughly enjoyed the little bit of time we spent in the dark rooms filled with odd little and big findings.  The art ranged from graphic photos and statues, to large pieces that made you ponder their existence. 

After all the excitement we settled down some in a breezy shaded pavilion in the Native Hawaiian Garden. We were the only ones there so I didn’t mind my kids running about like crazies after all the quiet observing they had just underwent. I decided to skip the cafe and instead we chowed on our favorite quick fuel. The Perfect Bar, oranges, and bottles of water. This is not an ad. I am just seriously in love with these organic protein bars. 

And finally we made it to our favorite part of the day.  The science adventure center.  Designed as a learning center for children, it includes tons of interactive exhibits focused on marine science, volcanology and other related sciences. 

Right when you walk in you are greeted with a large wall covered in shiny disc that show you the impact of air by turning the windmill and  beating on a drum. The kids Loved it. 

You will also find all kinds of creepy crawlies like beetles, insects, birds, and butterflies. This was one of the oddest encounters but my children were quite fascinated.  The hands presenting dead birds. I was happy to get on to the Volcano play room right ahead. 

The volcano had caves, a small slide and when you made you way to the top it was interactive when you pushed buttons to see the effects of gases and geysers.  This was definitely geared to the younger crowd though. I can’t imagine older children being nearly as excited as we were. 

We also got to walk through tunnels of black light painted walls that seemed other worldly that led to a cavern seeming room that made you feel as if you were under the ocean.  Here we met at the “hot spot” and got to watch a live showcase of pouring hot lava.  I learned that my Leo Gemstone Peridot, is actually gem grade lava crystals! Fits right in with my fiery nature…

All-in-all, it was an incredible learning adventure for my children and I.  There was so much to do and see and the kids had a blast exploring the beautiful museum as much as I did. I can see why this is at the top of the must do lists of things to do on Oahu with kids! 

Visit their website for up to date hours, prices, and exhibits.

Have you been to the Museum? If not, I hope this post made you want to go! Let us know if you enjoyed it as much as we did!