Bakersfield is situated on the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley and is the seat of Kern County.
A hub for energy production and the agriculture industry, it has also been gaining more popularity as a travel destination.
It’s even one of the United States’ fastest-growing medium metropolises and is filled with many things to see and places to go!
Bakersfield has its fair share of historic sites that make for an interesting and educational experience.
It’s also got a fair few locations dedicated to local arts and culture, as well as several nature-themed attractions.
Live music venues are also commonplace, as are various sporting establishments, so there’s no shortage of entertainment options for people of all interests and ages.
It can be tough to decide what to see and how you’ll spend your time in this lovely and lively city, so to help you out, we’ve compiled this list.
Here are the 25 best and fun things to do in Bakersfield, California.
Things To Do In Bakersfield
1. Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace
You’ll find a few points of interest in Bakersfield that are more fun or iconic than Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace.
Simply known as The Palace to some, this is a music hall that opened in 1996, created by the eponymous legendary singer, musician, and songwriter.
It has gorgeous Western Revival architecture and is designed to resemble a 19th-century town from the American Old West.
The Crystal Palace is mostly known as an iconic California location for classic western dancing, concerts, and performances, where guests wear old western attire and dine on delicious food from a music-themed menu.
Sample mini chimichangas, nachos, salads, soups, pasta, filet mignon, baby back ribs, and Buck’s favorite, “The Palace Mud Pie”, among others.
Basically, Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace is more than just a music hall!
It’s also a restaurant, bar, nightclub, and – believe it or not – a museum.
It’s filled with all sorts of memorabilia related to Buck Owens, clothing and costumes, guitars, and information about his career on display.
Address: 2800 Buck Owens Blvd, Bakersfield, CA 93308, United States
2. Hart Memorial Park
With no entrance fee, it’s one of the most enjoyable free things to do in Bakersfield.
Gently resting on the Sierra Nevada Mountains foothills and along the Kern River, it spans 370 acres and is outfitted with tons of amenities.
Hart Memorial Park has plenty of paved trails, including a bike path in the eastern area and an equestrian trail on the northern side.
Lots of these trails are named after the geographic features in their area, so navigating is fairly easy.
Kids will love the playground, athletes will enjoy baseball backstops and lawn sports in many large fields, and those who are feeling peckish will enjoy the picnic area.
The latter is outfitted with tables for food preparation, two deep pit barbecues, two booths, 7 propane burners across two grills, and a bandstand.
Anglers will also enjoy fishing at Hart Memorial Park.
There are two fishing lakes here and they’re stocked with all sorts of game fish, including bass, rainbow trout, and bluegill.
There are also three canals to walk along for a nice, relaxing time.
If you want something a little more interesting, there are other activities here, like two disc-golf courses and boating facilities!
Address: Hart Park, Bakersfield, CA 93308, United States
3. California Living Museum
The California Living Museum, also simply called CALM, is situated northeast of downtown Bakersfield.
This is a fun, award-winning zoo that is a part of Kern River County Park, and unlike most museums, it is entirely dedicated to showcasing local fauna and providing education and up-close experiences with all manner of wildlife.
The establishment is also Zoological Association of America-accredited.
The California Living Museum spans 14 acres and is home to many local species of plants and animals across a park-like expanse.
There are more than 80 species of animals that are injured or can’t survive in their natural environments in the wild.
These unique, medically unreleasable animals are the only ones who are permanently housed in the zoo.
Still, CALM does its best to ensure that the animals in their care are able to live in exhibits that mimic their natural habitats.
There’s a cats of California exhibit, featuring bobcats and mountain lions, a Bird of Prey exhibit with eagles, owls, and hawks, and an open exhibit featuring black bears.
There are also mallards and migrating birds at the waterfowl pond, many fox species at the mammal round, a reptile house underground, and a yard filled with deer.
There are plenty of options for what to do beyond just visiting the exhibits, too!
