11 Top Things To Do In Bakersfield

Trip Ideas May 6, 2024

Bakersfield stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of a city that has successfully blended its historical roots with a dynamic cultural landscape. This city in California might not always be the first on travel lists, but its charm is undeniable for those who visit. With a heritage deeply rooted in the oil industry and agriculture, Bakersfield has evolved beyond its industrial legacy to become a hub of arts, music, and culinary delights that reflect the diversity of its community.

One of the city's most significant contributions to culture is its music scene, particularly the Bakersfield Sound, a genre of country music that has left an indelible mark on the industry. This legacy is celebrated in venues across the city, where live music performances are a common sight, offering a taste of local talent and the rich musical heritage of the area.

For enthusiasts of history and architecture, the city offers a journey through time with its well-preserved buildings and museums that narrate the story of Bakersfield's evolution. The Kern County Museum, for example, provides insights into the region's history with exhibits that range from early Native American life to the development of the oil industry.

Bakersfield 
Source: World Atlas

The culinary scene in Bakersfield is a reflection of its cultural diversity, with a range of dining options that cater to every palate. The city takes pride in its local produce, with farmers' markets and restaurants showcasing the best of the region's agricultural output.

For those planning a visit, discovering Things To Do In Bakersfield reveals a city that surprises and delights, blending the old with the new in ways that invite exploration and appreciation. Its array of attractions, from music and museums to nature and gastronomy, ensures that Bakersfield remains a captivating destination, embodying the essence of California's rich and varied cultural landscape.

1. Explore the serene beauty of Hart Memorial Park 

Hart Memorial Park, a gem located in the heart of Bakersfield, presents an idyllic setting for a day out in nature's lap. This expansive park captivates visitors with its sprawling green lawns and picturesque lakes, making it a perfect escape for those looking to unwind amidst natural beauty. The park's well-maintained paths invite leisurely strolls or brisk walks under the canopy of mature trees, where the rustling leaves and chirping birds create a tranquil ambiance.

For water enthusiasts and fishing aficionados, the lakes at Hart Memorial Park are a delight. Stocked with fish, they offer a serene spot for angling or simply enjoying the reflective beauty of the water. Families and friends gather here, casting lines and sharing laughs, creating memories against the backdrop of the shimmering lakes.

Hart Memorial Park
Source: Find A Park

Adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do as well. The park’s trails beckon hikers and bikers to explore the undulating landscape, offering both challenging routes and easy paths to suit all levels of experience. The sound of wildlife, the sight of fluttering butterflies, and the aroma of wildflowers along these trails enrich the experience, connecting visitors with the essence of the great outdoors.

2. Adventure through Wind Wolves Preserve 

Embarking on an adventure through Wind Wolves Preserve transforms a simple day trip into an immersive journey through one of the most breathtaking natural landscapes you could imagine. Located within a reasonable drive from Bakersfield, this sprawling reserve presents an array of stunning vistas, rolling hills, and the opportunity to encounter diverse wildlife, all under the vast, open skies that seem to invite exploration and discovery. 

As part of the things to do in Bakersfield California, visiting Wind Wolves Preserve offers a distinct and memorable escape into the wild. The preserve spans over 95,000 acres, making it a vast playground for nature enthusiasts and adventurers alike. It’s a place where the gentle slopes are painted with the golden hues of native grasses and wildflowers, particularly in the spring, creating a vivid tapestry that stretches as far as the eye can see.

Wind Wolves Preserve
Source: Tripadvisor

The allure of Wind Wolves Preserve lies not just in its natural beauty and the wildlife that calls it home, but also in the sense of peace and solitude it offers. Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, visitors can find a moment of serenity, a rare chance to reconnect with the earth and themselves. 

3. Discover the Pacific Crest Trail section starting at Kennedy Meadows 

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) offers an array of stunning landscapes and adventures, with the section starting at Kennedy Meadows being no exception. This portion of the trail marks a transition from the arid conditions of the Southern California desert to the lush and rugged high Sierra. It is a place where the beauty of nature is displayed in full splendor, with breathtaking views that beckon hikers from all over the globe.

