Bakersfield, California’s ninth-largest city and situated inland from the state’s famed coast, is sometimes neglected as a tourist destination. The city may not have as many famous attractions as other of California’s bigger towns, but that doesn’t mean it’s short on things to do.
Bakersfield used to be known for oil, and farming has several attractions even for those who travel without a car. It’s now becoming a center for arts, culture, and sports in the Central Valley. It still has some reminders of the area’s past, though.
I visited Bakersfield last year, and these are the 12 best things to do in the city, even if you don’t own a car.
List of Contents
1. McMurtrey Aquatic Center
McMurtrey Aquatic Center is a community pool with lifeguards on duty, lap lanes, a diving well, and other equipment such as fins, kickboards, and pull buoys. There is also a slight slide in the children’s pool.
This aquatic center is fantastic. Nothing beats stepping into this pool and swimming several laps on one of the warmest summer days. They maintain the temperature precisely perfect, even on the coldest days.
Because this is a popular pool, you should double-check the hours. I came for lap swimming, not swim meets, diving courses, kayaking lessons, or free swim periods with water slides.
The pool is shallow on one end, which is ideal for building confidence in new swimmers, and deep enough on the other end to accommodate diving boards.
The amenities are in excellent shape. There are lots of lockers and showers available.
Bring your rubber shoes, goggles, and a lock with you.
It is one of the best places to exercise in Bakersfield.
2. Kroll Park
Kroll Park is a dog park with various open fields. Picnic spots, a large sandlot play area, and a leash-free dog play area are attractions.
It is undoubtedly one of my favorite off-leash dog parks. There is a children’s playground nearby, which is helpful if you have a youngster who wants to play, but in all seriousness, some kids prefer playing in the dog area to the playground.
The metal fence is maintained correctly, and the grounds are primarily tidy. They give water as well as bags to clean up after the dogs. We see a lot of huskies and other larger dogs whenever we go to this dog park. All of the dogs we’ve met have been friendly.
This dog park is one that I would recommend to other dog owners.
3. Kern County Museum
Kern County Museum aims to transfer visitors to another time, location, space, mental state, or even dimension. It has taken the task and accomplished it spectacularly, making it a genuinely outstanding museum, in my opinion.
After visiting with friends and family numerous times over the years, I can confidently state that you should not miss this site if you are a history fan.
There’s an adobe, a log cabin, a gorgeous Victorian mansion, commercial buildings, a courthouse, and a photographer’s store, for starters, in the outdoor town. Each structure was moved, put up, and decorated with care to provide the most genuine experience possible. It’s as though you’ve traveled through time. It’s ideal for little children to run about and explore!
Then there’s the “Black Gold: The Oil Experience” museum, which is relatively recent. This contemporary museum includes a film on the region’s oil history and various interactive activities for children.
The museum is incredible. It is something that everyone should see.
4. Kern River Parkway
Raise your hand if you like working out!
The Kern River Parkway is an excellent trail for getting some exercise. It stretches for almost 20 miles. Unlike most people, we never cycle on the Kern River Parkway. We choose to stroll or jog along a 5-mile section of the trail. Of course, we remain out of the bikers’ path.
Some sections of the trail might be rather barren.
Keep an eye out for bobcats or other wild animals. Keep a watch out for animals and vagrants as you go east beyond Truxton. It’s best if you can ride, walk, or jog with a companion or two or three.
The Kern River Parkway is fantastic for the most part. Kern County is fortunate to have it. Thank you to everyone that helps keep this great spot running.
5. River’s End Rafting
River’s End Rafting offers a variety of activities for water enthusiasts of all ages, from kayaking to gold panning. Rafting exhibitions are held, and most water levels are appropriate. For younger, there is also an adventure camp.
Our family and friends have rafted with River’s End Rafting on many occasions, and each trip is unique depending on the quantity of water. Whether it’s a more “fast” excursion or a more peaceful one when we can hop off the raft and float down the river, each experience has been enjoyable.
The tour guides are entertaining and offer some charming, family-friendly jokes. They know how to manage the rafts in a variety of water flows. They ensure that we are safe and aware of the river and business regulations.
We always do the Master Blaster package, which includes a trip down the river, returning to headquarters for lunch, and another trip down the river. It makes for a fun-filled day, and we’re all fatigued at the end, making for a lovely, relaxed evening.
Next year, we’ll go back to this site with our buddies for more fun.
6. Central Park at Mill Creek
Central Park at Mill Creek offers a playground, trails, pathways, fountains, art installations, a picturesque creek with ducks, and a dog-friendly covered bridge. You can have a WiFi hotspot here for free.
This is a nice small park in Bakersfield’s downtown area. Despite the frigid 55-degree temperature, I recently visited Central Area at Mill Creek with a friend and noticed families enjoying the park. There is a massive play structure with seats for parents to relax and watch their children play and clean restrooms.
There is a wide creek with a beautiful small covered bridge.
Children were feeding bits of bread to ducks and coots, chuckling and laughing at their antics.
Farmers’ markets and sellers set up shop in this park. Typically, it happens when the weather is considerably warmer.
Walking around this park is quite enjoyable. Consider it a green haven in the heart of the city.
7. Jastro Park
Jastro Park has served as a park for more than 80 years. There are a variety of facilities available here that are likely to suit just about everyone.