You can head to the contact area to get up close and personal with domestic animals, head to the reading library for information, and view Pleistocene and Miocene fossils at the DiGiorgio Education Center.
Kids will love the rotating events at the discovery rooms and nature-lovers will appreciate the miniature riparian replica of the Kern River.
Address: 10500 Alfred Harrell Hwy, Bakersfield, CA 93306, United States
4. Kern County Museum
The Kern County Museum is one of the top places to visit in the city of Bakersfield, just a little north of the downtown area, right near the heart of the metropolis.
It’s a great attraction for families and focuses on telling the tale of Kern County’s history through more than 60 historic preserved buildings and numerous artifacts spread across 16 acres.
The Kern County Museum’s most popular feature is likely its Pioneer Village outdoors, which is where all the preserved structures from the late 19th century are on display.
There are homesteading cabins, an oil derrick, general stores, a one-room school, and railcar jail cells to view and explore.
There is also a cool interactive exhibit out here that discusses the city’s history in the oil industry and how it propelled the county’s development.
The indoor museum and exhibits are not to be missed either, though!
There’s the Lori Brock Children’s Discovery Center, which allows children to learn about science in hands-on ways, and exhibits on the musicians who grew their craft in Bakersfield, like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.
There are also exhibits dedicated to the Native American people who lived on this land and exhibits on agriculture, railroads, and mining told through documents, photos, and objects.
Address: 3801 Chester Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93301, United States
5. Bakersfield Museum of Art
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The Bakersfield Museum of Art, or the BMoA, was created in 1956 as a vehicle for promoting the creativity and artistic prowess of the community of Kern County.
It’s one of the key things to do in Bakersfield for art aficionados and is filled with works by 20th-century artists from the state.
Photos, paintings, and sculptures are the most common mediums, though others are on display as well.
The Bakersfield Museum of Art spans about 17,400 square feet and boasts two large and two small galleries, as well as classrooms and a banquet hall.
Outside, there are numerous beautiful gardens that display sculptures and other outdoor artworks.
The Tejon Ranch Sculpture Park is the most popular of these gardens, and it’s a fun experience exploring the grounds in search of art.
Address: 1930 R St, Bakersfield, CA 93301, United States
6. Fox Theater
Fox Theater opened in 1930 on Christmas Day and became one of the prime tourist attractions for entertainment, showcasing feature films, “talkie” pictures, operas, and orchestras.
Originally, it boasted Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, but it was updated to an Art Deco style soon after.
Unfortunately, the theater would fail to keep its doors open, falling into abandonment and decay by 1984.
In 1994, the Fox Theater Foundation was created to reopen and restore the theater.
Today, the theater is open in its former glory, filled with a quaint, vintage charm and lovely decorative and aesthetic features.
Its program includes comedic acts, concerts, movie screenings, ballet performances, dance recitals, and much more.
If you’re an art-lover looking for stuff to do in the city this weekend, check out what’s showing here!
Address: 2001 H St, Bakersfield, CA 93301, United States
7. Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science
The Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science is situated near the Fox Theater.
Situated neatly in the downtown area of the city, it’s packed with all manner of fossils and artifacts from around Kern County.
This makes it one of the best Bakersfield attractions for history buffs or those seeking educational forms of entertainment.
The Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science focuses on three main subjects, namely paleontology, geology, and anthropology.
The institution was founded in 1995, built upon the impressive Sharktooth Hill Miocene fossils provided by the Bob and Mary Ernst Collection.
This is the world’s biggest fossil collection of its kind from that location.
Even today, these fossils remain the centerpiece of the museum!
There are plenty of activities to enjoy at the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science.
You can learn about the Yokut native peoples and other Native Americans from the area in Native American Lifeways, via a replica of their villages.
You can check out the African Animals exhibits to view more than 50 taxidermied specimens of fauna from Africa or head upstairs to the Paleontology Collection and Paleo Lab if you’re a fan of dinosaurs.
