Dreaming of a Hawaiian getaway? We can’t promise you a trip to Waikiki Beach, but we can tell you about the best tropical experiences San Diego has to offer. From hula and fire dancers and fruity cocktails to shave ice and Hawaiian food served up with island flair, read on for a list of ways to channel Hawaiian vacation vibes without leaving town!

photo: Duke’s La Jolla 

Duke’s La Jolla
We love Duke’s La Jolla for its decor, ocean view and especially for being so kid-friendly. They make it super easy to dine with the keikis (kids) in tow. Duke’s awesome Keiki Bingo game serves up a scavenger hunt which awards kids with  special prizes. With the littles occupied, focus your attention on the gorgeous surroundings and enjoy a cocktail. Order delicious small bites to share like the poke tacos, Korean sticky ribs, or crab wontons or delight in some of San Diego’s finest, freshest seafood.

Insider Tip: Make a reservation, especially if you want to score an outside table.

Duke’s La Jolla
1216 Prospect St.
La Jolla, Ca 92037
Online: dukeslajolla.com

photo: Kelly Powell

Tiki Golf and Dole Whip Truck at Belmont Park
A trip to Belmont Park is always on the books for summertime fun. To add a bit of the tropics to this adventure, hit Tiki Town Adventure Golf. This 18-hole Polynesian-themed course features a talking Tiki and a volcano that erupts when someone gets a hole in one.

Read about more of our favorite miniature golf courses here.

3114 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, Ca 92109
Online: tikitownadventuregolf.com

Make the day even sweeter by visiting the Dole Whip truck located directly under the Sky Ropes Adventure. The coveted Dole Whip used to only be found at the Dole Plantation in Oahu. Now this tasty, creamy treat can be yours during a trip to Mission Beach. Order an original Whip, or one swirled with vanilla soft serve, or even a float!

3146 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, Ca
Online: belmontpark.com/restaurants/dolewhip

photo: Mo H. via Yelp

Island Style Cafe
Owned and run by a Hawaiian family, this casual restaurant serves up authentic grindz in Tierrasanta. If you’re looking to eat mountains of food, relax in flip flops and plan your next trip to Hawaii, this is your spot. Enjoy huge portions plate lunch style served with mac salad. We love their Loco Moco, a hamburger smothered in gravy, and their crunchy, juicy Korean chicken. Their daily specials offer delicious variety. We recommend stopping in on a Wednesday for curry.

Insider Tips: If your favorite Hawaiian fare is traditional kalua pork, visit on a Friday, the only day it’s served. Don’t miss their homemade POG, a combination of passionfruit, orange and guava juices. Closed Mondays.

5950 Santo Rd., Ste K
San Diego Ca 92124
Online: islandstylecafe.com

photo: Shirley H. via Yelp

Wahine Kai Shave Ice
When you think of the North Shore, do you dream of light, fluffy shave ice? At this small shop, pile your shave ice high with authentic Hawaiian flavors like guava or lychee and add condensed milk or a scoop of coconut pineapple ice cream. You’ll also find great Kona coffee and an aloha spirit here, where the vibe and the tunes reflect laid-back Hawaiian culture.

10545 Scripps Poway Pkwy.
San Diego, Ca 92131
858- 831-0931
Online: wahinekaishaveice

photo: Catamaran Resort Hotel

Sunset Luaus at Catamaran Resort Hotel
For an unforgettable family outing this summer, we recommend this splurge-worthy affair. The Catamaran Hotel’s Sunset Luaus feature amazing entertainment including hula and fire dancers that create an authentic Hawaiian feel. Kids love the rhythms of the fast-paced music and interactive entertainment. Sunset Luaus have been known to call all the kiddos onto the stage to learn the hula.

Every guest receives a lei and is treated to an all-you-can-eat buffet and a mai tai for parents. Little ones will enjoy tasty choices just for them like Hawaiian chicken and pineapple and ham pizza. Luaus are held Fridays at 6 p.m. from June 22 -Aug. 31, and Tuesdays, from July 17-Aug. 21.

Insider Tip: Stick around after the luau ends to grab a photo on the lawn with the Polynesian performers.

3999 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, Ca
Online: catamaranresort.com/dining-entertainment/sunset-luaus

photo: Kara P. via Yelp

The Grass Skirt
Time for some adult conversation and a real date night? If your Hawaiian dreams are filled with tiki lounge fun and fruity drinks, head to The Grass Skirt in Pacific Beach. Its secret entrance through the freezer door of adjacent restaurant Good Time Poke starts the evening with adventure. Once inside, you’ll be immersed in a tiki world surrounded by hula girl lamps, a wall filled with glowing sculls and a tiki idol fire pit on the patio. The atmosphere is right for letting your hair down. Go ahead! Fill your glass with a tipsy tentacle made with black rum and several tropical liqueurs. Munch on their acclaimed pork belly bao buns or on an order of fresh, savory poke. The evening will have you proclaiming, “Ono!” (Delicious!)

910 Grand Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92109
Online: thegrassskirt.com

photo: Cee M. via Yelp 

Fairweather Rooftop Bar
You wouldn’t expect to find aloha vibes while watching a Padres game, but Fairweather Rooftop Bar, one of San Diego’s best rooftop locales, offers a super relaxed tropical atmosphere with a great view of the game. Succulent wall planters, tiki god beer handles and plentiful sunshine create an afternoon perfect for lounging with friends. Make it a girls’ day out and order up classic tiki cocktails complete with colorful umbrellas.

Insider Tip: The bar is upstairs from Rare Form Delicatessen.

795 J St., Fl. 2
San Diego, Ca 92101
Online: fairweatherbar.com

–Cherie Gough


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