LA Stay-cations: Aloha, Hawaii!


Right about now your social media news feeds are likely replete with friends’ family vacation photos: smiling sun-kissed faces on pristine beaches, pals posing in front of famous monuments, and picture-perfect plates of international delicacies. Sure, you’re happy that everyone is travelling and having a good time, but maybe just a bit of familial FOMO is creeping in as you and your brood are sitting at home.

But wait a minute … you’re in LA! In addition to boasting more ethnic enclaves than probably any city in the world (think Koreatown, Little India, Sawtelle Japantown, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Olvera Street, and the list goes on), we’ve also got a bevy of institutions, restaurants, and landmarks offering an array of global art and culture experiences. So we’ve come up with some only-in-LA stay-cations to satiate your travel bugs. First up, who’s ready for a sojourn to the South Pacific?

Right now in Los Angeles there are not one but two major exhibitions about the arts of Hawaii and the broader Pacific region. On display through August 7 at LACMA in the Resnick Pavilion is Royal Hawaiian Featherwork: Na Hulu Ali’i , which presents a remarkable collection of feathered garments worn by high-ranking individuals or used as diplomatic gifts. View spectacular cloaks and capes, helmets, and leis expertly crafted from the colorful feathers of thousands of indigenous birds, and learn about Hawaii in the late-18th to late-19th centuries, a period when European explorers first landed in the islands.

Fowler_fig 06 Canoe

Next, head over to the Fowler Museum at UCLA for a dazzling immersion into a genre you’ve probably not seen the likes of: Art of the Austronesians: The Legacy of Indo-Pacific Voyaging. This major exhibition on view through August 28 examines the visual arts of Austronesian-speaking peoples from their prehistoric origins in what is now Taiwan through their successive seafaring migrations over millennia to the Philippines, Indonesia, the Pacific, and beyond, including Hawaii.

Fowler_fig 13 Ancestor FiguresSee elaborate masks, sculpture, textiles, architectural elements, and more—including a 15-foot-long canoe from the Yami peoples of Tawian, which is adorned with human-like forms that represent the ancestral hero who taught the Yami boat building and agriculture.

Hawaii didn’t become a state until August 21, 1959, and Hawaii Statehood Day is celebrated each year on the third Friday of August. In honor of the holiday and in conjunction with their exhibition, the Fowler is presenting a traditional hula dance performance troupe on Sunday, August 21 at 2 pm.

Fowler_Performance_8.21_hula2 Bring a blanket to kick back on the grass in the Fowler amphitheater and learn more about Hawaiian culture from Ka Hale Hula O Pilialohaokalani O Hilo, a group founded in Ventura in 1988. If this performance is anything like past Fowler Summer Concerts on the Green you may be invited to participate, so be ready to swivel your hips hula-style!


As luck and the food gods would have it, a poké craze hit Los Angeles about a year ago, spawning a host of places to try this delicious Hawaiian dish. Poké is a raw fish salad, traditionally served as an appetizer—Hawaii’s version of Italy’s fish carpaccio or Mexico’s ceviche.

At the many poké places now dotting LA, you choose your fish (tuna, salmon, snapper, albacore, sometimes octopus, and others), a base (rice, noodles, or veggies) or side salads, plus toppings that can range from crispy garlic to cubed mango. In Santa Monica you can try it at Sweetfin Poké (829 Broadway), which is opening another outlet later this summer in Westwood (1146 Westwood Boulevard). Expansion is also on the horizon for Mainland Poké (8318 1/2 W. 3rd Street), which plans to open a second spot this fall in Glendale across from The Americana at Brand. Here’s Thrillist’s take on the best poké places in town right now. 

Read & Watch

If all of this Hawaiian culture has whetted your appetite for more, head to the beach to gaze out toward our 50th state and read James Michener’s epic novel, Hawaii. Published in 1959—the same year Hawaii joined the Union—it tells the history of Hawaii from the volcanic creation of the isles, to the seafarers who journeyed across the Pacific to reach them, to the arrival of Europeans and American missionaries, to statehood. Pulitzer Prize–winning author Michener weaves numerous fascinating narratives into a multifaceted history of the tropical paradise.

George Clooney stars in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, a wonderful film for older teens which won an Oscar for Best Screenplay in 2011. The film, which also stars Shailene Woodley, is set on beautiful Kauai. Here is a blog about the locations on Kauai where the film was shot.

Aloha from Los Angeles!

Written by Stacey Ravel Abarbanel