Weekend in Bakersfield

We love traveling as a family and seeing new sites and experiences! We live in the LA area, and we’ve never really explored Bakersfield before…  Our son Parker is a gymnast and qualified to compete in the trampoline & tumbling State Championships there! Of course, the whole family wanted to see him compete, so we decided to go on a little road trip to Bakersfield and stayed a few extra days to check out the city! Naturally, traveling as a family of 8 (plus my mom, so 9!) means that family-friendly locations are a must, so we visited some of the best places for kids. One of the highlights of the trip was going to the California Living Museum (CALM)! If you don’t know, CALM is a wildlife rehabilitation center for sick, injured, or abandoned California native wildlife.

California Living Museum

The cost of admission is $10 for adults, $6 for children (3-12) and FREE for children under 3! There are so many different experiences to see and do. The kids loved the California Coast Room, which included a 10-foot touch tank with sea creatures! 

The train there was such a good value for our family, too; only $2 per person for unlimited rides! The train weaves its way around the CALM grounds, where you get to experience a mini ghost town and rusty dinosaur statues. We saw the Kern river along our journey too!

John’s Incredible Pizza

The entertainment highlight of the trip was eating at John’s Incredible Pizza. The kids had a blast! It has arcade games and some rides that you pay for with “FunCards”. There’s an unlimited buffet that you have to purchase as part of your admission to the arcade (as of April 2023, prices for 2 hours of access to the all you can eat/drink buffet were: Ages 13-54  $16.99, Seniors 55+ $15.99, ages 7-12 $12.49, ages 3-6 $8.49, Ages 2 & under Free*. They also have weekday lunch specials!).

Now I love a buffet, but this one made me a little uncertain, with the constant little fingers reaching in and helping themselves… I did manage to snag a few pizza slices that had just come out of the oven, and they were really good (I tried the four cheese pizza).  They have a ton of interesting pizza flavors, like peanut butter pepperoni, which was a fun touch! I appreciated that they have different flavors of Gold Peak Tea; it’s one of my favorite restaurant iced teas! They even had a nacho bar and a dessert bar. The kids were VERY impressed with all the food.

Seating & Over-stimulation

There was a copious amount of seating available in several different rooms, which was really nice because it allowed you to choose what level of stimuli you wanted to be exposed to. Overall, it was a great experience and the kids are already dreaming of having birthday parties there! We thought it was worth the price for a special day treat. 


When deciding on a place to stay in Bakersfield, it was most cost-effective for us to book a house through VRBO (since we are such a large family). We found a nice one for this trip, and it definitely saved us money over having to book multiple rooms at a hotel. It was a small house, but didn’t share any walls, so that also alleviates a lot of stress when traveling with children who love to sing all the time. When traveling, I always compare rental homes vs. hotel stays and choose whichever is the most practical & budget-friendly for our trip, based on a bunch of different factors. It really depends on the location & season!

Black Bear Diner

And no Ballinger Family road trip would be complete without a pit stop at Black Bear Diner! We usually find one of these adorable restaurants somewhere along the road on a long drive in California (and beyond!). They have a huge menu of diner foods and there are charming bear decorations throughout. They have epic individual pies and a cute little souvenir shop at every location we’ve visited. 

Overall, we had a great trip, and we are excited to share that Parker is the STATE CHAMPION (for his age and level) in double mini and tumbling and brought home a silver medal in trampoline. We couldn’t be more proud of him!

You can watch Parker’s Championship and our Bakersfield adventure on our channel.

More from the Ballinger family

You can read more of our travel adventures here!

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5 Responses

  1. Well said great opinions. And I will definitely take those into consideration whenever. Whenever I would go on a traveling adventure in California, thank you. :). Always will be a big fan. And thank you for the helpful Recommendations for the future. Would definitely be taking into consideration. Keep achieving big Parker Very proud.

  2. I love how you guys honestly share what you learn in your travels! I hope Parker has fun and is happy with his performance at Regionals!!

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