There is no shortage of places to go and things to do in Bakersfield and the surrounding areas of the Golden Empire. From outdoors to indoors, a vast array of recreational playgrounds are available to visitors and residents alike.
Outdoor enthusiasts can choose from white water rafting, jet skiing and kayaking in the summer and downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter. Only minutes away from the city, Lake Ming, the Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area and the majestic Kern River offer a wide range of water sports, picnicking, fishing and camping facilities. In close proximity, you’ll find access to the more rigorous challenges of mountain biking, hiking and backpacking or the thrills of skydiving and hang gliding.
Thirty miles of scenic bike path runs from Lake Ming in the northeast through the Kern River Parkway to State Route 43 in the southwest.
Over 50 neighborhood parks offer picnic, barbecue and other amenities. Public and private facilities offer golf and tennis.
Need speed? Check out the car-racing venues located in and around Bakersfield, including the Kern County Raceway Park, Buttonwillow Raceway and Auto Club Famoso Raceway.
The multi-purpose Ice Sports Center of Bakersfield offers an assortment of cool activities. Located nearby is the McMurtrey Aquatics Center with recreation and competition pools, a double water slide and water volleyball area.
Bakersfield is home to sports teams, including the Bakersfield Blaze (baseball), the Bakersfield Jam (basketball) and the Bakersfield Condors (professional ice hockey).
The following is a partial list of recreational highlights throughout the area:
Unless noted otherwise, area code is 661.
Parks & Outdoor Recreation
Hart Memorial Park: Alfred Harrell Hwy. More than 370 acres of parkland along the Kern River. Hiking, horse trails, picnic grounds, barbecues, playgrounds, paddle boat rentals, trout fishing, lots of shade. 872-3179
Lake Ming: Lake Ming Road. 205 acres for power boating and sailing. Site of several annual drag boat competitions. 872-5149
Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area: Southwest of Bakersfield, west of I-5 off Hwy. 43. Offers an 86-acre fishing lake and an 873-acre boating lake with camping and picnic grounds. Camping reservations: 868-7050.
Kern River Canyon: Hwy. 178, featuring breath-taking scenery and dramatic vistas. Areas designated for camping, fishing, rafting and kayaking.
Pacific Crest National Trail: Hiking and equestrian trails through a variety of Mojave Desert landscapes and flora. 888-PCTRAIL.
Kern National Wildlife Refuge: Over 11,249 acres of wildlife habitat, including seasonal wetlands, uplands and riparian areas. 20 miles west of Delano at the junction of Garces Hwy. & Corcoran Rd. 725-2767.
Mourning Cloak Ranch: 22101 Old Town Road, Tehachapi. Botanical gardens. 822-1661.
Tule Elk State Park: 956-acre grassland reserve is home of California’s rare Tule Elk. 20 miles west of Bakersfield at Station and Morris Roads off Stockdale Hwy. 764-6881.
Arts & Entertainment
Rabobank Arena Theater & Convention Center
1001 Truxtun Ave. • 852-7777
The state-of-the-art Rabobank Arena Theater & Convention Center play host to the Condors professional ice hockey team and a roster of big-name entertainment. 2010 concert and entertainer headliners included Disney Live! Rockin’ Road Show, Disney on Ice, The Harlem Globetrotters, 1-2-3 Imagine with Elmo and Friends, Korn, WWE Smackdown, Carrie Underwood, Sublime, Yo Gabba Gabba Live and many more. Touring artists and repertoire companies frequent the Convention Center stage, which also serves as home to the acclaimed Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra and Masterworks Chorale.
2001 H Street • 324-1369
Opening on Christmas Day 1930, the historic Fox Theater has undergone a renaissance through a community-wide refurbishment campaign that began in the 1990s. The revitalized theater now plays home to a wide range of movies, plays, social events and concerts.
Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace
2800 Buck Owens Blvd. • 328-7560
This nationally recognized dinner theater offers “the best of country” with lots of country music memorabilia and concerts. Featured artists have included Mallary Hope, Billy Currington, John Berry, Tracy Lawrence, The Desert Rose Band, Mickey & the Motorcars, David Allan Coe, Raul Malo and Leon Russell plus regular shows by Buddy Alan Owens and the Buckaroos.
California Living Museum
10500 Alfred Harrell Hwy. • 872-2256
CALM, a natural outdoor museum and zoo, displays and interprets native animals, plants, specimens and artifacts, and teaches respect for all living things through education, recreation, conservation and research.
Kern County Museum & Lori Brock Children’s Discovery Center
3801 Chester Ave. • 852-5000
This 14-acre outdoor museum features 56 buildings representing Kern County life in the late 1800s and early 1900s. A multi-million dollar interactive exhibit Black Gold: The Oil Experience pays tribute to Kern’s oil history. The children’s center offers interactive exhibits and displays.
Minter Field Air Museum
401 Vultee (Freeway 99 & Lerdo Highway), Shafter • 393-0291
Local military aviation history lives at the Minter Field Airport where the annual “Warbirds in Action” air show is held.
Bakersfield Museum of Art
1930 R Street • 323-7219
A permanent collection of local and California artists, rotating exhibits, classes, seminars and school tours are offered year-round in a 17,000 square foot facility.
U.S. Naval Museum of Armament and Technology
Blandy Street, China Lake • 760-939-3530
Exhibits of missiles, rockets, bombs, photos and models. .
NASA Dryden Flight Research Facility and Museum
Edwards Air Force Base • 277-8707
Western landing site of the space shuttle. Film and walking tour.
West Kern Oil Museum
1168 Wood Street, Taft • 765-6664.
Features artifacts and displays of oil, working wood oil derrick, early life of area towns and people.