In 1868, a massive flood rolled down the Sierra Nevada Mountains, carrying tree after uprooted tree in its wake. Once the waters receded, those trees and the very confused squirrels hiding in them covered the Kern River valley. That's right where Thomas Barnes found them. So he cut them into logs and built a cabin from the ground up, then moved in with his wife and seven children. Today, that same cabin stands as one of the buildings within Kern County Museum's Pioneer Village.
The structures here are relics of several different times and places. Some came from old farms in the area, while others once stood on the main streets of towns?such as the Beale Memorial Clock Tower from old Bakersfield. While their original purposes have long since passed, the buildings still spring to life each time a visitor passes through. It's easy to imagine a blacksmith at work at the Calloway Ranch in the late 1800s, or the faithful tellers who saw The Kern Valley Bank through the Great Depression.
A different view of Kern County's history takes center stage inside the museum's other permanent attraction, Black Gold: The Oil Experience. Here, 9,640 square feet of exhibit space reveal how oil forms deep within the earth, as well as methods for its discovery and production. Other displays profile the workers and historical events that ultimately led to Kern County claiming 64% of California?s oil production.
Roars, growls, and clanking metal clamors from behind the castle walls. This is Camelot Park, where families can roar around curvy courses in growling go-karts and smack baseballs with aluminum bats at the batting cages. After chasing checkered flags and practicing their swings for the zombie apocalypse, guests take it down a notch to putt around waterfalls, a pink castle, and a painted pagoda on the 18-hole mini-golf course. Afterward, guests can play arcade and redemption games inside or fire streams of water at each other from aboard bumper boats. Party packages combine these attractions but throw in pizza, balloons, and a personal party host.
For more than 50 years, wheels have rolled across the hardwood rink at the original Rollerama on 34th Street. People who learned how to skate there as children—or shared a first kiss at the rink's edge—can now bring their own children to make new memories. The sport itself seems as popular as ever, given the crowds that routinely show up to glide around on rented skates and leisurely practice their triple axels. Both of Rollerama's current locations offer plenty of open skate times, along with classic food options such as pizza and hot dogs.
The Bakersfield Museum of Art caters to avid aesthetes and casual connoisseurs alike with a prismatic pastiche of regional art and traveling exhibits. Explore western U.S. landscapes through Maynard Dixon's painted works in the Space, Silence, Spirit exhibit, or incite daydreams of horizontal showers and closet waterfalls in Uniquely Ours, an installation boasting the architectural modernism of local homes. In addition to free entry to the museum, members receive access to lectures from celebrated artists, invitations to events, museum discounts, and more.
My Gym was developed nearly 30 years ago as a structured place for children to safely play, hone new skills, and socially romp off a sugar buzz. The Bakersfield location boasts classes for all developmental degrees from Tiny Tykes to Cardio Kids. Classes are organized according to age level and start as young as three months. View a complete schedule of classes here.
Within the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History's thick, siege-proof walls and beneath its huge, atmosphere-shunning roof are 16,000 square feet of exhibits spanning the subjects of anatomy, astronomy, archaeology, anthropology, biology, geology, and paleontology. Use your two tickets ($7 each) to bring along a fellow fossil fanatic as you explore an array of long-extinct creatures such as the mixosaurus, the dugong, and the VCR repairman. Elsewhere, tap into the geologic history of California, sifting through eons of erosion and millennia of movement. The museum's nooks of knowledge hold exhibits for everyone, with a veritable treasure trove of gems, minerals, and petrified wood wowing the young, the old, and the Highlander alike.