Visiting the World’s Largest Outdoor Shopping Center

Hawaii is known for its great weather and incredible natural beauty, but did you know it’s also where you can find the world’s largest outdoor shopping center?

Ala Moana Center, located on the fringes of Waikiki, directly across from famed Ala Moana Beach Park, is Hawaii’s premier shopping, dining and entertainment destination. Growing up in Hawaii, Ala Moana was (and still is) considered an institution. It is home to more than 250 stores. From Macy’s, Neiman-Marcus, Prada, Puma, Banana Republic and Old Navy to local favorites like Hawaiian Island Creations, Rip Curl, and Town & Country Surf Design. If your trip to “Paradise” inspires a marriage proposal, Ala Moana has you covered. Pick out a ring from Tiffany & Co., Harry Winston, or Maui Divers Jewelry. Airlines lost your luggage? No problem, you can pick up replacement footwear from more than a dozen shoe stores, including Champs, Sketchers, Jimmy Choo and Nine West.

Hungry? Ala Moana is home to more than 70 restaurants and eateries. The massive food court features a variety of cuisines, including American, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, German, and much more. We always tell our out-of-town friends that if it exists you can find it at Ala Moana. From sushi to cheeseburgers, Japanese soba noodles to pizza and paninis. It’s there.

But, what makes Ala Moana so unique is its “Centerstage.” Located on the ground floor (the shopping center has three levels) is a large stage that hosts a variety of entertainment acts. For years (long before “American Idol” became a phenomenon), Ala Moana’s “Centerstage” has been the place where many local singers have received their “big break.” Every Friday night “Hawaii Stars” (a show similar to “American Idol,” broadcast exclusively on local television) allows artists the chance to sing their hearts out to crowds of shoppers for a chance to win cash and prizes.

Each Sunday “Centerstage” hosts Keiki (Children) Hula Shows. And in just a few weeks the mall will add another cultural element to its “Centerstage” performances. The Polynesian Cultural Center will present free weekly performances at “Centerstage” every Tuesday and Thursday at 12 noon beginning Thursday, April 13th. The 45-minute performances will highlight several of the seven Polynesian cultures, including Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga, Marquesas, Aotearoa, and Fiji. The world famous dancers will provide a taste of the songs and dances that showcase the special cultures of Polynesia, along with interactive demonstrations, including games and crafts.

My husband always asks why anyone want to “waste time at a mall during a trip to Hawaii.” But, believe me, Ala Moana is much more than “just a mall,” it is an experience. And if nothing else… a great place to visit if it happens to rain during your vacation.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.