When it comes to travel, Bakersfield is sometimes disregarded as a destination because it’s located inland from California’s famed coast and is the ninth-largest city in the state. As a result of the lack of well-known landmarks in Bakersfield, there are still plenty of things to see and do here.
The proximity to Sequoia National Park and the area’s substantial working-class population make it an ideal place to view the other side of the region’s landscape and learn more about everyday life in California. Fill out your travel itinerary by checking out these 18 Bakersfield things to do with activities and discover some of the city’s lesser-known attractions.
- 1. Hart Memorial Park
- 2. Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace
- 3. Kern County Museum
- 4. Downtown Bakersfield
- 5. Fox Theater
- 6. The Park at Riverwalk
- 7. Kern River Parkway Trail
- 8. California Living Museum (CALM)
- 9. Bakersfield Museum of Art
- 10. Panorama Park
- 11. Sequoia National Forest
- 12. Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science
- 13. Rabobank Arena
- 14. Central Park at Mill Creek
- 15. Murray Family Farms
- 16. Take A Hike Up Breckenridge Mountain
- 17. Lake Ming
- 18. Sam Lynn Ballpark is a great place to watch a game
1. Hart Memorial Park
As one of Kern County’s oldest parks, Hart Park serves as a focal point for the community of Bakersfield. About a 15-minute drive from downtown, it’s in the northeast corner of the city. On the way out of town, you’ll take a picturesque detour on the Alfred Harrell Highway.
Hart Park spans 370 acres between the slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Picnic areas abound, as does the park’s most noteworthy natural feature, Hart Park Lake, which borders the Kern River. Throughout the area, amenities like picnic tables and walking trails allow visitors to take their time and relax.
At Hart Park, you may play disc golf on two superb courses. For example, one course traverses the park’s flat interior, including a hole that spans the Kern River below. Shark Tooth Mountain Disc Golf Course, located in the foothills, is a hard but enjoyable 18-hole disc golf course.
2. Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace
The Buck Owens Crystal Palace is a concert hall in Bakersfield, California, that was founded by Buck Owens. The Crystal Palace is not just a well-known country music venue, but it also has a museum dedicated to the life of country music legend Buck Owens.
The structure was built in the Western Revival style, and it is intended to replicate the type of structures that were common in the American Old West. When visitors enter the building, they will feel as though they are in the middle of a western movie.
The Crystal Palace is also home to a fantastic restaurant, bar, and nightclub, making it the ideal location to celebrate and take advantage of Bakersfield’s vibrant nightlife scene.
3. Kern County Museum
The Kern County Museum, located just north of downtown, is a popular educational destination for families. It transports visitors back in time to the illustrious history of Kern County via the use of costumed people and meticulously preserved antiques and buildings.
In the museum’s outdoor Pioneer Village, which spans over 16 acres and contains more than 60 ancient structures, visitors may experience a living history museum. This collection of structures includes everything from railroad jail cells to pioneering huts and rudimentary businesses. Many of these structures can only be seen from the outside, while others have transparent plexiglass windows that allow visitors to see inside.
An indoor interactive exhibit, located within the town, provides insight into the city’s oil history, demonstrating how the discovery of black gold encouraged development in Kern County. The Lori Brock Children’s Discovery Center, which combines science teaching with hands-on learning, is also located on the premises.
4. Downtown Bakersfield
For the most concentrated flavor of Bakersfield culture, head to downtown. This sprawling downtown district runs along Chester Avenue and extends east and west for several city blocks on both sides of the avenue. Hundreds of eateries, many with unique menus and trendy storefronts, attract visitors. Additionally, this is the best area to go shopping in Bakersfield, whether you’re looking for the current fashion trends or unique antiques.
The 18hundred, Locale Farm to Table Eatery, and a few other famous downtown gourmet destinations include: Other local favorites include the Woolworth Diner and the Padre Hotel, which are both located on Main Street. If you’re looking for a classy date night or celebratory supper, head to the Horse in the Alley antique steakhouse, which is housed in one of the oldest buildings in downtown, dating back to the 1890s.
In downtown, shopping can easily consume a whole day’s worth of time. The district is home to a number of local stores that feature contemporary designs, although the area is perhaps best known for its antiques district. Chester Avenue runs between 19th and 20th streets, and several of these antique vendors are located there. Places like the 19th Street Antique Mall and the Merry Go Round are located in this area. Rare treasures are hidden away at the Antique Mall, just waiting to be discovered.
5. Fox Theater
From the time of its construction in 1930 to the present day, the historic theater has served as a venue for performing arts and community gatherings. This theater continues to hold a variety of events, including ballets, movies, and musical performances, until this day.