Kennedy Meadows, located at the southern gateway to the Sierra Nevada, serves as a pivotal juncture for PCT hikers. It is here that many choose to prepare for the challenging yet rewarding journey ahead through some of the most picturesque terrains the trail has to offer. 

Kennedy Meadows
Source: Long Distance Hiker

As you ascend from Kennedy Meadows, the trail offers an ever-changing panorama. Each step brings into view majestic mountains and expansive vistas that seem to stretch into infinity. Hikers are treated to the sights and sounds of nature untouched by human hands. The solitude and tranquility found along this section of the PCT provide a perfect backdrop for reflection and connection with the natural world.

For those looking for an adventure off the trail, the vicinity around Kennedy Meadows and further along the PCT provides numerous opportunities for exploration and enjoyment. Things to do near Bakersfield might not be the first thought for outdoor enthusiasts dreaming of the high Sierra, but this nearby city offers a pleasant surprise with its cultural and recreational activities, serving as a great starting or ending point for your journey.

4. Enjoy family fun at Bakersfield Camelot Park 

Bakersfield Camelot Park is a vibrant destination that promises an unforgettable day out for families looking to bond and make memories. This amusement park is a treasure trove of activities suitable for all ages, ensuring that every member of the family finds something to enjoy. From thrilling rides that send adrenaline surging through your veins to more laid-back attractions that allow for moments of leisure and laughter, Camelot Park caters to diverse tastes and preferences.

One of the park’s highlights is its miniature golf course, which offers a whimsical challenge for both the young and the young at heart. It's a perfect spot for friendly competition or simply a fun way to practice your putting skills amid the beautifully themed surroundings. Go-karting tracks are another draw, providing an exhilarating race experience that siblings, parents, and even grandparents can enjoy together. The feeling of the wind in your hair as you navigate the twists and turns of the track is truly unmatched.

Camelot Park
Source: Tripadvisor

Adding to the allure of Camelot Park are the batting cages, where aspiring sluggers can test their skills or simply enjoy the thrill of swinging a bat. It’s an activity that not only fosters a spirit of sportsmanship but also provides a great workout.

When it comes to finding what is there to do in Bakersfield, Camelot Park stands out as a prime option. It's more than just an amusement park; it's a community hub where families come together to celebrate occasions, enjoy spontaneous outings, or simply escape the routine of daily life. The park also places a strong emphasis on safety, ensuring that all visitors can have fun without worry.

5. Visit the California Living Museum (CALM) 

Exploring the unique attractions that Bakersfield, California, has to offer leads to the discovery of an exceptional destination: the California Living Museum (CALM). This esteemed institution is not just a zoo; it is a sanctuary where over 80 species of unreleasable animals find a home. These animals, due to injuries, domestication, or other reasons, cannot survive in the wild, making CALM an essential facility for their conservation and care.

One of the remarkable aspects of CALM is its interactive and engaging approach to wildlife education. Through various programs and presentations, visitors of all ages have the chance to get up close and personal with some of the animals, under the guidance of knowledgeable staff members. This hands-on experience not only enriches the visit but also fosters a deeper connection between people and the natural world.

California Living Museum (CALM)
Source: Foursquare

For those looking for what to do in Bakersfield today, CALM stands out as a must-visit destination. It's not just about observing animals; it's about engaging in an experience that raises awareness and appreciation for California's diverse wildlife. The serene and natural setting of the museum, coupled with its educational programs, makes it a perfect spot for families, nature enthusiasts, and anyone interested in wildlife conservation.  

6. Dive into history at the Kern County Museum 

Exploring the Kern County Museum offers a unique glimpse into the rich tapestry of history that has shaped not only Bakersfield but also the broader region. With more than 50 historic buildings spread across its grounds, the museum serves as a gateway to the past, inviting visitors to step back in time and experience life as it was in eras gone by. This remarkable collection includes structures that have stood the test of time, each telling its own story of the people and events that have contributed to the development of Kern County.

