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Introduction

Bakersfield is a city in Kern County in the San Joaquin Valley of California. 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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Sights and Activities

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kern County Museum, 3801 Chester Ave, ☎ +1 661-437-3330. 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.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Getting There

By Plane

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 frequent service to San Francisco and Phoenix. There is twice daily service to Houston and once daily service to Denver.

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. In addition, there are several other methods of travel from the airport. Taxis are available outside the terminal. The city's bus system does not provide regular service to the airport's domestic terminal, although service is provided to the downtown transit center when requested in advance.

A primary alternative is 3 Los Angeles International Airport (LAX IATA) (120 miles in Los Angeles). Airport Bus of Bakersfield provides round trip bus service between the airport and their terminal near the intersection of F St. and Golden State Ave. Other nearby airports are Bob Hope Airport (78 miles, in Burbank), and Fresno Yosemite International Airport (110 miles, in Fresno).

By Train

Amtrak also serves Bakersfield, with a nice main terminal downtown. Bakersfield is the southern terminus of Amtrak's 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.

By Car

Bakersfield is at the junction of California State Routes 99 and 58, about 25 mi (40 km) north of The Grapevine at the junction of CA-99 and Interstate 5.

By Bus

Several bus lines pass through Bakersfield, including Greyhound, Flixbus, Intercalifornias and Tufesa. There are several trips a day north and south. East and west connections are poorer. The express buses between San Francisco and Los Angeles bypass Bakersfield, using Interstate 5 for faster travel.

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Getting Around

By Car

Bakersfield is a car-based city with poor mass transit options, so driving your own car or renting one is probably wise.

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

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.

By Foot

Bakersfield is not very walkable, with the exception of shopping centers, parks, and a small downtown core.

By Bike

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.

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Eat

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.

  • Cafe Med, 4809 Stockdale Hwy (Stockdale Fashion Plaza Shopping Center), ☎ +1 661-834-4433. Known for its Mediterranean flair and excellent wines.
  • Mama Roomba, 1814 Eye St (Downtown), ☎ +1 661-322-6262, e-mail: mamaroomba@yahoo.com. M–F 11AM–10PM, Sa 5PM-10PM. Caribbean.
  • Flames & Skewers, 1201 24th St (Downtown). Middle eastern.
  • 24th Street Cafe, 1415 24th St. A favorite breakfast spot serving hearty American food.
  • 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!

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Drink

Bakersfield's bar and club scene is primarily centered in the downtown area around the intersection of 19th St & Eye St.

  • Lengthwise Brewing Company, 6720 Schirra Ct. Bakersfield's only microbrewery serves up reasonably priced beer and pub style food.

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Sleep

  • Best Western Hill House, 700 Truxtun Ave, ☎ +1 661 327-4064, toll-free: +1-800-300-4230, fax: +1 661 327-1247.
  • Courtyard Bakersfield, 3601 Marriott Dr, ☎ +1 661 324-6660, fax: +1 661 324-1185. $119-149.
  • Days Inn Bakersfield, 818 Real Rd, ☎ +1-661-324-6666. 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.
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton, 1505 Mill Rock Way, ☎ +1 661 664-0400. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon.
  • Marriott at the Convention Center, 801 Truxtun Ave, ☎ +1 661 323-1900.
  • Motel 6, 1350 Easton Dr, ☎ +1 661 327-1686, fax: +1 661 327-2337.
  • The Padre Hotel, 1702 18th St. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. This boutique hotel offers five unique food and beverage venues.
  • Red Lion Hotel, 2620 Buck Owens Blvd, ☎ +1 661 327-9651, toll-free: +1-800-424-4900, fax: +1 661 334-1820. 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.
  • Residence Inn Bakersfield, 4241 Chester Ln, ☎ +1 661 321-9800, fax: +1 661 321-0721.
  • SpringHill Suites Bakersfield, 3801 Marriott Dr.
  • Vagabond Inn Bakersfield North, 6100 Knudsen Drive, ☎ +1 661 392-1800.
  • Vagabond Inn Bakersfield South, 6501 Colony Street, ☎ +1 661 831-9200.
  • Vagabond Inn Buttonwillow I-5, 200 Trask St., ☎ +1 661 764-5221, fax: +1 661 764-5505.
  • Vagabond Inn Bakersfield Downtowner, 1301 Chester Ave, ☎ +1 661-327-7122. Check-in: 11AM, check-out: 3PM.

View our map of accommodation in Bakersfield or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Accommodation in Bakersfield

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Bakersfield searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Bakersfield and areas nearby.

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This is version 14. Last edited at 9:44 on Jun 14, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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