In recent years Bakersfield has become one of the fastest-growing cities in California. When I moved to Bakersfield a couple of years ago truthfully I didn’t know much about it (except that it’s really, really hot in the summer). But like with any new place, it might take a little while, but eventually, you’ll find all the best things to do in the area like your favorite Sunday brunch spot in town, hiking trails to take your dog on, and other fun things to do on the weekends.
In recent years Bakersfield has also stepped up its food scene with many new hip restaurants, places to grab craft cocktails, multiple breweries, and fun date night spots. And it’s also a short drive from major outdoor destinations, National Parks, and some of the best whitewater rafting spots in California.
After living in Bakersfield for several years, I can see why it’s one of the most underrated cities in Central California. And whether you just moved to Bakersfield or have been living here for a while, there is always something new and exciting to discover in the area!
Here are 12 fun things to do in (and around) Bakersfield like a local:
- Watch Sunset From Panorama Park
- Have Brunch At Moo Creamery
- Grab Beers At Temblor Brewery
- Explore Trails At Hart Park
- Enjoy Breakfast At Café Smitten
- Go Hiking At Wind Wolves Preserve
- Soak At A Hot Springs
- Visit Lake Isabella For The Day
- Go River Rafting
- Stay In A Cabin In Alta Sierra
- Rent A Boat At Hart Park Lake
- See Sequoia Trees At Trail Of 100 Giants
Watch Sunset From Panorama Park
Panorama Park is one of the best outdoor spaces in Bakersfield for those who are looking to stretch their legs and get some fresh air within the city limits. This park has several miles of walking paths along a cliffside called “The Bluffs”.
Panorama Park has an iconic viewpoint that overlooks Bakersfield’s oil fields as far as you can see. This is an especially popular place to watch the sunset and has plenty of resting benches to enjoy the views.
Panorama Park has a very urban setting to it but overall this park is well maintained and has a lot of green space. Here you can also see many beautiful art murals that were created in 2019 as part of the Panorama Park beautification initiative.
If you’re looking for a bit of challenge, you can also take the side trails down to the bottom of this 250 feet tall hill but coming back up can be a bit challenging. The habitat at the bottom is part of the Panorama Vista Preserve that is used for wildlife restoration in Bakersfield.
Location: Panorama Park, Bakersfield, CA 93305
Read More: Hiking Panorama Park Loop In Bakersfield
Have Brunch At Moo Creamery
If you’re looking for a brunch spot to grab a delicious Bloody Mary and homey food on the weekends, put Moo Creamery on top of your list! As their motto says “It is not your typical grandparents’ dinner” and their menu proves that.
Moo Creamery’s weekend brunch offers a comfort-driven menu with plates like Pulled Pork Benedict, Spanish Chorizo Burger, and Chilaquiles that pair excellently with their unique drink selections such as the Cucumber-Jalapeño Margarita and Spiked Basil Lemonade. With an extensive beer and drink menu, Moo Creamery is also a great spot to come for a fun dinner with friends or a date night.
Moo Creamery sources high-quality, fresh ingredients from farmers & ranchers to create the best flavors possible. At Moo Creamery you can dine al fresco on their patio or grab a seat inside the hip diner. And although we don’t blame you for cleaning your plate, don’t forget to leave some room for one of their signature ice creams and shakes!
Location: 4885 Truxtun Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93309
Grab Beers At Temblor Brewery
If you’re not a Bakersfield local, you might be surprised to find out that Bakersfield has an up-and-coming brewery scene. But in a place that’s sizzling hot half of the year, there is nothing better for cooling off at the end of the day than a refreshing, ice-cold beer!
Temblor Brewing Company is a local brewery in Bakersfield that has been making a name for itself since its establishment in 2015. With a wide variety of beers to choose from and an extensive food menu, it’s one of the best breweries in town!
We love Temblor Brewing Company for its spacious outdoor patio that allows dogs and feels like its own private hub with an enclosed bamboo wall. The interior of Temblor is designed in a modern, industrial style with open spaces and trendy touches. The main wall features an installation with bricks from one of the first breweries in Bakersfield along with a mural in the shape of Kern County.
Unlike some breweries that serve only beer, Temblor Brewing Company also has an extensive food menu. Here you can indulge in American comfort food, savory sandwiches, classic burgers, and salads.
