How Safe Is Bakersfield for Travel?

Bakersfield, United States
Safety Index:
66

On the southern edge of California’s Central Valley is Bakersfield, a prime location for tourists to explore everything the Golden State has to offer.

Los Angeles is two hours away, and some of the nation’s best national parks begin two hours the other way.

Bakersfield is in an agricultural core of Cali but still has modern amenities to explore with plenty of cultural opportunities.

From Hispanic heritage to the top-tapping beat of the Bakersfield version of country music, there’s a little something for everyone – including a Selfie Trail, so you don’t miss a chance to star on your social media accounts.

The city has a growing crime problem, with even Governor Gavin Newsome calling the surrounding Kern County the “murder capital of California.”

We’ll talk about the family-friendly ways to safely enjoy the city.

It starts with a free Family Fun Pass.

You’ll get a list of tourist attractions that are safe for everyone and discounts along the way.

You can plan a trip here with a mix of museums, outdoor adventures, and animal interactions while still having time for shopping and dining in the exclusive Bakersfield flair.

Warnings & Dangers in Bakersfield

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

There's a medium risk in Bakersfield with high crime rates in just about every category and a true lack of law enforcement to wrangle the challenges, despite many efforts. It's certainly not the most dangerous city in the country, but tourists should just be aware of the risks while enjoying the rewards of Bakersfield.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

Golden Empire Transit (GET BUS) is the public transportation system here. Downtown the Transit app to pay for rides and explore schedules and routes. You can easily get taxis or rideshares. Having your own car will allow for more exploration of the outdoor and agricultural areas. There's low risk with any option, but avoid the bus system at night if you can, just with the utmost caution in a city with high crime rates.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

There's a medium risk of getting pickpocketed or having your purse snatched. Nearly 100 of these types of theft happened in 2020, with an average value of more than $1000. Don't carry valuable items or a large amount of cash with you. Keep one credit card for purchases and keep your wallet as hidden as possible.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Wildfires, flash flooding, and earthquakes are the biggest concerns in Bakersfield. Even wildfires far away from Bakersfield can greatly impact the air quality. Severe thunderstorms are possible, but not with the tornado risk you find in the Midwest. Extreme heat is also a concern. Because of all the year-round threats, there's a medium risk here.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM

There's a medium risk here, too, with a robbery rate nearly twice the national average. That's down 25% from 2018 but still higher risk. One-third of the robberies happened in public places with an average take of nearly $2000. We can't stress this enough - Please don't carry valuables or large amounts of cash with you when visiting this city. Gangs are very aggressive about taking items from anyone if they sense value in the items.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : LOW

There's a low risk in Bakersfield, with nearby Los Angeles (2 hours south) being a larger potential target. Edwards Air Force Base is also 90 minutes from Bakersfield. While it's near harder targets, it's not a direct target.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : LOW

Kern County's website lists several common scams found in the Central Valley. One big one to watch out for is a person who says they won the lottery, but they aren't in the country legally, so they want you to give them cash in exchange for the winning ticket. Don't fall for this or any "windfall" that comes with intense pressure. You should also avoid any situation where a person encourages you to buy gift cards in exchange for a service or prize.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM

Due to the high crime rates across the board, there's a medium risk for women. You should avoid being out at night, especially by yourself. Always drive with windows up and doors locked. When you park, don't even crack the windows on the car, even when it's scorching hot. Using common sense and gut instinct, you should greatly lower your risk when visiting Bakersfield. If you're going out hiking alone, please let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : LOW

Bakersfield's water utility goes into great detail to explain the safety of the water, saying, in part, "In this system in 2021, we conducted 41,830 tests on 6,656 water samples for 201 constituents. We are pleased to confirm that we met every primary and secondary federal and state water quality standard last year."

Safest Places to Visit in Bakersfield

Bakersfield has a wide variety of opportunities for tourists, and we’re going to break them down into different categories.

You can mix them up to make your perfect vacation recipe.

Musical Tourism Spots

Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace welds a museum, restaurant, and music venue into one location, giving you different options throughout your visit.

Live music and dancing are offered five nights a week and don’t be surprised if a big-name artist stops by for a set.

The Kern County Museum is where you can find Merle Haggard’s boxcar home and exhibits showing the rise of the “Bakersfield Sound” in the 50s and 60s.

When you’re there you can experience life as a pioneer in Kern County and what it was like for those seeking “Black Gold” (oil) in the hills of the Central Valley.

Check out the musical lineup at the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame during your visit for a unique experience in a historic theatre.

Arts, Entertainment, and Nature

Downtown Bakersfield is filled with brilliant murals to complement a stroll through the antique stores of the district.

You can even visit an old-school Woolworths store.

The Bakersfield Museum of Art is downtown as well.

VisitBakersfield.com lists all the entertainment venues, including the symphony, for you to choose the right musical styling for your travel crew.

The Buena Vista Museum of Natural History is full of nature’s art, with fossils found in the nearby foothills and plenty of gems and minerals to view.

For animals that are still walking around, you won’t want to miss the California Living Museum.