The theater is well-known for its excellent acoustics as well as its unique architectural combination of Spanish Colonial and Art Deco styles. During the Bakersfield foreign film program’s fall through spring season, the Fox Theater presents screenings of the top foreign films from the previous year.
6. The Park at Riverwalk
It connects with The Park at Riverwalk, which is located southwest of downtown, via the Kern River Parkway Trail. These two duck-filled lakes are joined by a picturesque cobblestone creek, which circulates the water throughout the park. With picturesque footbridge crossings throughout the park, the stream that connects the lakes meanders through the remainder of the 32-acre park.
Bass, carp, and crappie can be caught year-round in the two connected lakes, which are popular with anglers. As a family picnic and leisurely stroll destination, the park is especially beautiful around sunset, when the space takes on a warm glow.
With its Dignity Health Amphitheatre, which is located within the park and serves as one of the county’s largest outdoor venues, the park hosts a variety of concerts, festivals, and other events throughout the year. A large number of people flock to this spectacular outdoor arena on a regular basis for events.
7. Kern River Parkway Trail
The Kern River Parkway Trail follows the Kern River, which drains the Sierra Nevada range but is often dry by the time it reaches Bakersfield. Bakersfield’s riparian zones safeguard native animals like roadrunners and bobcats from encroaching development.
When you approach S. Allen Road, the trail’s first undercrossing, you’ll be reminded that you’re still in Bakersfield. From here, to the southeast, residential subdivisions sprawl for miles. A spur at Stockdale Highway and Don Hart Drive East (less than a mile east of S. Allen Road) connects to CSU Bakersfield.
The trail then heads east, passing various city parks with water and restrooms. The trail is hillier on the east side than the west. Before reaching the trail’s end at the mouth of Kern Canyon, you’ll pass through the Kern River Oil Field, California’s third largest oil field.
The trail’s western terminus will be extended to link with the Buena Vista Lake recreation area. East of Lake Ming, a separate trail was developed between Fairfax Road and the Kern River County Park and Golf Course. This section of path departs the riverbanks and travels across the unspoiled rolling hills northeast of the city before rejoining the river and providing trail users with quick access to the several adjacent sporting fields and recreation facilities.
8. California Living Museum (CALM)
California Living Museum (CALM) is located in Kern River County Park, near Hart Memorial Park, northeast of downtown. It is recognized by the Zoological Association of America and provides a home for injured and non-releasable California native animals.
Through education, inspiration, and hands-on experience, CALM aims to connect the community with local fauna. CALM’s animals include black bears, bighorn sheep, and a variety of birds.
Lake Ming, which is also located inside Kern River County Park and is a short drive from CALM, has additional visual appeal and a campground where you can spend the night. This man-made recreational lake is lined with picnic tables and shade locations, making it ideal for fishing or eating a picnic near the shore. The Kern River Campground, which is located on the lake road, allows people to spend the night in a tent or RV and has flushing toilets and showers nearby.
9. Bakersfield Museum of Art
The Bakersfield Museum of Art (BMoA) was founded in 1956 and has served as a window into the vibrant artistic community of Kern County for nearly 60 years. The permanent collection of the museum includes works by artists from California in the twentieth century. The BMoA rotates its collection in and out of display on a regular basis, and it also hosts touring national exhibits, so there is always something new to view on each visit.
Paintings, sculptures, and photographs are among the most well-represented media at the BMoA. The major body of the work on display is divided among about three galleries, which are separated by a wonderfully illuminated lobby. In addition to the indoor museum, the Tejon Ranch Sculpture Park is located outside, making it a nice place to admire the art in the sunshine.
The museum hosts a variety of events throughout the year. Yoga at the Museum and First Fridays Free Admission are two of the most popular activities. Throughout the week, there are additional educational sessions for both children and adults.
10. Panorama Park
Panoramic Park, located on the north side of the city on a hill overlooking the Kern River, is a popular destination for visitors. It’s a great place to spend any part of the day, but it’s especially beautiful around sunset. It is essentially a linear park, with a paved hiking track connecting two parks on either end, as well as parking areas on either end. A two-mile stroll through the park allows visitors to complete a full loop.
There is plenty of parking accessible along Panoramic Drive, which is adjacent to the park. Bring a pair of binoculars or a zoom lens with you to make the most of the abundant landscape at the canyon’s edge. Visitors can also observe the massive oil fields that Bakersfield was constructed on as they walk along the riparian corridor that follows the Kern River.
