The first day of spring puts a spring in everyone's step, with its promise of warmer weather, longer days, and colorful flowers—lots of flowers. The biggest "superbloom" of recent memory is upon us, as tons of wildflowers spring up after our particularly wet winter followed years of drought. You can go far afield and check out the desert show at Death Valley National Park or choose among our list of wildflower hikes and open spaces close to home to best see nature's work.
Other ways to mark the changing of the season could be a hike to a local waterfall if you're feeling adventurous, or a free Italian ice at Rita's if you're not (there are about 20 locations in Los Angeles and Orange counties).
Thinking of catching Disney's new Beauty and the Beast movie? Check our review to see if it's right for your kids, of course, and if you're ready to forge ahead you can choose between screenings at El Capitan with all the extras, at the Arclight with free popcorn, or at Cinépolis with the new in-theater playground.
Our 10 picks for the week are below. Looking for even more ideas? Those can be found on our Mommy Poppins Event Calendar and our March GoList.
Monday, March 20
Rita's Annual First Day of Spring Celebration – various locations
Rita’s celebrates the first day of spring by giving away free Italian ice to each visitor. This is a 20-plus-year tradition for Rita's; last year, the chain gave away almost a million cups on the first day of spring.
The First Day of Spring Celebration – Irvine
Families can celebrate the start of this happy season at Pretend City, where kids can take part in a planting party and learn about a plant’s life cycle, then paint real flowers in the art studio and join in a puddle jumping game.
See all Monday events
Tuesday, March 21
Free Day at South Coast Botanic Garden or Free Day at Descanso Garden– Palos Verdes / La Canada Flintridge
Both the South Coast Botanic Garden and Descanso Gardens are open for free on the third Tuesday of the month, and the first day of spring seems like a great time to jump on that deal. Of particular interest at South Coast Botanic Garden are the Children's Garden, in which plants are matched with nursery rhymes, and the Discovery Garden with a secret tunnel, worm bin, alphabet garden, butterfly garden, and whimsical characters. Descanso, meanwhile, is glorying in its March tulips, camellias, irises, lilacs, cherry trees, clivia, and daffodils.
Tree Hugging Day - Santa Monica
Another way to welcome springtime is to join Santa Monicans in Palisades Park for a hands-on celebration of Tree Hugging Day, with songs, poems, and a group tree hug at the Children's Tree of Life.
See all Tuesday events
Wednesday, March 22
Anime Alien Invasions for Teens – Pico Rivera
The Pico Rivera Library celebrates National Alien Abduction Day with an overview of famous UFO sightings and alien abductions and a showing of popular alien anime such as Gin Tama and Dragon Ball Super. Guests can check out the library's display of books on alien abductions and visitations. This event is for teens and tweens ages 11 to 19.
Teen Movie: Kubo and the Two Strings – Culver City
Julian Dixon Library in Culver City screens the Academy Award-nominated film Kubo and the Two Strings (PG) for kids in grades five through 12. The movie is about a boy who must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.
See all Wednesday events
Thursday, March 23
ArcLight Santa Monica: Beauty and the Beast Promotion – Santa Monica
Thursday is the last day that moviegoers can get a free kid’s combo from the ArcLight Santa Monica concession stand when their child comes dressed up as a favorite prince or princess to see Beauty and the Beast. Be sure to check out our review first, to get a sense of whether this live action version of the story will work for your little ones.
Puppy Playtime – Mid-WIlshire
The Zimmer Museum brings in a passel of puppies to celebrate National Puppy Day. Kids can get their puppy cuddle fix in one super cute hour.
See all Thursday events
Friday, March 24
Abilities Expo – Downtown Los Angeles
The Abilities Expo, which continues through the weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center, opens up a world of possibilities for adults and kids with disabilities. In addition to a full program addressing adult needs, Abilities Expo presents fun, engaging things for kids to do and see. Kids' activities include adaptive art, hand cycling, face painting, an adaptive climbing wall, and adaptive rowing. In addition, parents can learn about assistive technologies and attend workshops on a variety of topics.
Classic Car Night – Burbank
The country's oldest Bob's Big Boy is right here in Burbank, and on Friday nights classic cars gather in the parking lot to pay tribute to its 1950s roots. Get a nostalgia fix outside, then enjoy some classic comfort food inside instead of cooking dinner.
See all Friday events
Photo courtesy of South Coast Botanic Gardens