Flint in 48 Hours

 By Kim Skeltis

Step inside Table & Tap with its graffiti mural and communal table of reclaimed barn wood, and you could be in Chicago. A rack of hoodies with the phrase Hard as Flint reveals the restaurant’s locale – an apropos saying for a city that’s had more than its share of hard knocks.

Hard as Flint is the mantra of a reborn city. Its tragedies have shaped a community of creators and doers who work hard to make Flint a better place, shifting from producing cars to beer, bread and boots. They know where the city has been, salvaging the best of its history to move forward. And from that grit and perseverance emerged a softer side of Flint. A college town. A foodie mecca. A beer city. An historic gem. And it makes Flint worth visiting right now.

If you’ve got 48 hours free, you can cover many of the city’s highlights and hidden gems. We’ve suggested a weekend itinerary below – hit everything or slow down the pace and pick some standouts.

FRIDAY EVENING – Downtown Immersion

Accessible from I-69 and I-75, Flint is an easy drive from most Midwest cities. Check into your hotel around 5 p.m. to enjoy a full evening. For proximity, Holiday Inn Express downtown can’t be beat. Or book one of six literary-themed rooms at elegant Knob Hill B&B, also in the city.

Start in the heart of downtown with a cocktail or glass of wine at Cork on Saginaw (Happy Hour runs until 6 p.m.), featuring 150 wines from around the world. Or hit Café Rhema for a pick-me-up at this Great Gatsby-inspired café. Order a cold coffee brew or share a French press. Kids will love fruity bubble tea or Italian soda.

After a cocktail or coffee, either stay at Cork for an eclectic European dish, or visit Table & Tap for dinner. This hotspot specializes in locally sourced food and barbecued meats, along with 30 rotating beers on tap, top-shelf bourbon and cocktails. If you’re feeling social, sidle up to other diners at the communal table.

Tonight, try one of Flint’s cultural offerings. University of Michigan-Flint features theater and dance performances Friday and Saturday evenings (October to April). Or check out the Flint Cultural Center with eight institutes on the wooded campus, including The Whiting, a 2,000-seat professional performing arts venue with live performances ranging from local Flint Youth Theatre to national touring productions like Blue Man Group. Other options include the Flint Institute of Arts Theater showing independent and classic films (starts in September), Longway Planetarium (Michigan’s largest) with First Friday events and special programs, and the 100-year-old Flint Symphony Orchestra hosting chamber music and Music in the Parks (summer), and classical concerts (October to May).

Got a late-night food craving? Cast your vote for Flint’s best burger between two watering holes: Soggy Bottom and the Torch Bar & Grill, ranked by Thrillist as one of the “33 Best Dive Bars in America” and its Torch Burger as one of the “33 Best Burgers in America

SATURDAY – Flint Food and Culture

Shop and nibble through your morning at the Flint Farmers’ Market. In existence since 1905, this storied market moved into the Flint Journal’s former 32,000 square-foot printing facility in 2014 after a 70-year hiatus from downtown. The bright, airy space holds 50 year-round vendors (another 20 outside in summer), commercial and demonstration kitchens, and event space. Wander the stalls of fresh produce, pop-up restaurants and handmade gift items, sampling a cinnamon roll at CINNAMOM or pho soup at MaMang. Stock up on weekend snacks like imported cheeses at Hills Home Cured Cheese or wine at d’Vine Wines. Steady Eddy’s Café is an alternative if you prefer a sit-down brunch.

Fueled on market finds, drive to Applewood Estate, a 34-acre, three-story estate built by automotive pioneer Charles Stewart Mott in 1916. While the grounds have been open for years, the home is open to the public for the first time this centennial year, offering free guided house tours daily (reservations recommended). You can also join a free guided garden walk (daily at 1 p.m.) or explore the grounds and exhibits on your own – kids can even check out an activity backpack. For lunch, stop at Applewood Café, a student-run, upscale casual restaurant inside nearby Mott Community College (open during school session).

You’re a stone’s throw from the 85-year-old Flint Institute of Arts, the second largest art museum in Michigan. Need another reason to stop? Free Saturdays! Spin through the highlights using a free, self-guided audio tour that brings the collection to life, followed by the gift shop.

