15 Best Things To Do In Bakersfield (CA)

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Bakersfield is the ninth largest city in California and one that is growing at a staggering pace. At the moment 800,000 people call this place home and the numbers just keep going up. Bakersfield is home to the popular music genre that is known as the Bakersfield Sound and many well known country music artists have been born in this fine city. The city also boasts several award winning museums which are all worth a look.

If you are looking for a great outdoors city  to spend a few days in then you should check out the top 15 things to do in Bakersfield.

1. Visit The Best Kept Secret In California – Kern River Canyon

Kern River CanyonSource: Hank Shiffman / shutterstock
Kern River Canyon

Kern Canyon is a beautiful wilderness located in Bakersfield where you can take advantage of camping, hiking, fishing and other similar activities. The actual canyon itself was formed by the Kern River and it connects the Southern San Joaquin Valley with the Kern River Valley. The area has been proclaimed by the locals as being “California’s best kept secret.” If you are in the area around sunset then a drive down the Kern River Canyon will give you a stunning sunset as the brown hills reflect off the water and make the picturesque background even more beautiful.

2. Take A Trip Down Memory Lane At Kern County Museum

Kern County MuseumSource: Richard Thornton / shutterstock
Kern County Museum

Kern County Museum is a wonderful place that has its focus firmly set on the history of Kern County. One of the highlights of the museum is Pioneer Village, it is set within 16 acres and houses 56 buildings that reflect what life would have been like at the end of the 19th century. The buildings have all been moved from their original locations, arranged to look like an old town and then restored. A lot of the buildings are ready for you take a look inside and study the types of furnishings that would have been used at that time.  Christmas is a particularly busy time to come to the museum as the place is decorated and special events are put on for the visitors.

3. Enjoy Some Country Music At Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace

Buck Owens' Crystal PalaceSource: Pierre Andre Leclercq / Flickr | CC BY-SA
Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace

Local Country Music star Buck Owens created this great restaurant and music venue in Bakersfield, and it is just as popular today as when it first opened. Owens’ was the creator of the Bakersfield sound of country music. Before he passed away in 2006 he ran and regularly performed at the restaurant. When you go into the restaurant you cannot help but notice the collection of guitars, clothing and memorabilia that he collected over the years and used to decorate Crystal Palace. Even today there are still live music shows and a small museum in honor of its founder.

4.  Increase Your Knowledge At The Buena Vista Museum Of Natural History

Buena Vista Museum Of Natural HistorySource: Jason Taylor AG / shutterstock
Buena Vista Museum Of Natural History

The Buena Vista Museum of Natural History is an excellent place for the whole family to come and enjoy the many items that are on display. There are many taxidermied animals on display in the museum as well as fossils and bones. The museum covers an area of 16,000 square feet and there are some rare Miocene fossils, as well as Asian, African and North American animal mounts. For children there is an area call Oh! Zone which is a discovery center that is very interactive.

5. Watch A Show At The Fox Theatre

Bakersfield Fox TheatreSource: ELW / shutterstock
Bakersfield Fox Theatre

Building of the Fox Theatre started in the late 1920’s and the theater finally opened in December 1930. The venue is the number one venue for entertainment in Bakersfield and is full of vintage charm, complete with velvet curtains and matching architecture. The theater is particularly famous for its excellent acoustics and its intimate setting. Many top names have performed here over the years including The Pretenders and Carlos Mencia. You can enjoy comedy, music, movies and much more.

6. Go For A Swim At McMurtrey Aquatic Center

Swimming PoolSource: Roman Samborskyi / shutterstock
Swimming Pool

If you are at a loose end one afternoon and the heat is too much then head down to the McMurtrey Aquatic Center. There is a recreation pool as well as an Olympic sized pool for competitions. The recreation pool has lots for the whole family to enjoy including water slides, diving boards, a water volleyball area, and interactive floating toys. Several Olympic athletes train at this facility as well as the local high school.

7. Go For A Shop At Valley Plaza Mall

ShoppingSource: fizkes / shutterstock

If you need some retail therapy in Bakersfield then a trip to Valley Plaza Mall should be able to satisfy even the biggest shopaholic’s needs! This mall was opened in 1967 and has shops that cater to every need from camping to clothing, and computer games to school books. The mall when first built showed off the Spanish influence on Southern California and did so in a contemporary manner. If you just need to sit down after a long days shopping you can try out the 16 screen movie theater or go for a quick drink and something to eat in one of the many restaurants on site.