More than 250 animals are here as part of a sanctuary and couldn’t survive in the wild for various reasons.

All of the animals, plants, and flowers are native to California here.

There are several interactive exhibits, whether you’d like to hold a snack or feed a goat.

Agritourism & Outdoor Adventures

You simply have to try some of the amazing fruits of labor in the Central Valley.

Several farms offer tours, samples, and open markets for purchases.

Options include:

  • Murray Family Farms
  • Johnston Farms
  • California Fruit Depot
  • Haggin Oaks Farmer’s Market

To cool off after a lot of time in the sun, try a river rafting tour with rapids from gentle to adrenaline-pumping.

There are several options for river rafting companies in Bakersfield.

Places to Avoid in Bakersfield

You should avoid zip code 93307, which is east of the Golden State Highway and south of Highway 58.

This is the area with the highest number of homicides in a city that keeps breaking its own homicide record.

Luckily, that region holds very few tourist attractions.

If you visit from June through September, be prepared for hot days and nights.

The average temperature will be in the 90s, and it will rarely get below the 70s.

It’s a dry heat, but that means you will be less likely to sweat and more likely to become dehydrated.

Avoid hiking in the heat of the day.

Go as soon as the sun comes up and try to be back by 11:00 am.

Avoid Bakersfield if there is a wildfire burning nearby.

Fires can lead to mass evacuations and insane traffic.

The air quality impact alone can force some people inside.

Unpredictable winds can cause a fire to shift direction.

Especially if you are coming from a place that isn’t prone to wildfires, they can be quite scary.

I am actually a storm chaser, and wildfires are one weather event that actually scares me.

I’ve just seen how devastating and unpredictable they can be.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Bakersfield

  1. To keep track of wildfires in California, bookmark the website InciWeb. This gives details of all wildfires burning with updates from the fire lines. You’ll get air quality information and how the weather is expected to impact the fire lines.
  2. Bakersfield has a gang problem, and more than 1,000 shootings and 180 murders have been connected to the gangs of the Central Valley. While generally, crimes are gang-on-gang, it’s not unheard of for bystanders to be collateral damage from a gang fight. Avoid any situation where you suspect gang activity is happening and stay on the main streets or highways when driving around. Don’t go into neighborhoods.
  3. Download Bakersfield Mobile, a local app for connecting with the city. You can report graffiti, potholes, or other problems, plus send questions or requests directly to select city departments. You’ll also get the latest city news releases.
  4. You can fill out an online crime report if you are the victim of a non-violent crime, like a stolen car. This is more for crimes that insurance will need a report about and not crimes that should have an officer respond. If there is any physical altercation or weapon involved, call 911 and don’t just rely on the online report.
  5. There’s a form on the Bakersfield Police Department website where you can submit crime tips to the police department without giving your name or contact information. Every little bit of information helps police go after the criminals that make this community unsafe.
  6. Ready Kern is the county emergency notification system. Every tourist should sign up for alerts. This will cover weather, highway, criminal, and civil emergencies. You can choose if you want text messages or voice notifications. You do not need to have a local area code to enroll in this free program.
  7. There are 10 photo-enforced interactions in Bakersfield. You can see the full list on the Traffic section of the police department’s website. These cameras monitor for speeders, red light runners, or school bus passing violations. Your car will be photographed and processed by the police. Violations could be issued based on a review of the incident.
  8. Downtown Bakersfield allows street and garage parking. The first two hours are free in the garage, and all payment kiosks are fully automated. You can also park on the street for free, but look for the time limit signs. You can get a ticket if you park beyond the time restriction.
  9. Bakersfield is a bicycle-friendly town with trails that go from bike lanes on major roads to the serenity of the Central California wilderness. You can use the Strava app, Map My Ride, or connect to your Garmin device to see the full scope of bike lanes in the area. You do have to obey all the laws of the road as if you were driving a car, so don’t slide through stop signs or run red lights.
  10. Follow @BakersfieldPolice on Facebook to get updates on crime and safety in the area. This will also help dispel fake information circulating. For example, in the summer of 2022, someone spread a rumor that there was a serial killer on the loose in the city. The information provided on the police department’s Facebook page will always be legit and transparent.

So... How Safe Is Bakersfield Really?

Bakersfield isn’t the safest city in California or the country, but it does have a lot of things to do in safe spaces.

The top priorities for the police are tackling the increasingly high homicide rate and cracking down on gangs and drug crime.

The best steps for a tourist to take, in addition to what we discussed above, is to always be aware of your surroundings and trust your gut if a situation feels off.

You should go to extended lengths to protect your vehicle, including anti-theft devices, park with the wheels turned toward the curb (makes being towed difficult), and always lock the car with the windows rolled up.

All personal belongings, including GPS mounts, should be removed from the vehicle or well hidden.

If you have a rental car, don’t leave the paperwork with your identification information in the vehicle.

I know this has been a bad habit of mine in the past. 52% of all thefts reported in Bakersfield, according to 2020 crime data, involved car burglaries.

