Are you planning to visit Bakersfield or relocate to the area? As you explore what to do in Bakersfield, one place should be at the top of your list: the California Living Museum or CALM. One of the best zoos in California thanks to its smaller size, dedication to rehabilitation and education, and quality exhibits and activities, it’s been a cherished Bakersfield landmark for 40 years. The CALM zoo is also one of Bakersfield’s best family-friendly attractions with interactive, educational exhibits, a petting zoo, and more.
This complete guide to visiting the California Living Museum covers absolutely everything you want to know.
California Living Museum (CALM Zoo) General Information
The California Living Museum, better known as CALM or the Bakersfield zoo, is a small zoo in Bakersfield, California. The 14-acre zoo was founded in 1983 and primarily houses Kern County native plants and animals.
Accredited by the Zoological Association of America, the zoo is dedicated to educating the public and rehabilitating wild animals. CALM Bakersfield only houses orphaned or injured animals unable to survive on their own with animals released back into the wild if possible.
The Bakersfield zoo is operated by the Kern Superintendent of Schools offices (KCSOS). The botanical garden and zoo are now an official school site, providing educational resources and programs to over 13,000 Kern County students every year.
Overall, CALM welcomes 70,000 guests every year and another 55,000 per year who come for the Holiday Lights at CALM event.
CALM Zoo Address, Hours & Directions
- Address: California Living Museum, 10500 Alfred Harrell Hwy, Bakersfield, CA 93306
- Phone: (661) 872-2256
- CALM zoo Bakersfield hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 9 am to 4 pm (closed Monday and Tuesday)
- Closed: Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day
The Bakersfield zoo is located in Kern River County Park along Kern River. The 1,000+ acre park is one of the most fun places to go in Bakersfield with the zoo, playgrounds, open green space, a golf course, and campgrounds. This large recreational facility also offers game fields and recreation on Lake Ming.
From downtown Bakersfield, follow CA-178 E and turn left onto Alfred Harrell Highway. The zoo is three miles past the turn.
CALM Pricing, Tickets & Membership
The California Living Museum isn’t just one of the best things to do in Bakersfield with kids, it’s also an affordable way to spend the day!
How much does CALM cost? General admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors (60+), $6 for children up to 12, and free for kids under three. Military members and veterans always enjoy free admission.
CALM zoo tickets are not currently available online, but this is planned for the near future.
Moving to Bakersfield and plan to visit often or simply want to support the zoo’s rehabilitation efforts? Bakersfield zoo membership comes in seven levels. Individual membership is $40 and includes a 10% discount at the gift shop and a Critter Capers subscription. A $60 family membership covers two adults and their children with the 10% discount and discounted admission at reciprocal facilities. Additional membership options include free guest admissions, guest passes, and CALM t-shirts.
What to See & Do at CALM Bakersfield – Exhibits & Activities
There are about 250 animals at the Bakersfield CALM zoo representing around 80 species. Here are the CALM animals you’ll see. Natural animal exhibits at the California Living Museum include:
- Cats of California exhibit with bobcats and mountain lions
- Black bear exhibit
- Birds of Prey exhibit featuring eagles, owls, and hawks
- California mammal exhibit with several fox species
- Waterfowl pond with mallards and migrant birds
- Deer yard
- Underground reptile house with lizards, snakes, and frogs
The Bakersfield zoo isn’t large, but you still don’t want to miss anything! Along with the animal exhibits, the Bakersfield CALM zoo has fun experiences to try.
- Central California Children’s Railroad
- Ride the train as it winds around the zoo grounds. Unlimited train rides are just $2! The train runs from 11 am to 3 pm most weekends.
- California Coast Room
- Visit the 10-foot touch tank aquarium and stop by the moon jellyfish room with a huge viewing window!
- Children’s Park Petting Zoo
- A must-stop for young kids (and those young at heart), the domestic animal park is home to a turkey, rooster, rabbits, pony, burro, lambs, and goats.
- Condor Challenge Ropes Course
- The Condor Challenge is a thrilling high ropes and outdoor climbing course with Tarzan ropes, a catwalk, and a 35-foot-high course not for the faint of heart! The rock wall portion of the challenge is included with admission, but the high ropes course is $35 per person.
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CALM Lights Bakersfield Holiday Event – Annual Holiday Lights at CALM
- When: November 28 through December
- Hours: 5 pm to 9 pm daily
- Cost: $30 per vehicle (20% off for CALM members)
One of the most anticipated Bakersfield Christmas events is the annual Holiday Lights at CALM event. Every year from approximately November 28 to December 30, the zoo is transformed with millions of lights depicting landscapes and animals of Kern County. The lights at CALM Bakersfield are designed by Josh Barnett’s Lightasmic and set to flash to holiday music.
The CALM Christmas lights get bigger every year! There are now almost 4 million CALM Bakersfield lights in the themed displays with the event due to celebrate its 20th year in 2022. Holiday Lights at CALM has been ranked one of the top 10 zoo lights displays in the country!
The iconic drive-through corridor of CALM lights is now 100 feet larger. Vehicles pass through the colorful light tunnel and witness fun and impressive displays like the 20-foot “erupting” light volcano with spreading “lava” and Santa’s workshop.
The CALM Bakersfield holiday lights represent the zoo’s largest fundraiser. Money from ticket sales support the CALM Wildlife Rehabilitation Center which provides health care and veterinarian services to orphaned and injured animals the zoo takes in and improvements for animal enclosures.
Be sure to get CALM zoo lights tickets as soon as they go on sale. The drive-through CALM Christmas lights event tends to sell out every night.
Boo at the Zoo CALM Halloween Event
The holiday CALM lights display may be the most popular holiday event at the Bakersfield zoo, but you won’t want to miss Boo at the Zoo Bakersfield, a fun Halloween event held over a single weekend.
The CALM Boo at the Zoo two-day event usually runs from 9 am to 4 pm. Guests are encouraged to dress up in costumes, play games for prizes, enjoy festive decorations, and watch animals receive treat-filled pumpkins!
Boo at the Zoo CALM tickets are $10 for adults, $3 for kids up to 12, and $7 for seniors. CALM members enjoy free admission to Boo at the Zoo!
While food services are offered, guests are welcome to bring their own lunch to the zoo.
Keep Calm Jamboree – Earth Day at CALM Zoo
The California Living Museum in Bakersfield presents the inaugural Keep Calm Jamboree on April 22, 2022. The fundraising event will feature beer and wine, live music, and dinner on the CALM zoo grounds. This fundraiser will support CALM and Camp KEEP.
Keep Calm Jamboree tickets are $75 for general admission and $125 for VIP admission.
Planning for Your Visit to the California Living Museum
Here are some tips to get the most out of your day at the zoo.
- Download the CALM Zoo app on the App Store or Google Play for an interactive map, animal information, and daily schedule
- Plan the ultimate birthday party at the Bakersfield zoo with four pavilions available for rent
- Check zoo hours before visiting to make sure the zoo isn’t closing early
- Animal Keeper chats are Saturdays and Sundays at 1:15 pm at the reptile house and 11 am at the Children’s Park petting zoo
- See the CALM Zoo map before your visit to familiarize yourself with the layout
- Be prepared for lots of walking and inclined paths
- There are no restaurants at the Bakersfield zoo. Plan ahead by packing a lunch to enjoy at CALM.
- Most people spend about three hours at the zoo which is enough time to see almost everything.
Now you know everything you need to enjoy a day at the California Living Museum! Make sure you check out our guide to the best things to do in Bakersfield with kids for more family-friendly attractions in the city.