Bakersfield is one of the fastest growing larger cities in the United States. Bakersfield has a population of approximately 323,000 and a metropolitan area of approximately a half million. Bakersfield is famous for being the home of country music singers Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, and has the nickname "the country music capital of the West Coast." Bakersfield is also the birthplace of Korn, one of the best selling and most popular heavy metal bands of the last 25 years. Bakersfield has also produced its share of American football players such as Joey Porter, Frank Gifford, and David Carr. Bakersfield is a very conservative, religious city compared to most of the state.
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Commercial air service
1 Meadows Field (BFL IATA) is Bakersfield's primary commercial airport, which is about 10 miles north of Downtown. The airport is used by two carriers: American Eagle and United Express. There is service to San Francisco, Phoenix, Dallas, and Denver. Flights are limited and expensive, so you may be better off using one of the airports listed below and driving or taking public transportation to Bakersfield.
Meadows Field is also an international airport, although there are no international carriers. However, the airport is capable of handling international private planes, both arriving and departing.
Rental car facilities are found at the airport. Taxis and Uber/Lyft are available outside the terminal. There is no bus service to the airport.
Private air service
Private aircraft that are traveling to Bakersfield can land either at Meadows Field, or 2 Bakersfield Municipal Airport (in South Bakersfield). In addition, there are a variety of other general aviation airports in the region. These include: Delano Municipal Airport, Kern Valley Airport, Lost Hills Airport, Minner Field (Shafter), Taft Airport, Tehachapi Municipal Airport, and Wasco Airport.
A primary alternative is 3 Los Angeles International Airport (LAX IATA) (120 miles south in Los Angeles). Airport Valley Express, and Chennai Express provides bus service between the LAX and Bakersfield. Other nearby airports are Bob Hope Airport (78 miles south, in Burbank), and Fresno Yosemite International Airport (110 miles north, in Fresno), both of which are accessible by Amtrak, Greyhound and Flixbus.
- See also: Rail travel in the United States
Amtrak also serves Bakersfield, with a nice main terminal downtown. Bakersfield is the southern terminus of the San Joaquin route, which travels north through the Central Valley to either Sacramento or the Bay Area. Bakersfield is also served by a number of Amtrak bus routes, which connect San Joaquin passengers to many southern California cities, as well as Las Vegas, Nevada.
Many bus lines pass through Bakersfield, including Amtrak, Greyhound, Flixbus, Intercalifornias, Kern Transit, and Tufesa, providing a range of departures and destinations. To reach the coast, including Morro Bay and Pismo Beach, take Amtrak to Hanford and the connecting bus to Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo or Santa Maria.
Bakersfield is a car-based city with poor mass transit options, so driving your own car or renting one is probably wise.
The Golden Empire Transit (GET) bus system is fairly limited (especially in the Rosedale area). The bus can used to get around if you are intrepid, but not recommended. Kern Transit also runs limited stop service through Greater Bakersfield on the way to neighboring towns.
Biking is not a typical mode of transit, but it can be done. However, most bike lanes are on arterial roads with multiple car lanes and high speed limits.
- Bakersfield Taxicabs, ☏ . 80-100 taxicabs serving the greater Bakersfield area 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The rate for taxicab service in Bakersfield is $3.00 + $2.75 per mile.
Bakersfield is not very walkable, with the exception of shopping centers, parks, and a small downtown core.
- 1 Bakersfield Sign (Bakersfield Neon Arch) (Sillect Ave at the intersection of Buck Owens Blvd). A landmark sign that's sometimes seen in movies and TV shows set in the area.
- 2 Buck Owens' Crystal Palace, 2800 Buck Owens Blvd. The legendary country music performer might have passed, but look for other country artists performing at the venue throughout the year. Memorabilia from Buck's career is found all over the walls.
- 3 California Living Museum (CALM), 10500 Alfred Harrell Hwy. 9AM-4PM daily. This zoo is in a park like setting in northeastern Bakersfield. It features rare or endangered animals that have been hurt in some way and will never be able to go back to the wild. Adults $9, Seniors $7, Children (3-12) $5, Children (under 3) free.