8. Meet The Animals At California Living Museum

BobcatSource: Nagel Photography / shutterstock

C.A.L.M is the premier native zoo in California and houses more than 250 animals that are non-releasable. Non-releasable means that the animals have some form of a disability so going back into the wild would be detrimental to the animal’s health. Apart from the animals in the zoo there are also some beautiful gardens to relax in that are home to several endangered fauna and flora species. Before you leave the park you should make sure that you check out the Cats of California exhibit which has a mountain lion and bobcat.

9. Cheer On The Blaze At Sam Lynn Ballpark

BaseballSource: David Lee / shutterstock

The Blaze Franchise has been playing baseball in Bakersfield for seven decades in one form or another. They are a high-A class team that plays in the California League and has an affiliation with Cincinnati Reds. The stadium has recently undergone renovation and has a rather unusual situation. It is the only park in professional baseball where the batter faces in a westerly direction, this means that the player will face the setting sun when trying to bat, because of this the Blazers are often forced to start their games at a later time.

10. Rabobank Theater And Convention Center

Rabobank Theater And Convention CenterSource: mark6mauno / Flickr | CC BY
Rabobank Theater And Convention Center

The largest event facility in Bakersfield is the Rabobank Theater and Convention Center. The complex covers an area of more than 70,000 square feet and is made up of meeting, event and breakout spaces. There is an exhibition hall that holds regular events and is popular with various businesses looking to promote their wares. The theater next door has 3,000 seats, each offering excellent views of the stage.

11. Check Out The Bakersfield Museum Of Art

Bakersfield Museum Of ArtSource: sc_images / shutterstock
Bakersfield Museum Of Art

Regardless of your age the Bakersfield Museum of Art has something for you to enjoy. There is a great selection of sculptures, paintings and other art all set within beautiful indoor galleries as well as in the tranquil gardens. There is a permanent exhibition that features many items of Californian art as well as some international pieces. The changing exhibits feature a huge variety of pieces so even if you have been before you should be able to see something new and exciting on a future trip.

12. Take To The Water At Lake Ming

Lake MingSource: Neal W Hall / shutterstock
Lake Ming

If you like the open water but cannot get to the sea then a trip to the manmade Lake Ming might just satisfy your needs. To the east of the lake you have the Greenhorn Mountains and surrounding hills, making this an idyllic place to spend a few hours. The primary function of the lake is water-skiing and motor boating although sailboats are also allowed. If fishing is more your thing then the lake is teeming with Bass, Carp, Bluegill’s and Catfish. Throughout the year various jet boat races are held which attract a large number of keen supporters.

13. Enjoy The Great Outdoors At Beach Park

Skate ParkSource: Parilov / shutterstock
Skate Park

Beach Park is great if you have a large group of people looking for something to do. The park has a baseball field that is fenced off and comes complete with bleachers. There is a skate park to keep those who love to skateboard or roller blade entertained and there is also a soccer field that has flood lights. At the park you can reserve a picnic table in advance that has a barbeque area or you can have one of the parks famous pizza’s.

14. Enjoy Lake Isabella

Lake IsabellaSource: U. Eisenlohr / shutterstock
Lake Isabella

Lake Isabella is a large reservoir and one of the largest in California. It is the dividing point between Lower Kern River and Upper Kern River. The U.S Army Corps created the lake when they dammed the Kern River in 1953. Today the lake is used for such activities as camping, fishing, hiking, windsurfing and groups of friends hanging out together. To get to the park you drive through the Sequoia National Forest which makes for a beautiful trip for the entire family.

15.  Get Muddy At Murray Family Farms

Murray Family FarmsSource: Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB / shutterstock
Murray Family Farms

The Murray Family Farm offers something for the whole family. Here you can get an ‘on the farm’ experience as you pick the best of the current seasons fruits and vegetables. There is also an organic shop selling the produce if you do not wish to pick yourself. You can go on a tour of the farm and see demonstrations of the workers going about their everyday work. There is also occasional live entertainment, a maze and an area where children can pet the farm animals.


15 Best Things To Do In Bakersfield (CA):

  • Visit The Best Kept Secret In California - Kern River Canyon
  • Take A Trip Down Memory Lane At Kern County Museum
  • Enjoy Some Country Music At Buck Owens' Crystal Palace
  •  Increase Your Knowledge At The Buena Vista Museum Of Natural History
  • Watch A Show At The Fox Theatre
  • Go For A Swim At McMurtrey Aquatic Center
  • Go For A Shop At Valley Plaza Mall
  • Meet The Animals At California Living Museum
  • Cheer On The Blaze At Sam Lynn Ballpark
  • Rabobank Theater And Convention Center
  • Check Out The Bakersfield Museum Of Art
  • Take To The Water At Lake Ming
  • Enjoy The Great Outdoors At Beach Park
  • Enjoy Lake Isabella
  •  Get Muddy At Murray Family Farms