Hawaii may not have huge amusement parks, but we do have carnivals. And for many thrill-seeking tourists, that’s enough to get adrenaline pumping for at least part of their vacation.

The mobile carnivals and fairs pop up throughout the islands at various times of the year. Complete with roller coasters, candy apples and stuffed animal prizes, they’ve become a fun family outing for visitors and locals and possibly the next best thing to Disneyland and Six Flags; just nowhere near the same “scare calibre,” of course.

Twice a year on Oahu, the Aloha Stadium transforms from an athletic arena into a conundrum of carousels and cotton candy. The 50th State Fair and Hawaii State Farm Fair are by far the largest carnival endeavors in the state. Because the Punahou Carnival happens on the grounds of this Honolulu private school, it gets more of a student-centric turnout; nonetheless, fun for the whole family.

Maui, Kauai and the Big Island each host county fairs, which is similar to a carnival but with more of a country feel. There’s usually a marketplace of local goods in addition to the rides and games. Like Oahu’s State Farm Fair, the Big Island also has a farm fair of its own, which features an animal petting zoo. It’s great for the kids who want to meet-and-greet furry and feathery farm animals.

The nice thing about Hawaii carnivals, obviously, is the warm weather. We never worry about freezing temps or snow that often force rides at mainland theme parks to shut down. It can get pretty hot here, however, so I’d recommend going at night when it’s cooler. But the only drawback is that’ll likely be more crowded. Regardless of when you go, though, you’ll have a great time enjoying a favorite Hawaii pastime.

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