Foster Botanical Garden: A convenient spot to enjoy the delicious variety of plants, especially the enormous trees. It also has a gorgeous collection of orchids (1-808-522-7060; honolulu.gov).
State Capitol Building: Built in 1969, the capitol has a lovely courtyard bounded by a series of pillars, with a view of the sky overhead. In the center of the courtyard, there's a reflective pool that symbolizes the Pacific Ocean. The second floor has spectacular panoramic views of the island (capitol.hawaii.gov).
Waimanalo Beach Park: My favorite beach was a bit of a drive. It takes 40 minutes to get to Waimanalo, on the other side of the island of Oahu. Clear, turquoise waters and pristine sand help you disappear deliciously from the world for an afternoon. It's a favorite among locals and campers.
Kakaako: Another "up-and-coming" neighborhood with fun arts and cultural events happening regularly. Kakaako is great for walking around, to see the amazing murals created by some of the world's best street artists.
Where to eat
Grondin French-Latin Kitchen: This open-air restaurant is a bit pricey, but worth it, and perfect for a date. (1-808-566-6768; grondinhi.com).
Serge's Mexican Kitchen: There's more than one location, but the one we went to was on the way to Waimanalo Beach — delicious lunch spot (1-808-259-7374)!
Where to sleep
Aston at the Executive Centre Hotel: It's away from the beach, but it's less hectic (and cheaper) than fancier places in Waikiki. It's rather corporate, but has beautiful views of the ocean on one side and of the mountains on the other (1-808-539-3000; astonexecutivecentre.com).
Delta flies nonstop to Honolulu, but we got a much cheaper return flight by having a four-hour layover in Maui. Highly recommended — it feels like an extra little vacation on your way home.