Finding Hawaii on the Mainland

Travel Blog  •  Pam Mandel  •  06.12.09 | 4:01 PM ET

Aloha Tavern by Nerd’s Eye View

I’m not sure why I’m surprised when, on the mainland in the middle of rural territory, I find a town named “Aloha,” or when a festival in Seattle brings thousands of Hawaiians out to listen to traditional music and see hula. The Hawaiian diaspora is extensive—hey, it reaches all the way to the White House these days.

One of our Seattle museums—the Wing Luke Asian Museum—has an exhibit up about the history and culture of Pacific Northwest Hawaiians, and this weekend (June 12-14, 2009) in Washington, D.C., there’s a Celebrate Hawaii festival on with story telling and music, traditional crafts and more things Hawaiian.

Some years back one of my ukulele teachers invited a handful of his students to play with him at a ho’olaule’a—celebration or festival—on a reservation in Puyallup, outside Tacoma, Washington. We were stunned by the size of the crowd, by the parking lot overflowing with cars covered in Native Hawaiian Pride bumper stickers, and, as always, when it comes to Hawaiians, by the hospitality we received. This weekend, I’m going to a kani ka pila—song circle— at a local Hawaiian restaurant where apparently we’ll play some music, eat something, play some more music, eat some more ...

If you’re looking for some aloha on the mainland, there’s an events calendar on Aloha World. That one is pretty West Coast-centric, but for grins, I typed Hawaii in the Midwest into Google and found the Hula Association of the Midwest’s event calendar—there are Hawaiian festivals in Chicago and Houston and Florida, too.

This is a rather long-winded way of saying that you can get some of that Hawaii vibe where you are right now, no plane tickets or hotel reservations required.

Pam Mandel is a freelance writer and photographer from Seattle, Washington. Her work has appeared in a variety of print, radio, and web publications and she's contributed to two guidebooks, one on British Columbia and one on Hawaii. She plays the ukulele, has an internal beacon that is surprisingly capable of locating the best baked goods in town, almost any town, and speaks German with a Styrian accent. Learn more on her personal blog at Nerd's Eye View.

1 Comment for Finding Hawaii on the Mainland

Chas 06.13.09 | 10:05 AM ET

Expect to see more Hawaiian events this year as some celebrate it’s 50th year of statehood.  Anything that promotes Aloha spirit is a good thing.  Don’t forget to wear your Aloha shirts and garb every Friday through the summer!  Hawai’i no ka oi.

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