It was gold, black gold, that brought settlers in droves to the dry, dusty spot where Bakersfield now sprawls. In addition to its oily roots, Bakersfield boasts a heritage parts honky-tonk and agriculture, the last major stop the north side of the Grapevine, a stretch of highway that climbs up and over the Tehachapi Mountains into Southern California proper. Venture away from the chain stores and fast food restaurants lining Interstate 5, and you'll find a surprisingly old-fashioned community. Just two hours away from glitzy Los Angeles, Bakersfield is a town of stock car races and downtown murals, honky-tonk bars and working farmers.
The rolling farms and countless oil deckers surrounding Bakersfield indicate its two biggest industries, but another is less visually obvious: a brand of country music that has become known as "the Bakersfield sound." Live bands perform at local bars nightly, and big names in the twangy sub-genre frequently come to play. The tradition began when Midwesterners arrived in the area during the Great Depression. Other outsiders have brought their traditions here as well: a number of Italian and Basque restaurants offer down-home cuisine.
There is also a growing segment of Bakersfield's population that moved here to enjoy the surroundings. An hour away is the southern flank of the Sierra Nevadas, California's most famous mountain range, and fishing and rafting on the nearby Kern River is also a popular pastime.
Bakersfield is located in southern California, about 100 miles north of the Los Angeles area.