Bakersfield, California, is most known as the “country music capital of the West”. The city gained this title as a result of welcoming many Dust Bowl refugees and being the home of many country singers including Merle Haggard and Buck Owens.
Located in the southern region of California’s Central Valley, Bakersfield has a rich history involving oil and agriculture. Nowadays, the city is a hub for energy production involving industries such as natural gas, petroleum refining and distribution, mining, and other energy extraction.
Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Bakersfield CA
1. The Big Red Barn, Murray Family Farms
The Big Red Barn is a good, family-oriented place featuring exotic birds, strawberry picking, hayrides, a huge air trampoline, and many fruit trees and berry bushes to look at. The deli has hot shepherd pies to order. This is such a great place to stop and enjoy an Okie Pie or just pick up some jellies, honey, pies, cookies, fruit, or a drink. They also sell fudge, vegetables, and various snacks. Not to mention some local crafts.
Also, this is a great place to get gas before some long stretches of desert road. There are large pump areas with a large turning radius if needed as well for big RVs or trucks. The goats outside are an added touch.
2. Hart Park
The picturesque Hart Park offers swimming, fishing, picnic facilities, hiking, and equestrian trails. This is one of the only recreational places in Bakersfield with a water body to refresh yourself in the hot Californian heat during summer. The water is not too deep so the kids can enjoy it.
Hart Park offers a wonderful array of scenery. From majestic mountain tops to ducks, geese, peacocks, and other water features, the photo opportunities are endless. There, you will find plenty of space to be alone with the tranquility of the river running through the park, including a peaceful area surrounding a small lake.
3. California Living Museum
Popularly known as CALM, California Living Museum explores California’s diverse flora and fauna, with a reptile house and botanical gardens. Founded in 1980, the museum sits on a 14-acre park featuring over 400 species of animals and plants.
The place is in the middle of nowhere and the species are amazing. The museum has done an outstanding job rescuing and helping animals in need. Interestingly, only animals that cannot survive in the wild live at the museum. Among their programs and events, the highlight is the Christmas Lights at CALM welcoming thousands of visitors each year.
4. Camelot Park
Featuring bumper boats and other family amusements such as miniature golf, Camelot Park sits in a festive spot. This amusement park is a blast for adults and kids alike! Besides go-kart racing, they also have many games you play to win tickets that you can turn in for prizes such as stuffed animals or dartboards, candy, board games, headphones, and MP3 players. They have pretty much anything you would win at a carnival.
The staff is very helpful, and if you are looking for something to do with your family or young kids, Camelot Park is a great idea.
5. Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace
At Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace you can see the singer’s own music memorabilia on display and enjoy live country music. They have a very entertaining class for line dancing and live band performances on stage.
The experience is “a must” in Bakersfield. The staff members are all happy and competent people. The museum is an added bonus and there are multiple statues of country star legends. And the bar is Elvis’s 1972 car that was custom made. Just be aware that it is a very popular place and even during the week, they can be sold out.
6. Fox Theater
First opened in 1930, Fox Theater is a restored, ornate theater hosting comedians, musicians, dancers, and other acts. This is a big old movie theater built in the heyday of the Hollywood Studio System that has been restored close to its original glory. Pay extra attention to the beautiful old sweeping staircase and the ornamental ceiling. It is so gorgeous that it is worth buying a ticket to see anything just to get a chance of walking into the building.
Nowadays, it counts with a digital projector and great sound system. Located in downtown Bakersfield, the venue offers an eclectic assortment of films and live shows.
7. Sequoia National Forest
Sequoia National Forest is a vast, iconic mountain wilderness known for conserving giant sequoia tree groves, and trails. It is surreal to see the giant Sequoia trees in person. Pictures and words cannot really do it justice because most people have no real frame of reference to understand just how large these trees are.
The Giant Sequoia National Monument is located in the national forest. And one of the forest’s highlight is the Hart Tree Trail accessible through a 2-mile dirt road. You can also choose to camp out next to the Kern River where the water levels are not too high.
8. The Park at River Walk
The Park at River Walk is a 32-acre park with an amphitheater surrounded by water featuring various live music performances, and playgrounds. Go fishing if you please or feed the local ducks. The area counts with plenty of mature trees and grass for family picnics. There are also several gazebos if you want to have a small group outing.
