11 Fun & Best Things to Do in Bakersfield, California

Nestled in the heart of central California, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, Bakersfield, California is home to the famous Kern River and many historical landmarks. Bakersfield is a great place to visit any time of year, depending on weather preferences, from scorching hot summers to cool, mild winters. 

Known for creating the country music genre, Bakersfield Sound inspired many famous musicians. There are music venues and dance halls to experience the culture for yourself in Bakersfield. Top tourist attractions in Bakersfield center around country music and the genre’s culture, lifestyle, and rich history. 

With easy access to California’s Interstate 5, traveling to and from Bakersfield is a breeze by car, train, or bus. Most visitors fly into LAX or the local Meadows Field Airport.

With more seeking vacations and trips that offer outdoor adventures with a small-town feel, Bakersfield, California is a noteworthy spot to explore.

Keep reading for the best things to do in Bakersfield, California, for families, groups, and solo travelers.

TLDR

Bakersfield Canal

Here are the top activities and other things to do in Bakersfield, California for families, kids, night owls, and adventure seekers.

  • Most significant landmarkFox Theater
  • Best park – Hart Memorial Park
  • Best free activity – Kern River Parkway Trail
  • Best activity for kids – Kern County Museum
  • Best activity for adults – Prohibition at 1933
  • Best food – Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace
  • Best nightlife – Kern County Raceway Park
  • Best all-around accommodation – Murray Family Farms

The Best Fun Things to do in Bakersfield, California

1. California Area Living Museum (CALM)

Address: 10500 Alfred Harrell Highway Bakersfield, CA 93306

For animal lovers, the California Area Living Museum (or CALM) is a local zoo and wildlife rehabilitation center in Bakersfield, California.

The California Area Living Museum is home to many interesting creatures, from mallards to porcupines, bears, bald eagles, foxes, and screech owls; they’ve got something for everyone. CALM is ideal for families (children 3 and under are free) who are eager to find exciting, local adventures in the area without spending an arm and a leg. Don’t forget the stroller!

There is also a children’s railroad, which tours the entire CALM grounds on weekends. Tickets are $2 for unlimited rides. In CALM’s gift shop, you’ll find an aquatic touch tank and a jellyfish aquarium, featuring stunning views of underwater creatures galore.

There’s a reptile house with cool snakes, frogs, and invertebrates, along with a children’s park featuring several domestic and petting zoo animals. Both kids and parents will have a blast at the California Living Museum!

Interested?

Click here for tickets and more information.

See Related: Northern California vs Southern California: What’s the Difference?

2. Kern County Museum

Address: 3801 Chester Ave, Bakersfield, California 93301

For history buffs, the Kern County Museum in Bakersfield, California, is a local gem dating back to 1941. The museum’s creation began in 1929, with local residents donating historical documents and artifacts to the local Chamber of Commerce. 

Kern County Museum’s outdoor Pioneer Village includes 16 acres and 50 buildings, including a Children’s Discovery Center, Aera Energy Gallery, and the historic Chamber of Commerce. Exhibits at the museum include a trolley train, the original General Store, and the iconic Merle Haggard’s childhood home.

The Kern County Museum has over 400,000 photographs donated from the 1860s to the present day. These include early ranches, the scenic Kern river, canals, and mining operations.

The Kern County Museum hosts local community events throughout the year, including a music festival, Halloween activities, exercise classes, and more.

Whether you’re driving through or visiting, this Bakersfield spot is worth seeing for yourself.

With a Discovery Center dedicated to educational programs for children, tours, exhibits, and historical collections, you won’t regret spending a day at the Kern County Museum, learning about California’s rich heritage and history. You can find more information and tickets right here.

3. Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science

Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science Entrance

 Address: 2018 Chester Avenue, Bakersfield, CA 93301

Looking for things to do in Bakersfield, California, with kids? Located right in the heart of Bakersfield, the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science is a must-see for families with children.

Exhibits at the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History include the Miocene, with wildlife from 15 million years ago, to the Native American Lifeways that study the Yokuts, one of the earliest groups of people to live in central California.

Take the kids on a historical exploration through the geology of Earth’s rocks and minerals and get up close and personal with specimens of over 50 African animals.

With a large collection of artifacts and learning opportunities for all ages, it’s safe to say that this museum is a must-see for families visiting Bakersfield.

