Tell me, how many times have you googled “things to do in Bakersfield” just to find a few hotels, malls, and some international chain restaurants. C’mon Bakersfield, you can do better than that. That’s about as exciting as reading the dictionary, actually, that does injustice to Oxford.
Now I am justly forewarning you; one can search dozens of websites just to find links to museums, parks, malls and, of course, churches. What this town lacks is the adoration and popularity of the weird. I want to showcase the oddities and hidden destinations. Those spots in sprawling Bakersfield that you come across only after suffering years of boredom in the city that restore your fun meter.
I’ve compiled four dozen of those pearls, just for you all, some may be places you’ve passed by a million times but never visited, others are completely unknown to most. No need for a “thank you”. Just post pictures of your adventures in the comment section below.
WARNING: This article is full of potentially entertaining sights, good grub, and odd experiences. That being said, it also requires you to leave your home and try something new.
TOP 51 THINGS TO DO IN BAKERSFIELD By category
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If there is ever a sole reason (which there never is), one person will visit Bakersfield. It would have the be the fact that Bakersfield has a great taste for food; this town is saturated with gems. Some businesses so old school and hidden that if the owner was ever asked about expanding their online presence; the owner would chuckle. That is why this list is my top 11 list of bonafide joints. You could take that one date you’ve been so excited about to any one of these places and rest assured the experience will be mutually entertaining. Why not stuff your face while looking for stuff to do in Bakersfield?
1. Cope’s Knotty Pine Cafe
If it were not for the fact I decided to defy all of my friends advice not to move to Oildale because of my dark complexion, I would never have come across Cope’s Knotty Pine Cafe, it’s a restaurant seeming out of place in this town.
Every time I enter the Knotty Pine; I feel like I am back in Nowhere, Georgia. So I guess this place shares a special spot in my heart with my homeland. (Georgia)
2. Pyrenees Cafe
One day I found myself in Old downtown Bakersfield, hungry and lost.
I eventually ended up a random Cafe called the Pyrenees, little did I know that this place host some of the best Basque and Beer in California.
When you enter the building, you already know you’re in for a good time because every single person in the room has a smile. Food is prompt, dishes are generous, and the service is top notch, more kind words can’t be told about Pyrenees Cafe, that is unless they paid me in food
3. 24th Street Cafe
A breakfast eatery so well known that Guy Fieri gives his blessing to it? In Bako? Well, 24th Street Cafe deserves the attention, it’s tasty, well priced and the go-to for so many people that finding a place to seat might take you a good half-hour on some days.
It’s worth the wait, though, once you order, food comes soon afterward. I commend anyone hungry enough to eat everything on the plate; that takes skill.
4. Moo Creamery
Moo Creamery is everything Cow. Kind of, they do offer a vegetarian burger. That should count, cows are vegetarians too. When an ex-girlfriend introduced me to Moo, I instantly fell in love. I mean who wouldn’t enjoy a fat burger and ice cream simultaneously. I am so grateful for my high metabolism. That relationship didn’t survive, but Moo still stayed close to my heart.
Seriously, people, Moo Creamery has it going on. They have a carefully selected menu of great Burgers, Sandwiches, and Ice Cream. Once could easily spend all day sampling every one of their flavors just to discover that they are all equally tasty.
5. Bill Lee’s Bamboo Chopsticks
When you look up Bill Lee’s online, you get an all too basic overview of the restaurant. Once you enter Bill Lee’s, you finally see it for what it is, Bakersfield pinnacle of Chinese cuisine.
You won’t get any more authentic that Bill Lee’s, even the interior reflects this fact. It’s gorgeously decorated with a traditional Chinese theme. Contrary to belief, Bakersfield does have good Chinese; it’s just centralized here.
6. Muertos Kitchen & Lounge
The Muertos way of life is based on good food, beer, and relaxation. Serving in a building from the 1800s that was originally a Firehouse and Stable, Muerto’s keeps the ultimate chill vibe.
I always enjoy kicking back in the enclosed heated patio area, while I treat myself to some Carne Asada Fries and wash them down with Sangria. In summation, Muertos has food to die for, and a good beer selection; all wrapped in a cozy old brick building.