But there’s even more: a model of Yosemite Valley, a triceratops skull replica, a collection of von Zittel Illustrations, and a collection of rocks and minerals.
Kids will love The “Oh” Zone, where they can learn in an interactive discovery center!
Address: 2018 Chester Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93301, United States
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8. Mechanics Bank Arena, Theater and Convention Center
The Mechanics Bank Arena, Theater and Convention Center, formerly known as the Rabobank Arena, is one of the key places to go to watch big performances and concerts in Bakersfield.
This fun, multi-purpose location was opened in 1998 and is home to the American Hockey League ice hockey tea, the Bakersfield Condors.
It is also the California State University’s home arena.
The area of the Mechanics Bank Arena, Theater and Convention Center houses 6,400 seats, with the overall floor taking up 17,000 square feet.
Meanwhile, there’s a 17,840-square-foot exhibit hall indoors, complete with a 3,000-seat theater.
In the southern concourse of the establishment, you’ll find the Bob Elias Kern County Sports Hall of Fame, where you can learn about the city and the county’s athletic legends.
All sorts of performances take place at the Mechanics Bank Arena, Theater and Convention Center.
Sporting events, concerts, symphony orchestras, Disney on Ice, monster truck rallies, Broadway performances, live movie recreations, and much more are played at the venue!
Address: 1001 Truxtun Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93301, United States
9. Murray Family Farms
If you’re visiting Bakersfield with family, you can’t go wrong with Murray Family Farms.
This establishment is jam-packed with activities and has a large selection of different things to see and do.
It’s a fully functioning farm that offers all sorts of farm experiences and a variety of seasonal events, making it among the top family-friendly attractions in the area.
The year of Murray Family Farms is filled with a variety of U-Pick events.
They tend to differ by growing season, so there are citrus, blueberry, strawberry, cherries, and stone fruit U-Pick events.
There are also special holiday events, some of which are more U-Picks and others that involve animal meet-and-greets and temporary attractions.
Easter, Halloween, Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day all come with unique events!
Murray Family Farms covers 70 acres of land and is an organic farm that grows vegetables and fruits.
There’s a butterfly house, a train ride, some picnic tables, an animal garden, and hayrides to keep things interesting, too.
You can meet ducks, chickens, turkeys, miniature horses, pigeons, geese, goats, peacocks, sheep, and much more!
Address: 6700 General Beale Rd, Bakersfield, CA 93307, United States
10. The Park at River Walk
The Park at River Walk, which is also called River Walk Park, is a 32-acre public park in California that is one of the most relaxing Bakersfield attractions.
It’s home to a stream, two lakes connected through it, four bridges over the stream, and more.
It’s also the location of Bright House Amphitheater, which is designed to look like an island and is one of the two outdoor theaters of its size in the city.
For those seeking a little exercise, the Park at River Walk is quite close to the Kern River Parkway Trail, and it also has a cobblestone creek to walk through.
Meanwhile, anglers can enjoy catching carp, bass, crappie, and more.
If you need to stop and rest, you can sit at one of the six covered spaces for picnics, numerous other barbecue pits and picnic tables, a gazebo, and a playground for the kids.
Address: 11298 Stockdale Hwy, Bakersfield, CA 93311, United States
11. Camelot Park
Camelot Park is a fun amusement park packed with activities.
It’s one of the most exciting points of interest for families with kids in Bakersfield, California.
Kiddie rides, bumper boats, a baseball field, mini-golf courses, and go-karts are just a few of the cool things you can enjoy.
Camelot Park also has quite a few arcade games, like Deal or No Deal, Spin N Win, Big Bass Wheel, and Haunted Hotel.
There are also plenty of special seasonal events that draw in people from across California, like All Night Play, First Friday Fellowship Night, and The Ultimate Group Package.
So if you’re planning to visit this weekend, check the park’s calendar to see if anything interesting is going on!
