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Cultivate good times in a capital of crops and country music

Bakersfield is one of the crown jewels of central California’s crop-rich San Joaquin Valley. Situated amid rolling hills on California Highway 99 between Los Angeles and Fresno, this mecca for farming and fun is flanked by California’s Coast Range to the west and the southern Sierra Nevada to the northeast, serving up ample scenery. Soak up the town’s rich history and culture, listen to live bands belt out the “Bakersfield Sound” or escape to the great outdoors in nearby parks.

Bakersfield has attracted settlers, industrialists and fortune-seekers since the Gold Rush in the 1800s and has continued to grow steadily. Farming has fueled much of this expansion, but along the way the town has developed a culture and identity all its own. Many bustling farmers markets offer fresh fruits and vegetables cultivated throughout the region. Make room in your RV’s galley for a hearty haul of grapes, melons, almonds and oranges to get a true taste of Bakersfield. But if you’d dine at a restaurant, Bakersfield boasts a growing crop of farm-to-table eateries that will dazzle foodies with fresh flavors.

Visit the Heart of Bakersfield

The streets of downtown Bakersfield still resonate with the area’s rich history. Family-run shops, classic cafes and historic buildings line the boulevards, while a burgeoning arts and entertainment scene brings new energy to the region. Rising above the streetscape is the clock tower of the historic Fox Theater, a venue that hosts world-class acts.

After falling into disrepair, this art deco gem was renovated in the late 1990s and now serves as a focal point for the Arts District. Check the schedule for concerts and other community events. More fine arts can be found at small galleries and the larger Bakersfield Museum of Art. Downtown streets fill with visitors once a month for the First Friday cultural event. Don’t leave the area without checking out the iconic Bakersfield sign. This sunny yellow arch has been welcoming visitors to the city since 1949.

Bakersfield’s abundant sunshine draws folks to the area’s parks and trails. The 20-mile Kern River Parkway Trail is a popular place to peddle or walk. Follow the trail over the river and through the woods, leading you through diverse landscapes throughout town. Recreational opportunities abound in town parks.

Clocktower against blue sky

Bakersfield CVB

Take a Step Back in Time

Tour the region’s vibrant past at the Kern County Museum, where more than 50 architectural gems occupy a sprawling property and offer insight into the region’s past. The museum’s Neon Courtyard preserves bright, iconic signs from the past, making it a popular spot for photography buffs. Learn how the oil industry took root in the region with a tour of Black Gold: The Oil Experience.

The story of Bakersfield’s rich contribution to country music unfolds in the Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace. Owens, co-host of the popular television show, “Hee Haw,” pioneered a down-to-earth, electric sound that would eventually replace the slick, string-laden tracks produced in Nashville. The Bakersfield Sound’s raw style and honky-tonk swagger were embraced by artists like Merle Haggard, and today the spirit lives on with country music performers everywhere.

Opened in 1996, the Crystal Palace doesn’t resemble a run-down honky-tonk joint, but the concerts held in the building embody the spirit of this musical genre with gusto. Before the show, check out the many exhibits in the on-site museum, or relax in the restaurant and bar. Sit down to a heaping order of “Cryin’ Time” Jumbo Onion Rings, but save room for Buck’s Favorite Chicken Fried Steak.

Walk in the steps of the Okies of the Dust Bowl era with a stop at the Weedpatch Camp, a temporary settlement for migrants described in John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel of the Great Depression, The Grapes of Wrath. Several historic buildings preserve the lives of itinerant farmers who journeyed to the area in ramshackle caravans to escape the ravaged farmlands of the Midwest.

Couple on hiking trail on edge of canyon.

Willy Sawyer

Wild Around Bakersfield

Animal lovers can walk on the wild side at several Bakersfield locales. The nonprofit Wind Wolves Preserve encompasses 93,000 acres of diverse lands, including rugged desert, rolling foothills, valley grasslands and juniper forests. Several trails traverse the park, offering the opportunity to spot wildlife in their natural habitat. More than 200 elk call the preserve home.

The California Living Museum, also known as the CALM Zoo, is another favorite spot. This zoo specializes in habitats and wild creatures native to the area. You can also learn about these animals and more with a visit to the educational Buena Vista Museum of Natural History. For something more unusual, head to Hart Memorial Park and look for the peacocks. Take your camera and catch a shot of these beautiful birds with their colorful plumage on full display.

Get Out of Town

Bakersfield sits just west of Sequoia National Forest. Hike one of the many trails through the woodlands or up to a summit for sweeping views of the San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Nevada. Farther north, Sequoia National Park is a must-see, with some of the largest trees on Earth. Towering sequoias elicit reverence as they rise into the sky above.

Train aficionados can chug over to the Tehachapi Loop, where the Union Pacific Railroad’s gently rising helix track makes it possible for trains to gradually ascend the steep Tehachapi Pass. The linesees an average of almost 40 trains each day, making it one of the busiest single-track mainlines in the world. The picturesque surrounding landscape and heavy railroad traffic make this one of the most compelling transportation destinations in North America. The loop was designated California Historical Landmark in 1998.

For More Information

Bakersfield Convention and Visitor Bureau



California Tourism