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7 Fun Things to Do in Bakersfield
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7 Fun Things to Do in Bakersfield

No other place personifies the Golden State’s oil-rich history, Basque food, and country music better than Bakersfield.

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5 min read

November 01, 2021

No other place personifies the Golden State’s oil-rich history, Basque food, and country music better than Bakersfield. This rapidly growing gem in the heart of California’s Central Valley was once only known for oil and agriculture, but nowadays this fast growing city is all that and so much more. Come and experience arts and culture combined with the richness of the region’s past, eat at the country’s largest collections of Basque restaurants, and frolic in the vast grasslands that cover every inch of this beautiful city. As for more fun things to do in Bakersfield, well, you’re just going to have to go there and see for yourself.

Stuff to Do in Bakersfield 

Buck Owens' Crystal Palace is Bakersfield's premier steakhouse and live entertainment facility. Photo courtesy of Buck Owens' Crystal Palace.

1. Pop into Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace 

Buck Owens had a distinct sound and iconic discography; naturally, it only makes sense that anything with his name stands out. Introducing Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace; aka one of the most fun places in Bakersfield. Once you step in, the grandness of the Bakersfield sound comes alive; you’ll find yourself singing along to a band on stage and dancing with the people around you. What makes this place stand out is that it’s several things in one—an unusual performing venue, restaurant, bar, and museum all in one room; this place is truly one of a kind.

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Featuring contemporary and classic country western concerts and dancing, the lineup at the Crystal Palace includes diverse performers each week. Come hungry because the Southern Q egg rolls and red river ribeye steak are quite divine. And as for the museum, expect to find memorabilia and interpretive information about the local musician’s career, as well as the overall rise of country western music in the nation.

Hart Memorial Park was dedicated in 1929 as the Kern River Park, and renamed in 1947 for Kern County Supervisor John O. Hart.

2. Get Lost in Hart Memorial Park

Established in 1929, Hart Memorial Park still possesses quintessentially northeast Bakersfield gems you won’t find anywhere else—it’s a huge part of its charm. Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains along the banks of the Kern River, this 370-acre public space is firstly a fishing haven. Two fishing lakes are stocked with rainbow trout, bluegill, and bass, making it Bakersfield’s primo spot for reeling it in. The park is also dotted with picnic tables, playgrounds, and paved walking trails, so it’s safe to say that loving the outdoors is the only prerequisite needed here. The best part is that this place is roughly 10 miles from Downtown Bakersfield; you won’t have to travel far to arrive at this natural wonder. 

P.S. Hart Memorial Park is part of the much larger Kern River County Park, which includes the nearby California Area Living Museum and Lake Ming.

The Kern River Parkway Trail spans the east-west length of Bakersfield along the Kern River, a waterway that drains the Sierra Nevada range.

3. Explore the Kern River Parkway Trail

Spanning the east-west length of Bakersfield along the beautiful Kern River, this trail is a free and fun way to see it all. Riparian areas with native wildlife like roadrunners and bobcats are protected from urban development, and the lands are preserved by the city of Bakersfield. Admire the surrounding flora and fauna—the rural western end of Kern River Parkway Trail makes you forget that you are exploring within city limits. Fair warning: everything at this Bakersfield attraction is quite bucolic; resisting a picnic is definitely a struggle.

The more your trail continues eastward, the more urban it gets. Admire the city parks and marvel at the architecture; there’s even a hilly portion, where you can look down at Bakersfield and take in all its wondrous landscape.

The Fox Theater of Bakersfield epitomizes an era of elegance, romance, and big-screen entertainment.

4. Attend an Event at the Fox Theater 

Opened on Christmas day in 1930, the Fox Theater is a Bakersfield staple known for its ornate interior and excellent acoustics. This place was originally meant to be a movie house that showcased the first-ever ‘talkies’ that hit the silver screen. But now, the architectural treasure has reinvented itself to be a live performance venue, adding a great soundtrack to enjoy while gawking at the decorative interior. 

The 1500-seat theater was designed by famed Los Angeles architect S.Charles Lee. Renowned for his trademark ‘The Show Begins on the Sidewalk’, his designs have gained classic status, serving as paragons of style and beauty. Alongside the seats is a lavish concession area, armed with a beautiful marquee and embellished with glitzy 50s bright metals, terrazzo, and neon. One of Bakersfield’s top attractions is truly a sight to behold!

Bakersfield Museum of Art’s mission is to inspire and engage diverse audiences. Photo courtesy of Bakersfield Museum of Art.

5. Pop by the Bakersfield Museum of Art

The Bakersfield Museum of Art (BMoA) was established in 1956 and has since been providing a glimpse into the creative Kern County community. Featuring regularly touring exhibits and a permanent collection of 20th century Golden State artists, this museum is a feast for the eyes. Perhaps the best-represented mediums at BMoA are paintings, sculptures, and photography. But if you’re into art-related activities as much as you’re into looking at paintings, then you’ll be happy to know that the museum fills their event calendar with activities such as Yoga at the Museum and First Fridays Free Admission.

If you want to take a walk and reflect on the beauty you saw, the Tejon Ranch Sculpture Park is directly adjacent—it’s another place to go in Bakersfield for an art fix. You can also venture off into the equally aesthetically pleasing Mill Creek Park, where a signature scenic bridge is covered with ample green space; perfect for tuning out the outside world and searching for peace of mind.

The Sequoia National Forest covers 1,193,315 acres and ranges in elevation from 1,000 feet in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada to over 12,000 feet.

6. Discover the Natural Beauty of Sequoia National Forest 

Blessed with world-class nature’s bounty, Bakersfield’s Kern River Canyon starts northeast of its downtown district and leads deep into the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. This includes the enchanting world of the Sequoia National Forest, a park encompassing wild and scenic rivers, glacier-carved canyons, and at least 30 groves of towering sequoias. Popular ways to scour the forest include backpacking and hiking, but you can also opt for a night’s stay at one of the many campgrounds throughout.

Are you an adventurer looking for stuff to do near Bakersfield? Pack up your hiking gear and make your way to nature’s inspiring surroundings. Pick up your trail maps at any visitor center (there are a few scattered throughout the area) and get ready to explore.

Pick your own fruit during the season and enjoy the convenience of Murray Family Farms' two beautiful stores.

7. Take a Trip to Murray Family Farms

A Central Valley farm you simply can't miss, Murray Family Farms is a Bakersfield attraction fit for people of all ages. The first thing to see when you’re there is the ‘Big Red Farm,’ situated on a whopping 43 acres of farmland. A giant tractor takes visitors throughout the area, providing Instagrammable backdrops of the surrounding crops and landscape. If you’re an animal lover, you're in for a treat—guests are encouraged to take advantage of the interactive animal zone, where cute little creatures await your petting and love.

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