Address: 1251 Oak St, Bakersfield, CA 93304, United States
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12. Kern River Parkway Trail
The Kern River Parkway Trail is a pedestrian trail that connects to The Park at River Walk but also brings you to a wide range of some of the best things to do in Bakersfield, California.
Around the trail, you’ll find access routes to Beach Park and Panorama Park, which is what makes it so popular among cyclists, strollers, and runners.
It’s also a great place to stroll as you watch the sunset!
The Kern River Parkway Trail runs along the Kern River, spanning 21.4 miles from Enos Lane to Alfred Harrell Highway.
Despite being made of asphalt, this is a non-motorized trail, so you can take your time without worrying about oncoming vehicles.
The trail is a part of the nature preserve of the Kern River Parkway, which encompasses 6,000 acres and is the county’s biggest municipal park.
The locale was opened in 1976 and runs from Kern Canyon all the way to Interstate 5.
While its eponymous trail is the most popular, there are also several other paths, some dedicated just to horseback riding or biking.
Address: Bakersfield, CA, United States
13. Gaslight Melodrama Theater
If you’re wondering what to do in Bakersfield that is both artistic and suitable for the attention spans of children, you’ve got to check out the Gaslight Melodrama Theater.
It’s one of the key places to see great performance art in Bakersfield!
If you’re hungry before or after your show, you can head to the onsite Moosehead Lounge to eat snacks and light meals or drink wine, beer, and soft drinks.
This family-friendly establishment of the Gaslight Melodrama Theater specializes in old-time melodrama, focusing on spoofs and parodies of sports, mystery, Wild West, and fantasy entertainment.
Performances often feature comedic sketches, funny jokes, musical numbers, dancing, and Vaudeville styles.
There are also magic shows and puppet shows, and kids can join education programs where they learn about singing, dancing, drama, improvisation, and theatrical makeup.
Address: 12748 Jomani Dr, Bakersfield, CA 93312, United States
14. Kern County Raceway Park
The Kern County Raceway Park is a unique 0.5-mile race car track.
The oval-shaped raceway replaced the Mesa Marin Raceway in 2013 and is a stadium with 5,000 seats, 18 concession stands, and an impressive 21 VIP suites, with an expanded capacity of 17,000 seats in total.
All sorts of fun events are held here, drawing guests to Bakersfield, California for things like the K&N Pro Series West, NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series, and various car shows.
When it comes to places to visit for race fans, the Kern County Raceway Park is the go-to speedway in the city.
The park boasts a progressively banked track that rises to 14 degrees from 12 degrees.
Turns feature an uphill backstretch climb that is ten feet higher up than the straight pit, which means visibility is fantastic for spectators!
Address: 13500 Raceway Blvd Interstate 5 and, Enos Ln, Bakersfield, CA 93311, United States
15. McMurtrey Aquatic Center
If you’re seeking cheap things to do in Bakersfield that still offer some exciting activities and experiences, one of your best options is the McMurtrey Aquatic Center.
Located in Bakersfield’s downtown area, this recreational facility is a hotspot for diving and swimming sports.
The McMurtrey Aquatic Center opened in 2004 and boasts a large 8,551-square-foot recreational pool.
It also has a heated competition pool of Olympic size, which has 9 lanes spanning 25 yards, 9 lanes spanning 50 meters, and a depth of 3 feet, 6 inches at one end and 14 feet, 2 inches on the other.
At both pools, there are lifeguards looking out over swimmers during business hours, so you can swim with peace of mind.
The McMurtrey Aquatic Center also has diving boards, a plunge pool, double water slides, zero depth entry, features for children, an area for water volleyball, and even picnic areas!
A variety of events are held in the center often, like scuba diving, aquatic fitness classes, diving, water polo, and much more.
