Bakersfield is a Lovely Weekend Getaway

If you want to leave Los Angeles for the weekend and want to go somewhere that your peers have not yet started visiting may I suggest Bakersfield.

You should drive over the Grapevine hungry and eat a hearty Basque lunch at Benjis French Basque Restaurant. Order the set lunch for $10 which comes with french fries, soup, beans, salsa, salad, and bread. Or for $14 get all that plus a lamb roast in a delicious au jus. Maureen ordered chicken in a sauce topped with bleu cheese. It was like $35 for two people.

Then when you’re too full eat more at Dewar’s Candy Shop. It’s an old-time soda fountain that’s been there since 1909. Take a number and order all sorts of shakes and banana splits. I ordered mint chocolate chip ice cream, which was pink. They also have tasty caramels. I still have a few leftover that I’ll offer you if they happen to be in my pocket.

Then check-in to the glorious Padre Hotel. It’s a building built for oil barons in 1928, that was reopened as a boutique hotel in 2010. There are several bars and restaurants on the property. We slept in a room on the fifth floor with a see-through shower and the world’s most comfortable bed. There is a fun roof-top bar where you can run into the local celebrities that you just read about in your complimentary copy of Bakersfield Life Magazine. The bar-tab for several fancy drinks can cost less than one drink at a bougie bar in Los Angeles. We heard that the 7th floor was haunted, which is good to know if they ask you what floor you want to be on and you are concerned about ghosts. We payed $150 for Friday night after taxes, but I’ve seen rooms as low as $99.

You should Uber to dinner for like $4.50. Go to Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, which is like the Planet Hollywood for the The Bakersfield Soundwhich was a local country scene in the 1960s that grew to national acclaim with artists like Merle Haggard & Buck Owens. It’s also a prime destination to eat Chicken fried steak while practicing country linedancing. There’s music most nights and they charge an extra $5 for performances. The food is rich and fairly pricy ($25 entrees) but it’s a fun experience and I think its worth it. Afterwards you can Uber back downtown and get a drink at the neon dive bar Guthrie’s Alley Cat. Or head back to the hotel for more festivities.

We asked for a late check-out (12:30!) and watched the Olympics while eating gourmet breakfast burritos in bed. They didn’t charge extra for room-service! If you wanted to stay longer there are more attractions in town that my mom recommended. There’s the downtown antique stores like Woolworths Antique Mall, and Kern Pioneer Village which is a 16-acre park that includes 50 historic homes. My dad said it was really cool. I also noticed that there’s a minor league baseball team called Bakersfield Blaze and they have games starting this Friday, that could be fun. Someone also said that there’s supposed to be a good Indian restaurant.

Anyway hope this is helpful the next time you want a quick getaway but are sick of going to Palm Springs or Las Vegas. I’ve only been to Bakersfield twice, and I used an earlier Facebook post to learn about other places to visit. If you have other suggestions please let me know, I’m totally down to go back to Bakersfield on vacation.

Josh Heller

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