I learned to play tennis at this park.
There are six or seven tennis courts in the park’s southwest section. There’s a full-size basketball court with the nets still connected and multiple horseshoe courts.
There is lots of grass to run about on and shade old-growth trees to relax and watch one of the outdoor performances held at the permanent bandstand. A massive play structure and swings are available. There’s even a huge water feature on those hot Bakersfield summer days to keep you cool.
Also, there are picnic tables with grills dispersed throughout the park’s grassy parts and two vast semi-covered areas with several picnic tables available for lease or rental.
Jastro Park has something for everyone, including a memorial to Korean War Veterans in the southeast corner.
Check out this park for some in-town getaway fun this summer!
8. California Area Living Museum
It’s a great place to watch California native wildlife, including reptiles, mammals, and birds. Only animals damaged or unable to thrive in their natural habitat are held at California Area Living Museum.
The main focus is on children under the age of 12, which is fantastic since it teaches them to value their animal companions at a young age.
On the other hand, adults can appreciate California native wildlife we seldom see up close and listen to peaceful water sounds when sitting beside a creek.
Gila Monster at Reptile House has dressed in Haute couturier-style black and salmon-orange splotches.
I never thought a scavenger like the endangered California Condor was appealing, but seeing them from just a few feet away, clad in black feathers with white ornaments under each wing, was spectacular.
The sight of two red foxes embracing was too adorable. As I arrived, a red-headed woodpecker showed off by beating its head on a tree limb and then following me around his cage.
Lastly, the large plate windows provide excellent vision for the enormous cats.
9. Murray Family Farms
Murray Family Farms is more than just a large red barn. All in one stop, it’s a rest stop, restaurant, family amusement center, convenience shop, and more.
The atmosphere was more rural than desert. It reminded me of Apple Hill since there were so many different types of fruit and wooden shelves full of jams, pies, sauces, and honey prepared from the fruit.
There were a variety of nutritious snacks and quick meals available. They featured a vast assortment of jerky, nuts, dried fruits and vegetables, chips, handmade sweets, candy bars, ice cream, and anything else a hiker might want to bring along on the path.
Several picnic tables were accessible beside the barn amid fountains with bright flowers and grapes carved into the cement.
The playground was incredibly creative and unique. This project used the same color scheme and materials as Salvation Mountain.
The various cactus gardens were my particular favorite part of the estate. Substantial flowering opuntias, saguaros, barrel cacti, and palm palms abound in one park.
There’s no better place between Bakersfield and Tehachapi to stretch your legs. I plan to come again in the future to sample one of those renowned Okie pies.
10. Crystal Palace and Museum
Buck Owens’ guitars, costumes, and memorabilia are displayed at the Crystal Palace and Museum. To commemorate Buck Owens’ accomplishment, the facility provides food and performance space.
I’m thrilled we went to this destination.
All of the country music giants born or raised in Bakersfield or who had some connection to Bakersfield via another legend have their museum.
People liked how authentic this place was. The Bar now has costumes, souvenirs, and, most notably, the car that used to belong to Elvis Presley and that Buck Owens won in a bet. It’s a real piece of history and a true classic.
There are many sitting areas. I guess you must make reservations ahead of time.
Every station was planned correctly and staffed with the correct items for the ideal belly at the Sunday Brunch buffet.
11. Wind Wolves Preserve
The Wind Wolves Preserve is probably as excellent as it gets in terms of hiking around Bakersfield.
We hiked roughly 8 miles here recently in the early spring. There are many excellent facilities, about half a mile, one mile, and two miles.
This refuge is one of the most incredible spots for seeing herds of tule elk, a tiny, rock-climbing type of elk found only in California.
The most excellent location to watch them is from the valley, where you can see small herds galloping over the summits of adjacent mountains.
We also observed many groups of coyotes from the top of the mountain, gazing down. We also spotted hundreds of cattle belonging to adjacent ranches.
The view of the wildflowers is, of course, much more fantastic in the spring. However, the term “Wind Wolves” is more appropriate in the autumn, when you can hear the wind howling through the dry grass.
When compared to previous walks of equal length in the Transverse Mountains, our 8-mile loop was relatively simple. The track is broad and well-marked, making it simple to follow.
12. Bakersfield Museum of Art
Bakersfield Museum of Art is modest, but it is powerful! The displays are fantastic and vary with the seasons. I like attending the opening evenings of new exhibitions. They bring in amazing artists to perform.
They also provide cocktails, making a great start to a romantic evening. Plus, it’s almost as if you’ve left this “small town” for a night in the big city!
This year, a buddy and I went to “Art Mix.” It was their annual fundraiser, and there was fantastic food and beverages and the ability to bid on artwork via your phone. It was a very well-organized event!
Bakersfield Museum of Art offers a full schedule of child and adult art education activities. Additionally, you can book the lovely for gatherings. They also pay for and put on Via Arte every year at the Market. It is the chalk art festival, which is undoubtedly one of my favorite local events!
A visit to Bakersfield is like unearthing a priceless jewel. I never expected my trip to this city to be so memorable. Convenience, closeness, and walkability made getting about the city simple.
I like to inform you about my Bakersfield trip. I hope this has aroused your interest in visiting this gorgeous city. You can share your opinions about Bakersfield and tell me which of the above tourist attractions are on your bucket list.