7. The Padre Hotel
The Padre is pushing almost a century of history, it’s the only Four Diamond hotel in this city and it exudes class. I usually end up here for free pool and cheap tacos but most the crowd you encounter here are on the more sophisticated side, and they dress like it too.
8. Dagny’s Coffee Shop
I’m sitting in Dagny’s as I type this; it’s become my unofficial office. Mostly because the coffee is well priced and well sourced, plus the vibe this place gives out turns you into either a socialite or a workaholic. Dagny’s is the only formidable opponent against the invasion of Starbucks in this town. You’ll find yourself here whenever you decide to discover more of downtown Bakersfield or your friends choose to pre-game before bar hopping.This is a good place with even better people, I’d suggest you give it a try, actually, I advise you to give it a double tap for good measure.
9. Happy Jacks Hamburger & Pie Shop
Unfortunately, there’s only one Happy Jacks Bakersfield has to offer, there can be only one. It’s how they maintain their standard of deliciousness. Happy Jack’s has been around for a good while, with no intentions of shying away from its old fashion ways since it’s beginning. It reminds me of the south and so does the genuine smiles of the employees as you walk in. I could suggest them more highly if you are down for some old fashioned Hamburgers and a variety of pies. Then head that way, but bring cash.
10. Dewar’s Candy Shop
When you tell people, you haven’t been to Dewar’s before. Usually, they are confused because Dewar’s has been around for over a century. Most people have fond childhood memories of the Candy Shop and Ice Cream Parlor. You’re missing out. It’s been a Bakersfield Landmark for a very long time. If you’d like a little blast from the past while enjoying some of the best ice cream in California, come this way.
11. The Noriega Hotel – The Real Noriega’s
I don’t know how many favors The Noriega owes to Rick Ross. I do know that The Noriega, also known as Eskualdunen Etchea (The Basque People’s House), is a James Beard award-winning establishment, recognized as an American classic. From its humble beginnings as a Basque boarding house/restaurant. To what it stands for today, every year in its existence it has stayed faithful to its origins, remaining an American classic.
Things At Night: ChoW
There aren’t many things to do in Bako at night, except eating out and drinking. But who complains about good food?
Show up at the right time to Basque it up before you enjoy some good live music and beer. If the munchies sneak up on you again, Sandrini’s has a late night menu as well.
2. Tacos La Villa
Another remedy for late night taco cravings is Taco La Villa, as far as I know they close at 2. From the outside, they don’t seem too spectacular, neither are they on the inside. It’s the food that counts, it’s authentic and tasty. Plus, there isn’t a huge list of things to do in Bakersfield at 2 am, so why not stuff your face?
3. El Taco Loco Truck
They are open 24 hours, serving Tacos. Your late night food problem is solved. Not much more to it… Be Drunk. See Taco. Eat Taco. Regret Decisions Tomorrow.
Beer & Wine
1. Temblor Brewing Company – Food – Board Games
Temblors building is new, but the name is old, it’s one of the newer Bars in Bakersfield, but it is founded under the same name and carries the same prestige as the original brewery that shares its name. The bricks from the original brewery in Kern County, circa 1912, make up the eastern wall of the building.
I love Temblors beer list, plus it’s always gaining new editions. While you’re at Temblor downing a beer, they offer a multitude of games to pass the time as well. There’s something special about drinking beer only a few feet away from where it was brewed.
From what I hear it is still a town favorite and hosts events regularly.
2. Krush Wine, Bar and Restaurant
When I hear “wine bar,” I do a quick hail mary in the name of the Beer God’s Guinness and Pliny The Elder. But Krush Bar by far is the exception, it’s the sacred grotto of wine enthusiasm. It’s classic, sleek and hosts memorable shows with perfect room acoustics (even in the restroom). If you aren’t there for the music and just the Wine, you can get plenty as a member of their Wine Club.
3. The Mint
Only go here if you are willing to take a dive into a melting pot of culture and loud music. The Mint is a well-known bar in Bakersfield. The Mint stays packed with a healthy mix of patrons, being one of the only two known Gay bars in Bakersfield; all are accepted within these walls. I’d suggest giving them a shot if you’re in the mood for something social.
