Forget the solstice—everyone knows the actual start of summer is Memorial Day weekend. This long weekend is filled with ways to get out and enjoy the sunshine, whether it’s with a family bird walk on the beach, a fiesta by the sea, horse races at a carnival, an old fashioned fair in the forest or a music and culture festival (pick from Scottish or Cajun). Then when you need a break, you can hear some music, catch a movie or get hands-on with art. Start your summer engines right here!

photo: Courtesy of Topanga Days

Mid-City

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
Your $6 gets you popcorn and a couple of hours in a cool, restful dark theatre as you giggle over Pee Wee’s Big Adventure at this weekend’s Kiddie Matinee at the New Beverly. Sat. & Sun. Event details.

Eastside

Jazz Hands Concert
This music festival celebrates the musical abilities of individuals on the autism spectrum where musicians of all ages, genres and abilities play their heart’s song. Sat. Event details.

San Gabriel Valley

A Horse Racing Carnival
The Santa Anita Park infield becomes the Santa Anita Carnival on Memorial Day weekend with rides, carnival & games and of course, horse races. Sat.-Mon. Event details.

Wild Art Weekend at Kidspace
Explore the wild world of art, where nature and the great outdoors inspire young artists to get creative. Sat.-Mon. Event details.

Westside

Topanga Days
This long weekend bash includes old fashioned games like sack races, a baby derby, a bat spinning relay, 3 legged races, pie eating contests, egg tosses, a water balloon way and seed spitting plus tons of music (Ozomatli on the main stage on Sunday, and Jefferson Starship on Saturday). Cap the weekend off with a parade Monday morning. Sat.-Mon. Event details.

Family Bird Walk
Bring kids to learn all about the birds you find at the beach. The Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society (SMBAS) leads walks where they bring binoculars and loads of knowledge to share with little birders. Sun. Event details.

Honk, Jr., The Musical
The Ugly Duckling hits the stage in a musical for even the littlest theater-goer in a celebration of what makes us special. Sat. & Sun. Event details.

South Bay

Seaside Lagoon Opens for Summer
The large saltwater lagoon, with trained lifeguard supervision, sandy beaches, a playground and water slides is now open for summer, and it’s the perfect way to celebrate this sunny long weekend. Sat.-Mon. Event details.

Fiesta Hermosa
The beach, art, music (two live stages) and food (don’t miss the Hermosa Beach Lifeguards’ famous fish tacos) are reason enough to make this your family Memorial Weekend tradition, and that’s without taking into account the Kiddie Carnival, with features a 30 foot slide, mechanical rides, rock climbing wall and bungee jump, games, pony rides, a petting zoo and face painters. Sat.-Mon. Event details.

Long Beach

Family Fun with Sea Jellies
Learn all about these beautiful creatures together, and then spend the rest of the day poking around the aquarium. Sat. Event details.

San Fernando Valley

A Rockin’ Memorial Day Concert
The annual Summer Concerts in the Park opens the season tonight with the LA All Stars for a Memorial Day concert.  Their song list will get everyone in the family up and dancing, because it includes everything from Janis Joplin and Bruno Mars to Walk the Moon and Prince. Mon. Event details.

Simi Valley

Simi Valley Cajun Festival
This is a full weekend of nonstop award-winning Cajun & Zydeco music, more food choices than you can sample in two days, activities (including Cajun dance lessons) for kids of all ages and a Mardi Gras parade each day. Sat. & Sun. Event details.

Worth the Drive

Haggis Time at the Scottish Festival
Of course there’s Highland drumming, piping and loads of bands, harps and fiddlers. There will also be lots of kid’s activities like archery, slides, sack races, running races and more; not to mention grown up activities, like whiskey tasting! Sat. & Sun. Event details.

What LA outing says “summer” to your family? We want to hear from you in the comment section!

—Meghan Rose