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    Bakersfield in California: crossroads between Los Angeles, Sequoia and Death Valley

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    Joel Fulleda

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    Of all the cities in California, we certainly cannot say that Bakersfield is the most famous, nor the most interesting. Just take a quick look at our section on California to realize that there are other urban centers to which you must go if you are traveling in these parts. But then, why dedicate an article to this city of the Californian hinterland?

    First of all, I am of the idea that even the least attractive places can hide some nice surprises and that on a trip one should never disdain any place a priori. Second crucial factor: Bakersfield is in a geographic location that makes it one optimal stop in numerous on the road, especially those that include Los Angeles, Sequoia National Park, and Death Valley.

    So, even if Bakersfield isn't one of the top things to see in California, you might come across it, and so it might be useful to know its main attractions and some tips on where to eat and sleep.


    • Why stop in Bakersfield?
    • What to see in Bakersfield?
      • Bakersfield Downtown
      • In the immediate surroundings of Bakersfield
    • Da Bakersfield a Death Valley
      • From north east
      • From south east
    • Where sleeping in Bakersfield
    • Where to eat in Bakersfield

    Why stop in Bakersfield?

    Organizing a road trip to the United States is not trivial. The things to see are many and often distant from each other, so it is good to calculate the times well plan overnight stops at strategic points.

    This is the case of Bakersfield, which is revealed a perfect place to stop and sleep for various itineraries along the Californian roads. Looking at the map, you realize how it is a crossroads between Los Angeles, Sequoia National Park and Death Valley. But there are several itineraries for which it is optimal to stay overnight here and below I will try to illustrate the main ones.

    • Da Los Angeles (e San Diego) al Sequoia National Park. If you have already read the article about the Sequoia, you will have realized how it takes several hours to visit it, driving on long winding roads and walking among the thousand-year-old trees. So the more than 300 kilometers that separate it from Los Angeles (or the more than 500 from San Diego) can be a lot to cover in the morning before the visit. Bakersfield is located exactly on the road and is only 150km from Sequoia National Park: a distance that if you leave early you can walk easily the same day as the visit to the park (there are also stops closer to the park, we talked about it in the article on where to sleep at Sequoia). For more insights into this itinerary, read our article from Los Angeles to Sequoia National Park.
    • Dal Sequoia National Park alla Death Valley. Also in this case we are talking about a great distance: between 500 and 600 kilometers (depending on the road chosen) and about 6 hours of driving. After visiting the Sequoia you can then move on to Bakersfield for the night. The next morning you can grind the remaining kilometers towards the Death Valley, or perhaps plan stops in some of the places suggested in our itinerary from Sequoia to Death Valley.
    • From San Francisco to Death Valley. If you start from San Francisco you could cross the Sierra Nevada to reach Death Valley, stopping off in some of its parks and enjoying the naturalistic beauties. However, this is only possible in summer. During the low season the weather conditions force you to go around the mountain range and you necessarily pass by Bakersfield, which is exactly halfway: considering that the total journey is about 9 hours of driving, breaking it in two is not a bad idea at all. .
    • From Morro Bay to Death Valley or Las Vegas. The stretch of Highway 1 between Monterey and Morro Bay is one of the most scenic roads of the entire US Pacific coast and is worth a visit during a trip to California. Once embarked on, however, the only alternative is to follow it to the end because there are no intermediate exits. It takes about three hours, without considering the stops (and some, especially in the Big Sur area, are a must!), So you will not be able to reach Death Valley on the same day, much less Las Vegas. Bakersfield is located less than 2 hours from Morro Bay, it can be a bit of a trek but it is still doable if your intent is to get as close as possible to the next destination.

    What to see in Bakersfield?

    Bakersfield being a crossroads for many itineraries, if you are stopping for the night, you might have time or feel like it take a ride and see something. Here are the main places of interest.

