Real cowboys around Bakersfield don’t shop at the mall—instead, they tie up their horses next to the tall red boot outside Emporium Western Store and load up their saddlebags with rugged jeans and shiny silver belt buckles. In business for more than a century, the Emporium stocks oodles of western apparel plus more than 2,500 pairs of boots, so the staff knows their way around the pointed-toe versus square-toe issue. In the market for a cowboy hat? Choose one from the 2,000-plus inventory, then have the store manager steam it until the brim curls just the way you like it.
But maybe western duds aren’t your thing. If you’re in the market for something retro-glam—like a 1950s poodle skirt or a 1920s feather headband—go to Bakersfield’s Antique Row (19th Street between H and R Streets), where antique “malls” or multi-dealer shops house dozens of vendors and consignment stores. Three of the largest are the Mill Creek Antique Mall, Great American Antiques, and Central Park Antique Mall, housing more than 60,000 square feet of nostalgic flotsam. Or browse previously owned designer fashions and vintage costumes at In Your Wildest Dreams on 18th Street, right next to the Padre Hotel. Dig through a gold mine of estate-sale furniture, artwork, and home accents at Chester Avenue’s Timeless Furnishings & Antique Gallery.
For time-capsule-worthy shopping-plus-dining, head to the Five & Dime Antique Mall, in the old Woolworth building on 19th Street. Shop the three floors of antiques, then nosh on a grilled cheese sandwich at the 1950s throwback Woolworth’s counter. The iconic Woolworth’s department store closed in 1994, but new owners snapped up the Art Deco building and gave it new life. Waiters decked out in black bow ties scribble down orders for chili cheese fries, amidst black-and-white checkerboard tile flooring, steel barstools with red vinyl seats, and Streamline Moderne stairways.
No trip to Bakersfield is complete without a visit to Dewar’s Candy Shop—the original on Eye Street (look for the pink neon ice-cream cone). This throwback ice-cream parlor can rightfully brag that its frozen confection was served at Disneyland Resort—and it’s made with the same small-batch recipe the owners used nearly a century ago. Sadly, ice cream doesn’t travel well, so spoon down a sundae on location and then stock your suitcase with a bright red box of Dewar’s peanut-butter-filled taffy chews. These soft, pillowy treats make a perfect gift—if they make it home.