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Nowadays KernvilleThose people raised on TV westerns like Bonanza will feel like they've stepped right onto the Ponderosa when they take the one-hour drive northeast from Bakersfield to the town of Kernville. There's good reason: dozens of TV and movie westerns have been filmed in the immediate vicinity.
If you've always wondered where they came up with all that TV western scenery in California, the land of beaches and palm trees, one trip to Kernville and the mystery will be solved. The Kern River Valley, it turns out, has it all: mountains, river, forest and -- back when they were filming -- a western theme town that could double for any rough-and-tumble settlement in the Old West.
Today the town retains its western flavor with old-style buildings, antique shops, saloons and an impressive museum that displays an amazing amount of Kern Valley history.
(For recommended restaurants and activities, please see below)