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Car Rental in Bakersfield

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Car Rental in Bakersfield: Driving in and around the “Country Music Capital of the West Coast”

Bakersfield is a thriving city amidst the vast flatness of the United State’s western oil country. Once the home to country music greats Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, Bakersfield is still a great place to dance to country music and experience the United States’ rugged frontier – all within easy reach for day trips to the gorgeous California coast and Los Angeles. Rent a car today to explore this region at its fullest!

The weather in Bakersfield and Southern California more generally is comfortable year round. While you might not want to go swimming in January, the weather is still warm and particularly comfortable for longer outdoor activities like hiking and trekking. Cultural activities and festivals are at their peak throughout Southern California in the summer and early fall. Consider visiting the area for Halloween.

The de facto national language of the United States is English and the currency is the US dollar. Currency exchange is highly available at airports and popular tourist destinations, and credit cards are accepted at the vast majority of businesses.

Bakersfield is located in the Pacific Time Zone, UTC-8.

If you are flying directly to Bakersfield, you will land at Meadows Field, a regional airport with service from San Francisco, Denver, Houston, and Phoenix. Though located only 15 minutes from downtown, the most effective way to get from the airport to Bakersfield and beyond is to rent a car from any of the agencies with offices at the airport. Alternatively, you can fly to Los Angeles International Airport, 120 miles to the south and rent a car directly from LAX; the scenic drive to Bakersfield through the Los Padres National Forest is a great start to any Southern California vacation. Rental cars are also available along the major roads of Bakersfield, particularly the Golden State Highway and California State Route 178.

One-way rental is permissible from many rental car agencies and is a great way to explore beautiful Southern California. Either use Bakersfield as a relaxed center for day trips to the beach (just over 2 hours away, depending on which beach you’d like to visit), Los Angeles (2 hours in good traffic conditions, which can be a problem in LA directly; plan to arrive outside of the major traffic jams of morning and evening rush hours), or any number of the surrounding national forests: Sequoia National Forest, just 1.5 hours from Bakersfield, is not to be missed.

Alternatively, make Bakersfield a stopping point along an epic Californian road trip! Explore California’s heartland by heading north from Bakersfield toward Redding, drive through the historic industrial heartland of the west in Sacramento, and then through some of the best territory for fresh produce, stopping in Winters and Davis. Best of all, this trip takes you through Lodi Wine Country and the California Delta. Take a couple of days off from this epic road trip to visit San Francisco, less than 5 hours northwest of Bakersfield. Or just head straight south from Bakersfield to the Mexico-US border, less than 4 hours away.

Visa Regulations

38 nationalities can enter the United States as tourists without applying for a visa, though even if you are among these nationalities, you are still required to fill out the ESTA in advance. Visit for more information. Visitors to the United States will be fingerprinted and biometrically photographed upon entry. If your nationality is not included on the visa-waiver program list, you will be required to apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa in advance of your arrival.

Driving in Bakersfield

Particularly because public transportation infrastructure is bad and the roads are wide, driving in and around Bakersfield is the most efficient, comfortable, and authentic way to get to know the town and its surroundings.

Here are some further tips and regulations to consider as you drive through Bakersfield:

Right-Hand Driving

  • Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road in the United States.
  • Unless otherwise marked, after coming to a full stop at a red light, you can turn right from the right lane if there is no oncoming traffic.

Speed Limits

  • Speed limits are quite high in Bakersfield, reaching even 55 miles per hour along the major throughways of the city.
  • In residential and downtown areas, the speed limits are prima facie: drive safely and prudently in normal conditions.

Other Regulations

  1. Parking is free and plentiful in many places throughout the city.
  2. Your domestic driver’s license is sufficient for driving in California.
  3. There are no toll roads in and around Bakersfield. Californians can legally drive as young as 16 (with driver’s education), but most rental agencies will require you to be at least 21 years old, and you can expect to pay young driver surcharges until the age of 25.

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