Bakersfield Visitors Guide: Plan the Perfect Trip With These Insider Tips
Bakersfield, California, may not seem like much when you drive past it on your way north to San Francisco from Los Angeles, but it has plenty to offer visitors of every sort. It’s a little town with all the heart and warmth of a West Texas metropolis, and despite its small town feel, it actually has a population of over 50,000 scattered across its sprawling land.
So what is there to do in “little, old Bakersfield”? Well, plenty!
What to do in Bakersfield, CA
Line Dance at Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace
Most people don’t know that Bakersfield actually has a very rich country music history, and is even home to a few of the greats, like Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. If you are a fan of country music or line dancing, a visit to Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace is a must. Come with friends and enjoy a delicious meal and a fun night of dancing and live music.
Pick Your Own Produce at a Local Farm
Bakersfield farms’ grow most of the almonds and carrots for the entire U.S., as well as apples, raspberries, cherries, watermelons, and more!
Head to Bolthouse or Grimway farms to see how big carrots become the baby carrots you buy in the store. (And next time you’re at home grocery shopping, look for the name Bakersfield, CA on the bag.)
If you visit Bakersfield during the autumn, stop by an apple orchard just 30 minutes outside of town to pick your own apples and press your own apple cider. Most of the pick-your-own orchards also have raspberry plants, whose berries can be picked and purchased for a low price.
Attend a Concert at the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra
Craving a little more culture than line dancing and high school football? While you’re hanging about downtown, go listen to a concert by the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra on a Saturday night at the Rabobank Convention Center. It’s an entirely local and professional orchestra, with excellent music selections every month.
Bakersfield Restaurants and Cafes
One of the Bakersfield locals’ favorite things to do is eat quality food, as the city is filled with hundreds of restaurants, about half of which are entirely local and original.
Best Restaurants in Bakersfield
Wool Growers (Basque)
Dewar’s Ice Cream
With a large Basque population, Bakersfield is home to great authentic Basque food. To you can enjoy the best Basque food in town, head to Wool Growers. All of the customers eat at one table together, family style, so you can meet some new people in an old-fashioned, European sort of way. Try the famous French Onion Soup and Oxtail Stew when you eat at this all-you-can-eat!
For delicious Italian cuisine, dine at Luigi’s or Frugatti’s. Italian families opened these restaurants almost 100 years ago and serve absolutely delicious food.
No visit to Bakersfield is complete without trying the pride of the city: Dewar’s Ice Cream. Serving homemade, affordable ice cream, a cone at Dewar’s is always satisfying. They also make something unique called Ice Milk, which is made with less cream. This treat has lighter and icier texture than traditional ice cream. The Peppermint Ice Milk is a personal favorite.
There are a few bus routes throughout the city and a couple of taxi services, but public transportation is not a commonly used commodity. If you don’t have a car with you, maybe consider renting a car from the Bakersfield airport. It won’t cost you much more than the bus, and it will give you much more freedom in when and where you travel.
When to Visit Bakersfield
Although there’s no bad time to visit Bakersfield, it’s arguably best to enjoy the city in the fall. That’s when all the fruit is in season, the weather is a cool 70 degrees, and the leaves are changing colors.
Another great thing about the fall is football season! Go to one of the numerous high school or college football games happening every Friday, and you will not be disappointed. Several professional football players have come out of Bakersfield, including Derek Carr, the current starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders.
If you want more relaxed quality family time, or just some time alone to enjoy nature, check out the numerous local parks and the cross-town bike path. The parks, such as Riverwalk, Jastro, Beale, or Panorama, offer fun and safe playing environments with lots of space to run around or have a picnic in the sun, while the 25 mile bike trail is one of the hidden beauties of the city. It cuts right through town and leads you into farmland on one side and foothills on the other. It offers a beautiful and scenic route, and lets you explore the area, wherever you are, for a nice jog or bike ride.
Trip Tip: Avoid rush hour. One thing to remember: plan on staying off the roads between 4:30 and 5:30, particularly if you’re spending time downtown. Everyone drives in Bakersfield, and everyone is going home from work or school around that time.
Overall, Bakersfield is really a fun and lovely little place. It offers the heart of the South, the farmland of the Midwest, and the culture of Southern California all in one city. The people are welcoming, the food is fresh and delicious, and the activities are much more abundant than you might expect when looking at the city from the freeway.
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This article was written by Julia Clausen.