Travel Guide to California


At the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, you’ll find country music roots, Basque culture, and the freshest farm produce

by lenore greiner

Only four hours from 90 percent of California’s population, Bakersfield is easy to visit, just east of Interstate 5 and at the crossroads of Highways 99 and 58.

The Bakersfield Sound

A twangy mix of guitars, drums, fiddle and steel guitar, the Bakersfield Sound took Nashville by storm in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Pioneered by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, this country music’s roots came from the Okies’ migration to California in the 30s and 40s as the children of those itinerant dirt farmers influenced this genre. For a deep dive, visit Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, a restaurant, museum and music venue where today’s biggest country stars make a stop during tours.

Basque Culture

Home to the largest Basque population outside the Pyrenees, local Basques directly descend from Basque Country immigrants who arrived during California’s Gold Rush and then settled on Central Valley ranches for shepherding.

With the largest collection of Basque restaurants in the U.S., do not miss a Basque meal experience—a multi-course feast served family-style at long trestle tables. You’ll start with the ‘set-up’: generous portions of bread, soup, beans, salsa, pickled tongue, vegetables, French fries and spaghetti, followed by hearty entrées of lamb, chicken or seafood. This spread is downed with Picon punch, a potent blend of brandy, maraschino syrup and liqueur.

Three Trails

On the Bakersfield Museum Trail, visit the Bakersfield Museum of Art, Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science, California Living Museum and Kern County Museum. Explore a turn-of-the-20th-century 16-acre village, the world’s largest collection of Sharktooth Hill Miocene fossils and scores of endangered animals and plants.

Along the Bakersfield Kern County Brewery Trail, sample a curated collection of several breweries and local brews on tap. For vinifera flavors, explore the new Bakersfield Kern County Wine Trail and get ready to visit tasting rooms and wine bars from award-winning wineries. Get your mobile passport at VisitBakersfield.com.

In the world’s largest agricultural-producing region, you can hand-pick incredibly fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets or at Murray Family Farms.

Come for the culture, stay for the fun! Bakersfield, where you’ll find Basque, brews and buckaroos!


Visit Bakersfield VisitBakersfield.com



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