Bakersfield: California’s Hidden Gem

Author: Alecia Pirulis

Sequoia National Forest

The other-worldly peaks and valleys of 100-million-year-old granite mountains form the inspiring backdrop of Bakersfield, California. The Sierra Nevada Mountains span 400 miles from north to south and 70 miles east to west. It is home to three national parks, two national monuments, and dozens of wilderness areas. Glacier-carved canyons provide impressive scenery for residents living in Bakersfield, but it doesn’t stop there. Picture afternoon hikes through the forest … but not just any forest. The trees surrounding you are the tallest trees on earth, soaring more than 250 feet into the sky and at least 20 feet in diameter. Sequoia National Forest is Bakersfield’s backyard, providing a breathtaking oasis for outdoor adventures.

Living in Bakersfield means weekends enjoying panoramic views from dramatic mountain peaks, camping in some of the most beautiful wilderness in the US, hiking, horseback riding, mountain climbing, fishing, OHV riding, skiing, swimming, whitewater rafting, and just about every other outdoor sport imaginable. But it also means living in one of the largest cities in California – a city with a diverse economy that includes agriculture, oil and natural gas production, aerospace, manufacturing, mining, and more.

Country music fans will appreciate the music scene in Bakersfield – this is the birthplace of the Bakersfield Sound, a mixture of steel guitar, fiddles, guitar, and drums. The sound was made popular by Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace includes the Crystal Palace Museum, which includes photos, guitars, and other memorabilia. Festivals and events also celebrate the city’s music history.

Bakersfield is an exciting city. It is located halfway between Fresno and Los Angeles and is the ninth largest city in the state – as well as the fastest-growing one. New residents flock to Bakersfield because of its location, the scenic beauty, the opportunity, and for the great weather and quality of life. Bakersfield offers several annual festivals, including the Kern County Nut Festival. In addition to celebrating the health benefits and culinary concoctions of Kern County’s nut industry – almonds, pecans, walnuts, and pistachios – the festival includes live music, arts and crafts, exhibits, and games.

The Kern County Museum includes a Pioneer Village that explores the area’s Gold Rush past. Structures include an adobe house, a bandstand, a barn, a blacksmith shop, a cook wagon, a drug store, the Beale Memorial Clock Tower, and several other historical structures. Bakersfield also contains the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History, which contains Miocene fossils, a replica of an Indian village, and a Paleo lab that cleans, repairs, and reconstructs fossils.

The Fox Theater is a historic art-deco building that opened in 1930. It serves as the heart of Bakersfield’s performing arts scene, hosting everything from rock bands to ballets.  The impressive list of celebrities who’ve performed at the Fox Theater include Ray Charles, George Jones, Jami Foxx, the Moody Blues, Cyndi Lauper, Johnny Cash, Faith Hill, the Black Crowes, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Boz Scaggs, the Monkees, Willie Nelson, John Fogerty, Vince Vaughn, Harry Belafonte, Chicago, George Carlin, and many others.

Bakersfield is also a college town, home to California State University-Bakersfield and Bakersfield College. And whether you want to cheer on the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners, catch a show at the gorgeous Fox Theater, hike among the redwoods, visit a museum, enjoy amazing cuisine that includes many historic Basque restaurants, or attend one of Bakersfield’s many events and festivals, there’s no doubt – an apartment in Bakersfield opens up myriad possibilities. Are you ready to discover California’s hidden gem? Find your place in Bakersfield!