Santa Barbara is well known for its wine country, but orchids too? Indeed, the city's love affair with the showy blooms took off after local growers rescued many tropical cymbidiums from English and European greenhouses that were threatened by bombs during World War II.
The plants thrived in the city's Mediterranean-like habitat, and growers continued to market them. In 1945, the first Santa Barbara International Orchid Show was organized to showcase the growers' work -- and to name a "grand champion cymbidium," a tradition that has continued every year since.
The 70th-annual show will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 13 to 15 at the Earl Warren Showgrounds at 3400 Calle Real in Santa Barbara.
Visitors can expect to see displays of exotic and hybrid orchids from around the world. It offers free workshops on orchid care from experts Don Brown and Bruce Kidd.
You can choose from thousands of orchid plants or corsages to take home and browse juried exhibitions of orchid displays, blooms and orchid-themed art and photos.
Tickets cost $12 for general admission each day; $10 for seniors 65 and older and students; children younger than 12 are free. Visitors can buy a general three-day pass for $20 and $17 for seniors and students. (Parking is $5 extra.)
You can also hit the road and take a free California Orchid Trail tour that features seven nurseries from Malibu to Santa Barbara.