Address: 1325 Q St Suite 200, Bakersfield, CA 93301, United States
16. Panorama Vista Preserve and Panorama Park
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The Panorama Vista Preserve is one of the top free things to do in the city of Bakersfield, California, and it’s a premier destination for hikers.
One can paddle in the river, go for a jog or horseback ride, take photos, or bike through the preserve, too.
You’ll also see a lovely river, verdant forests, and all manner of flora and fauna!
Panorama Vista Preserve has a whopping 930 acres to its name and is designed to restore and protect certain local species of endangered plants and animals.
These include the Bakersfield Cactus and the San Joaquin Kit Fox, among others.
There’s also another one of the city’s tourist attractions within Panorama Vista Preserve.
It’s called Panorama Park and it’s situated on a bluff over the gorgeous Kern River.
This is a beautiful location that is especially stunning at sunset, and you can take a two-mile hike across the full loop of its paved trail.
Address: 901 E Roberts Ln, Bakersfield, CA 93308, United States
17. Sam Lynn Ballpark
Looking for more fun in your Bakersfield attractions?
Head to Sam Lynn Ballpark on Chester Avenue.
This is a historic venue built in 1941 that is the oldest park of its kind in the Class-A Advanced California League.
The park got its name from a local funder, a businessman who sought to promote and provide the necessary resources for youth baseball leagues.
Once upon a time, the Sam Lynn Ballpark was the home field of the Bakersfield Badgers, and now it has the honor of hosting the Bakersfield Blaze instead.
Due to its orientation facing the setting sun, a lot of games are scheduled for the night.
Address: 4009 Chester Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93301, United States
18. Sequoia National Forest
If you’re willing to travel a little, then the Sequoia National Forest is one of the very best places to go in all of California.
It’s somewhat near to downtown Bakersfield, just about 15 miles away from the metropolis.
There are 52 campgrounds here so you can take a prolonged trip to the Land of the Giants this weekend.
A part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this is an iconic national park that boasts more than 30 sequoia tree groves.
There are canyons carved into jagged shapes by glaciers, rivers that run wild across scenic backdrops, and plenty of campgrounds to make the most of the natural wonder.
Elevations at the Sequoia National Forest reach 12,000 feet, so there are plenty of excursions to be had.
The Sequoia National Forest offers all sorts of ways to explore its 1,193,315 acres.
You can go whitewater rafting or kayaking, hiking or backpacking, and take a bunch of different photographs of the lovely verdant environment around you.
The forest features six different wilderness spaces that are clearly designated, including the Domeland Wilderness, which covers 95,000 acres.
Address: 1839 South Newcomb Street, Porterville, CA 93257, United States
19. Valley Plaza Mall
The Valley Plaza Mall is the San Joaquin Valley, California’s biggest mall.
It opened in 1967 and is one of the top spots in the city for shopaholics.
When it first opened, it had an impressive 900,000 square feet within its walls and boasted contemporary Spanish-inspired architecture.
It has been continually expanding since 1986 and has faced many changes over the years that have only made it more popular.
There are plenty of things to see at Valley Plaza Mall.
Popular shops like Macy’s, Target, Vans, Forever 21, H&M, Hot Topic, Victoria’s Secret, Sephora, and much more allow you to shop till you drop.
When you get hungry, there are tons of diverse dining choices to peruse, and when you get bored, you can catch a movie at its state-of-the-art 16-screen, IMAX-fitted theater.
Address: 2701 Ming Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93304, United States
20. Central Park at Mill Creek
Central Park at Mill Creek is yet another one of the recreational Bakersfield attractions that give you a fun but tranquil break from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding metropolis.
Its design is simple and linear, as it was once built to follow an irrigation canal.
Today, it’s outfitted with all manner of facilities that make it a comfortable and welcoming experience.
Central Park at Mill Creek features a 1.5-mile park that runs through its historic length.
Along the way, you can stop at the Mill Creek Bridge to take some pictures or look out over the fountains and ducks.
You can also simply enjoy the many green spaces that branch out from the extensive walkway.