- 4 Kern County Museum, 3801 Chester Ave, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. A great place to visit, with 56 historic exhibits in a lush shady 16-acre setting. The historical exhibit buildings include everything from an 1800s log cabin to a 1936 gas station, with jails, one-room school, Victorian era homes and everything in between. The Lori Brock Children's Discovery Center is great fun for the kids. Outstanding special events are offered all year. Just a short hop from Highways 204, 99 or 58 this is great stop just north of downtown Bakersfield. Check out the website for more information on current exhibits and special event offerings. Admission is charged, but $8 for adults is a bargain. Picnicking is welcome on regular admission days, and some events offer free admission. Car shows, an annual antique show, and Clock Tower Holidays are all worth the visit. Adults $10, Seniors $9, Students (13-17) $9, Students (6-12) $8, Children (3-5) $7, Children (under 3) free.
This city will never be a premier tourist destination, but there are things to do. Ethnic food and culture festivals - including Scottish, Indian, Basque, and Greek - occur in the spring and summer.
- 1 Murray Family Farms, 6700 General Beale Rd, ☏ . Kern County's major agricultural attraction offers fresh and you-pick produce, educational and group tours, a hay wagon and picnic grounds.
- 2 Rabobank Arena, Theater and Convention Center, 1001 Truxtun Ave. Hosts sporting events, concerts, circuses, and other shows throughout the year.
- 3 Fox Theater, 2001 H St. The downtown Fox Theater schedules standup comedy and musical guests. The Bakersfield International Film Society hosts year-round showings of award-winning international films at the Fox Theater.
- Jazz Festival. Each May the CSU Bakersfield campus is home to the popular weekend Jazz Festival.
- 4 Bakersfield Speedway, 5001 N Chester Ave Ext, ☏ , fax: . Bakersfield Speedway is the oldest motor racetrack in California. It is a 1/3 mile (0.5 km) clay oval racetrack featuring a full ticket of races.
Large shopping centers and strip malls are abundant. Small, locally owned antique shops are found in the Downtown and Old Town areas.
- 1 The Marketplace, 9000 Ming Ave (Near the CSU Bakersfield campus). Relatively upscale shopping mall, home to a 14-screen movie theater, a Vons grocery store, several restaurants, and numerous shops.
- 2 Northwest Promenade, 9300 Rosedale Hwy. A sprawling collection of major retailers and restaurants including Target, Cost Plus World Market and CVS Pharmacy.
- 3 Valley Plaza, 2701 Ming Ave (In the southwest). The larger and more popular of Bakersfield's two indoor shopping malls. It is also one of the nation's first such malls, dating back to the 1960s. Home to Target, the Apple Store, JCPenney, Sears, Macy's, and numerous small shops and restaurants.
There are numerous chain restaurants throughout the city and in its shopping centers, but there are also plenty of delicious local places to sample. Good Basque food is easy to find. Bakersfield has what is most likely the largest single cluster of Basque restaurants in California. --try Maitia's, Noriega's, Benji's, Narducci's, The Pyrenees or Woolgrowers. Italian food fans might enjoy Joseph's, Rosa's, Luigi's, or Uricchio's. There are several Thai restaurants that have opened in the last couple of years, while Japanese and Indian cuisines are popular as well.
- 1 Cafe Med, 4809 Stockdale Hwy (Stockdale Fashion Plaza Shopping Center), ☏ . Known for its Mediterranean flair and excellent wines.
- 2 Mama Roomba, 1814 Eye St (Downtown), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M–F 11AM–10PM, Sa 5PM-10PM. Caribbean.
- 3 Flames & Skewers, 1201 24th St (Downtown). Middle eastern.
- 4 24th Street Cafe, 1415 24th St. A favorite breakfast spot serving hearty American food.
- 5 Dewar's Candy Shop, 1120 Eye St. A local ice cream parlor and candy shop that has been featured on the Travel Channel on several occasions. Make sure that you try one of their famous black and whites and don't forget to buy a box of Dewar's chews on your way out!
Bakersfield's bar and club scene is primarily centered in the downtown area around the intersection of 19th St & Eye St.
- 1 Lengthwise Brewing Company, 6720 Schirra Ct. Bakersfield's only microbrewery serves up reasonably priced beer and pub style food.
- 1 Best Western Hill House, 700 Truxtun Ave, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: .
- 2 Courtyard Bakersfield, 3601 Marriott Dr, ☏ , fax: . $119-149.
- 3 Days Inn Bakersfield, 818 Real Rd, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Amenities include free continental breakfast, fitness center, outdoor pool, hot tub, free USA Today newspaper, free high-speed internet, free large-vehicle parking, 24-hour front-desk service and in-room microwaves and refrigerators.
- 4 Homewood Suites by Hilton, 1505 Mill Rock Way, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon.