For beers, the most popular choices are the Streets of Bakersfield IPA and the award-winning Under a Blood Orange Sky wheat beer that you can also often find sold at local grocery stores.
Explore Trails At Hart Park
Hart Memorial Park is a scenic park just a quick drive from Bakersfield that features a lake, mountains, and beautiful landscapes. Hart Park is a multi-use area that’s great for hiking, biking, dirt biking, fishing, and other outdoor activities.
Hart Park offers over 370 acres of hiking trails so we love to come here when we feel like going on longer, more challenging day hikes.
Unlike other parks that have designated hiking trails, Hart Park consists of a system of trails that span in many different directions. Some trails are only 2 miles long and others extend up to 7+ miles in length.
Most of the trails start at the bottom of Hart Park and climb to the top of the nearby cliffs offering beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Note that there are very few trees on these trails and it’s very exposed to the sun. Make sure to bring plenty of water, especially during those scorching Bakersfield summers.
Location: Hart Park, Bakersfield, CA 93308
Read More: Hiking Hart Memorial Park In Bakersfield
Enjoy Breakfast At Café Smitten
Cafe Smitten is one of my all-time favorite places to eat in Bakersfield. My friend brought me here for lunch soon after I moved to Bakersfield and I’ve been back here many many times.
Cafe Smitten has it all – charming décor, great food, friendly service, amazing coffee, and mouth-watering desserts. It’s a local favorite so much that they opened a second location in West Bakersfield. Cafe Smitten is one of the best Bakersfield restaurants for its overall ambiance and menu.
The downtown Cafe Smitten location specializes in breakfast and lunch plates so it’s the perfect spot to grab brunch, hang out on their relaxing patio and catch up with friends.
For food, my favorite is the Greek Eggs plate that comes with two fried eggs, cheese, and small sides like heirloom tomato-cucumber salad, pickles, and bread.
If you are a coffee lover, there are plenty of coffee drinks on the Cafe Smitten menu to choose from including drip, pour-over, and lattes. Not a fan of coffee? Try the green tea matcha latte – so yummy!
Location: 909 18th St, Bakersfield, CA 93301
Go Hiking At Wind Wolves Preserve
When you think of Central Valley, you might not think of endless rolling hills, oak woodlands, pine forests, and remote hiking trails full of wildlife. Wind Wolves is a beautiful nature preserve located less than an hour’s drive from Bakersfield that offers all of this and more!
Tucked away in between farms at the foothills of the San Emigdio Mountains, Wind Wolves Preserve is one of the best-hidden gems of the Central Valley. Here you can find a ton of great hiking trails to choose from, enjoy stunning landscapes, observe wild animals and spend the night under the stars at the park’s campground – all free and easily accessible to the public.
Operated by The Wildlands Conservancy, at 93,000 acres in size Wind Wolves Preserve is one of the largest nature preserves on the West Coast. One of the most popular hikes here is the 7-mile-long San Emigdio Canyon Trail that travels next to the San Emigdio Creek providing a bit of shade.
The best time to visit the Wind Wolves Preserve for hiking and camping is in early spring or fall when the weather in Central Valley is at its best. In springtime, you might also see a lot of wildflowers and lush green fields, especially after heavy rainfall.
Location: 16019 CA-166, Bakersfield, CA 93311
Soak At A Hot Springs
If you’re looking for something fun and relaxing to do on a weekend, there are two stunning hot springs just a short drive from Bakersfield – Remington Hot Springs and Miracle Hot Springs. Both of these hot springs are located within Kern Canyon, less than an hour from Bakersfield.
Remington and Miracle hot springs are situated on the Kern River tucked away hidden between trees and rocks. If you don’t know exactly where to go, it’s easy to miss them!
These two hot springs are within a couple of miles of each other so you can visit both on the same day. Miracle Hot Springs is located next to the Hobo Campground so it gets a lot busier. Remington Hot Springs is a bit further up the road and requires a short, but steep hike to reach it, so it doesn’t get as crowded.
We personally like the Remington Hot Springs because it’s not as popular. There are several pools to choose from at Remington Hot Springs with various temperatures. Some of the pools are manmade, others are more natural.