The Buena Vista Museum of Natural History is open Thursday through Sunday. Adult tickets are $10, and children 2 and under get in free. The museum offers several discounts, including Family Day, where 2 adults and up to 6 children get in for $20 and $2 admission on the third Thursday of each month. For deals like these, it would be a waste not to visit the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science!

Don’t forget to get tickets and learn more information about this terrific museum of natural history. And for a side trip, join a Bakersfield Scavenger Hunt.

See Related: Best Things to do in Malibu, California

4. Murray Family Farms

Address: 6700 General Beale Rd, Bakersfield, CA 93307

In Bakersfield, California, tourist attractions may be different than in big cities, and you’ll get a taste of the lifestyle.

If you’re visiting Bakersfield in the spring and summer, a stop at Murray Family Farms and the Big Red Barn is essential on any family vacation. Located east of Bakersfield along Highway 58 at the General Beale exit, the Big Red Barn is home to seasonal events and pick-your-own fruit.

Murray Family Farms offers a wide variety of fruit picking, including raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, and oranges.

Tour the farm on a hayride, admire the beautiful flowers, and shop at the General Store. If you’re there in the fall, don’t miss the annual October Fun Fest or the Sunflower Festival every weekend in November.

The Big Red Barn sells farm-fresh fruit, honey, pies, fudge, and more. They participate in Farmer’s Markets across central California; before going to the market, you must know the Farmer’s Market schedule first.

If you can’t make it to the Big Red Barn, they have a Farmer’s Market storefront called the Little Purple Barn located at 9557 Copus Road in Bakersfield.

Whether you visit for the day or simply stop for a quick bite and to fill up the car with gas, Murray Family Farms offers a unique taste of Bakersfield farming and allows visitors to support local farmers and their families.

If you’re looking for free things to do in Bakersfield, California, that will get the family outside, we highly recommend adding Murray Family Farms to your list.

For U-Pick information, other seasonal events, and updates, Murray Family Farms website!

5. Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace

Buck Owens' Crystal Palace

Address: 2800 Buck Owens Blvd, Bakersfield, CA 93308

If you are wondering “what is Bakersfield, California known?”, Buck Owens and his Crystal Palace are at the top of the list. 

Experience one of country music’s legendary venues and dance halls, located right in Bakersfield, California. Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace is a local hot spot created in honor of Buck Owens; the great American country musician who spent much of his adult life and musical career in Bakersfield, California.

Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace is a premiere steakhouse and live entertainment venue where country western music artists perform for the public Thursday through Saturday.

Featuring a dinner menu with items like Mo’s Steak Salad, Texas chili, baby back ribs, and Buck’s chicken fried sandwich, make sure you come to Crystal Palace with an appetite! They’ve got tasty cocktails, beers on tap, and an impressive wine list.

Along with a delicious dinner menu, live entertainment, and dancing, Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace also has a museum where fans can see Buck’s guitars and purchase memorabilia.

While Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace’s website says that the whole family is welcome and kids eat free, we recommend grabbing dinner and drinks and enjoying the country music without the young ones in tow.

Don’t forget to make reservations or explore upcoming events on their calendar.

See Related: Amazing Southwestern Vacation Destinations

6. Fox Theater

Address: 2001 H St, Bakersfield, CA 93301

For a family-friendly theater located in the heart of cultural downtown Bakersfield, look no further than Fox Theater. Fox Theater opened to the public on Christmas Day in 1930.

Built by famous architect S. Charles Lee, the iconic building featured the first “talkie” movies, and many live performers graced the stage until its closing in 1977.

The Fox Theater Foundation saved the theater from being destroyed in 1994, with donors and community members contributing financially to save the building from destruction.

Since its reopening, Fox Theater Foundation continues to restore the classical structure and ensure that all of its history, glamour, and culture are left intact.

The foundation aims to enrich Kern County with artistic design, music, and history. Design-wise, Fox Theater is a stunning blend of Spanish Colonial and Art Deco.

Today, the historic Bakersfield Fox Theater is home to musicians, bands, comedians, and symphonies. Upcoming performers include Chelsea Handler, Legends of Motown, and Aaron Lewis.

If you love experiencing the history and culture of Hollywood movies and music, we recommend visiting Fox Theater on your trip through Bakersfield, California. You’ll be dazzled by its enchanting architecture and history.