Even the Bakersfield Police Chief told the city council there’s no easy solution to the crime problem in Bakersfield, and new community policing efforts are hoping to help stop the trend of crime victims being too scared to speak up for fear of retaliation.

“At the end of the day, we know that our community is hurting and suffering, our businesses are suffering in a variety of ways, and we’re really trying to find new solutions and partnerships that can help us deal with many of these issues that are facing our community,” Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Terry told a local newspaper.

Here’s how the risks break down in Bakersfield:

  • Violent Crime: 1 in 188
  • Robbery: 1 in 668
  • Theft: 1 in 47
  • Motor Vehicle Theft: 1 in 106

If you’re from a bigger city, these crime concerns aren’t going to phase you.

If you are from a small, safe town, it might be a little unnerving.

You can review an abundance of crime safety tips on the BPD website before you go to feel safer when exploring this unique community.

How Does Bakersfield Compare?

CitySafety Index
Bakersfield66
Oakland57
New Orleans57
Baltimore56
Boston67
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61
Niagara Falls (Canada)87
Calgary (Canada)82

Useful Information

  • Visas - A U.S. Travel or Work Visa is required at Customs, whether you are entering from the border or through the airport. Visas require an in-person interview, and some countries have appointments backed up for months. Allow yourself plenty of planning time to get your visa in time for the trip.
  • Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here and try to purchase as much as you can online ahead of time. You want to limit the amount of money you need in your wallet and the number of times you need to pull out your wallet as much as possible. Be sure to set fraud alerts on your credit card before arriving. Review purchases at the end of each day and never throw away a receipt in public.
  • Weather - You won't need a winter coat here unless you plan to explore the higher altitudes of nearby mountains. Sunscreen is necessary throughout the year, and you'll want good walking shoes. T-shirts, shorts, jeans, and a hoodie should be good enough to get you through just about any season.
  • Airports - Meadows Field is the airport in Bakersfield and is just 15 minutes from downtown. If you are planning to fly out of the Los Angeles area, plan at least three hours for the road trip.
  • Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a great way to enjoy a trip without any problems being compensated for your problems. You'll want to be clear about what insurance covers for a rental car with such high break-in and theft rates here.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Bakersfield Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 10° C
Feb 12° C
Mar 14° C
Apr 17° C
May 21° C
Jun 26° C
Jul 29° C
Aug 28° C
Sep 25° C
Oct 20° C
Nov 14° C
Dec 9° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
151821242933373633272015
Low
°C
457913182120171273
High
°F
596470758491999791816859
Low
°F
394145485564706863544537

Where to Next?

4 Reviews on Bakersfield

  1. Bakersfield has a lot of symptoms (sweltering triple digit summer days, meth heads, gangs, racists), but Tsunamis? Bakersfield is about 140 miles from the Pacific Ocean..

  2. A nice place to visit for a few days

    Bakersfield is a nice city but it does have some problems. I’ve noticed that some (not all, just some) people are racists or very racists here. I’ve personally seen and heard very rude comments from white people towards black people. We are all PEOPLE. Our skin color shouldn’t matter. Why does it matter so much for some people? Why do they hate their fellow humans, their brothers? I just don’t understand it. Why aren’t we focusing more on what we can do together, what each of us can bring to the table? This stupid hate is ruining our country, our humanity.

    There are pickpockets here. I’ve had a few encounters with some of them. They even managed to steal someone’s phone (and this person was standing 2-3 feet from me. So they are there and you need to be careful in crowded areas. Didn’t hear much about natural disasters from people living here so I’m not sure about this. As for muggings I heard they can happen especially in the rougher parts of town. I didn’t go out alone at night and didn’t visit these areas and I was fine.

    I wouldn’t say this city is safe for women traveling alone. Especially if they aren’t white. I wouldn’t come here alone, that’s for sure. Again, this is not to say that all people here are racists. No, they aren’t. Some of them are wonderful but in some places, the hate of some people is very clear and disturbing.

    And there are a few things to visit while here. Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, Kern County Museum (can peek inside some of the buildings found here), Hart Memorial Park (you can play some disk golf here – if you didn’t try it before you should), The Park at Riverwalk, Kern River Parkway Trail (make a day out of it – it’s so nice), California Living Museum, Sequoia National Forest (this is breathtaking).

  3. Be cautious when visiting

    Bakersfield isn’t a nice city, very hot, gangs and lots of homeless people too. East Bakersfield is really bad also.

  4. Avoid

    In the last 2-years Bakersfield has become a “border town” dangerous and dirty now. Gangs roam the east and the once pretty and peaceful west is slowly transforming into the same. You’re more likely to get splattered on the side of the road from a pack of import racers so don’t take the town on foot. It’s overcrowded. Homeless usually camp in front of most of the restaurants. Police either don’t care about crime or are too overburdened to make a dent. Most businesses and lodging are taking full advantage of the poor economy and charging you through the nose. Retail locations are staffed with rude employees that seem incensed about having to work. Why anyone would chose this spot to visit on holiday in 2022 and beyond is far beyond me.

Rated 1.75 / 5 based on 4 user reviews.

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