By day, Sandrini’s keeps it classic, serving top class Basque cuisine for anyone lucky enough to descend its steps. By night Sandrini’s becomes more of a bar-for-all, live music multiple days a week, a rare and elusive “smoking room”, and a fully stocked and crowded bar. Expect good music and merrymaking to ensue.
P.S. this is my go-to. Great Beer selection + Good folks, need I say more?
P.S.S Everytime I return to Bakersfield, Sandrinis is the first bar I visit. It’s tradition, good way to really put your feet down and think “yeah, I’m here now what”
5. Guthrie’s Alley Cat
The Alley Cat was my first bar in Bakersfield, which was a good choice. It’s an actual alley bar, hole-in-the-wall-esque and packed with art and history. The only thing I could suggest before going is to bring cash and a smile.
6. Wiki’s Wine Dive & Grill
They call themselves the Only Casual Gourmet Restaurant and Wine Bar, and as far as I can see, they’re right. Bako has Krush for Classy and Wiki for Casual. From what people tell me of Wiki’s, it’s the only Bar big enough to take on the behemoth that is The Padre. I have yet to enjoy a glass of anything yet at Wiki’s, but it’s on the list!
1. B Ryder’s Bar & Grill
I had my first experience with B Ryders at a No Duh concert; they were a tribute band for No Doubt, it was a great show. Mostly for the music but also because B Ryders maintains a “good times here” vibe. It has a large bar and wide stage that hosts some of the best shows in Bakersfield.
2. Jerry’s Pizza & Pub
When I ask people what they think of when they hear “Jerry’s Pizza,” they say “Punk Rock, EDM, Juggalos.” All could be true, depending on what night you visit, except the pizza, pizza will always be there for you.
What I think of Jerry’s is that it is a vital hub for music in Bako. It is where the youth riot, rappers begin, and DJ’s gain devoted followings. That mixed in with beer and pizza is the perfect combination for a good show.
Yes, Sandrini’s is on the list thrice (excuse my Old English), that’s because it’s a jack of all trades. It isn’t just good for music but have equal talent behind the bar and in the kitchen.
4. KRUSH WINE, BAR AND RESTAURANT
Krush Bar… Again? I know I promise I won’t make a habit of this, but it deserves it. Sometimes when I am looking for stuff to do in Bakersfield, I really just want wine and jazz music. Krush does its best to present some good tunes to help you rest that wine in your stomach.
5. Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace
Circa 2287, California is a barren wasteland, people don’t remember much about it. What they do remember is that Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace was the Mecca of Country Music and the home of “The Bakersfield Sound.”
Apparently, Buck Owens was an asshole. But that has nothing to do with his talent with music, his pitch-perfect voice and his legacy to country music. The Crystal Palace stands to its name.
Fun Things Come To Those Who Leave Their House!
1. The Wildlands Conservancy’s Wind Wolves Preserve
Let’s face the grassy truth when looking for things to do in Bakersfield, you’ll need to be prepared to get sweaty. There’s a lot of nature to see. I’m sure you’ve figured out most the stuff to do in Bakersfield will either get you sweaty or the itis, right?
Just a few miles on the outskirts of our city is a trail known as Wind Wolves; it’s a beautiful hike that doesn’t have you gripping your heart in exhaustion. Catch it in the spring time for a view of a field of flowers and in the winter you get the golden plain.
2. C.A.L.M. – California Living Museum
The California Living Museum gives you the opportunity to get close and personal with the wild. It’s nice something like this even exists out here, a very well priced Zoo and Garden in everyone’s backyard.
3. Table Top Gaming – Paladins Game Castle
Geeks have been picked on for years, just because they have hobbies that involve role playing. It’s crazy! We’re all geeks in our special way. You should do yourself a favor and let your geek flag fly, try out Table Top Gaming, the hobbyist at Paladin will help you with anything you want to know.
4. Bakersfield Speedway
‘Merica prides itself on a few things two of them being its horsepower and it’s nuclear arsenal. Okay, maybe not the latter, maybe.