Children are welcome to attend with their families; any child under 2 is free. Your older children may love to experience the history and culture of Fox Theater; otherwise, it’s a better date night.

Don’t forget to purchase tickets or see what’s on their calendar.

See Related: Best Museums in San Diego, California

7. Kern County Raceway Park

Address: 13500 Raceway Blvd, Bakersfield, CA 93311

For car fanatics and thrill seekers, Kern County Raceway Park is a hot spot for fast cars, adrenaline rushes, and family fun. The raceway is a 120-acre multi-use facility that opened in 2013. It’s located off Enos Lane and Interstate 5.

Kern County Raceway Park features a state-of-the-art 1/2 mile paved oval track, a 1/3 mile clay oval, a 1/8 Professional Speedway track, and an MX track.

From custom truck shows, flat track motorcycle races, Professional Speedways, and NASCAR races, there is always an exciting race to catch at the Kern County Raceway Park.

Along with visiting for the day, KCRP also offers three dry camping areas, which include Trackside RV and General RV spots, so you can stay for the weekend and enjoy all the festivities.

While they are closed for the summer, the Kern County Raceway Park opens in September for its first race of the season.

Visit their website for tickets and event information.

If you’re looking for a place to stay near the raceway park or Bakersfield, check out Booking.com, Hotels.com, and VRBO to find great deals.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Long Beach, California

8. Kern River Parkway Trail

Address: Enos Lane, Bakersfield, CA 93311

One of the top places to visit in Bakersfield, California, is the Kern River Parkway Trail.

Spanning the east-west length of Bakersfield, the Kern River Parkway Trail is mutually loved by locals and tourists. Whether you prefer biking, walking, or running, the Kern River Parkway Trail is a great way to spend a few hours in solitude or with family and friends.

The Kern River Parkway Trail runs alongside the Kern River, which flows from the Sierra Nevada into northeast Bakersfield.

If it’s wild and scenic rivers you crave, experts recommend navigating to the western part of the trail to experience nature and rural serenity. The eastern part of the trail showcases more of the city’s urban areas, including many large developments and residential communities.

For those who enjoy birding or experiencing wildlife in its natural habitat, expect to see roadrunners, hawks, rabbits, and many other birds. A noteworthy landmark you will pass on the eastern end is the Kern River Oil Field, California’s third largest oil field.

For those who seek hiking trails, the Kern River Parkway Trail offers paved walking trails with restrooms and stunning views of central California. Bring your dog, kids in strollers, and anyone in between. For free things to do in Bakersfield, California, Kern River Parkway Trail’s hiking trails and bike paths are fantastic.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, click here for information on biking and walking trails in Bakersfield.

See Related: Most Famous Landmarks in California to Visit

9. Bakersfield Museum of Art

Bakersfield Museum of Art

Address: 1930 R St. Bakersfield CA 93301 

If you love art, look no further than the Bakersfield Museum of Art (BMoA) for a stimulating exploration of art through time, including pieces created by Bakersfield locals.

It features the outdoor Tejon Sculpture Garden, with eight sculptures currently on display, and its gallery has been home to unique artwork since 1956.

The Bakersfield Museum of Art hosts exciting events in the community, including Art After Dark with live music, community projects, and performances. They also host a Concert in the Garden several times a year.

The museum offers creative workshops and programs for children and teens to keep students and visitors engaged in the visual arts. They offer Saturday art classes, workshops, and more to keep the younger generation inspired by art.

Bring the whole family to see the Bakersfield Museum of Art; kids five and under are free. The museum is closed Sunday and Monday. 

For more information about the museum and upcoming events, click here!

See Related: Best Family Hotels in San Francisco, California

10. Hart Memorial Park

Address: Hart Park, Bakersfield, CA 93308

Craving some fresh air and time in the great outdoors? Looking for some free things to do in Bakersfield, California? We’ve got the perfect park for you.

Known as Hart Park, it’s located north of Bakersfield in Kern County and features 370 acres, two lakes, and three canals. It was dedicated in 1929 as the Kern River Park and was renamed in 1947 for Kern County Supervisor John O. Hart.

Residents and visitors love Hart Memorial Park for its amenities and activities. Ten acres of the park are made up of 2 lakes filled with fishing, including trout, catfish, and bass. Grab your rod and get out on the water!

