By David Lyman

Travel to and from Bakersfield’s Amtrak station just got easier.

Train passengers using rideshare companies like Uber or Lyft now have a convenient and free location designated exclusively for drop-off and pickup. Look for the sign on the north side of the Amtrak station, east of S Street. You will be just steps away from the station’s north or west lobby doors.

Construction is underway for a new Home2Suites by Hilton hotel on Brimhall Road just west of Coffee Road. This five-story property will add 113 rooms to Bakersfield’s hotel inventory and be the first Home2Suites in Bakersfield. About 1 ½ miles north of that location are plans for a five-story Residence Inn by Marriott, offering 123 rooms at 8312 Espresso Drive.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower Conventions have returned to Bakersfield for another round of summer sessions. Bakersfield will again host six weekend conventions between May and August at Rabobank Arena, each attracting about 6,000 delegates.

The National Onion Association held its first Bakersfield convention in many years in mid-July at the Bakersfield Marriott at the Convention Center. About 130 people attended.

USA BMX returned to Bakersfield after an absence of several years and held two events at Metro BMX, 3805 Chester Ave. The Golden State Championships in May attracted more than 1,500 participants.

It has been more than 30 years and the Western Street Rod Nationals keep returning to Bakersfield. This past April was no exception as 1,680 entrants from across the country gathered at Kern County Fairgrounds. The long-distance winner was from Pequea, Pennsylvania.

Guests staying at downtown Bakersfield’s Padre Hotel can now rent bicycles. With the 30-mile Kern River Parkway Trail, Bakersfield is a natural place to explore on a bike. The paved trail takes cyclists through riparian habitat where you might see rabbits, roadrunners and other wildlife, all protected from development.

Summer in Bakersfield may mean school vacations, river rafting and lazy afternoons. But if you are in the travel and tourism business, it means lots of foreign visitors.

California continues to attract international visitors and many pass through Bakersfield. A look at a map will tell you why. Foreign visitors often stop at the state’s national parks, such as Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Yosemite and Death Valley.

They also visit “must see” spots like San Francisco and Las Vegas. When you connect those dots on a highway map, Bakersfield is in the middle, which explains why we see so many foreign visitors, especially in the summer months.

China is California’s top inbound travel market and Visit Bakersfield recently had some Bakersfield promotional materials translated into Chinese. This was part of a cooperative effort with the Central Valley Tourism Association, further increasing our region’s reach to potential visitors.

Bakersfield’s Temblor Brewing Company (3200 Buck Owens Blvd.) was featured in a June article in CraftBeer.com. Temblor was one of several breweries mentioned in the piece that focused on the Central Valley’s craft beer scene: “For Don Bynum, CEO of Temblor Brewing Company, Bakersfield was the right place to share his love for beer. After a trip to Belgium and Germany that left him questioning everything he previously knew about beer, he came home and immediately started homebrewing. That passion has turned into an inviting space in Bakersfield with indoor and outdoor seating, a full-service restaurant and a lineup of craft beers that are ultimately inspired by his travels.”

In its May article “The Best Tacos in Every State,” Thrillist.com hailed Bakersfield’s Nuestro Mexico (716 21st St.) as having California’s best tacos. “This bright, colorful, family run spot packs about three street tacos’ worth of steak into a single carne asada taco, but it’s not just the quantity of meat that makes it so great. It’s marinated in a blend of Mexican spices that pairs perfectly with the fresh grilled flavor. You will never leave Nuestro hungry, and should you happen to find yourself in the Country Music Capital of the West Coast, you’ll be blown away by how well they do tacos.”

“Our California TV” aired an eight-minute segment spotlighting Bakersfield’s Rosemary’s Family Creamery (2733 F St.), declaring it “a perfect stop for the hot days of California. We discovered this local gem in the middle of Bakersfield after many suggestions from our fans. And boy are we glad we made time to visit. This third-generation, family owned business makes all their own ice cream, hot fudge, brownies, whipped cream, caramel sauce ... and the list goes on. We are not kidding when we say you will leave your taste buds satisfied.”

Speaking of where to eat, Visit Bakersfield’s latest publication, “Downtown Restaurant Guide,” lists more than 65 downtown eateries. The guide is available free at Visit Bakersfield, 515 Truxtun Ave., or can be downloaded from VisitBakersfield.com.

David Lyman, Ph.D., is manager of Visit Bakersfield. He and other members of Team More to Explore help visitors from throughout the world spend their money in California’s ninth-largest city. They are available toll-free 866-425-7353 or at Info@VisitBakersfield.com.

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