Giving the gift of membership or season passes is a great idea for two reasons: The recipient gets to redeem that generous offering many times over, and the giver is supporting the museums, sports teams and other entertainment organizations that improve the quality of life in Kern County.
Sounds good to us.
Kern County Museum
Memberships range from $65 to $250 and include discount or advance tickets to museum events as well as free admission to ASTC Science-Technology Museums and Time Travelers Member Museums throughout the state.
Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. 3801 Chester Ave., 868-8400, kcmuseum.org.
West Kern Oil Museum
Spread out over eight acres in Taft, the West Kern Oil Museum is run entirely by volunteers, is dedicated to preserving and exhibiting artifacts, books and equipment that tell the story of oil in California, particularly in west Kern County. That history includes a Yokuts artifact display and full sabertooth cat skeleton. Annual memberships are $12.50, individual; $15, family; $250 per couple for a lifetime membership.
Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. 1168 Wood St., Taft, 765-6664; westkernoilmuseum.org.
Bakersfield Museum of Art
The museum, an architectural piece of art itself, features four galleries showcasing national, international and local work at exhibits throughout the year. The museum also rents out its gardens for events and hosts classes and lectures. Memberships start at $20 (for seniors and full-time students), with $35 for individuals and a $100 supporter level, which covers two adults, any children under 17 and two guest passes. All members enjoy unlimited admission, invitation to openings, a subscription to the newsletter and a discount on gift items, classes and lectures.
Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 1930 R St., 323-7219; bmoa.org.
Buena Vista Museum of Natural History
It doesn't take much for kids to unearth fun at this science museum that aims to preserve and display examples of local natural history. The facility offers educational activities and geology field trips. It's also home to the Oh! Zone: A Science and Discovery Center that encourages children to learn via hands-on interaction. Memberships range from $15 to $75 for families (up to six members). Members enjoy unlimited admission, discounts on gift items and special events as well as free admission to CALM, Exotic Feline Breeding Compound Feline Conservation Center and Maturango Museum (during regular hours).
Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. 2018 Chester Ave., 324-6350; sharktoothhill.org.
California Living Museum (CALM)
The only local zoo is home to a variety of native California plants, fossils, artifacts and animals, including the new desert bighorn sheep exhibit that opened last month. Along with the animals, the museum offers a well-stocked gift shop. Memberships range from $30 for individuals to $50 for families (up to two adults plus children). A holiday special offered through January allows purchase of one family membership at regular price and a second family membership for $25.
Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, (gift shop open 5:30 to 9 p.m. during Holiday Lights). 10500 Alfred Harrell Highway, 872-2256; calmzoo.org.
Insect Lore's Bugseum
In 2009, Insect Lore, the "bugs by mail" company, opened a 2,500-square-foot Bugseum, a gift shop with educational exhibits featuring live butterflies, toads, ladybugs, scorpions and tarantulas. Along with hands-on interactive bug-discoveries at the free admission facility, children can bring the adventure home with any number of great gifts. From larvae and insect habitats to toys, DVDs and books, you're sure to come away with something surprising to put under the tree.
Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. 132 S. Beech St. in Shafter, 746-6047; insectlore.com.
Spring isn't that far away for those with baseball fever. Available now, tickets can be bought in a Thursday, Friday or Saturday package (eight games, $58-$72 for all Thursdays but July 4; 11 games, $79 to $99 for Fridays or Saturdays) or weekend ($200 to $250) or full season ($350 to $450) packages, which vary by seating. Get kids in on the action with the Sunday Kid's Club. For $5, kids 12 and under gain admission to every Sunday game. The team also offers a stocking stuffer for $20, which includes a Blaze adult T-shirt, used game baseball, four-pack of tickets to a 2013 Sunday game, limited-edition bobble head and a Kid's Club membership (includes T-shirt). Games at Sam Lynn Ballpark, 4009 Chester Ave., 716-4487.
Although the season ends in March, you can get in on the hockey action with the Flex Plan ($100 to $175, varies by seating level), which includes 12 vouchers; a Holiday Four-Pack ($44 to $84) for four games of your choice; or a Half-Plan ($194 to $445), which includes 18 games of your choice. Store at 1022 Truxtun Ave., 324-6388; bakersfieldcondors.com.
Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra
For more than 80 seasons, the symphony has hosted a variety of professional and well-known guest musicians. A membership will cover the season's four remaining concerts -- Feb. 9, March 9, April 13 and May 11 -- for $117 to $173. Planning ahead, season tickets are available for the series starting next October for $175 to $260. 323-7928 or bakersfieldsymphony.org.
Bakersfield Community Concert Association
Five concerts remain (Jan. 14, Feb. 11, March 10, April 14, May 5) in the association's season, available for $50. A smaller package allows you to attend the April 14 and May 5 shows for $40. And if it's all or nothing, hold off until mid-April when next season's pass will be on sale for $80 for nine concerts, starting with the May 5 show. 589-2478 or 205-8522, bakersfieldcca.org.