Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Year of the Staycation!

I was VERY excited when I saw that Toni at The Happy Housewife was co-hosting a multi-blogger event called The Year of the Staycation. I was even MORE excited when I saw that the hosts were looking for bloggers from all across the country, so I put my name in, and received an email a few weeks later confirming that I would be blogging about local staycation adventures in the Bakersfield, CA area.

One of the reasons I was so excited to do this post was because I grew up here, but seem to have forgotten all the wonderful (and CHEAP) things there are to do around here, and now that I have a baby of my own to raise (and hopefully homeschool) here, it was time for a crash course in what Bakersfield has to offer!

First on my list is the California Living Museum, or CALM. This small zoo specializes in housing animals that are native to the central valley and mountains of southern and central California. One very unique feature about CALM is that all of the animals are unable to live outside of the zoo - not because they've been raised in the zoo, but because of traumatic injuries that would make life outside of the zoo far too dangerous. CALM is also home to many endangered species. Operated by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, CALM is located at 10500 Alfred Harrell Highway, Bakersfield, CA 93306. There is a golf course, campground, lake, and soccer complex nearby. Admission is $9.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors over the age of 60, $5.00 for children ages 3-12, and kids under the age of 3 are free.

Up close and personal with a black bear at CALM

Next up is the Kern County Museum. The museum offers a fun glimpse at Kern County and Bakersfield's history, from Black Gold (oil) to The Bakersfield Sound (a very distinct genre of country music, think Buck Owens and Merle Haggard). Kids can learn how Kern County's pioneers survived and thrived in our arid, hot climate. The Kern County Museum is also home to the Lori Brock Children's Discovery Center. Also run by the Superintendent of Schools, the museum is located at 3801 Chester Avenue, Bakersfield, CA 93301. Admission is free for museum members, adults are $10.00, seniors are $9.00, students are $7.00-9.00 depending on age, and children under the age of 3 are free.

Bakersfield is also home to many wonderful parks. With the hot weather quickly approaching, the splash parks that have been replacing public pools are beginning to open up during the weekends. Our favorite park is The Park at Riverwalk. This park offers direct access to the city-spanning bike path and walking trail, along with lots of space for kids to run and play, and a small creek that is available to play in. Other popular parks are the central Beach Park, which is nestled next to the Kern River, and is a very popular destination for families; there is a skate park at Beach Park, so even older kids will enjoy themselves; Beale Park offers a large amphitheater, perfect for impromptu plays put on by kids with great imaginations!

Kern County boasts many lakes, and some great smaller towns. Shafter is home to the BugSeum, which is exactly what it sounds like: a museum full of bugs. Visit Tehachapi any time of the year for cooler temperatures than Bakersfield; make sure you stop and see the famous Tehachapi Loop, and pick some fresh apples in the fall.

Enjoy your Kern County staycation! Even if you loved these places as a kid, they're still fun, and so much has been added!

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