7. Experience the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science

The Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science stands as a beacon for those deeply fascinated by paleontology, geology, and anthropology. This unique museum offers an extensive array of exhibits and collections that delve into the mysteries of the natural world, showcasing the rich tapestry of life that has graced our planet over millions of years. It’s a must-visit destination for anyone looking to enrich their understanding of Earth’s history and the forces that have shaped it.

For those exploring buena vista museum of natural history & science photos, the museum offers a unique and thought-provoking option that stands out from the usual attractions. It's a place where families can spend a day learning and exploring together, where children can ignite their passion for science in the interactive displays, and adults can marvel at the incredible journey our planet has undergone.

Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science
Source: Tripadvisor

Beyond the static displays, the museum frequently hosts special events, workshops, and educational programs designed to engage the community and foster a deeper appreciation for the wonders of our natural world. Whether it's a lecture from a renowned scientist or a hands-on activity that allows you to dig deeper into the past, the museum provides a dynamic environment where learning is always an adventure.

8. Catch a performance at the historic Fox Theater

Catching a performance at the historic Fox Theater is an unforgettable experience that stands out as a highlight for visitors and locals alike, searching for things to do in Bakersfield. This iconic venue has earned a reputation for its superb acoustics and engaging shows, creating a perfect environment for an evening of entertainment. The Fox Theater is not just any performance space; it's a piece of Bakersfield's history, alive with stories from the past and echoes of performances that have left their mark on the city's cultural landscape.

The charm of the Fox Theater lies not only in its aesthetic and architectural beauty but also in the diversity of its programming. From concerts featuring internationally renowned artists to local theater productions, each event is an opportunity to experience the magic that makes this venue special. The acoustics of the theater, often praised by performers and audiences alike, ensure that every note of music and every word spoken on stage is delivered with clarity, making each performance an immersive experience.

The Fox Theater
Source: The Fox Theater

9. Shop till you drop at Valley Plaza Mall

Valley Plaza Mall stands out as a vibrant shopping destination in Bakersfield, providing a rich array of retail options that cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences. As the largest shopping center in the area, this mall is a haven for shoppers looking for a comprehensive and enjoyable shopping experience. With its expansive selection of stores, ranging from high-end fashion brands to essential everyday outlets, Valley Plaza Mall ensures that visitors can shop till they drop, all under one roof.

The mall's dynamic environment is complemented by an assortment of dining options, from quick bites to sit-down restaurants, offering refreshments and meals to reenergize shoppers during their visit. For those looking to make their shopping spree a day-long adventure, the mall also features entertainment options, adding an extra layer of enjoyment to the shopping experience.

10. Spend a day at McMurtrey Aquatic Center for water fun, featuring an Olympic-sized pool and slides

Spend a day at McMurtrey Aquatic Center, a gem in the heart of Bakersfield that promises an exhilarating water adventure for all ages. This aquatic paradise is well-known for its Olympic-sized pool, which offers ample space for swimming laps or just enjoying a leisurely float. The center doesn't stop at providing a world-class swimming experience; it ups the ante with its thrilling water slides that are sure to bring out the child in everyone. These slides, with their twists and turns, offer a perfect blend of excitement and fun, making them a hit among visitors seeking an adrenaline rush.

A visit to the McMurtrey Aquatic Center is one of fun things to do in bakersfield with friends, especially for families looking to escape the heat and make a splash. Beyond the slides and the pool, the center is equipped with facilities that cater to all your needs, from spacious changing rooms to snack bars offering refreshments to keep you energized throughout your visit. The lifeguards on duty are highly trained, ensuring that safety is paramount, allowing you to relax and enjoy the water worry-free.

McMurtrey Aquatic Center
Source: Bakersfield

But the appeal of the aquatic center goes beyond its facilities. It serves as a communal space where locals and visitors alike come together to enjoy the spirit of summer. From children laughing as they play in the water to adults rediscovering the joy of swimming, the center fosters a vibrant atmosphere that embodies the essence of community and leisure.