    Bakersfield Downtown

    • Kern County museum. The museum dedicated to the County of Kern is a research institute that collects historical artifacts, with the aim of telling the traditions and culture of this territory. In addition to a collection, which ranges from Indian artifacts and archaeological finds to vehicles and firearms, we find temporary exhibitions and events on different themes. Particularly interesting is the Pioneer Village, with its over 50 historic houses. All the details on the official website.
    • Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace. Are you passionate about music and do you particularly love Country and Rock? Then you will be pleased to know that here, in the 30s, the Bakersfield Sound (sub-genre of country). Even today this place is home to frequent musical events, which will undoubtedly fascinate you, even if you were not fanatic of the genre. Also because the old west furniture will make you feel like you are inside a movie set of the last century.
    • Bakersfield Museum of Art. The Bakersfield Museum of Art has a permanent collection of painting, sculpture, photography and drawing, but it is worth a visit especially for its gallery, which alternates art exhibitions of various kinds throughout the year. . The advice is therefore to consult the official website to check which exhibition is in progress and be inspired.
    • Big Shoe Repair. Since 1947 there has been a shoemaker's shop in the shape of a giant shoe on Chester Avenue. Even if your shoes don't need to be repaired, if you are in town you might want to see this extravagant building and check if the roof of the shop is always well tied with the long black rope.
    • Fox theatre. Few cinemas in America can boast the history of the Fox theatre di Bakersfield. Inaugurated on Christmas day in 1930, it saw the main Hollywood films of the twentieth century pass on its screen and welcomed thousands of people in its 1500 armchairs. The cinema withstood the 1952 earthquake and its interiors were replaced with art deco motifs the following year. In 1977, nearly half a century after it opened, the cinema closed its doors until in 1994 a non-profit organization launched a fundraiser to save it from demolition. If you don't have time to enjoy a show, a photo of its beautiful facade will enrich your photo archive.

    In the immediate surroundings of Bakersfield

    Immediately outside the city, along the banks of the Kern River near Lake Ming, we find a large green area with some particular points of interest, all reachable by following the Alfred Harrell Hwy:

    • California Living Museum. It is a small zoo, mainly focused on local fauna. So don't expect to find dozens and dozens of different species (go to the San Diego Zoo for that!), But if you have children they will surely love bears, reptiles and birds of prey, as well as the little train that travels among the silhouettes of dinosaurs. All detailed information on the official website. In addition, to get there you pass by the river park Heart Park, useful for a pleasant picnic stop.
    • The Ernst Quarries. On the opposite bank of the river we find the quarries of the largest existing deposit of Miocene marine fossils. A part of this large area is dedicated to scientific research, while others are open to the public, so if you are passionate about the genre you can go in search of your shark tooth! All detailed information on the official website.
    • Indian Warrior. Next toOld Corral Cafe, along the Old Alfred Harrell Hwy (the road to reach the two previous attractions) there is a large statue of an Indian, placed there to greet you as you pass. It is a Muffler Man, a type of attraction that rages especially on Route 66. Why not stop and take a photo?

    Da Bakersfield a Death Valley

    As already mentioned, Bakersfield is an optimal stop if you travel to Death Valley or Las Vegas, either from the Californian coast or from Sequoia National Park. But da Bakersfield alla Death Valley There are two possible ways: let's explore in detail where we can stop along these two itineraries.

    From north east

    Sequoia National Forest

    The first alternative is to drive on CA-178. Along this route we also pass by Sequoia National Forest, but be careful not to get confused: I'm not talking about Sequoia National Park. In the national park article we have dedicated a special paragraph to explain how many Sequoia Parks there are because the question is not obvious.

    In any case, although it is not as famous an area, nor as equipped for tourists as its neighbor, if you have time available and especially if you love naturalistic areas, you might be pleasantly surprised by a detour in these parts. To enter the area, when you reach Lake isabella divert to Kernville and Alta Sierra.

    Silver City Ghost Town

    Near Lake Isabella, with a very short detour you can visit one of the many ghost towns that dot the American lands. Exactly a Bodfish (3829 Lake Isabella Blvd) you will come across 21 ancient buildings, perfectly restored to show what a Far West town must have been like.

    Admission is subject to a fee ($ 5.50 for adults, $ 4.50 for children aged 6 to 12), a figure that allows managers to keep it well-kept and accessible. The site is open every day from 10 to 16 (on Saturdays it closes at 17).