- 5 Marriott at the Convention Center, 801 Truxtun Ave, ☏ .
- 6 Motel 6, 1350 Easton Dr, ☏ , fax: .
- 7 The Padre Hotel, 1702 18th St. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. This upscale boutique hotel offers five unique food and beverage venues. Has great transit access, with the Greyhound station one block away.
- 8 Red Lion Hotel, 2620 Buck Owens Blvd, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . 198 rooms. Property amenities include an Olympic-sized swimming pool, hot tub, 42" flat screen TVs with HBO, free Wi-Fi, complimentary made-to-order breakfast, fitness center, and 4,000 square feet of meeting space.
- 9 Residence Inn Bakersfield, 4241 Chester Ln, ☏ , fax: .
- 10 SpringHill Suites Bakersfield, 3801 Marriott Dr.
- Vagabond Inn Bakersfield North, 6100 Knudsen Drive, ☏ .
- Vagabond Inn Bakersfield South, 6501 Colony Street, ☏ .
- 11 Vagabond Inn Buttonwillow I-5, 200 Trask St., ☏ , fax: .
- Vagabond Inn Bakersfield Downtowner, 1301 Chester Ave, ☏ . Check-in: 11AM, check-out: 3PM.
Bakersfield is a relatively safe city with a murder rate that has been on the decline since 2005. However, property theft and drug activity have seen a sharp increase within the city and there are certain parts of the city that are dangerous even during the daytime. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive (formerly named Lakeview Ave, and turns into Cottonwood Rd), Union Ave, parts of East Bakersfield and areas surrounding the Kern County fairgrounds and South High School are plagued by gang violence and can be very dangerous. The Bakersfield suburb of Oildale (which shares its borders with Bakersfield at the Kern River) has a bad reputation for racism and poverty. However, attitudes towards minorities have improved significantly over the years in Oildale, and the town is relatively safe (although not a tourist attraction).
- Fort Tejon State Historic Park – A visit to the early days of European settlement is provided by Fort Tejon which dates back to 1854 and is easily accessed from I-5, lying between the shops of Grapevine and the hamlets of Lebec and Frazier Park.
- Keene – Located east on Highway 58, Keene is home to the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, which contains the headquarters and grave site of the famous labor leader. Another attraction is the Tehachapi Loop, which is just outside of town and is a favorite of railroad fans around the world since the engineering wonder is one of the few places where a train can be seen passing over itself.
- Kern River Canyon – A scenic drive via Highway 178 follows the lower Kern River.
- Tehachapi – Further east on Highway 58, Tehachapi is home to a massive wind farm.
- Wasco – Bakersfield's neighbor to the northwest is known as the city of roses, with 55% of all roses grown in the USA grown in and around Wasco. Its annual spring Rose Festival attracts visitors from all over southern California.
- McFarland – North of Bakersfield on Highway 99, McFarland is a small farming community that may be best known for the high school cross-country team that inspired the 2015 movie McFarland, USA.
- Buttonwillow – This town is west of Bakersfield on Highway 58, offers lodging options and services, and is home to the Buttonwillow Tree, a state landmark that gave the town its name.
- Taft – An oil town southwest of Bakersfield that offers food, gas, and lodging services. Taft is also home to the West Kern Oil Museum and a replica of Sutter's fort that was built in 1940 as a Depression-era project.
- Maricopa – This oil & agriculture town is southwest of Bakersfield and was the site of one of the largest oil spills in history when the Lakeview Gusher unleashed nine million barrels of oil onto the surrounding countryside.
- The Grapevine – The Grapevine is a corridor along I-5 that is south of Bakersfield and is home to the outlets at Tejon and a slew of traveler-focused restaurants and hotels for the thousands of cars traveling on the interstate.
- Lake Isabella – About an hour's drive east of town on Highway 178, the Kern River/Lake Isabella area is popular for fishing, kayaking, camping, and boating activities, and in winter there is downhill skiing at Alta Sierra-Shirley Meadows.
- Los Angeles – The second biggest city in the United States is less than a two-hour drive south of Bakersfield on Highway 99 then Interstate 5.
|Routes through Bakersfield|
|Sacramento / Emeryville ← Wasco ←||N S||→ END|
|Santa Margarita ← Buttonwillow ←||W E||→ Keene → Barstow|
|Fresno ← McFarland ←||N S||→ The Grapevine → Los Angeles via|
|END ←||W E||→ Inyokern → Death Valley N.P.|