According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 296.3 km² (114.4 mi²). 292.9 km² (113.1 mi²) of it is land and 3.4 km² (1.3 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.14% water.
Bakersfield is approximately a 120 miles North of Los Angeles (about a 2 hour drive) and about 300 miles Southeast of the state capital, Sacramento (about a 5 hour drive).
As of the census of 2000, there are 247,057 people, 83,441 households, and 60,995 families residing in the city. The population density is 843.4/km² (2,184.4/mi²). There are 88,262 housing units at an average density of 301.3/km² (780.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 61.87% White, 9.16% African American, 1.40% Native American, 4.33% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 18.68% from other races, and 4.43% from two or more races. 32.45% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 83,441 households out of which 42.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.1% are married couples living together, 15.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 26.9% are non-families. 21.5% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.92 and the average family size is 3.41.
In the city the population is spread out with 32.7% under the age of 18, 10.1% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 8.8% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 30 years. For every 100 females there are 94.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 90.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $39,982, and the median income for a family is $45,556. Males have a median income of $38,834 versus $27,148 for females. The per capita income for the city is $17,678. 18.0% of the population and 14.6% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 24.4% are under the age of 18 and 8.4% are 65 or older.
As with many cities in the central valley in California, many Bakersfield residents have ancestors who migrated to the area from the mid-West of the U.S.A. during the Dust Bowl. In John Steinbeck's historical novel The Grapes of Wrath, Bakersfield is one of the locations that the protagonists pass through.
Bakersfield has an airport called Meadows Field Airport; a California State University and a Community College; A Civic Center/Arena hosting a symphony orchestra and an NHL hockey team; and an increasing number of metropolitan ammenities as the city grows and grows.