The park is next door to a major shopping center and Kern River which allows you to have a fantastic walk or ride with your bicycle along the water. The paved trail along the river goes for miles.
9. Gaslight Melodrama Theatre
Featuring family-friendly melodramas and musicals, the old-timey Gaslight Melodrama Theatre offers American food, beer, and wine. A local production with good talent. Do not come expecting a Tony performance, but be open to participating and having fun with all the local production and good talent. All cast members are committed to making the theater really enjoyable for its patrons.
There is always an excellent piano accompaniment throughout the show. Overall, this is a great entertainment spot for Bakersfield. And if you visit it on a hot summer day, you can expect a nice venue with great air conditioning.
10. Panorama Park
Also known as the Bluffs, the beautiful Panorama Park is a very popular place with the local community. Panorama Park is a Bakersfield little version of the mountain tops of Los Angeles overlooking the city.
The park is a great place to walk your dog, go for a run and enjoy the scenery. The challenging hike up to the top of the hill is physically exhilarating and truly a workout. The view from the top is beautiful with all the surrounding valleys and oilfields.
11. Kern County Museum
With dozens of artifacts and displays chronicling the area’s Native American, Kern County Museum also tells the story of the region’s frontier and oil history. If you love history or are in the mood for a blast from the past, this is a good place to visit. The museum has done a good job taking homes from the city to preserve and show what life was like in the 1800s at Kern County. The restorations and upkeep are done primarily by donations and volunteers who assist with tours and events.
The museum is open for self-guided, or docent-guided tours. The back end of the property also holds a signage graveyard and you can see many of the neon signs that attracted patrons to businesses so long ago.
12. Kern County Raceway Park
Kern County Raceway Park is a racecar track and stadium with 5,000 seats, 21 VIP suites, a concession building, and ample parking. If you love dirt in your beer and the sound and smell of racing, this is the place to come.
The raceway claims to have “the best pit road food in racing“. Located way out in the hinterlands, the well-managed racing venue is worth the trip. You will be impressed how smoothly, and effortlessly crowded lines move, from the ticket booth, food concessions, to the last restroom visit.
13. Golden West Casino
The supersized venue of Golden West Casino offers 24-hour gambling including Texas Hold’em, Blackjack, Poker, and Baccarat. Not to mention many other card games and machines. The security guards are very friendly and professional making this a pleasant place to play some table games and have a drink at the bar. In fact, the whole staff is very welcoming and treat you like a good old friend.
The food is out of this world and quite generous of portions. The casino also counts with an outside seating area.
14. Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science
Featuring hands-on exhibits and artifacts, the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science explores earth sciences such as geology, archaeology, and paleontology. The upper level has many interesting displays, and the lower level is perhaps the museum’s highlight.
Even though the building is relatively old and small, the museum’s collection is amazing. It includes fossils and an incredible collection of shark teeth. You will learn all there is to know about fossils and extinct native animals from the Bakersfield area. This is a great, unique, and educational museum. They also have a “playroom” downstairs.
15. Puzzle Effect – Bakersfield
With creative storylines, Puzzle Effect is an escape room attraction in Bakersfield. The content of the rooms is very engaging and is a great way to spend time with a group of friends.
As soon as you arrive the staff will give you your storyline so you can start looking for your clues and solve the mystery in order to escape the room. The rooms include Amnesia, Grim Stacks, Knight & Rook, and The Crimson Storm. You and your team will have 60 minutes to solve the mystery. You are guaranteed to have fun competing against the clues and the clock.
16. McMurtrey Aquatic Center
McMurtrey Aquatic Center is a buzzing neighborhood public swimming pool with lifeguards and a locker room with showers. They offer several different time slots for lap swim in their beautiful pool. Part of the center also functions as a water park featuring two water slides.
The locker rooms are very clean, as well as the showers, and there are plenty of lockers available. There are always lifeguards on duty and the cost to swim is worth the drive out there. During the winter months, the water is heated, keeping the pool at a comfortable temperature.
17. Bakersfield Museum of Art
The longtime Bakersfield Museum of Art offers exhibits by Californian artists, education programs, as well as kids’ classes. Although it is a little small, this is really great place to see art made by people from Bakersfield. The exhibits are especially great and educational for the little ones.