The rest of Panorama Vista Preserve, which is located below Panoramic Park and on the opposite side of the Kern River, has additional paths to explore. This natural place is regenerating into the rich forested landscape that it once was, thanks to the efforts of the local people and major replanting activities. Hiking, biking, and horseback riding are some of the low-impact trail activities that are becoming increasingly popular.
11. Sequoia National Forest
The Sequoia, the world’s tallest tree, is the inspiration for the name of this national forest. That the Sequoia National Forest contains the highest concentration of Sequoia groves anywhere on the planet is what makes it so special.
The so-called “skyscrapers of the natural world” can grow to an astonishing height of more than 90 meters and survive for up to 3,000 years, making them the tallest living things on the planet. Experiencing this magnificent tree up close and personal is one of the most astounding experiences that Mother Nature has to offer us as humans.
In California, Sequoia National Park is one of the most stunning and gorgeous national parks in the world, yet it’s only a three-hour journey away from Bakersfield.
12. Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science
The Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science can be found at 2018 Chester Ave. in Buena Vista. The museum, which is housed in a two-story building downtown, contains a collection of Asian, African, and North American mounted animals, including an antelope, baboon, kangaroo, leopard, lion, ostrich, tiger, and zebra, among other creatures. Among the other exhibits are shark jaws and teeth, marine mammal fossils discovered in the area, which was once submerged, and dinosaur fossils, all of which can be seen by visitors. A recreated Yokuts Indian family house is a point of attraction. Arrowheads, trading beads, and baskets are on display, and a discovery center with engaging children’s activities may be found on the premises.
13. Rabobank Arena
The Rabobank Arena is the premier venue in Bakersfield for large-scale concerts and performances. It is the most important facility in the city for special events and performances. Concerts, Broadway productions, and other athletic events, such as monster truck rallies and Disney on Ice, are all held in this multi-purpose venue on the Las Vegas Strip.
The Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League play their home games in the arena as well. These thrilling ice hockey matches take place throughout the winter and always draw a large audience.
The lavishly landscaped exterior plaza of Rabobank Arena serves as a prelude to the grandeur that awaits visitors inside this new arena. Many hotels are located close to the facility, making it simple for those attending an event to find a place to stay.
14. Central Park at Mill Creek
The only park near downtown is Central Park along Mill Creek. It’s mostly linear, following an old irrigation canal between 24th Street and Truxton Avenue. This once-busy corridor has been turned into a lovely walking area with planting and benches.
A green space branches off the park’s north end promenade. The picturesque Mill Creek Bridge is pictured here with water fountains and a raft of ducks enjoying the water. This park contains a playground, bathrooms, and lots of trees.
The Bakersfield Museum of Art is also nearby. A day of exploring Mill Creek and the museum is a good idea. Antique shops and eateries line Mill Creek.
15. Murray Family Farms
Murra Family Farms is the ideal destination for food enthusiasts and those who are interested in learning about the growing and harvesting of fruits and vegetables. Many interesting activities are held throughout the year that provide an insight into the seasonal fruits and vegetables available for purchase at the farmers market.
When it comes to shopping for fresh fruit and connecting with the people who grow our food, the large farmer’s market is an excellent choice. In addition, there is a “choose your own” part where guests can gather their own food.
16. Take A Hike Up Breckenridge Mountain
Located in the foothills of Breckenridge Mountain, Bakersfield is a popular tourist destination.
It is located just south of Sequoia National Forest and National Park, and it has a comparable atmosphere to the latter, with spectacular scenery, breathtaking views, and incredible animals.
Mountain climbers should take advantage of the opportunity to go up to the summit and take in the more natural aspect of the region that surrounds the city.
17. Lake Ming
There are motorboats and water skiing on Lake Ming, which is a man-made lake that is popular for both activities. Racing events organized by the Jet Boat Association take place on the lake throughout the year and are a spectacular sight to see.
The lake is also an excellent fishing area, with significant populations of bass, catfish, crappie, and rainbow trout to be found there, among other species. Camping areas, picnic tables, and playgrounds can be found all around the lake, enticing people to spend the night with their families or friends in the outdoors.
18. Sam Lynn Ballpark is a great place to watch a game
You may also get a taste of the local sports scene by attending a game at the Sam Lynn Ballpark. Because of its long history as the Bakersfield Badgers’ home field, the ballpark is also known as the Historic Sam Lynn Ballpark.
Bakersfield’s Train Robbers are a favorite team of many baseball fans that come to the city to watch the games.
Visits to the Sam Lynn Ballpark will be memorable for anyone, baseball enthusiast or not, because of the warm and welcoming atmosphere.