My mission, which I chose to accept, was to share with local teens what there is to do in Bakersfield. The event was the Bakersfield Youth Commission’s “Sing Out, Speak Out” that preceded the kick-off of the City’s Movies in the Park series at The Park at Riverwalk on June 6.
I was given five minutes.
I began with this fact about Bakersfield: Our city’s population is larger than the that of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, St. Louis Missouri or Honolulu, Hawaii. Every once in a while I hear people say, “there is nothing for teens to do in Bakersfield.” My response: How can there be nothing to do in a city that is larger than Pittsburgh, St. Louis, or Honolulu?
With that, I started my list of things for teens in Bakersfield. First of all there are Movies in the Park. Also, the first Friday of the month means First Friday downtown. The second Saturday of the month means Second Saturday downtown. While downtown there is Art Trek, a self-guided walking tour of downtown public art and art galleries.
With all of the snow in our nearby mountains recently, this will be a memorable year for river rafting. You do not have to go far to go rafting because Bakersfield has its very own rafting outfitter. River’s End Rafting and Adventure Company is less than 20 minutes from downtown at 15701 Highway 178.
Closer to home, the new entertainment area developing along Buck Owens Boulevard means there are lots of options to check out. One of those is The BLVD, where its youth summer camp features bowling, a ropes course, laser tag, karaoke and an arcade. There also is bowling at several other locations around Bakersfield every day. Nearby The BLVD is Flight Fit N Fun that offers an indoor trampoline park.
Summer movies are playing throughout Bakersfield and that means admission for only $1. You can find $1 summer movies at Edwards Cinema at The Marketplace, Maya Cinemas downtown and Studio Movie Grill on Calloway Drive throughout the summer.
The William M. Thomas Planetarium at Bakersfield College lets you view the stars in a 36 foot dome, the largest in the Central Valley.
Go ice skating at Valley Children’s Ice Center, the coolest place in the city, or get wet at Bakersfield Recreation and Parks Department’s pools and spray parks.
The Kern River Parkway Trail is a paved path that stretches for more than 30 miles across Bakersfield. Not many cities have a paved path of that length where you can walk, run, bike or skate.
If you like biking, Bike Bakersfield coordinates Full Moon Bike Rides. At Wind Wolves Preserve, you can try Movies in the Canyon and Night Hikes. Both of these events are very popular so you need to make reservations early. And don’t forget Camelot Park if you like miniature golf, go karts, bumper boats and arcades.
Our four museums have many exhibits throughout the year: Bakersfield Museum of Art, Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science, California Living Museum and Kern County Museum. Not only do these museums have fun things to see and do, they also have volunteer opportunities. To save money on admission, go to Visit Bakersfield.com/MuseumTrail.
In August, the Hydro-Turf Jet Jam Racing series returns to Lake Ming for its season finale.
And Bakersfield has lots of festivals. There is the Bluegrass Jam festival, the Chile Verde Cookoff, Plein Air Painting Festival, Garden Fest, Scottish Gathering and Games, Basque Festival, Bike Festival, Cherry Festival, Menudo Cook-off, Celtic Music Festival, and Greek Food Festival. We are a city of festivals.
I ended my comments by telling the teens about how to find out about local events. My first suggestion was the Events Calendar at Visit Bakersfield.com. My second suggestion was that wonderful invention that many may consider old-fashioned: a newspaper. Every Thursday, the Bakersfield Californian publishes an activity guide for the upcoming week, and on the first weekend of the month the Californian lists activities for the month ahead. In each of those places, there are detailed listings about fun things happening in and around Bakersfield. Also, check out Visit Bakersfield on social media: Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram. And visit us in person at our downtown visitor center at 515 Truxtun Avenue in front of the Amtrak station. We have free maps, personal assistance and coupons for local attractions.
David Lyman, PhD 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.