I have passed through and stayed in Bakersfield, CA countless times on trips between Northern California and Los Angeles. Although it has experienced the same explosive growth as other Central Valley communities over the last 20 years, Bakersfield seems to be different from the others. Whereas the other communities are typically tied to agriculture, Bakersfield also has a great deal of wealth from the Kern County oil deposits.
Because of this, areas of the city are extremely stately with majestic trees and beautiful homes. On the other hand, Bakersfield has also been home to a major country music scene, having been home to both Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Even with this strong music history, it offers a simple lifestyle. There are a few good restaurants in Bakersfield. If you find yourself near N Chester Ave, you've got to stop in at El Taquito. Delicious Tacos and reasonably priced!
Ultimately, though, Bakersfield's main attraction may very well be its proximity to much of what California has to offer. It is within a two hour drive of Los Angeles, Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park, the Mojave Spaceport, and the beaches of Ventura County. Because of this, it offers a combination of clean, simple smaller-town living with access to California's significant tourist assets.