Spring has sprung and Mother-Nature-inspired events are beckoning little minds, thirsty for knowledge, out to explore. The sky’s the limit at the Griffith Park Observatory where families can spend an afternoon gazing into the heavens. Head west and hit the beach to tip toe through tide-pools burgeoning with sea life or reel ’em in with a free fishing lesson at Dana Point. Earth Day celebrations are already popping up and this weekend’s best will be at the L.A. Zoo and STAR Eco Station. For a final treat, don’t miss storybook-superstar Thomas the Tank Engine, who will be pulling into Imagination Station in Fillmore.

Los Angeles

Griffith Observatory Star Party
Introduce your children to the breathtaking wonders of the universe. Spend a lofty Saturday afternoon with your head in the clouds, gazing at stars and planets. Astronomers will share their knowledge about the sky and let you try out their telescopes. It’s a family experience that promises to be out of this world! Sat., 2:00 pm – 9:45 pm, Los Angeles, Free. Event Details.

Earth Day Expo at the Zoo
Monkey around at the zoo with some good tunes! Local radio station K-EARTH 101 will host the festivities, which will focus on conservation, education, and California wildlife. Sat. and Sun. 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Los Angeles, $14 Adults, $9 Children. Event Details.

Westside

STAR Eco Station Children’s Earth Day
L.A.’s largest earth day event (pictured above) is held at this venerable, exotic-wildlife rescue and education center. Thousands of families participate in the eco-friendly extravaganza that boasts green shopping, crafts, giveaways, celebrity appearances, and live entertainment. You can let your kids indulge in the festival fare without the guilt as healthy, vegetarian food vendors will supply this meat-free celebration. Tours of the wildlife center are $5. Sun. 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Culver City, Free. Event Details.

Santa Monica

Dino Fair
This dino-mite day of fun raises money for the Growing Place. The event will feature a reptile-experience exhibit, an obstacle-course bounce, and exploding volcanoes. A raffle, games, and food offerings will round out this positively primeval experience. Sat. 11:00 am – 4:00 pm, Santa Monica, Free. Event Details.

Valley

Day out with Thomas
Thomas the Tank Engine has traveled from the Island of Sodor to take all aspiring engineers and their families for a ride. Leaving from Fillmore, each trip on this classic storybook engine will last about 25 minutes. Pull into Imagination Station for arts and crafts, snacks, and a chance to meet Sir Topham Hat. As this event fills up, advanced tickets are recommended. Passengers of all ages are welcomed. Fri., Sat. and Sun. 9:50 am – 2:40 pm, Fillmore, $18, Children under 2, Free. Event Details.

Playland 2011
Get your fortunes told by Madame Tasha, witness the Amazing Snake Man, and see the Great Gilbertini at this old-fashioned carnival. Come hungry for the gourmet hot dogs by the Brats Brothers and delectable goodies from the Bearded Ladies Bake Sale. The balloon-twisting, face-painting, family-fun will raise funds for the Studio City Co-op Preschool. Sun. 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm, Studio City, $6 Adults, $4 Children over 2. Event Details.

Beach Cities

A Tidepool Walk
Head to the Point Fermin State Marine Park for a ramble on the rocks. An informative slide show in the John M. Olguin Auditorium will start the day, followed by a naturalist-led tour of discovery that will introduce your own little critters to southern California’s abundant creatures on the shore. Don’t forget comfortable walking shoes and sunblock! Sun. 8:30 am – 10:00 am, San Pedro, Free. Event Details.

Kid’s Fishing Clinic
Teach a kid to fish…and they’ll be hooked for life! This dockside experience offers expert instruction and advice, plus raffles and prizes. Equipment rentals are available. For a whopper of a time after the clinic, join the 1/2 Day Fishing Trip Excursion at a discounted rate. Sun. 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm, Dana Point, Free. Event Details.

—Kameron DeWulf