Sometimes simple is enough

I’ve been in another slump recently.  I’m not sleeping very well, some travel plans had to be put off, and I blame the husband-left, child-left voids in my life.  It’s so strange to me still that with all these living beings in my house, I can still feel sad with the absence of 1 or 2 of them.  Anyways, I’ve been trying to get us up and out with no motivation from any of us.  We like the beach but don’t want to go there everyday.  The girls do not enjoy hiking, and while there are many things to do around here, many of them are pricey.  Try explaining to kids why you cannot spend $100 on activities every day of the week.

I am happy to report that we have done a few days where we find our perfect, Goldilocks  mix – not too expensive, not too exhausting, and enjoyable for everyone.  I like sharing them because it may help you if you struggle with the same thing, especially during summer break.  I find the best places to go and see through travel and mom blogs – we all seem to share the best information, the hidden gems that we find, and the honest truths about excursions and activites.  At the very least, this post assures my mother that we are doing fine and not sitting in the dark all day.  🙂

This past weekend, I asked the girls what they wanted to do, and Lorelei has been asking repeatedly to go to the Honolulu Zoo.  We have already been there, and I hate the idea of going to something twice when there are so many other things to do here.  But, it was a beautiful day, so I relented.  We set off, even though I knew Waikiki would be crowded on a Saturday, with plenty of snacks, water, and sunscreen.  Of course, the paid parking lot was crazy busy, so I drove around the zoo to Kapiolani Park, which has plenty of parking, easy beach access, and hosts the Waikiki Shell for concerts and events.  Of the many times I have been in the area to use the beach, I did not realize that there is an entire section of FREE parking there.  FREE.  Notice I emphasize this because nothing is free here!  It is a little farther walk to all your attractions, but we did not mind.

IMG_1634As we made our way to the zoo, there was a street art show.  I love street art shows and fairs.  You meet the best and most down-to-earth people, you usually find original art, and you get to wander around aimlessly searching for that perfect piece.  That is how I do it – I wait until something sticks out or screams “yes,” and these usually turn out to be my favorite things in our house.  We saw many great portraits and paintings, and the girls really liked looking through things with me.  We met an artist named Deb who sold me some of her portraits for pretty darn cheap.  She was particularly excited about the picture on the left because she loves it but no one ever buys it.  Well, someone did!


We entered the zoo for only $16 total admission.  Crazy, right?  There are special military and kama’aina rates (local residents), and children 2 and under are free.  The yearly membership is very affordable, too.  The zoo was not too crowded, so I let the kids set the pace.  Outside of Leo trying to climb into things and yelling at monkeys, it was a low-key, easy trip.  I will admit that this zoo is not very big, extremely hot under the sun, and makes up for a low admission with high prices for food and gifts.  The pros are that you can bring food and water into the zoo, there are plenty of picnic spots, it is a beautiful zoo, and there is a huge playground and keiki zoo for the kids.  I put a few pictures here from our trip, and it is a fun way to spend a few hours with kids in Honolulu.


IMG_3949We also grabbed lunch and made a picnic in the park outside of the zoo.  Turn right from the entrance, and you can start strolling down Kalakaua Avenue and into Waikiki.  This area has everything your little tourist heart could desire – shopping, food, extravagance, kitchy souvenirs, beaches, and activities.  The girls picked Subway, but I found the cutest picnic shop across from the zoo called Tucker and Bevvy.  This is Australian slang for “food and drink,” which is exactly what it offers.  They sell pre-packaged gourmet sandwiches, salads, cold-pressed juice, acai bowls and smoothies, and organic, gluten-free food.  Things can be heated up, but you can literally walk in, pay, and go.  It was perfect, and their turkey cranberry sandwich was delicious.  Click the name above for the website if you are ever in the area; there are plenty of food options, but I highly recommend this affordable foodie stop!

For this day, I spent maybe $45 on zoo entrance and lunch (I’m not including the art show because this was a one-off).  I supplemented with our own snacks and water, and most of the sightseeing and walking were free.  Waikiki can be expensive, but it can also be enjoyable to just walk along the beach and see the waves, surfers, and people.  For us, our trip was simple but perfect.

For our second day, today, we took a simple picnic at the park.  Seriously.  Again, the girls have been asking to do a picnic for awhile.  We take food to the beach all the time, and this is a picnic to me.  I never considered the whole idea of a picnic as a different thing.  To the girls, this would mean a packed lunch, a blanket, and a park to spend time and play.  I happened to know a park that I have been wanting to go see, so this was perfect.  I packed P3 snacks (super great for protein), sandwiches, fruit, Kind chia bars (my new favorite snack), and some chocolate chip cookies I made.  I let the kids take anything they wanted to play with – baseball gloves, a ball, a volleyball, and Star Wars toys.  I’ll let you guess who chose those.

We went to the Central Oahu Regional Park, located in Waipio and only 10 minutes from our house on Kamehameha Highway.  This is a huge, 296-acre park with 12 baseball and softball fields, tennis courts, an Olympic-size swimming pool, various fields, walking and biking paths, and playgrounds.  We set up next to a large field and playground, and we spent several hours playing, eating, and throwing a ball around.  Leo tried to play baseball with a volleyball (unsuccessfully), I worked with Lorelei on accurate throwing, and Addie and I volleyed for awhile.  The weather was great, and we met another nice family who had the same idea.  I spent $0 today!  In short, it was simple but perfect.

I am always looking for ways to get out of the house without spending a fortune.  It always improves our mood, exposes us to the area and the people, and we usually find some great places.  If you are on the island and have any tips for us, I would greatly appreciate it.  For everyone else, I hope this inspires you to enjoy the simple activities – maybe these are things that you never considered, that seem dull, or that you have done a million times.  Even so, these may be the best ways to pass a day and to experience your city and community.  I certainly have!


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