    Remington Hot Springs

    This detour is more demanding than the previous one, although apparently the road does not vary much. In fact, you have to leave the CA-178 and take the Kern Canyon Road, which runs parallel to the main road, but on the opposite bank of the river. As this is a smaller road, the travel times are slightly longer, but this way you can include them in your itinerary Remington hot springs.

    Especially if you are not traveling in the height of summer, consider taking a dip in these beautiful pools of hot water, but do it in the morning, before the crowds arrive. Apparently, in fact, they are a very popular destination, especially on weekends. On the other hand, access is free.

    From south east

    The second road you have is the Redrock Randsburg Road. Also in this case the journey is not monotonous and you can make at least a couple of interesting stops.

    Cesar Chavez National Monument

    Keene is one of the small towns you will pass through. Although apparently anonymous, it hosts the César E. Chavez National Monument, dedicated to the memory of the Mexican-born activist who fought for the rights of Latin American workers between 1952 and 1976.

    The most particular things about the property of the Chavez family, which can be visited for free, are the Memorial Garden where the activist and the Desert Garden which is home to native desert plants and flowers.

    Tehachapi Loop

    Shortly after Keene there is an unmissable stop for train and rail enthusiasts, but one that will surprise you even if you have completely different tastes. The Tehachapi Loop it is one of the most interesting engineering works regarding railway lines: a spiral path created to allow long and heavy freight trains to cross the mountain pass that presented an excessive difference in height for a classic straight railway.

    Today classified as National Landmark, it is a really interesting work and it is not even that difficult to see a train go by, because it is a very busy freight line. Here we have also explained how to see it from an elevated area: certainly the best point to take a unique photo.

    Where sleeping in Bakersfield

    The choice of hotels is quite wide and they are suitable for all budgets. Below I point out three good options, respectively 2, 3 and 4 stars, but by clicking on the button below you can see all the accommodation options offered by Bakersfield.

    • Country Inn & Suites by Radisson. This two-star hotel is located in a residential area, close to an exit from the Golden State Hwy and a stone's throw from a large shopping mall. The location is therefore ideal especially if you are passing through, because you do not waste time with the traffic of the center and at the same time you have all the services you may need at your fingertips.
    • Residence Inn. In the three-star category, an excellent solution to stay overnight in Bakersfield is the Residence Inn of the Marriott chain. Again, it is a hotel located near an exit of the Golden State Hwy and close to a commercial area, full of restaurants and fast food outlets. However, we are closer to the city center and it is therefore a perfect solution for those who want to visit it, but at the same time need to be close to a motorway connection, because they arrive here late in the evening or perhaps have to leave early in the morning. In addition, there is also a swimming pool available to customers
    • Father Hotel. In the center, in a historic building, we find a very good four-star hotel, suitable for those who prefer higher quality environments and ideal for visiting the city. Among other things, this hotel offers three bars in which to entertain and eat, depending on your taste. At the Brimstone Bar you can play pool while having a drink, at the Prospect Bar you can enjoy an evening of live music, at the Prairie Fire you can relax on a patio on the rooftop terrace of the building.

    All Bakersfield hotels

    Where to eat in Bakersfield

    As in all big cities, the choice of places to stop and eat is very wide, ranging from the poorest of fast food restaurants to the most luxurious of restaurants. Below I suggest some places to enjoy some American cuisine without having to squeeze into one of the usual big chains.

    • 24th Street Café (1415 24th Street). In downtown Bakersfield, breakfast par excellence can be found in this historic restaurant, apparently very simple, but which will not leave you disappointed. If you want a rich and substantial American breakfast, choose this bar: in addition to the different dishes there are also several set menus to choose from and you will surely find the ideal American breakfast for you.
    • Bootleggers Craft Pub & Eatery (955 Oak Street). Craving for burgers? Forget the usual fast food chains. Here you can eat excellent burgers, but also many other American dishes, accompanied by excellent draft beers.
    • Black Bear Diner (4102 California Avenue). Opposite the aforementioned Residence Inn hotel, we find this classic Diner with good quality food, affordable prices and set menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    • Black angus steakhouse (3601 Rosedale Hwy). This is a chain, but certainly not comparable to the fast food magnates, since it has only about thirty points of sale around the world. If you are craving steak, but also completely different dishes, you can dine here with good food at affordable prices.
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