Hit happy hour at Tenacity Brewing, Flint’s first brewery whose name became a prophecy during the Flint Water Crisis. Opening in 2015 in a 1912 fire station, Tenacity features 10 beers, two hard ciders plus a root beer on draft, so there’s something for everyone. While Tenacity doesn’t have a kitchen, food truck fave Vehicle City Tacos parks outside regularly.

Enjoy dinner downtown at 501 Bar & Grill, a fresh, modernist restaurant known for small plates and martinis. From chicken and waffles to bone marrow, you’ll find an eclectic selection of sharable, bite-size entrees. Healthier appetites may prefer a flatbread pizza, burger or full entrée.

Take in a local sporting event tonight like a Flint Firebirds ice hockey game at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center east of downtown. Games are Fridays and Saturdays (season starts in September). For another type of skating, watch the Flint City Derby Girls at Rollhaven Skating Center in Grand Blanc.

SUNDAY – Suburbs/Genesee County

A visit to Flint isn’t complete without visiting its surrounding environs of Genesee County, boasting Michigan’s largest county park system, dozens of fruit orchards, 17-mile asphalt Flint River Trail and 142-mile Flint River. The hardest part will be narrowing your options.

Option #1: Small-Town Shopping and Dining

Enjoy a leisurely morning, then drive 25 minutes to quaint Fenton with its circa-1830s downtown. Indulge in a pastry at CRUST, cranking out 2,000 cookies and 1,000 artisan-style bread loaves daily that are sold locally and across the country, including to DEAN & DELUCA and Williams-Sonoma. Linger over a pain au chocolat and latte in the café or grab a dozen chocolate chip and sea salt cookies to go. Inquire about pie, scone/biscuit and bread-making classes.

Next, shop Fenton’s unique downtown stores like La Petite Maison and The Iron Grate for home décor, Yesterday’s Treasures for antiques, Fenton’s Open Book for literary treasures, and Eclections for clothing and accessories. Walk to the Fenton Fire Hall, a 1938 fire station resurrected in 2013 by the owners of famed Clarkston Union and Vinsetta Garage in metro Detroit. Photographs of volunteer firefighters adorn the walls with old fire station ledgers, memos and other correspondence in homage to its roots. Share a legendary mac and cheese dish or slow-smoked pulled pork for a snack.  Be sure to scan the 48 beers on tap. Then drive to nearby Heavenly Scent Herb Farm, a 1910-era barn and gardens with gift items, flowers and plants for sale.

Your Flint weekend is winding down, but not before you indulge in one final culinary experience. Visit The Laundry Room, a private event space next door to The Laundry, in Fenton by 5 p.m. when Chef Jody prepares a four-course Sunday Supper once a month for the first 24 people who arrive. Menu items are unveiled tableside and served family style. If you miss Sunday Supper, don’t fret – The Laundry’s standing menu of European-inspired dishes gives plenty of options.

Option #2: Historic Village

Kids and history buffs alike will love Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad (May through September). Turning 40 this year, the park showcases 34 Genesee County buildings replicating an 1800s village. Also check out Halloween Ghosts and Goodies in October and Christmas at Crossroads Holiday Magic in December.

Take a 40-minute ride on the circa-1857 Huckleberry Railroad steam locomotive.  Legend says that it ran so slow that a person could jump off, pick huckleberries, and jump back on. Another park jewel is the Genesee Belle Paddlewheel Riverboat replicating riverboats that traveled the Mississippi a century ago. Catch a 45-minute cruise around Mott Lake (May through September).

Close your weekend with a local tradition – a Flint Original Coney Island at the 24-hour Starlite Diner that the owners have been cranking out since 1966. According to locals, the dry, loose meat makes it a Flint-style Coney. Add a side of Coney Cheese Fries, and you’re primed for the drive home.

NOTE: All Flint businesses mentioned here use a combination of certified water filters, bottled water and hydration stations to provide visitors with clean, safe water.