If you’re in the mood for fast cars, the Speedway is your remedy. They house multiple types of races and competitions throughout the entire year. A trip here is money well spent.
5. Hart Memorial Park
Hart Park is probably older than your great-grandparents, it’s home to some pretty interesting scenery and is a wise choice for anyone looking to spend some time on some green, visit the cat sanctuary and the peacock preserve.
Maybe you’re looking to break a sweat; it’s the perfect spot for skating and cycling.
Hart Park is also a hot spot for Disk Golf, a sport frequently played in open areas like parks. The Disk Golf areas in Hart Park are particularly notable because they have been said to be worthy of Championship level competition. That doesn’t mean that Disk Golf is restricted to only the advanced players, it’s enjoyed by casual players, and families as well. I know I’m going to put my own disk throwing skills to the test here soon enough.
Why is there a city on a list of things to do in Bakersfield? Well, this is a small town, actually it’s barely even that. But it’s close to Bako and surrounded by nature. Well known for the Whiskey Flats festival, it’s worth the visit, especially if events are going on. You’ll feel like you traveled back in time.
While you’re out there check out the “Nuui Cunni” Cultural Center in Lake Isabella, near Wofford Heights, spend some time learning about Native American history.
Other notable places in Kernville:
7. Fox Theater
It’s big, beautiful and historic for many good and bad reasons and has been a landmark in this city for many years. The Fox Theater is world renowned for hosting some of the most fantastic artists and shows. They have shows for every crowd, Beautiful shows like Russian Ballets to more comedic shows like Lisa Lampenelli. The Fox Theater has a show for you, just follow the big clock.
1. Bakersfield Scuba
Interesting fact about Scuba diving, you only have to be 10 to become certified in Open Water. Another fact is it’s a feeling like no other. Imagine entering another world, deep underwear, creatures surrounding you as you flow through the unknown. Forget space, the final frontier is all around us, in the great blue.
Prices start at 275; that’s a good deal for this side of the world. Better prices aren’t around until you hit the Pacific islands.
2. Sky Diving in Taft
This city isn’t always the most accessible town without an automobile to get around, some of the best adventures to be had are miles away. Also, some of the best things to do in Bakersfield, aren’t technically in this town. I’d say Taft is basically the country brother of Bako; it’s family, so let’s include it.
I know what you’re thinking, “how does a person find falling 12,500 ft at 115 miles per hour entertaining?” It isn’t just “entertaining”, it’s life changing! The level of excitement can’t be fully explained, only experienced. The best part of the company that offers Sky Diving is that it is more than fairly priced. You’ll spend more just about anywhere else in California.
3. Remington Hot Springs Preserve
Don’t you love hot tubs? The feeling that you may be in some Giants’ human ragoût? The problem is, you’re stricken with the unfortunate position of not being able to afford a nice hot water waster for yourself, or you’d rather spend some time in nature. Well, the Hot Springs may just be what’s on your itinerary. One well known one lies in the Canyon, off the side of a cliff. A short slide down a hill will bring you to a cozy trail of Hot Springs varying in temperature and size. Once you’ve thoroughly steamed your buns, take a dip in the river directly adjacent to you. If you have the guts, find a big rock to jump off of while you’re at it.
It doesn’t matter what your intentions are when you go to the springs, as long as they are good for the environment. You should check it out, wind down and relax to the friendly conversation of another patron or lose yourself in a book.
So I know some people are going to be pretty peeved that I gave up the whereabouts of the elusive Hot Springs, but it isn’t exactly a secret anymore, it just takes a few seconds to Google the exact location. Don’t worry, though, there’s plenty of other lesser known Hot Springs scattered around this area.
1. Beach Park
I like sports, you like sports, we all like sports. Okay I don’t watch ESPN all day nor do I attend sports games every weekend but who doesn’t enjoy some friendly games at the park? Pick up horseshoe tossing or Skateboarding, or invent your own game; like Blumfing.
The only two downsides to Beach Park is that there is no Beach in sight (false advertising), and I have seen some pretty questionable characters roam the area. Don’t let that stop you, give it a shot!
