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Free weekend? Comic book signing at Meltdown, game night in El Segundo, dinosaur puppets and more

Don't let Southern California's storms put a dent in your sunny spirit this weekend. Plenty of energizing indoor and outdoor activities await. Explore the Dinosaurs Encounter program at the Natural History Museum. Play a round of Jenga and Monopoly with new friends. Then, head over to Meltdown Comics for the chance to meet and greet your favorite comic geniuses. Planning to stay indoors on Sunday night? Here's a list of bars, restaurants and placeswhere you can catch your favorite Oscar nominees on the big screen.

Here's everything you need to know: 

1. Dinosaur Encounters at the Natural History Museum

(Aude Lising/flickr Creative Commons)

Study the anatomy of prehistoric specimens and get up close and personal with life-sized dinosaur puppets during the Natural History Museum's interactive program, Dinosaur Encounters. Brush up on your dinosaur trivia and be prepared to ask questions during a fun presentation on the similarities between birds and dinosaurs. 

Extra credit: Watch interviews with scientists and puppeteers from the Dinosaur Encounters program here.

When: Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

Where: Natural History Museum | MAP

Price: Free with museum admission 

2. Walk alongside turtles at the Los Cerritos Wetlands

Want to see and learn about animals that are still on our planet today? Go on a tour of the Los Cerritos Wetlands where an array of animals live — from rabbits and burrowing owls to frogs and turtles, including endangered Pacific Green Sea Turtles. This is a family-friendly experience, so bring the kids (age 7 and up) on this nature tour led by ecologists.

When: Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Where: Los Cerritos Wetlands | MAP

Price: Free

3. Game night with Mingle and Plei

(Patrick Q/flickr Creative Commons)

Place your bets on the poker table and get ready for a night of Battleship, Kerplunk and hundreds of other classic board games with the folks fromMingle and Plei.Put your balancing skills to the test with a few rounds of Jenga. You're never too old to revisit some of your favorite childhood games. 

When: Friday, 9 p.m. 

Where: Action Factory LA | MAP

Price:  $10 admission; RSVP here.

4. Hear local artists at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana

Max and the Moon, an indie band from Chino Hills, will play at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana, where they’ll perform on the same stage asBreach the Summit and the Cerny Brothers. The show is presented by KROQ Locals Only, which aims to promote local musicians by playing their music on the radio. Max and the Moon’s song “Step” reached No. 1 on Locals Only, according to KROQ.

When: Friday, 8 p.m.

Where: Constellation Room | MAP

Price: $10; buy your tickets here

5. Black Dynamite signing at Meltdown Comics

(Facebook photo)

Comic book fans, rejoice! Meet writer Brian Ash and comic geniuses Scott Sanders and Byron Minns for a free signing of the "Black Dynamite" comic book. A former CIA agent and an acclaimed "international ladies man,"Black Dynamite sure knows how to make a grand entrance in the comic world. Here's a look back at the classic 2009 film:

Black Dynamite trailer

When: Saturday, 5 to 8 p.m. 

Where: Meltdown Comics | MAP

Price: Free 

6. Head to Dana Point's Festival of Whales

(Festival of Whales)

Every year, Dana Point hosts the Festival of Whales. The two-weekend event creates a space for visitors to watch, from the coast, the California gray whale's 5,000-mile migration from Alaska to Mexico. During high-peak season, it's estimated that 40 to 50 whales can be seen every day from Dana Point Headland’s 200-foot cliffs near the harbor. The two-weekend event features local art and live entertainment, such as Polynesian dancing. 

TIP:  Take public transportation.  An OCTA and Metrolink weekend pass is $10, and it can be used systemwide all day Saturday and Sunday. Plus, with a Metrolink ticket, OCTA bus pass or 91 Express Lanes transponder, you can save 50 percent off your whale-watching excursion ticket. Read more

When: Saturday, Sunday and March 8 and 9

Where:  Dana Point | MAP

Price: Public trails are free, excursions start at $15

7. A date with art and wine

(rthakrar/flickr Creative Commons)

Create your next masterpiece enveloped in vibrant acrylic paintings and brush strokes. Get the creative juices flowing with a glass of wine and a slab of cheese. Mingle with friends and discuss art and all of its beauty during this social event at Viridian Art Academy. All painting materials will be included.

When: Friday

Where: Viridian Art Academy | MAP

Price: $40; RSVP before seats fill up; adults only. 

8. Can kids play their way to success? #Kidsplay

(Mae Ryan/KPCC)

Join KPCC’s Deepa Fernandes at the Zimmer Children’s Museum Sunday for a lively discussion on ways in which playtime at home can give kids an extra boost in school success. Discover creative ways to make playtime outside the classroom both fun and educational for your child. 

What games do the little ones in your house love to play? Drop us a line on social media and let us know using the hashtag #kidsplay. 

When: Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

Where: Zimmer Children's Museum | MAP

Price: Admission is free, but space is limited. RSVP here.

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