11. Bakersfield Museum of Art (BMoA): Engage with contemporary art and sculpture at BMoA and its Tejon Ranch Sculpture Park

The Bakersfield Museum of Art (BMoA) stands as a beacon for art enthusiasts and casual visitors alike, offering an immersive experience into the world of contemporary art and sculpture. This prestigious institution not only showcases an impressive collection within its galleries but also extends its artistic reach to the outdoors with the Tejon Ranch Sculpture Park. A visit here is among the top fun things to do in bakersfield for adults, providing a unique blend of cultural education and aesthetic appreciation.

The museum's indoor spaces are dedicated to presenting a diverse array of contemporary artworks. From vivid paintings that capture the imagination to thought-provoking installations that challenge perceptions, BMoA offers something for every taste. The exhibitions are carefully curated to include both established and emerging artists, ensuring that visitors are always exposed to the cutting edge of the art world. Interactive displays and educational programs further enrich the experience, inviting visitors of all ages to engage deeply with the art.

Bakersfield Museum of Art (BMoA)
Source: Smithsonian Museum

Stepping outside, the Tejon Ranch Sculpture Park transforms the museum's experience from an indoor adventure to an expansive exploration of art in nature. The sculpture park is a testament to the museum's commitment to integrating art with the environment, featuring a variety of sculptures that are harmoniously set against the backdrop of Bakersfield's natural beauty. The outdoor setting allows for the sculptures to be appreciated in a different light, literally and figuratively, as the changing times of day and seasons cast these works in new perspectives.

For those looking to dive into the arts or simply enjoy a day filled with beauty and inspiration, BMoA offers a comprehensive experience that caters to a wide audience. It's a place where art meets life, inviting visitors to not just view, but to interact with and reflect on the art. Through its dynamic indoor exhibitions and the serene beauty of its sculpture park, the Bakersfield Museum of Art stands as a pivotal cultural landmark, enriching the community and visitors' understanding and appreciation of contemporary art.

Conclusion

Bakersfield stands out as a vibrant city in California, offering an eclectic mix of activities and attractions for every type of visitor. From the unique blend of local cuisine to the rich tapestry of cultural experiences, this city is a playground for enthusiasts of history, music, and nature alike. The essence of Bakersfield's charm can be captured through its dynamic offerings, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking both adventure and relaxation.

One of the city’s most celebrated contributions to culture is its music scene, especially the Bakersfield Sound, a genre that revolutionized country music in the 1950s and 1960s. Visitors can delve into this musical heritage by attending live performances in historic venues or exploring the Kern County Museum, where exhibits bring the stories of local legends to life. For art lovers, the Bakersfield Museum of Art provides a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city, featuring exhibitions from both local and international artists.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find Bakersfield's natural landscapes equally captivating. The Kern River Parkway Trail offers miles of scenic paths for biking, walking, or just enjoying the serene views of the river. Meanwhile, the nearby Sequoia National Forest presents a dramatic backdrop for hiking, camping, and witnessing some of the most awe-inspiring trees on the planet.

The array of activities and attractions in Bakersfield makes it a compelling destination. Its blend of cultural richness, natural beauty, and gastronomic excellence ensures that every visitor leaves with memorable experiences.

FAQ

1. What unique musical experience does Bakersfield offer?

Bakersfield is renowned for the Bakersfield Sound, a genre that revolutionized country music in the 1950s and 60s. Visitors can delve into this musical history by checking out live performances in venues across the city or exploring museums dedicated to the Bakersfield Sound, celebrating the legacy of local legends.

2. Can I find any special culinary experiences in Bakersfield?

Yes, Bakersfield offers a unique culinary journey, especially famous for its Basque food, a nod to the city's significant Basque community. Enjoy traditional dishes in local Basque restaurants, offering a taste of this distinct cuisine rarely found elsewhere in the United States.

3. Are there opportunities to explore agriculture and fresh produce in Bakersfield?

Absolutely. Situated in one of the largest agricultural areas in the world, Bakersfield hosts several farmers markets, such as the Haggin Oaks and Riverlakes Farmers Markets. These markets are perfect for discovering the fresh, local produce that defines the region's bounty.


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Emily Carter

With over 10 years of experience, Emily has extensive experience planning bespoke tours across the United States and Canada, specializing in eco-tourism and adventure travel.