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If you're up for a road trip to one of California's national parks, this is the weekend.
NATIONAL PARKS FREE ENTRANCE DAYS: There are only a handful of 'em every year, and the three that fall over the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend are the first. In years past this weekend has proven to be a bit snowy in certain parks, but not this year; sunny skies abound. Check the list to find out what parks and monuments are waiving admission in honor of the weekend (Yosemite and Lassen are two). Saturday, Jan. 14 through Monday, Jan. 16
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. WEEKEND: There are several events going on throughout the weekend, including the Kingdom Day Parade on Monday, Jan. 16. This year's theme? "The Dream Continues to Live and Grow." City Year Los Angeles will also sponsor a day of service at Los Angeles Academy Middle School. Build benches and paint murals on Monday, Jan. 16. Find more volunteer opportunities at MLKDay.gov.
STYROFOAM TO SURFBOARDS: Have some soft packaging around the house? Run it by the Aquarium of the Pacific on Saturday, Jan. 14. The institution is collecting the filler for Waste to Waves, which turns foam into surfboards. Will the stuff your television's cardboard box one day ride the Pacific foam?
METROPOLIS II: Chris Burden created the famous lamp forest in front of LACMA. Now the artist has built a city in miniature, complete with hundreds of cars that make some 100,000 circulations every hour. It's flat-out mesmerizing. It opens on Saturday, Jan. 14, and runs certain dates/times (so check the schedule).
photo l.a.: January is an especially art-forward month, and this exposition, which marks its 21st year in 2012, is one of the jewels of that particular crown. Panels, tours, and lots and lots of looking are part of the five-day deal. Let's add that photos from all over, and both new and not so, are on display. Through Jan. 16 at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.