Not everybody was born and raised in Bakersfield, so what does a newbie to this area need to know? These 5 things about Bakersfield will get you off to a good start.
My wife and I just moved to town, and honestly we had no clue what to do when we finally got settled into our house. Bakersfield is a pretty big area, so we realized very quickly to make sure we had our GPS at-hand, and don't expect to see everything the city has to offer in just a day...or even a week!
1. Oil Fields
The oil industry is massive in Bakersfield, and really most of Kern County. You will see oil pumps all over the outskirts of the city, and even some random pumps within the city. Kern county produces 66% of the oil that comes out of California, and supplies 10% of the oil in the U.S. and about 1% of the oil in the world (according to sjvgeology.org ). There are tons of oil field workers within the Bakersfield population, so chances are that you'll get to know at least one person who works "in oil".
2. Los Angeles Driving Distance
At some point you'll want to head toward the Los Angeles direction. Depending on who you ask, it's only an hour and 15 minutes away or it's about a 3 hour trip. This all depends on what time of the year it is, all because of the route to get there called "The Grapevine". Unless you want to drive very far out of the way to avoid the mountain pass, you have to head up the Tehachapi Mountains at an elevation of 1,499 feet on interstate 5 to get there. Snowfalls are common in the winter and cause extreme backups or even closures until it's safe to pass. Traffic is heavy on this route often, so plan to leave extra early if you need to be somewhere near L.A. by a certain time. There's a ton of great places to visit near L.A. so definitely plan to take a drive that direction when you get a chance.
3. Air Quality
It doesn't take long to realize that there is something 'off' about the air in Bakersfield. There's usually a distant haze, similar to a fog or smoke, most times of the year. We've ranked in the top 3 worst air quality in the country for a while, which is concerning for the sake of our lung health. Bakersfield sits in a valley that tends to trap in air from not only our own pollution emissions, but also from outside areas; it tends to land here and doesn't easily go away. It's always recommended you check out the current air quality before exercising outdoors to see if the air is safe to do so. You can find that information from ValleyAir.org .
4. Entertainment Venues
Bakersfield has a few great venues to enjoy shows of all types throughout the year. Whenever I've asked people where to go for good shows, dancing, or music...the common answer is either Crystal Palace , Fox Theater , or Robobank Arena . These are some of the larger venues with some bigger acts that come through Bakersfield. There's a ton of bars to check out, if you are looking for something on a smaller scale, that offer DJ music of about any kind, live local and regional bands, karaoke for singing enthusiasts, and everything in between. I've checked this list out often when looking for a place to visit. If you are more of a museum type of person, there's a few of them here. Visit Bakersfield has a great list of museums in the area, with helpful descriptions of what you'll find at each of them!
5. Pismo Beach aka Bakersfield Beach
When the heat of a Bakersfield summer gets to you, it's inevitable that you'll end up cooling off at Pismo Beach on the Pacific coast. It's an hour and a half straight west of Bakersfield, and a weekend staple for a ton of Bakersfield residents. This is no joke either! If you visit Pismo Beach and look at the license plate covers, or dealer stickers, on cars; over 50% of them are from Bakersfield. Take a look at the Pismo newspaper police reports in the summer and you'll see many of the party-animal violations are from Bakersfield residents. It's likely you'll run into somebody you know from Bakersfield on any given weekend at Pismo, which is why it's also known as "Bakersfield Beach".
There's so much more to Bakersfield, but this list of 5 things will get you off to a great start and answer a lot of questions you have right away. We love it here so far and can't wait to discover so many other great things this city has to offer. If there's any other things you'd like to add to this list, let me know in the comments below!
(Photo Credit: City of Bakersfield, CA. via YouTube)