African American History Events, Exhibits at the Flint Cultural Center

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In honor of African American History Month, the Flint Cultural Center is hosting special exhibits and events throughout the month of February and beyond. Here are a few ways you can take part in the upcoming happenings:

  • Attend a reading of Dominique Morisseau’s “Detroit ‘67” at the Flint Youth Theatre on Feb. 7. The story follows Chelle and her brother Lank during the Detroit riots of 1967. For tickets, click here.
  • Check out “From Heart to Hand: African American Quilts from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts” at the Flint Institute of Arts. On display through April 10, the exhibit features 30 pieces made by African American quilt artists during the 20th century.
  • Get together with friends and relatives at the Flint Public Library for a Family Feud-style trivia night, centered around African American and local history. To register for the Feb. 27 event and receive a trivia training kit, call 810-249-2569.

This is just a sampling of the cultural center’s plans for February. For a full list of upcoming events, click here.

For more information on #flintandgenesee attractions and events, click here.

5 Ways to Get into the Holiday Spirit in Flint & Genesee

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With Christmas less than two weeks away, we’ve compiled a few ways to get into the holiday spirit in Flint and Genesee. Here are five festive events and attractions worth checking out with your family and friends!

  1. Paint Christmas-Themed Scenes at Painting with a Twist (Various Dates)

Take an art class at this Fenton-based, BYOB business, which provides painting supplies and instructions for artists of all levels. Upcoming classes will focus on Christmas wreaths, Santa, stockings and more. Admission varies.

  1. Be Dazzled by “Cosmic Christmas: The Light Show” (Now through Dec. 23)

Longway Planetarium has set 16 holiday songs – both old and new – to 4,000 visuals in this original laser light show. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors (60+) and youth (2-11) and free for children under 1.

  1. Go Back in Time for “Christmas at Crossroads” (Dec. 18-20, 22-23, 26-27 and 29-30)

From live entertainment at Colwell Opera House to a holiday craft workshop at the Stanley School House, the turn-of-the-century-themed Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad offers something for everyone this holiday season. Admission varies.

  1. Meet Santa’s Reindeer at the Davison Farmers’ Market (Dec. 19)

Visitors are encouraged to bring along their cameras to take free photos with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, who will be stopping by with their pets from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  1. Sing Carols at Stockton Center (Dec. 19)

From 5:30-8:30 p.m., Stockton Center at Spring Grove in Flint will host a Victorian Christmas, during which guests can sing carols and enjoy festive crafts and treats. Admission is $5/person.

Wonder what else is going on in #flintandgenesee? Find out here.  

4 Holiday Shows to See at The Whiting this December

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The Whiting is open year-round, but there’s something especially cozy about the 2,043-seat theater in the winter months.

Like the rest of the buildings in the Flint Cultural Center, the Whiting was designed in the International style, featuring open spaces and rectilinear forms. Guests walking into the building are welcomed by the well-known “Golden Sun” sculpture, which hangs from the ceiling and is valued at $5 million.

Since opening nearly 50 years ago, the venue has hosted thousands of performances by the Flint Symphony Orchestra, Flint Youth Theatre, touring Broadway acts and other guest artists. This December, the Whiting will host four performances that are sure to put visitors in the holiday spirit.

These include:

The Nutcracker, Dec. 5-6

The Collage Dance Collective of Memphis will take the stage with dancers from the Flint School of Performing Arts for this two-act ballet, performed to music by the FSO.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Live From WVL Radio Theatre, Dec. 10

This adaptation of Frank Capra’s holiday classic is portayed as a live radio broadcast. In this version, it’s Christmas Eve in 1945, and only a handful of WVL Radio’s actors have braved the blizzard to perform the evening’s broadcast.

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, Dec. 15

Grammy Award winner Chip Davis has created a show that features the beloved Christmas music of Mannheim Steamroller along with dazzling multimedia effects.

Holiday Pops featuring The FSO, Dec. 19-20

The Flint Symphony Orchestra performance will be conducted by Maestro Enrique Diemecke and hosted by ABC12’s Angie Hendershot and Matt Franklin.

