Escape into Central California's sunny sanctuary, where country tunes and food festivals reign
Have you ever gone on vacation and had your entire week rained out? If the answer to that is yes, then take a look at a place that's considered to be one of the sunniest places in North America: Bakersfield, California. Located in the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County, Bakersfield has an average high temperature of about 76 degrees and overnight lows in the mid 50s. It has documented over 250 sunny days a year.
With all this nice weather, a visitor has lots of options for outdoor recreation. The Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area and the Kern River offer water sports including white water rafting, jet skiing and kayaking. If you aren't up for that much activity, you can just go fishing and eat from a picnic lunch.
If your vacation itinerary is a bit more laid back, Bakersfield can still accommodate your tastes. Increase your knowledge of the local area and the world at large at the 10 museums that cover a wide variety of topics. Discover fossils, or visit a zoo. Bakersfield's biggest industry is Oil and visitors can learn as much as they want about it at two of the leading museums in the area. The West Kern Oil Museum and the Kern County Museum both take visitors on a journey to the past to learn about this vibrant industry.
Another hotspot you can't miss while you're in Bakersfield is the Buck Owens Crystal Palace & Museum, owned and operated by none other than the family of late country music star Buck Owens. Owens, along with his buddy Roy Clark, used to bring their act into America's living rooms every Saturday night on Hee Haw. Owens was instrumental in creating a new genre in country music known as the "Bakersfield Sound" that incorporates steel guitars and pounding vocals. Another country music legend that called Bakersfield his home town was Merle Haggard.
If you're into military history, the United State Museum of Armament and Technology and the NASA Dryden Flight Research Facility and Museum can keep both young and old interested for hours on end.
Do you travel with your four-legged friend? There are over 20 outdoor restaurants that are pet friendly, six parks, a number of off-leash dog parks and, of course, many of the area's RV Parks welcome your pets. Just make sure you check their web sites to be sure how many pets you can take and to be certain there aren't size and breed limits.
Hit the Links
One place you can't take your pup is the golf course. So, bring your clubs and hit the links at any one of 15 golf courses in the area.
California as a state is known for wine, so when you go to Bakersfield, go thirsty. There are nine wineries in Kern County that offer daily tastings, and all of the local wineries bring their vintages to one place in November at the Junior League Wine Festival. Wine isn't your thing? If you fancy yourself as more of a beer guy or gal, that's okay because there are two micro-breweries in the area too.
Since you're on vacation, you surely don't want to cook at the RV every night. There are hundreds of restaurants in Bakersfield with cuisine that covers the gamut, from Hawaiian to Indian, Japanese, Mediterranean, Korean and Mexican cuisine.
With all these choices, it's only fair to mention that Kern County is known for its Basque foods. Kern County and Bakersfield have more Basque eateries any other city in the nation. The Basque people began to come to Bakersfield during the great California Gold Rush, and when the gold ran dry, they stayed and started farming.
Speaking of festivals, you'll always be sure to find something going on. You can tap your toes at the Bakersfield Jazz Festival in May, experience a greater appreciation for Native American heritage at the Standing Bear Pow-Wow in June or get some old fashioned fair food at the Kern County Fair held in September.
Get Your Motor Running
Like car racing? The Bakersfield Speedway is home to the West's fastest third-mile high-banked clay oval. Enjoy 31 weeks of racing with the Budweiser Weekly Wacing Series. Races run from March through September. After the races, there's no need to put your motorhead away. In October, check out the Hot Rod reunion at the Kern County Fairgrounds, and the Highway 99 Cruise-n-Show, held throughout the town, is always a hit.
For More Information:
Bakersfield Convention and Visitors Bureau
California Travel and Tourism Commission