Miracle Hot Springs: Next to Hobo Campground, Kern Canyon Rd, Caliente, CA 93518
Remington Hot Springs: 2 miles up from Hobo Campground, Kern Canyon Rd, Caliente, CA 93518
Visit Lake Isabella For The Day
Lake Isabella is a beautiful lake just an hour East of Bakersfield. Tucked away in between mountains and small western-style towns, Lake Isabella is a popular vacation spot for Bakersfield locals especially for those who enjoy outdoor activities like fishing, and river rafting.
We love to come out to Lake Isabella for quick getaways from Bakersfield when we want to spend some time outdoors hiking, lounging by the lake, or off-roading.
One of our favorite hikes in this area is the 2.3-mile-long Isabella Peak – Coso Mine Loop Trail that leads to a 360 overlook of Lake Isabella and the surrounding area.
Some other fun things to do in the area include visiting the historic Silver City Ghost Town, grabbing a beer at the local Kern River Brewing Company, and staying in a cute Lake Isabella vacation rental.
Go River Rafting
For those interested in a thrilling adventure, within a short drive from Bakersfield, you can experience some of the best river rafting in California!
Before moving to Bakersfield, I had never tried whitewater rafting before but it’s something that was on my bucket list for a while. When my friends invited me for a rafting trip in Three Rivers near Bakersfield, I jumped on the opportunity.
We spent the weekend camping, eating great food, sharing memories, and went rafting through some wild rapids full of fresh snowmelt (thankfully I managed to stay in the raft without falling overboard!)
If you’re new to rafting, one of the most popular companies in the area that organizes trips near Bakersfield is the Kern River Outfitters located by Lake Isabella. This is also the closest rafting option to LA, just a 3 drive north of Los Angeles. If you are interested in trying it out, be sure to make your reservations well in advance as they do get booked up quickly!
Stay In A Cabin In Alta Sierra
While most Southern California locals look to Big Bear Lake for outdoor getaways, Alta Sierra is a great alternative just East of Bakersfield. This area is located higher in the mountains offering cooler weather, alpine forest hikes, and has its own Alta Sierra Ski Resort that operates in the winter months. We come here quite often when we’re in need of fresh air and a quick getaway.
Alta Sierra is a great place to go for mini-weekend vacations and enjoy a relaxing stay in a rental tucked away between pine trees. There are a few beautiful rentals to choose from around Alta Sierra and Wofford Heights ranging from charming rustic cabins to luxury homes for larger family gatherings.
If you’re looking for a quick, yet scenic trail in Alta Sierra I recommend hiking the Unal Trail that leads to an overlook with a time capsule at the top!
Rent A Boat At Hart Park Lake
This is a fun water activity to do in the summer, especially as the weather in Bakersfield is just getting hotter and hotter every year.
During the summer months, Clagg’s Kayak Rentals offer kayak and paddleboat rentals on Hart Park Lake near Bakersfield. These rentals are usually available on the weekends and often extend into fall months.
To rent the kayaks or pedal boats you can drive up to the lake’s west shore where the rentals are located. If you want to make sure the rentals are available, you can call the number on Clagg’s Kayak Rental Yelp page before heading out there.
We rented the two-seat paddleboat for an hour and it was just enough time to make a slow lap around the entire lake. It’s the perfect summer activity for cooling off especially if you have kids or dogs (it’s pet friendly!).
See Sequoia Trees At The Trail Of 100 Giants
The Trail of 100 Giants is one of the most popular day hikes within Sequoia National Forest that features some of the biggest and oldest trees in the world.
The Trail of 100 Giants is easily accessible and makes for the perfect quick getaway from nearby cities like Bakersfield. We love to visit this location in the summer especially to escape the valley heat into the mountains where temperatures are much cooler.
The walkways here are paved, mostly flat, and stroller-accessible. This trail goes in a loop for a total of 1.3 miles but you have the option to do less if you start getting tired.
Some of the highlights of the Trail of 100 Giants include the Proclamation tree that’s over 2000 years old, the Goose Pen tree that has an opening and a hollow center, lush meadows, and enormous fallen giants.
Note that in the winter months the roads and highways that lead to this trailhead might be closed. If you plan to head out there in the winter, we recommend calling the local ranger station or checking comments on the AllTrails hiking app to find out if the roads are open.
Location: Co Rte 107, Porterville, CA 93257
We hope this list has helped you discover a new activity to try out, a restaurant to enjoy, and other fun places to visit near Bakersfield!
Looking for more things to do in the area? Check out our trail guide that covers 10 of the best hikes near Bakersfield next!