Address: 500 19th St, Bakersfield, CA 93301, United States
21. Weedpatch Camp
Weedpatch Camp is an important historic landmark in California.
If you’re a history buff wondering where to go, this is one of the more sobering but educational points of interest in the city.
Officially named the Arvin Federal Government Camp, this is the camp featured in the iconic novel The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
When first created, Weedpatch Camp was a so-called rescue camp for migrant workers who had fled drought in the Dust Bowl, from places like Oklahoma.
They were set to work in local fields, and camps like this one were set up to provide housing to these workers.
Weedpatch Camp is on the National Register of Historic Places, and it provides a somber glimpse into the kind of life that migrant workers lived and their living conditions.
For the most part, it’s a quiet and reserved location for calm reflection, and it has a few leftover buildings that you can explore.
Address: 8701 Sunset Blvd, Bakersfield, CA 93307, United States
22. Wool Growers
If you’re seeking romantic things to do in Bakersfield, why not head to one of the best eateries in Bakersfield?
Wool Growers is a family-owned establishment that serves Basque cuisine and has done so since 1954.
The homey and welcoming location is filled with down-to-earth decorations that complement the traditional dishes.
Despite its relaxed atmosphere, Wool Growers attracts a fair few celebrities, likely due to its delicious food.
Roasted meats, spicy Basque tomato sauces, stewed beans, onion soups, pickled tongue, and more create a vibrant and welcoming menu.
For adults, there’s a delicious cocktail picon punch, made in the typical Basque style, to sample in the lounge and bar.
Address: 620 E 19th St, Bakersfield, CA 93305, United States
23. Puzzle Effect
The Bakersfield branch of Puzzle Effect is a fantastic way to spend a day with friends or family.
It’s an immersive escape room adventure experience that encourages teamwork.
You’ll have an hour to crack codes and solve clues to break out from the adventure of your choice.
If you’re wondering what to do for fun in this part of California, this is one of the cool places you can go.
Each experience has a unique storyline that ties each mystery together, and there are all sorts of twists and turns along the way!
Up to six people can play per room, and you’ll get to flex your critical thinking and problem-solving skills as you try to escape.
Address: 3616 Coffee Rd C, Bakersfield, CA 93308, United States
24. Lake Ming
Lake Ming is one of the most relaxing places to visit in Bakersfield, California.
Technically, it is a part of the Kern River County Park.
This man-made recreational lake is publicly open and is a popular spot for water-skiing, motorboating, and sailboating, and it’s even the site of many National Jet Boat Association races.
In the winter, Lake Ming is stocked by the Department of Fish and Game with between 10 and 12 inches of rainbow trout.
Throughout the rest of the year, you can enjoy fishing for carp, crappie, large-mouth bass, bluegill, and catfish.
Water sports are also popular year-round, and lots of people enjoy swimming here, as it’s a calm and safe place when compared to the Kern River.
Address: 13375 Lake Ming Rd., Bakersfield, CA 93306, United States
25. Golden West Casino
Golden West Casino is one of the most fun things to do in Bakersfield for adults.
Though this part of the state isn’t the most known for its casinos and gambling, the industry has been progressively growing, and now you can enjoy a high-quality game experience in Bakersfield.
So, what can you play at the Golden West Casino?
Poker, baccarat, Omaha, blackjack, stud, and other staples are easily available.
There are also plenty of places to eat and drink here, so you can spend your day at the tables accompanied by a wide range of beers and delicious meals.
There are also regular events to add some variety, spice, and excitement to an already thrilling experience!
Address: 1001 S Union Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93307, United States
Start Planning Your Trip To Bakersfield
There are many, many fun places to go in Bakersfield, California, and each one of them is as enjoyable as the next!
Whether you enjoy nature, sports, art, music, animals, food, or history, you’re sure to find something that you like in the bustling and welcoming city of Bakersfield!