The Whiting is located at 1241 E. Kearsley St., Flint. On performance days, the ticket center is open two hours prior to curtain and 30 minutes after.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.thewhiting.com or call (810) 237-7333.

Wonder what else is going on in #flintandgenesee? See What’s Possible right here.

Flint Cultural Center to Host 32nd Annual Holiday Walk

Holiday WalkAs part of the 32nd Annual Holiday Walk, the community is invited to tour the Flint Cultural Center’s 33-acre campus on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The free event will begin at 5:15 p.m., when City of Flint Police Chief James Tolbert and Santa Claus will lead the annual tree lighting ceremony. From there, Santa will make his way to The Whiting for family visits and free photos.

The Flint Institute of Arts will offer live music as well as the opportunities for kids to meet with PBS’ Sid the Science Kid. There will also be a holiday film shown in the FIA Theater as well as a children’s activity in the FIA Art School.

Applewood will host ice-carving demonstrations and carolers, and the Buick Gallery will have Santa’s classic car on display.

Visitors can also swing by the Flint Public Library, where they can make a holiday ornament, listen to the bell choir from Goodrich United Methodist Church or watch a Punch & Judy performance.

There will be a number of musical performances at the Flint Institute of Music (in both the atrium as well as MacArthur Recital Hall) as well as a holiday comedy show and staged reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas at the Flint Youth Theatre. 

Longway Planetarium will kick off its showings of Cosmic Christmas: The Light Show. Both the Sloan and Whaley Historic House museums will host holiday crafts.

The MTA will provide a free shuttle bus that runs from the Flint Farmers’ Market, at the corner of East 2nd and Wallenberg streets, to the Flint Cultural Center. The bus will run every 15 minutes, starting at 5:15 p.m. and ending at 7:45 p.m.

Admission is free, although donations of non-perishable food or personal care items are encouraged. Proceeds will benefit the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.

The Flint Cultural Center campus is located along Kearsley Street off I-475 at Longway Blvd. in Flint. For more information, call 810.237.7333 or visit www.FlintCulturalCenter.org/holidaywalk.

FSO Adds Educational Element to Upcoming Concert

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The Flint Symphony Orchestra’s concert on Saturday, Nov. 14 will explore Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 9, accompanied by insight and commentary from Maestro Enrique Diemecke throughout the concert.

Diemecke and Gregg Powell, FSO Artistic Coordinator, will host a pre-concert talk at The Whiting prior to the concert. The lively discussion will provide additional information to enhance the concert going experience for attendees. The talk is free for all concert ticket holders and will begin at 6:30 p.m.

During the concert’s intermission, students are invited to mingle with FSO musicians and enjoy refreshments from the White Horse Tavern. (Signs will be located at The Whiting directing students to the appropriate area; younger students may be escorted by a parent or guardian.)

The Flint Symphony Orchestra performs under the direction of Diemecke, who celebrates his 27th year with the FSO this season.

To purchase tickets, click here or call 1-888-8-CENTER.

Wonder what else is going on in #flintandgenesee? See What’s Possible right here.

Top Secret: Interactive Exhibition Highlights Espionage Technology

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Starting Saturday, Sept. 19, visitors to Sloan Museum’s newest exhibition will be given a spy file and tasked with gathering intelligence from selected exhibits to uncover information on six suspects, leading them on a journey of discovery into the secret world of spies.

The temporary exhibition will be on display in Flint through Jan. 10, 2016 and aims to demonstrate how scientific thinking can be used to solve problems in many aspects of everyday life.

Visitors also have the opportunity to use various espionage-related technologies, learn how they work and how they can be used in the wider world. Exhibits include hands-on activities including cracking the code on the lock of a transparent safe and using an oscilloscope to find a hidden bug.

“Top Secret: License to Spy” caters for a wide audience and encourages families and students to collaborate to piece together the clues and fulfill the mission.

Sloan Museum is located at 1221 E. Kearsley St., Flint. Museum hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors (60+) and $6 for youth ages 2-11. Children 1 and under enter free.

For more information, visit www.sloanlongway.org or call (810) 237-3450.

Wonder what else is going on in #flintandgenesee? See What’s Possible right here.