Trendy Art Spots in Honolulu

By Tannya Joaquin

Aloha meets the arts in Honolulu’s thriving cultural hub from Chinatown to Kaka‘ako.

1. Chinatown’s First Fridays

While geographically small in comparison to its more famous neighbor Waikiki, Chinatown’s 8-block area bordered by King, Smith, Beretania and River Streets is a mecca for galleries, open-air markets, theatres and boutiques. This is the place to go to find unique items off the beaten path from the usual suspects you’ll find at nearby Ala Moana Shopping Center.

With a roster of 30 eclectic galleries, live performances at the historic Hawaii Theatre and showcase for local art, music, comedy and poetry in one space at ARTS at Marks Garage, Chinatown’s arts and entertainment scene provides a welcome departure from downtown and Waikiki.

This 36-acre arts hotspot comes alive on the first Friday of every month. A Friday gallery walk dubbed “First Friday” attracts more than 2,000 people to stroll the streets, enjoy free entertainment, chat with artists, and try out the popular coffee houses, bars, restaurants and live music that complement Chinatown’s artsy street vibe.

2. Honolulu Museum of Art

honolulu academy of arts

Photo: Lawrence’s Lenses.

Art lovers will find an impressive collection of more than 50,000 works nearby at the Honolulu Museum of Art (HMOA) on Beretania Street. The collection started with an initial gift of 4,500 works of art from Mrs. Charles Montague Cooke in 1927. Today, the artwork inside represents all the major cultures of Hawai‘i. The museum offers film and concert programs, lectures, art classes and workshops to promote the arts.

3. Spalding House

splading house art museum

Photo: Owen and Aki.

A $10 ticket covers admission to the museum’s second location, Spalding House. Overlooking Diamond Head with sweeping views of Honolulu, Spalding House features galleries with works by notable painter Paul Gauguin and sculptor Henry Moore. Contemporary sculptures throughout the grounds create a dramatic contrast to their Zen garden surroundings.

Tip: Admission is free the first Wednesday and third Sunday of each month, with free family-focused activities on the third Sunday.

4. Kakaako

kakaako honolulu night market fashion show

Honolulu Night Market Fashion Show. Photo: Kyle Nishioka.

Between downtown Honolulu and Waikiki, urban art has become a bona fide attraction in the colorful community of Kaka‘ako. Colorful street murals that blend street graffiti with cultural influences greet visitors and make for Instagram-worthy selfie backdrops.

With its hip arts scene on the rise, Kaka‘ako is a perfect host for community events such as Honolulu Night + Market. This quarterly mash up showcases local arts, entertainment, shopping, and street grindz. See for more information.

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