Bakersfield is known as “The Country Music Capital of the West Coast,” home to famous country musicians Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. In the 1950s, these two musicians created the Bakersfield Sound, a musical style derived from the music of Dust Bowl migrants. This medium-sized city in California’s San Joaquin Valley has a rich history and a thriving cultural scene that give visitors plenty to do and see.
Catch a show at the Crystal Palace, which was created by Buck Owens in 1996 as a high-class venue for country music. Not only a performance space, the Crystal Palace also houses a nightclub, bar and restaurant. Trace the career of the legendary singer at the Buck Owens Museum.
Bakersfield is close to several natural destinations. Sequoia National Forest is just a short drive up Kern River Canyon. Hike, bike or rock climb along the mountain’s peaks and trails. During warmer months, go fly-fishing or whitewater rafting. In winter, enjoy the snow on the well-maintained skiing and snowshoeing paths.
Downtown Bakersfield features a budding arts district. This historical area is now the backdrop for public murals and sculptures and has dozens of galleries and art shops. Also in arts district is the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History, which focuses on anthropology, geology and paleontology. View its extensive collection of fossils and taxidermy animals. Not far from the museum is the Fox Theater, a performing arts destination in the city since 1930. Enjoy a variety of shows, ranging from ballet recitals to popular musicians on tour, in this historic art deco building. Learn about the history of the area at the Kern County Museum, about 30 minutes’ walk south of Buena Vista Museum.
Fly to Meadows Field Airport to reach Bakersfield or drive from Los Angeles, which is a 2-hour drive south. Whether you are an art aficionado, a fan of country-western music or simply want to enjoy the California wilderness, Bakersfield is worth a stop.