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.
The rapids rock beneath the raft, pummeling the vessel like a boxer delivering uppercuts to a heavy bag. After successfully navigating the foamy surges, the paddlers hit an abrupt drop that tosses one adventurer out of the rear of the raft. He resurfaces, bobs in the water, and then presents a thumbs up, inciting cheers and laughter from his fellow rafters.
The guides at River's End Rafting & Adventure Company pride themselves on delivering fun and safe adrenaline-pumping adventures like these. Based about 15 minutes from downtown Bakersfield, the crew transports rafters to the mouth of Kern Canyon, then guides paddlers through Class II¬–III rapids before the river yawns into Lake Ming. In addition to whitewater rafting, the team at River's End also coordinates outings including kayaking, rock climbing, and paragliding over Ant Hill, a 100-foot-high skyscraper of luxury ant condos.
Metro BMX's off-road dirt track is composed of curves, hills, jumps, and landings. Just as importantly, it's full of biking and motorcross enthusiasts of all levels ready to race, ride, teach, and learn. Count Kris Mulhause among them; Kris, a 27-year veteran, 10-time state BMX champion, and 2007 National Cruiser champion, operates the track and holds lessons for riders of all levels. On top of his racing experience, Kris holds a bachelor's in kinesiology and teaching credentials in physical education. At Metro BMX he opens the track to students, teaching them starting-gate balancing, turn techniques, and why it's not cool to make engine sounds with your mouth when you're on a bike. Metro BMX is a family-friendly track that invites adults and kids alike to spend time riding, watching, or even hosting a birthday party.?
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 annual Kern County Fair brings families together to marvel at a host of educational attractions, livestock exhibits, and seven stages of live music spread across 168 scenic acres. Visitors study the fair's schedule to make sure they don't miss the mind puzzling tricks performed by quick-handed magicians or the untamed heroics of a pro BMX stunt team. Shout out words of encouragement to Alaskan pigs as they race around a track and exchange gobble-gobbles with a flock of turkeys to defuse Thanksgiving-related tension.