Difference between revisions of "Bakersfield"
Revision as of 06:51, 21 October 2015
Bakersfield is one of the fastest growing medium-sized cities in the United States. Bakersfield has a population of approximately 350,000 and a metropolitan population of approximately 800,000. Bakersfield is famous for being the home of country music singers Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, and has the nickname "the country music capital of the West Coast." This is a result of the large number of Dust Bowl refugees that settled in the area. Bakersfield has also produced its share of football players such as Joey Porter, Frank Gifford, Ryan Matthews, and David Carr. Bakersfield is a very conservative city, at least when compared to most of the state.
Bakersfield is located at the juncture of California State Routes 99 and 58, about 25 miles north of the town of Wheeler Ridge at the juncture of CA-99 and Interstate 5. It is about 120 miles to Los Angeles, 110 miles to Fresno and 280 miles to San Francisco. Arriving by car is the best option when coming from the Central Coast since the transport links are not as developed. From the north or south, bus or train can be taken.
Commercial air service
Meadows Field (IATA: BFL) is Bakersfield's primary commercial airport, which is about 10 miles north of downtown. Currently, the airport is used by United and US Airways. There is service to San Francisco, Houston, Denver and Phoenix.
Meadows Field is also an international airport, although there are currently no international carriers. However, the airport is capable of handling international private planes, both arriving and departing.
Rental car facilities are located 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 or from the airport, although service is provided to the downtown transit center when requested in advance.
Private air service
Private aircraft that are travelling to Bakersfield can land either at Meadows Field, or 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.
An alternative is Los Angeles International Airport (IATA: LAX), about 120 miles away in Los Angeles is a major international airport with flights to many parts of the world. United no longer flies between LAX and Bakersfield. LAX is the best option for the distance traveled, but other nearby airport include Burbank, Visalia, Ontario and Fresno.
Airport Bus of Bakersfield provides round trip bus service between LAX and downtown Bakersfield near the intersection of F St. and Golden State Ave. Greyhound provides much cheaper more frequent service between their main downtown LA location and Bakersfield; getting to the terminal will be the tricky part. A trick that people use is Amtrak. Amtrak bus goes to Bakersfield, but requires a train ticket for part of the trip. People will buy a ticket from Los Angeles to Wasco; take the bus from Los Angeles to Bakersfield, and stay there, not taking the train to Wasco.
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.
Bakersfield is a car-based city with poor mass transit options, so driving your own car or renting one is probably wise. It is the best way to travel around this spread-out town compared to any other method. Most arterial streets are wide and fast with speed limits as high as 55 miles per hour and free parking is abundant.
The Golden Empire Transit (GET) bus system is decent with some notable gaps on the northwest side of town, but not developed enough for a city of this size. You can get around in the city with just the bus, but splurging for a car rental is probably the better option.
Not the first thought that comes to mind, but an alternative way to get around, since most of Bakersfield is on the flat valley floor. A separated bike path goes from Hwy 5 along the Kern River through the southwestern portion and ends in the northeastern part of town. There are many miles of bike lanes in the city, but most of them are on high speed arterial streets that are built for cars, not bikes, so some riders may not feel comfortable on those streets.
Taxis are expensive and uncommon for this city since everyone drives and everything in the city is spread out.
Uber and Lyft are in the city. If you are just taking the bus, these companies can fill the occasional transit gap.
Bakersfield is not what you may call a tourist destination, but there are things to do.
The Kern County Museum is 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 at www.kcmuseum.org 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.
For entertainment there are many cultural and sporting opportunities. The Rabobank Arena hosts sporting events, concerts, circuses, and other shows throughout the year, and the downtown Fox Theater schedules standup comedy and musical guests. Each May the CSU Bakersfield campus is home to the popular weekend Jazz Festival. Ethnic food and culture festivals--including Scottish, Indian, Basque, and Greek--occur in the spring and summer as well. Cinema fans enjoy year-round showings of award-winning international films at the downtown Fox Theater. 
Live music in Bakersfield can be found in many local bars such as On The Rocks, Sandrini's, Riley's and The Padre which are all in downtown Bakersfield, hosting local acts. Additionally, B Ryders Sports Bar and Grill hosts local and regional acts in southwest Bakersfield. Rabobank Arena, Bakersfield Convention Center, Fox Theater and Buck Owen's Crystal palace all host larger touring acts on occassion.
Large shopping centers and strip malls are abundant. The Marketplace, near the CSU Bakersfield campus, is relatively upscale, while the Promenade area on Rosedale Highway is a sprawling collection of major retailers and restaurants.
Two indoor malls also serve shoppers. The larger and more popular Valley Plaza at 2701 Ming Avenue in the southwest has a collection of regional and national chains, with some upscale stores and a food court. There is also the smaller East Hills Mall in the northeast off of Highway 178 between Mt Vernon Ave & Oswell St. Valley Plaza is recommended due to the variety of stores there. East Hills has lost its anchor stores, many of its small interior stores and most of its foot traffic. Small, locally-owned antique shops are found in the Downtown and Old Town areas.
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, many of which are in East Bakersfield.
Mexican food is abundant in Bakersfield with many excellent offerings such as El Camino Real, Red Pepper, Mexicali, La Costa, El Portal, Don Perico's and Mauricio's. Don't be afraid to try one of the many taco trucks located around town which also offer excellent food.
Italian food fans might enjoy Frugatti's, Mama Tosca's, Joseph's, Rosa's, Luigi's, or Uricchio's.
Cafe Med, The Mark, The Belvedere (at The Padre Hotel) and Mama Tosca's offer a more sophisticated dining experience.
There are several Thai restaurants that have opened in the last couple of years, while Japanese and Indian cuisines are popular as well.
More unusual offerings include Mama Roomba's (Caribbean) and Flames & Skewers (middle eastern), both downtown.
American food is everywhere, especially at the 24th Street Cafe (a favorite breakfast spot) and Mr. Tibbs Ribs (a local barbecue institution).
John's Incredible Pizza, 3709 Rosedale, is a small California chain of restaurants that has an all-you-can-eat buffet and game center. It is basically a more upscale version of Chuck E. Cheese.
Bakersfield is also home to Dewar's Candy Shop, 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 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), 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).
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.
Wasco, just north of Bakersfield, hosts an annual spring Rose Festival that attracts visitors from all over southern California.
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.
Pismo Beach is about 143 miles from Bakersfield.