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Bakersfield highway99_stop1_bakersfield_buckowens_tf7n8a1694_0
Tom Fowlks

Bakersfield

Bakersfield

Bakersfield is full of surprises. Once known for oil and agriculture, this Central Valley town is morphing into an arts, culture, and sports hub, while still offering a glimpse of the past. Visit Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, 45 miles/72 kilometers north. This early 1900s settlement—an attempt by a group of African Americans to create a utopian society far from negative influences from the outside world—offers a remarkable look at an unusual event in California history.

Bakersfield’s newer attractions include the gallery-filled Arts District, where the 1930 Fox Theater showcases everything from pop music to ballet. Don’t miss Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, home to the region’s signature Bakersfield Sound, a twangy type of Country music. The country’s largest concentration of Basque restaurants, including the Noriega Hotel, is a reminder of the region’s rich Basque history (immigrants from the Spanish and French Pyrenees settled sheep ranches here in the late 1800s). In spring, wildflowers blanket the nearby Tehachapi Range.