Bakersfield is one of those places that people often underestimate. But Bakersfield’s central location makes it very special offering plenty of locations that you can explore nearby. Whether you are a Bakersfield local or visiting the area, keep reading to learn all about our favorite day trips from Bakersfield!
Within a couple of hours’ drive, you can go on a quick trip to the Central Coast, head on a hiking adventure into the mountains, relax at a hot spring or spend the day lounging next to a scenic lake.
In this post, we list all of the best places to visit near Bakersfield for a fun day’s adventure!
15 Best Day Trips From Bakersfield:
1. Sequoia National Forest
When the Central Valley temperatures start picking up in the summer season, the nearby mountains offer a great place where you can go to escape the scorching heat. We lived in Bakersfield for several years ourselves and during that time one of the places that we visited the most was Sequoia National Forest.
Sequoia National Forest offers many incredible day hikes and is also free to visit (a nice perk compared to the nearby National Parks that require an entrance fee).
A few of our favorite Sequoia National Forest trails within a short drive of Bakersfield include:
- Trail of 100 Giants
- Johnsondale Bridge River Trail
- Unal Trail
- Mill Creek Trail
- Isabella Peak – Coso Mine Loop Trail
If you haven’t done any of these hikes before, I recommend starting with the Trail of 100 Giants which is located two hours north-east of Bakersfield.
This beautiful forest trail is home to giant Sequoia trees that you can see up close. The pathway that travels through the Sequoia grove is short and mostly paved making it a great adventure for the entire family!
2. Lake Isabella
Lake Isabella is another one of our favorite day trips from Bakersfield California. This hidden gem is located just an hour northeast of Bakersfield along scenic Highway 178.
Lake Isabella offers plenty of fun outdoor adventures for visitors. You can spend the day on Lake Isabella’s shoreline, head on hiking trails that offer incredible viewpoints of the lake, grab a beer at Kern River Brewing Company, or stay to camp at one of the campgrounds that surround the lakefront.
If you wish to stay for longer than a day, there are plenty of incredible vacation rentals at Lake Isabella that are great for weekend getaways. From Lake Isabella, you can also head on day hikes within Sequoia National Forest or arrange whitewater rafting trips in Kern River with Kern River Outfitters.
In the winter, sports enthusiasts can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and tubing at the Alta Sierra Ski Resort which typically operates on the weekends from December to March.
If you’re looking for a quick coastal getaway, Ventura is located just a 2-hour drive from Bakersfield. Ventura’s mild coastal weather stays cool even in the summer months offering a great escape from the Bakersfield heat. It’s also a good place to stop for those planning a road trip from LA to San Francisco!
We recently relocated to Ventura and our Bakersfield friends often come to visit us, especially in the summer. This cozy beach town has so many fun activities from surfing lessons, hiking, and mountain biking to fun outdoor events in the charming downtown area.
As a day visitor, you can lounge on the beach at San Buenaventura State Beach, take a walk along the bike path down to the Ventura Pier, grab seafood at the Ventura Harbor Village, or watch surfers catch waves at the Surfers Point At Seaside Park.
Looking for more information? Be sure to check out our Ventura guide covering 26 Best Things To Do In Ventura California (By a Local)!
4. Hart Memorial Park
Looking for something fun to do a bit closer to Bakersfield? Hart Memorial Park is situated just 20 minutes outside of downtown Bakersfield and is a wonderful little getaway for families!
Hart Memorial Park offers multiple hiking and mountain biking trails that travel on top of cliffs and through rolling hills. After hiking, you can enjoy lunch along the lakefront in one of the large, grassy picnic areas.
If you want to cool down in the water, you can rent small boats and kayaks from Clagg’s Kayak Rentals to paddle around Hart Park Lake.
Kids are sure to enjoy visiting the nearby California Living Museum Zoo where you can see local animals such as black bears, mountain lions, red foxes, and birds along with many others.
