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When you think of California's powerhouse metropolises, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego probably come to mind, but fewer people know that Bakersfield is in fact one of the largest cities in the state. Agriculture and oil production are Bakersfield's bread and butter, and the city also boasts a claim to fame as the birthplace of the "Bakersfield sound," but the character of the city goes beyond its industrial might and country music. Home to interesting museums, thriving arts centers, fantastic restaurants, and the beautiful Kern River Canyon, this Central Valley landmark offers plenty of things to see and do to keep you busy.
The beating heart of Bakersfield is the Downtown area, which encompasses not only the main business district but the center of the city's arts and entertainment sectors. For the visitor looking to experience the best that Bakersfield has to offer, Downtown's different neighborhoods deliver.
Populated with galleries and theaters, the burgeoning Arts District offers a slice of Bakersfield culture for locals and visitors alike. The area has its share of history too—both the restored Fox Theater and the 1920s Padre Hotel can be found here.
Country fans come to Buck Owens Boulevard to pay tribute to the legendary musician and long-time Bakersfield resident, who built the famed Buck Owens Crystal Palace on this stretch of road. You can't miss the original Bakersfield Sign, which marks where the boulevard runs into Sillect Avenue.
Not only is the Civic Center home base for local government, this bustling area also plays host to the massive Rabobank Theater and Convention Center, as well as the Olympic-sized competition pool at the McMurtrey Aquatic Center.
Shady trees and historic homes line this picturesque neighborhood, which lies just west of Downtown. Travel back to Bakersfield's pioneer days at the Kern County Museum, or cheer on the Bakersfield Train Robbers at the Sam Lynn Ballpark.
A variety of museums in Bakersfield offer you the opportunity to immerse yourself in California history and the city's own unique heritage. If country music is your jam, discover how the distinct Bakersfield sound began at the Buck Owens Crystal Palace, which houses a music hall and a museum dedicated to genre pioneer Buck Owens. Art lovers will find plenty browse among the paintings, sculptures, and lovely gardens at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. Or, head to the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science in the Arts District for a chance to see its impressive collection of Miocene fossils.
Bakersfield offers activities for nature lovers, foodies, and everyone in between. Venture to the Kern River Canyon for hiking, camping, and fishing amidst a spectacular natural landscape that many locals have called "California's best-kept secret". If you're in search of things to do with the kids, the California Living Museum (CALM) is well worth a visit. This wildlife sanctuary features native California plants and animals, with exhibits ranging from black bears to mountain lions and birds of prey. Or, check out Murray Family Farms, where fresh produce, live entertainment, and a petting zoo offer fun for all ages. Bakersfield also boasts a delicious and diverse offering of restaurants to satisfy your appetite, whether you're craving authentic Mexican, handmade pizza, or juicy burgers. Finally, for some time in the sunshine, head to The Park at River Walk, where you can find serenity among its two lakes, gentle stream, and green lawns.