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Free Fun!

Kids can find hands-on fun at Bakersfield Fire Stations.

With the sunshine beckoning them outside, we know you’re bunkering down for all those upcoming “kid-infused” weekends. But how do you entertain them without breaking the bank?

We uncovered a few totally free (and totally fun) activities you can do to put smiles on the faces of your favorite Elmo-lovers during the sunny season.

Think you’ve got a little firefighter on your hands? What better way to expose the family, and Junior, to the inner workings of a fire station than by taking them on a tour of a Bakersfield Fire Department Station. However, this free activity requires a bit of advanced planning. Tours happen on Mondays at 10 a.m., and usually last about an hour, so you’ll need to submit your request a few weeks ahead of time. If you have any questions, please contact the city’s Public Education Division at (661) 326-3941.

The Bakersfield Museum of Art offers free admission every third Friday of the month and kids of all ages are welcome so you can expose them to local art for less than the cost of a box of crayons. Starting in May, you can see Visual Arts Small Works Juried Exhibition: Roots, the art of David Hallaway, and Salvador Dali’s The Divine Comedy. Don’t be afraid to bring even the youngest babies; you’ll see fellow stroller pushers introducing fine art to their toddlers! Visit www.bmoa.org or call (661) 323-7219.

Learn about creepy crawlers at Buena Vista Museum!

For tiny scientists, Buena Vista Museum offers free admission on the third Thursday of the month. However, if your gaggle is all under the age of 5, they’re always free! Explore our local geological, archaeological, and paleontological history with fossils, rocks, and artifacts. Learn about Sharktooth Hill and check out all the displays! The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through May and starting in June, the hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For a trip back in time, visit sharktookhill.com, or call (661) 324-6350.

Every last Saturday of the month, kids get in free at CALM! From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. you can bring the kiddos out to visit all the animals for no charge. A trip to CALM ( located at 10500 Alfred Harrell Hwy) will give your youngin’s the chance to meet the newest resident, Bam-Bam the porcupine, in person. To find out more, visit calmzoo.org or call (661) 872-2256.

Over at FACT (Facility for Animal Care and Treatment) on the CSUB campus, kids can get a glimpse of our local birds of prey, including the Red-tailed Hawk and Golden Eagle, as well as, songbirds, dragonflies, butterflies, lizards, and more at FACT’s monthly open house. On May 2 from 1-4 p.m., families can learn about FACT’s animal rescue and bird foster parent program. You can even get in on the action by studying owl pellets and discover what owls eat! Not only is admission free for everyone, but parking is free, too.

For more information, visit FACT’s website at csub.edu/FACT or call (661) 654-3167.

Kern County Libraries are always a great place to take little ones for an inexpensive day of fun! And by inexpensive, we mean free! All of the programs offered at our local libraries are for families and kids alike. Each branch has weekly story time sessions as well as extra events throughout the week, varying from puppet shows to poetry readings. For more information and to see an updated calendar of events for each branch, log on to kerncountylibrary.org or call (661) 868-0700.

Clifford entertained at Kern County Museum’s Book Blast.

On Saturday, July 11 the Kern County Museum is hosting the annual Book Blast. While the event is scheduled between 10 a.m. and 1p.m., admission is free until 12 p.m. so get there early. The event, sponsored by the Kern Reading Association, is a place to celebrate literacy among children! Book Blast features costumed readers and characters, arts and crafts, and plenty of fun. For more information visit kcmuseum.org or call (661) 852-5000.

And seven days a week, from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., you can treat your kids to a day of fun in the sun...and the water! No matter where you live, there’s a Water Spray Park near you.

These aren’t just sprinklers—each park features a variety of water-themed games and gadgets including the “Bucket Trio” that will have kids guessing which bucket will dump water on them and “Spray Cannons” that will soak anybody within a 30’ radius.

To find a water park, visit bakersfieldswim.us or call (661) 326-FUNN!

For those looking for more adventure, there are a few other places throughout Kern County where you can stop off for some free fun.

Edwards Air Force Base offers free tours of the base on the first and third Fridays of the month starting at 8:30 a.m. and lasting until 2:30 p.m. You’ll visit the Air Force Flight Test Center Museum, get a walking tour of the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, and a windshield tour of the Edwards flightline. Reservations are required in advance. Visit their website at edwards.af.mil to fill out a “Request A Tour” form. For more information call (661) 277-3517.

Soak up the fun at one of the city’s many Water Spray Parks! They’re open everyday for wet and wild fun!

The Kern Valley Museum in Kernville offers many different museum exhibits on gold mining, Native American history, lumbering, and old time western movies. Not to mention an art gallery. They’re also the proud hosts of Kern’s History Days, this year taking place on May 15, 16, and 17. Admission is free for everyone and the museum is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call (760) 376-6683 or visit kernvalleymuseum.org.

In Boron, you can visit the Twenty Mule Team Museum with the whole family (for free, though donations are welcomed) and discover the history of borax mining in Death Valley. One exhibit contains household items used by the early settlers of Boron while living in the small two man cabins at the Pacific Coast Borax Facilities. The museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit 20muleteammuseum.org or call (760) 762-5810 for more information.

Looking for artifacts that tell the rich history of oil in California and west Kern County? Visit the West Kern Oil Museum in Taft and you won’t be let down. A multitude of exhibits will take you through our local oil heritage and give the kids something exciting to look at. While admission is free, donations are welcomed. The museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Visit westkern-oilmuseum.org or call (661) 765-6664 for more information.

Article appeared in our 26-1 Issue - April 2009