The region of south-central California around Bakersfield boasts pristine mountain lakes, lovely desert oases, soft sand beaches, and hills covered with lush vineyards. Just a short drive from Bakersfield are popular destinations featuring abundant opportunities for refreshing relaxation, absorbing sightseeing, fun recreational activities, and fine dining. Stay at one of numerous California vacation rentals for your next weekend trip. That said, here are the best weekend getaway spots from the city of Bakersfield.

Tree on a cliff overlooking the ocean.

1. San Simeon

The town of San Simeon lies three and a half hours west of Bakersfield on the beautiful California Coast. One of the town’s major attractions is magnificent Hearst Castle, a luxurious hillside complex of ornate buildings built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Guided tours take you through the main castle, guest cottages, outdoor pool area, and extensive grounds of the site. Just a few miles north of San Simeon is the Piedras Blancas Rookery, where visitors observe multitudes of elephant seals on the shore. San Simeon also has extensive soft sand beaches ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. W.R. Hearst Memorial State Beach has picnic tables, barbecue grills, a fishing pier, and a concession for renting kayaks and boogie boards.

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2. Paso Robles

Vacation rentals in Paso Robles are in the midst of the lovely hills of California wine country about two and a half hours northwest of Bakersfield. Uncorked wine tours takes you for tastings at some of the best area vineyards in a comfortable van. Alternatively, join Paso Bike Tours on a visit to the area wineries and other attractions by bicycle. At Work Family Ranch, enjoy a horseback ride over the beautiful rolling hills. The family-friendly Ravine Waterpark offers waterslides, a wave pool, a lazy river, and a kiddy pool. Head for the Vine Restaurant for delicious char-grilled steaks paired with fine wines.

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3. Ventura

The city of Ventura lies just over two hours south of Bakersfield on the breathtaking stretch of California Coast between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. Popular water sports at the beach include kayaking, paddle boarding, and jet skiing. Seaward Surf and Sport rents boards and also offers lessons with experienced surfers. For a unique and exciting experience, try the thrilling sport of kite surfing with Ventura Kiteboarding. Rent a bicycle or four-wheeled multi-passenger Surrey bike, and pedal along the waterfront. Right across the street from the beach is Ventura Harbor Village, which features eclectic shops, art galleries, entertainment venues, restaurants, and a mile-long walking promenade.

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4. Oakhurst

Vacation rentals in the city of Oakhurst, about three hours north of Bakersfield, provide convenient access to the south entrance of Yosemite National Park. View the incomparably beautiful canyons, valleys, forests, and meadows of Yosemite in a comfortable van with Discover Yosemite Tours out of Oakhurst. Get a bird’s eye look at Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada Mountains from a small plane with Airborrn Aviation out of nearby Mariposa. The family-friendly Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad out of Fish Camp takes you on an excursion by steam engine train through the Yosemite forest. Gold Gulch Adventures is a living history museum that revives the exciting era of the California gold rush.

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5. Carmel-by-the-Sea

The beautiful coastal town of Carmel-by-the-Sea lies on the Monterrey Peninsula less than five hours northwest of Bakersfield. The town is renowned as an artist colony, and you can explore the finest studios and art galleries with Carmel Art Tours. A visit to Carmel Plaza provides an elegant and eclectic shopping experience. Carmel Beach offers a lovely expanse of soft white sand that’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, beachcombing, and water sports. The Scenic Bluff Path overlooking the spectacular coastline is an ideal location for walking or jogging. Don’t miss an excursion to 17-Mile-Drive at nearby Pebble Beach, which includes Seal Point, Cypress Point, Bird Rock, and other scenic attractions.

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6. Palm Springs

The famous resort city of Palm Springs is four hours southeast of Bakersfield in the year-round warmth and sunshine of beautiful Coachella Valley. The area hosts many outstanding golf courses, including the emerald-green Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort just minutes from downtown. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes you in a revolving tram car from the Coachella Valley floor through craggy Chino Canyon to San Jacinto Peak in Mount San Jacinto State Park. Hop on a luxurious bus with the Celebrity Grand Tour, and visit the former homes of celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Hope, and Elvis Presley. For a profoundly relaxing experience, head for Desert Hot Springs on the north side of Palm Springs for a soothing soak in hot natural mineral waters.

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7. Lake Arrowhead

The town of Lake Arrowhead lies along its beautiful and pristine namesake lake about three and a half hours southeast of Bakersfield in the breathtaking San Bernardino Mountains. The Lake Arrowhead Queen is a comfortable paddlewheel boat that takes you on a tour of the lakeside. Learn the fun and exciting sport of water skiing with McKenzie Water Ski School out of Lake Arrowhead Village. SkyPark at Santa’s Village is a large family-friendly theme park on the south side of Lake Arrowhead. Activities include a mountain bike park with trails for every skill level, adventure zip-lines through the treetops, a climbing tower, and an archery range.

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