Barack Obama
Carolyn Kaster  /  AP
President Barack Obama waves as he leaves Alan Wong's Restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii on Wednesday after dining with family and friends.
updated 12/30/2010 10:41:31 AM ET 2010-12-30T15:41:31

President Barack Obama hit the town in Honolulu Wednesday night for a leisurely dinner with friends and family at one of his favorite island restaurants.

Onlookers waited patiently outside Alan Wong's Restaurant for three hours, hoping to catch a glimpse of the president, the first lady and the rest of their party. The award-winning eatery is in the same neighborhood where Obama grew up, and the president's motorcade passed the Honolulu apartment where he once lived with his late grandmother and the Baskin Robbins ice cream shop where he worked as a teenager.

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Wong is a favorite of the Obamas. They've dined at his flagship restaurant here several times, including last December, and also invited Wong to cater a luau at the White House.

The president's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and her husband joined the Obamas at dinner, along with several friends from Hawaii and Chicago who are vacationing with the president.

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Obama has made few public appearances since arriving on the island of Oahu last week. He's spent much of his time at his family's rented oceanfront home, and at a nearby marine base where he works out, golfs and takes his family to the beach.

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Squeezing in more time with the family
The president appears to be enjoying his downtime: The White House announced Wednesday that the first family is pushing their return to Washington back one day, and will now leave Hawaii late in the evening on Jan. 3. The Obamas are due back in Washington the following day.

Barack Obama
Chris Carlson  /  AP
President Barack Obama waves from the ninth green at Mid-Pacific County club near where his holiday vacation in Kailua, Hawaii on Tuesday.

It's the second time the Obamas have delayed their departure. They were originally slated to leave Hawaii on New Year's Day, but moved their return to Jan. 2 after the president delayed his arrival in here to stay in Washington while Congress wrapped up the legislative year.

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Obama spokesman Bill Burton says the president is trying to squeeze in more time with his family before returning to the nation's capital.

The delayed departure means Obama's daughters will miss at least two days of school. Classes resume at Sidwell Friends, the private school they attend, on the 3rd.

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Video: How past presidents spent their vacations

  1. Closed captioning of: How past presidents spent their vacations

    >>> president obama is enjoying vacation before getting back to the grind here in washington and, of course, he isn't the only president to want to get away for a while. yesterday we focused on the current president, but today we want to take a look back through history at some of the presidents predecessors and theirs great escaped. doris kerns goodwin, a pulitzer prize winner. doris a treats to talk to you. we love your history an anecdotes. let me ask you what do you think is one of the most memorable vacations that one of our presidents took?

    >> well, i would say when teddy roosevelt went on a several week bear hunt and the guides were unable to find him a bear so that they were all embarrassed. they finally brought a bear and captured it and told him he could shoot it. he refused to do so. then a cartoon made of teddy turning his back on a little cub bear and toy store owners had stuff stuffed animals. toy store owners called them teddy bears . the most memorable, i would say.

    >> can you imagine? unbelievable.

    >> absolutely.

    >> it is interesting to know, fdr , for instance who you know a lot about, in his vacation before he actually found ideas for changing this country while on vacation. right?

    >> indeed. what fdr said was getting out of washington allowed him to think creatively so in december of 1940 when england was in the middle of the blitz and run out of weapons and supplies and needed our help desperately, also run out of money, couldn't pay for the weapons anymore. fdr went on a sailing trip. you had to figure what am i going to do? he came up creatively with the whole idea of lending lease. lending weapons to britain. in return, lease bases to us. it cut through the debate in congress. so that brilliant idea came from being on the waters, as se head, outside of the conventional thinking of washington .

    >> ronald reagan was known for taking a lot of vacations in santa barbara and, of course, loved horses. nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse. it's interesting, doris . mark knoller, cbs historian actually tweeting yesterday about this saying that reagan used to have a daily plane flight out from washington with the newspapers on it, and that the leftover "new york times" and " washington post " would be given to the press afterwards, and it was a real treat. isn't that amazing?

    >> you know, he once said to mike deemer, his aide, you can tell me a lot of things to do, deemer, but you're not letting me not come to this ranch. i'm 70 years old, and it's going to add years on my life to come here. i don't begrudge him that, if it gave him a certain replenishment, so be it. let him go on that horse.

    >> talk about that, doris . how important is this relaxation for presidents? because as we know, they never truly get away. they never truly get a vacation. president obama may be in hawaii, and being able to spend time with his family, but he's still getting presidential daily briefing , still in touch with his national security officials and placing calls to world leaders .

    >> no question that the weight of the presidency comes with you, but i do think by getting into a sdif ritual, a different form of the day it does provide relaxation, and the interesting thing is that most presidents choose to go back to places they have already been. i mean, franklin roosevelt said when he went to hyde park all that was in him was in the hudson because of so many memories. bush senior loved to go to kennebunkport. said it would kill him not come here, it's family, tradition. for obama to go to hawaii where he was before is almost a reminder of the person they were before they became president, and connecting to that past and remembering, i'm still that person. going to be that person when i leave. that could be the most important point of these kinds of vacations.

    >> you mentioned teddy roosevelt . had are there other instances when vacations can create problems for the president?

    >> absolutely. the visual is something they have to worry about. for example, when taft was playing golf a lot during vacations he was warned it was not a working man's game a dude's game. better not do it. president nixon walking on a beach with black dress shoes on it looked like, oh, my god, this guy can never relax. bush seen your on a cigarette boat in the middle aef recession, people wondered why he could do that. let them dough in anyway, it's worth it.

    >> now that the president is having a good time he's extending it one more day. stuck in washington for that lame duck. doris kerns goodwin, always a pleasure, happy new year to you.

    >> thank you, norah and same

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