Spend the day with family and friends by reserving a picnic table, packing or ordering lunch, and enjoying time together. Hart Park offers individual and group picnic areas with tables and grills.

Take the kids to the playground, run around on the sports fields, or start a pickup game of your favorite sport. If you’re interested in local wildlife, keep your eyes open for blue herons, white egrets, beavers, skunks, and more!

For more information on Hart Park, check out their website, straight from the horse’s mouth.

See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit

11. Speakeasy Bar & Grill at 1933

Speakeasy Bar & Grill at 1933
image by Speakeasy Bar & Grill at 1933/Facebook

Address: 7900 Downing Ave, Bakersfield, CA, 93308

For a taste of Bakersfield nightlife, spend an evening at Speakeasy Bar & Grill in 1933. It’s a new restaurant, nightclub, and event space that offers brunch, lunch, dinner, and cocktails from 11 am til 2 pm. They also open at 8 am for breakfast on the weekends!

Grab dinner and drinks, or enjoy a delicious brunch, which includes bottomless mimosas and tons of tasty breakfast foods. During football season, you can spend your Sunday watching all the NFL games here.

With a dinner menu offering burgers, sandwiches, flatbreads, tacos, salads, and more, you’ll be more than satisfied with your meal and the ambiance is top-notch.

If you’re looking for a night out, the club Prohibition is a great place to get drinks and dance the night away. Prohibition is open from 9 pm til 2 am and features live DJs and a huge dance hall.

For a night out on the town, visiting the Speakeasy and Prohibition nightclub is one of the best things to do in Bakersfield, California for adults.

You can visit 1933’s Facebook page for more information on events and menus.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Palm Desert, California

Getting Around Bakersfield, CA

When finding things to do in Bakersfield, California, it’s essential to know how to get around.

Navigating the city is best done by car; you can quickly get from one place to another this way. Bakersfield, California also has a city bus route powered by the Golden Empire Transit District. Check out the city bus maps and schedule.

Travel by Car

If you are traveling with family or a group, a rental car is your best bet to see the sights efficiently and cost-effectively. To find the best deals on car rentals in Bakersfield, you can try Kayak and Rentalcars.com.

Rideshare Options

Uber and Lyft both operate in Bakersfield, California, and offer simple, quick rides for affordable prices. Plan your trip with Uber or Lyft and eliminate any stress about getting around town.

Best Way to Get Around as a Solo Traveler

As a solo traveler, entering and leaving Bakersfield, California by Amtrak is an easy and affordable way to travel. Passenger trains are available with routes heading to San Francisco and Sacramento.

The bus has many routes to Los Angeles, leaving daily. Also, Check out Amtrak’s transportation in and out of Bakersfield.

Best Way to Get Around for Groups or Families

For families and groups, renting a car is the most economical way to get around Bakersfield, California. From reaching the city limits to downtown Bakersfield, Bakersfield Convention Center, museums, restaurants, parks, hiking, and biking trails, a car is the most convenient way to see Bakersfield, California.

FAQ

What is the best thing to do with kids in Bakersfield, CA?

For things to do in Bakersfield, California with kids, visit Murray Family Farms for fruit picking and hay rides, the local museums for a dose of art and history, or head to Kern County Raceway Park for an adrenaline rush.

What are some fun things to do in Bakersfield, CA?

Are you wondering, “Is Bakersfield, California worth visiting?” We think so! There are lovely hiking and biking trails at Kern River Parkway Trail, museums and restaurants in downtown Bakersfield, fishing at Hart Park, and much more.

What are some things to do in Bakersfield, CA when it’s raining?

Many thrilling indoor activities keep you busy in Bakersfield, California. Explore the Bakersfield Museum of Art, Valley Plaza Mall, Kern County Museum, or the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History.

Visit downtown Bakersfield for a delicious meal and a side of art and culture. As you can see, you won’t be wondering what to do in Bakersfield, California if it’s raining! 

What are the best tourist attractions in Bakersfield, CA?

The best Bakersfield, California tourist attractions include Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace for country music, dinner, cocktails, and dancing. Catch a show at Fox Theater for some historical culture, or head to the California Living Museum for a healthy dose of wildlife, nature, and cuddly zoo animals. 

Now that you know all the cool spots and best things to do in Bakersfield, California, we have no doubt you’ll have an amazing time visiting the lively central California town. Happy travels!

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