Around 6 p.m. on the first Friday of every month, the First Fridays Hilo Art Walk takes place in the downtown Bayfront area of Hilo on Big Island. The somewhat sleepy town comes alive as locals and visitors alike come out to celebrate everything local and creative. From vendor booths on the streets selling handmade jewelry, pottery, paintings and clothing, to bars and art galleries opening up for live music and poetry readings, Hilo Art Walk is an awesome addition to the Hilo nightlife. Following in the footsteps of other communities around the islands, such as Kaua`i where they have Hanapepe Art Night and Kapa`a Art Walk, and Oahu where First Fridays in Chinatown take place, Hilo's new art night has only been growing at each event. Each First Friday, the crowds are larger than the last, the vendors are more abundant and more people arrive for open mic performances. Live music happens on the street and in many a bar and restaurant.
The Hilo Town Tavern is Hilo's answer to the classic dive bar. The full bar with local beers on tap can make just about anything a guest could want, but don't expect anything too fancy or gourmet. There's always an equal blend in here of college students, locals, regulars and visitors. Open mic happens every Tuesday night with no cover charge. A porch area provides space and fresh air, while a pool table and game room a big draw for a lot of people. The menu has standard bar food offerings but with a local twist. Live music happens most nights of the week, with official concerts - booked popular bands - taking place also. Look around town for flyers or call to find out about those. A dance floor happens most nights of the week, and patrons can feel free to let loose on it.
The pub at the Big Island's most famous brewery is a terrific place to wind down after shopping. An abundance of brews are on tap, and a highlight is the seasonal beers that aren't in stores. Brewery tours are quick and personal – an added bonus is that visitors over 21 get to sample the products. Kona's on-premises brewpub serves cold mugs of the brewery's top sellers, including Fire Rock Pale, Pacific Golden Ale, and Longboard Lager, and the cozy setting easily pulls you in, making it difficult to leave. Great Hawaiian influenced pub grub – pizzas, salads, and sandwiches – is also available.
Miyo's restaurant has been serving up great Japanese food for over a decade. You won't find sushi here, but you'll find amazing curries, katsus, salads, udon and soba dishes, and tempura. The portions are good sized, and you won't leave hungry. There's plenty of vegetarian options on the menu, and lot's of fish dishes made with locally caught fish. The full meals come with miso soup, a small salad and Japanese pickles. Miyo's keeps it sustainable by serving Hilo Homemade Ice Cream for dessert (try the ginger or green tea) and it always has been and still is, BYOB (bring your own beer or wine). Miyo's is a favorite for any locals, and that's why it's usually pretty busy. The low key restaurant mixes simplicity with elegance and the brand new building features wooden tables and walls, a kitchen full view, and a fountain and live acoustic music.
As a family owned and operated restaurant in downtown Hilo, Pineapples brings fresh, local ingredients to a menu of Pacific Rim cuisine. Located in Hilo's historic Pineapple Building, the restaurant take advantage of an open air, corner location with a full view of the hip neighborhood. A full bar pours exotic tropical cocktails such as the Coconut Dream and the Kohala Cooler. The menu features a combination of Pacific Rim, Mediterranean and Asian inspired dishes. Whether you're in the mood for olive tapenade, vegetable tempura, a curry, or steak or fish plate, you'll find a varied selection of dishes to choose from. Pineapples embraces its community featuring artwork in the restaurant by local artists from One Gallery, located across the street. Live music is features Tuesdays through Sundays, with an array of local musicians.
One of the Big Island's top dance clubs, Lulu's can attribute its popularity to any number of factors – its ocean-side location, awesome open-air deck, or state-of-the-art lighting and sound. Live music happens at Lulu's on a regular basis and they occasionally book popular bands for true concerts. A favorite with the young and pretty sect, the bar stays hopping until well after old fogies have hit the sack, and professional DJs spin the hottest dance tracks until 1:30am or so. The menu features a variety of munchies, known as "pupus" to the local crowd. Look for themed deal days on drink specials.
Oceans Sports Bar & Grill is a sports bar, restaurant, and after dark hot spot all in one. Located across from the ocean in Kailua-Kona, "Oceans," as it's been dubbed by the locals, is great for couples or family meals during the day but turns into a late night place to hang out for the 21 and over crowd. Friday and Saturday nights are best for those looking for a party, and on these nights guests will usually find live music, a DJ, and themed nights. Several pool tables can be found here, which can be utilized at any time of day. Multiple large flat screen TVs deliver sports games and happy hours has drinks and food.
The younger, wilder sibling of the famous seafood eatery next door, this spirited joint is a terrific place to wind down the day and usher in the evening. Indeed, Huggo's on the Rocks is a popular outdoor bar and dance club whose specialty drinks and beautiful clientele always ensure a great time. A light bar menu features fajitas, salads, sandwiches, and tasty appetizers and offers a cure for the late night munchies. Live music is usually offered on the weekends. Guests can kick back at a table and relax with a drink or hit the dance floor and cut the rug.
Blue Dragon Coastal Cuisine & Musiquarium is known for giving guests a really good time. Always crowded with locals and visitors alike dancing away the evening and taking breaks for bites of delicious food. The menu is locally based and presents local fish, meats and produce. The menu also notes which items are vegetarian, vegan and/or gluten free. The live music is a big draw here, and often times the place turns into a club like atmosphere. Children are welcome and there's a keiki menu, but it's best to bring them earlier on in the night before the party scene gets going.
At the bottom of Big Island's Kalapana Highway outside of Pahoa lies Uncle Robert's Awa Club, the district's newest foray into socializing, food, shopping and nightlife. In fact, it's the only place to shop for miles around until returning back to Pahoa. Named after the patriarch of the Keli`iho`omalu family that's lived on the four-acre compounds for decades, Uncle Robert's has taken off and turned into a hot spot for locals. Each Wednesday evening the outdoor market takes place and draws a wide array of local farmers, artists, craftsman, and entertainers. Among the shopping and food, live music jams all night long and people dance and drink beer from the "donation bar." This is an ideal place to experience the local culture. It's fast become a gathering place for people not only to eat and shop, but to socialize, share and expand their connections.