5. Sequoia National Park
If you’re looking for epic road trips from Bakersfield, be sure to add Sequoia National Park to the top of your list. This gorgeous National Park is located just a two-hour drive north of Bakersfield making it a great option for a long day trip (with an early head start).
If you can spare an extra day, even better! There is so much to see and do at Sequoia National Park that you can easily turn it into a weekend getaway!
Start your visit by stopping by the grand General Sherman Tree and hiking the Congress Trail that passes some of the largest Sequoia clusters at the park. Then head over to Moro Rock for a jaw-dropping climb along 350 narrow stairs up a sheer rock face that leads to a panoramic viewpoint of the park.
If you have any time to spare, end the day by hiking the Big Trees Trail where you can learn more about these gentle giants and their natural habitat.
6. Wind Wolves Preserve
Wind Wolves Preserve is a wonderful outdoor area just 45 minutes south of Bakersfield. This nature preserve spans 30 square miles offering plenty of hiking trails, wildlife viewing opportunities, and free overnight camping options.
Wind Wolves Preserve also plays an important role in preserving endangered Central Valley animal and plant species such as tule elk, kit fox, and Bakersfield cactus.
We like to visit Wind Wolves Preserve as a quick day trip in the spring months before the weather gets too hot. For first time visitors, we recommend hiking the San Emigdio Canyon Trail that passes next to San Emigdio Creek providing a bit of shade.
You May Also Like: 15 Best Places For Viewing Wildlife In California
7. Remington Hot Springs
Visiting Remington Hot Springs is one of the best day trips near Bakersfield! This hidden hot spring is situated just an hour’s drive from Bakersfield with easy access from Highway 178.
Once you reach the visitor parking lot you can follow a narrow trail down to the river where the hot pools are located. Be sure to wear good hiking shoes with traction as the trail is pretty slippery and steep.
In the spring months after heavy rainfall Kern River and the hot springs might be overflooded. I always check for the latest Remington Hot Spring Trail reviews on the AllTrails hiking app before heading out there.
Do note that this hot springs is ‘clothing optional’ so it may not be suitable for families with kids. If you come during the week, or early in the mornings, you might catch the entire place to yourself, but on the weekends it does get very crowded.
Visitor Tip: While at Remington Hot Springs be sure to follow ‘Leave No Trace Guidelines’ and pick up any items and trash after you. These are natural hot springs and it’s up to the visitors to keep them clean!
8. Mount Pinos
Due to its close location and beautiful scenery, Mt Pinos is one of our favorite day trips near Bakersfield. Here you can enjoy hiking through serene trails within Los Padres National Forest, go mountain biking, or stay to camp overnight.
Mount Pinos is located at the beginning of Grapevine about 1 hour and 20 minutes south of Bakersfield. When we come here, we usually hike the 3.5-mile-long Mt Pinos Trail that travels to a scenic overlook of Central Valley from the top.
In the winter months, Mount Pinos is a wonderful place for snow activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snow play for the kids.
If you’re looking for quick Bakersfield day trips in the summer to get away from the heat, Cambria is a great option! Cambria is located on the Central Coast near San Simeon and can be reached by following Highway 46 West.
The drive from Bakersfield to Cambria takes around 2 hours and 20 minutes of travel time so I usually get an early head start. One of the most popular things to do in Cambria includes visiting Fiscalini Ranch Preserve which offers several miles of walking trails along ocean bluffs.
If you decide to stay for a longer vacation, you can also visit the nearby Estate of William Randolph Hearst, drive up to San Simeon, or stop by the highly popular Elephant Seal Vista Point at the southern point of Big Sur.
10. Tehachapi Mountain Park
If you want to spend a few hours hiking out into the mountains, check out Tehachapi Mountain Park near Bakersfield! Tehachapi is located just southeast of Bakersfield making it a great place for outdoor adventures like hiking, mountain biking, and camping.