2. Kern River Parkway Bike Trail
Okay, great news, I have found the solution to our cities obesity problem. You do not have to give up your fast food; you just need to burn all those calories off. Which is pretty damn easy when you utilize the gigantic trail that stretches throughout Bako. I have personally used the KRP to commute to work and school, and I have to say it’s the most entertaining and convenient way to stay in shape. I’d still be riding those trails if my bicycle wasn’t stolen (thanks, Oildale)
Seriously, why aren’t more people using this Bike Trail? You could save money and lose weight at the same time!
3. Rush Air Sports
Rush Air Sports needs no other words to describe what it offers, a sweaty, entertaining, adventurous Rush. Every time I go to Rush, I get a gentle reminder that I am growing older in the form of exhaustion as I watch some of the much young attendees hop around like rabbits. Yes, the kind of people Rush usually attracts children, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t join in on the jumping. So if you’re fiending for entertainment while as you look for things to do in Bakersfield, gives these guys a shot. Just don’t double jump the poor kids.
Some night’s they even have a neon filled event called “Rush After Dark,” at a discount too, for anyone looking to rave n’ hop.
4. Action Sports – Vert Gym
Ever since I saw K2, I have been in love with rock climbing. My skills aren’t sharp enough to free climb off the side of the world’s deadliest mountains, but I have to say spending some time in a rock gym has increased my chances of survival if I ever decide to take my experience on a real mountain.
Luckily in town we have this spot called Vert Gym, it’s 5000 Sq.Ft of awesome for the same price as a movie ticket for use all day. Trust me, after 15 minutes of this, you’ll be begging for a break, this is a killer workout.
5. Kern River rafting
There’s plenty of rafting companies that operate along the Kern River.
The only hope for enough water to go rafting this year (2016) is if a storm comes through to give us a few more sprinkles. Luckily for us, that’s exactly what’s due to come. As long as El Nino catches a temper.
Looking for things to do in Bakersfield on a date? You need to make a good first impression, no matter how groomed and charismatic(?) you are. I am, well adept in the art of Dating and if you want a successful relationship; you should be too, you must never stop the romance that was initially sparked on the first date. The spark can dim with age, but the adoration must stay eternal!
1. STARS – MUSIC THEATRE
If The Empty Space has half the best performance artists in this town, STARS has the other half. They house three venues for viewing pleasure and a restaurant if you want to dine before the show. I think it’s a pretty sweet set up, nothing beats a good live show. These guys have been working the stages over here since 1969.
2. Central Park at Mill Creek
I used to workout at the Strength and Health Gym, a block away from Mill Creek Park. Every night I was gifted with a show after the gym, the park lights up at night with a luminescent glow. It’s a good spot to walk through if you want to converse with a date or contemplate if it’s just a party of 1.
3. Mercado Latino
Mercado Latino is fun with a friendly price tag, pretty impressive assortment of Latin American clothing and food. There’s a ton of booth style shops to explore and in the center is a few good priced restaurants. They do occasionally have shows as well. I’d definitely give it a browse; East Bako doesn’t get enough love. Get some culture.
4. 7th Story – Parking Lot – Wall St & H St
The Padre faces a parking lot that comes off as nothing special; you just have to look a little longer to discover that it’s at the perfect height for a pretty sweet view of the entire city. Bako isn’t exactly booming with skyscrapers so plenty of structures downtown host the perfect view of the city. This one takes it a step further because it’s a parking lot, all you have to do is walk or drive up to the top.
A pretty smooth move if I say so myself.
5. The Empty Space Theatre
This is about as local as local gets in the world of Acting. It’s a tight theater with just enough space for a small crowd. Expect a good show when you get there, this city is teeming with talent and the Empty Space has a good bunch of it. I’ve been told they primarily work on donations so don’t expect to have to drop more than 10 dollars for a show.
6. The Ice Sports Center
If you haven’t skated before, shame on you. IF you haven’t Ice Skating before, report to the rink ASAP. It’s too fun, yes you will bust your ass at least once, so brace for it. Also, the bigger you are, the harder you will fall. The kids will be fine, you’re the one that will be sore the next day, no one ever said the search for things to do in Bakersfield would be safe. But don’t worry, you’ll still have no regrets.
