Unless you’re a “Slowpoke” or you happen to be living under a “Onix”, you’re probably well aware of the popular app “Pokémon Go” released by Niantic earlier this year. Users find, capture, and train virtual creatures called Pokémon. Along the way PokéStops dispense items and Gyms provide opportunities to battle other players. A side effect of the game’s popularity is the fact that you can uncover scores of interesting local landmarks as you play. So, if you’re “Seaking” to discover some of the more unique places in Bakersfield, then you’ve come to the right place because we’ve got an eclectic mix of the historical, whimsical, and somewhat strange.
Our epic journey to becoming a poké master begins at the giant cross outside the Higher Ground Church on New Stine. As the app informs you this Gym is actually home to a “Religious Cell Tower,” providing, if nothing else, reliable cell service.
As you play the game, you’ve probably noticed that we have some interesting murals around town. A couple of these are dedicated solely to clothing items. Of note are “Silly Jeans Mural” and “Ghost Mural,” which is a floating red pantsuit and possibly an invisible ghost. Both can be found close to Stockdale Highway, just east of New Stine.
California State University, Bakersfield has a “Road Runners Bird Car,” which is both a mobile roadrunner and a Pokémon Go Gym; and “Giant Chair,” of which the chair is no longer there, but it’s memory lives on.
At Wilderness Park off of Gosford and Harris you’ll find both a Stop and a Gym. Most notably, is “The Tree House,” which is a playset that resembles a tree trunk. There’s no age limit, so if you want to give the slide a try feel free. No one is looking anyways, they’re all trying to catch that “Pikachu.”
Bakersfield Sports Village as you go south on Ash Road has a wide collection of large sports balls where you can collect items or fight other players. There are four in total, a mix of footballs and soccer balls.
If you’ve never seen a sundial, Haggin Oaks Park is the place to go. Hang out a while and learn about telling time based on the position of the Sun. Afterall, Stops refresh every five minutes.
“Blue Pacman” is a Gym with a roof shaped like the classic arcade game character. As the name indicates, it’s blue, which is a missed opportunity if we’ve ever seen one. This one is off of San Dimas Street.
On Truxtun Avenue you’ll find a monument to the “Kern River Flour Mills,” which was built in 1871 on the Kern Island Canal. The plaque will tell you that grain was processed there until the mill was destroyed in the earthquake of 1952. There are about a dozen more places to check out within walking distance if you have the time and the pokéballs.
Outside of Golden State Drilling in the Northwest you will find “Drill Trees,” which is exactly what it sounds like, a christmas tree-shaped tower of drilling equipment that also functions as a PokéStop.
Next stop, Standard Road, where there is a mailbox cleverly designed to look like a paint can. Collect eggs, potions, and Pokéballs, and potentially also mail, if you happen to work at the Kern County Special Waste Facility that is.
We’re not surprised that “Great Castle” was chosen to be featured in the game, with the awesome façade and superb Honey Walnut Shrimp, who wouldn’t want to camp out on their lunch break to try to hold down the Gym?
The east side has an equal number of unique places, like Heritage Park’s “Garden of Fragrance,” which is both a PokéStop and a garden for the blind. It features many flowers, plants, and trees native to the area.
Oil is one of our largest industries, but where was that liquid gold first spotted locally? It being Bakersfield, there is a monument commemorating the event. “Discovery Well” is a bit of a trek far into the northeast, but it’s what you have to do if you’ve “gotta catch ‘em all.”
After a long day filled with adventure, battles, and hopefully some levelling up, you might want a chance to stretch your legs. How else are you going to hatch all those 10 kilometer eggs? We suggest checking out the Kern County Museum. The sprawling grounds have almost 20 different points of interest, like the victorian “Howell House” or the “Undertaker’s Office.”
Riverwalk is also a great not only for all the things to do, but because of all the people that come out to play. Though she admits she was late to the “pokémania,” local player, Liliana Jasso said, “The first few times I went out to Riverwalk [it] gave me chills. It was pretty cool seeing all the different types of people out there. We looked like tech savvy zombies.”
These are but some of the awesome (and surprising!) places in Bakersfield that can be found in “Pokémon Go,” so grab your phone, your portable charger, and maybe even your kids. You thought you knew Bakersfield, but there’s a whole new virtual world out there waiting to be captured.
Images courtesy of Nintendo (Raichu, Blastoise); niantic (Screenshot, Pokéstop Images); Istockphotos/m-imagephotography/leungchopan