The most popular hike at this nature park is the Tehachapi Mountain Trail which is 4 miles long and gains around 2000 feet of elevation. This hike is also dog friendly so you can bring your four-legged friend along!
The Tehachapi Mountain Trail starts in a shaded, serene forest and climbs up in elevation at a steady pace. Once you reach the summit, the trail will flatten out and you will be greeted with some of the best views in Central California!
11. Silver City Ghost Town
Silver City Ghost Town is one of the most unique things to do in the Bakersfield region! This interesting open-air museum is located in Bodfish and can be reached within a 50-minute drive from Bakersfield.
Within Silver City Ghost Town you can discover historic buildings that used to house miners during Gold Rush times, old saloons, banks, and even a jail for those who didn’t follow the law.
To visit Silver City Ghost Town there is a small entrance fee of $5.50 per person. The buildings featured at this museum were relocated from different areas within Kern County and are at least 100 years old.
After paying the entrance fee, you’ll be able to roam around the outdoor courtyard and explore the various structures dating back to 1858. Overall, this is a great adventure for the whole family including little kids!
12. Kern River Canyon
Visiting Kern River Canyon is one of the top free things to do in Bakersfield. This riverside canyon offers a scenic drive along Highway 178, riverfront picnic tables, and many hiking trails that can be found within the surrounding National Forest.
The best time of year to visit Kern River Canyon is in the winter months, early spring, or late fall when the weather is at its best. Do note that after heavy rainfall the canyon highway might be closed due to high Kern River water levels.
Two of our favorite trails within Kern River Canyon include Mill Creek Trail and Kern River Trail. Both hikes are great options for those wanting to get out of the city to stretch their legs and get a workout in.
Visitor Tip: It can get very hot within Kern River Canyon in the summer months. Packing extra water bottles, sunscreen, lip balm, and a hiking hat is essential! And be sure to check the weather conditions on the AllTrails hiking app before heading out there.
13. Santa Barbara
If you’re planning a trip for two, Santa Barbara is one of the most romantic getaways near Bakersfield, California for couples!
In Santa Barbara, you can soak up the sunshine on the beach, go on scenic hikes overlooking the Pacific Ocean and enjoy a variety of water activities like kayaking, surfing, and whale watching.
Santa Barbara region is also home to over 280 wineries that produce some of the best wines in California. As a fun day adventure, we recommend signing up for a Santa Barbara wine-tasting tour so you can visit some of the top wineries near the coast.
Can’t get enough of Santa Barbara? Here are 10 of the best hotels in Santa Barbara for a perfect seaside escape!
14. Kings Canyon National Park
The Sierra Nevada mountains offer some of the best weekend getaways near Bakersfield California. If you’re planning a trip to the mountains and are looking for lesser-known places, be sure to check out Kings Canyon National Park!
It’s best to visit Kings Canyon National Park over a multi-day trip, but you can make it into a day adventure with a very early head start from Bakersfield. Kings Canyon is one of my favorite National Parks in California because not that many people visit it, compared to Yosemite National Park and Sequoia National Park.
Some of the best day hikes at Kings Canyon are the Zumwalt Meadow Loop, General Grant Trail, and Roaring River Falls Trail.
15. Three Rivers
Three Rivers is an unassuming town only 1 hour and 30 minutes north of Bakersfield. While the town is small and doesn’t have any major tourist attractions, it does offer excellent whitewater rafting in Central California. Three Rivers also serves as a gateway into Sequoia National Park so many people stop by here on the way to the mountains.
If you enjoy water sports, you can spend the day on Lake Kaweah. Have some fun by renting patio boats, kayaks, paddle boards, or aqua cycles from the Kaweah Marina situated next to the lake.
After a day full of fun outdoor recreation activities, grab an ice-cold beer at the Three Rivers Brewing Co. For a quick meal, I highly recommend stopping by Sierra Subs & Salad which serves some of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had!
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