This is more than simply an art museum as their most popular exhibits are focused on the Rainforest, Gems, and Skin. They also feature a simulated flying experience imitating a Pterosaur. The museum itself is beautiful with scenic grounds and a cute gazebo. Overall, it is very green and well maintained.
18. Sam Lynn Ballpark
Built in 1941, Sam Lynn Ballpark is the home field of the Bakersfield Blaze minor league baseball team, with a relaxed, old-time atmosphere. The stadium is not very big, so you can get up close to the players. Interestingly, the park has the shortest center field amongst all the professional baseball fields.
They also have batting cages and a running trail that is 100 yards away from the canal. You can also choose to take a tour of this very old ballpark. And make sure to check their website for fun give away days and Friday Fireworks.
19. Brainy Actz Escape Rooms Bakersfield
In a group of up to 10 people, you get to read clues and solve mysteries at Brainy Actz Escape Rooms Bakersfield in order to escape a room. Just be smart and quick because your time runs out after 60 minutes.
This can also be described as a fun and challenging “live-action” entertainment. And the staff is very friendly and good at describing the stories and making the experience fun for the kids and challenging for the grown-ups. When in doubt of what to do with different people, keep in mind that this is both a fun sporty game and a brain-teasing one.
20. Minter Field Air Museum
Dating back to the 1940s, Minter Field Air Museum was the largest flight training base on the US West Coast. The building is now a museum exhibiting all kinds of airplane models, vintage cars, and military history from World War II to Vietnam. Besides all the military memorabilia, the museum presents space exploration information and artifacts.
The museum also counts with a DVD library with over 900 hours of aviation history. Overall, Minter Field is part of California’s gold landmarks. The museum also hosts the annual event of Wings & Wheels.
21. The Bakersfield Sign
Also known as the Bakersfield Neon Arch, the Bakersfield Sign is a wonderful sight to behold, and a terrific landmark to show out-of-town guests. Supported by two towers, the yellow sign is illuminated by indirect lighting.
The sign was originally constructed in 1949 at Union Avenue as a connection between two parts of the Bakersfield Inn. Nowadays, the sign can be found next to Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace where it has been since 1999. Ever since then, the sign has been a popular touristic attraction and a historical landmark in Bakersfield.
22. Lori Brock Discovery Center
Located inside Kern County Museum, Lori Brock Discovery Center is Bakersfield children’s museum. Focusing on teaching all about science with creative and imaginative displays, the center’s exhibits cover topics on technology, engineering, art, and math. The museum is a clean and well laid out activity center. It is such a fun and educational center, that the little ones will not want to leave even after 3 hours of exploring it.
The center also tells the story behind the oil and energy culture of Bakersfield. The old wooden drilling rig shows how far we have come. The artifacts displayed all over the center tell the evolution of the industry.
23. Mechanics Bank Arena, Theater and Convention Center
With great seats and friendly staff, Mechanics Bank Arena is the most popular convention center and events venue in Bakersfield. The center features very easy parking making it simple to get into the arena and exit it. And even though it is quite large, the arena is small enough that every seat is good for concerts too.
Besides the most popular country music concerts with big names such as Blake Shelton and Carry Underwood, the arena also hosts Monster Trucks events, Disney On Ice, wrestling meets, and hockey games.
24. Valley Plaza Mall
The spacious and stylish complex of Valley Plaza Mall has over 135 retailers, plus casual dining options, and a movie theater. This is the largest mall in Bakersfield and counts with stores such as Forever 21, Target, Macy’s, Azkara, and many more. Valley Plaza has a wide range of eateries in a spacious and clean food court.
Besides an arcade room and a play area, the mall also has a little train that goes around the entire shopping center. As a plus, the air conditioning of the mall is good and a great relief from the hot Californian climate.
25. Black Angus Steakhouse – Bakersfield
Black Angus Steakhouse is a chain offering beef, seafood, and surf ‘n’ turf combos with a branch in Bakersfield. They offer traditional sides amid Western-themed decor. Their cuts are aged for at least 21 days, seasoned with care, and nicely flame-grilled.
The food is consistently tasty, the appetizers are wonderful, and the bar has a nice assortment of drinks. Overall, Black Angus has a really nice dining atmosphere to enjoy a meal at. The prime rib and lobster are amongst their most popular dishes and the nachos are the public’s favorite appetizer.