Everyone on Earth is different, being different is weird. Therefore, everyone is weird. According to Modus Ponens, we’re all weird and let’s face it, weird is good; mostly because the idea of “normal” is a complete fallacy. When you open your mind to the unknown with a certain hesitation, you’ll find joy in all of the oddest places. This list is a short list of my experiences of the weirdest stuff to do in Bakersfield. Unlike every other list, this one has no possible end. Where ever there is a person, unafraid of letting their freak flag fly, there is a weirdo worth meeting for a few stories to tell… But without further wait.
1. Bakersfield Escape Room
It’s hard to discuss this without ruining the fun. It is bonafide, guaranteed to be fun, with a mysterious twist. Let’s just say this Escape Room is not for the faint of heart, or IQ. It takes good communication and teamwork. I’d suggest everyone to check it out, especially couples.
2. the Giant Indian – Ethel’s Old Corral
“Large giants standing 18 to 25 feet tall litter the highways of America, several scattered throughout California. In the 1960s and 1970s a fiberglass company called International Fiberglass created these roadside giants. In 1962, a man called Bob Prewitt who at the time owned Prewitt Fiberglass created the very first Muffler Man, a Paul Bunyan style giant for PB Cafe on Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona. In 1963, Steve Dashew purchased the business from him and until 1975, Muffler Men were churned out by the company, now called International Fiberglass, and appeared on roadways throughout the United States.”
Some call it the “Indian Nazi,” I’d call it the Oil Chieftan but whatever the name may be, if you have seen him; you’d remember.
Full list: WC
3. Hart Park – Night Time Animal Watching
Hart Park reminds me of my home; it is the picturesque view of our city that a tourist would imagine, that is until they are introduced to the oil fields and drought-stricken land. But Hart Park has stood strong, retaining it’s tranquility for almost a century. It’s so full of green; I’m surprised it’s not covered in hippies.
When the sun goes down in Hart Park, you’ll find a different side of nature. Specifically critters, everywhere! It’s teeming with all the creatures of the night from Racoons to Deer. It’s a fun sight!
Secret Place: 4. Bakersfield Tunnel Structure
THERE’S TUNNELS THROUGHOUT BAKERSFIELD, yeah. That’s right, everywhere, some even connect to form a city that once thrived with life over a century ago. Old Chinatown, some call it. The oddest part of these tunnels is how relatively unknown they are to many Bakersfieldians who have spent their whole lives here.
I have searched the internet for more information or possibly a map of the tunnels in our town, but I can’t find anything that could help you pinpoint exactly where they are. The only two remaining ways are from word of mouth and Fallout. Yeah, I said it, Fallout 1 to be more precise. The game was meticulously built to resemble this city, including the tunnels that reside under it.
Don’t be surprised to find that many of these tunnels have since collapsed after the Earthquake of 1952.
“There were originally 16 tunnels between Bakersfield and Tehachapi. They were numbered one through 17 –the number 13 was not used” – Gia, G. P. (2012). Underground Bakersfield
5. Bat Cave
This city is old, full of secrets and possibly the Oil Tycoon version of Batman. Generations of Bakersfieldians have slid down the bluffs below River Boulevard and Panorama Drive in search of the famous Bat Cave. If you were just to gander down the bluffs, you could see it, but it wouldn’t seem all that big, at least not big enough to explore.
My brain is out of gas, and you know there’s more weird things to do in Bakersfield. Comment Below and add to the list!
P.S.S: I’ve gotten so much love from the Kern community over this post. I truly appreciate every word of kindness. I no longer live in Bakersfield anymore, I’m currently in Belgium, hopping around countries and getting drunk. I hope this post lives on as a solid example of the fact YOU make your environment and that every pebble left unturned may be exactly what you need to make your day a little more exciting.
Thank you for tuning in, hopefully, you’ve found a few things to do in Bakersfield. This list is alive and growing constantly. Stay tuned for more. If you’d like updates, subscribe!