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.

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.

Flint Symphony Orchestra to Play Patriotic Favorites at Crossroads Village

july-2642_1280As part of the 2015 Music in the Parks Concert series, the Flint Symphony Orchestra will play some patriotic favorites at Crossroads Village on Thursday, July 2.

The evening’s program will include:

  •  Star Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key
  •  Highlights from the musical Annie, arr. by Strouse and Lang
  •  Cowboys’ Overture, John Williams
  •  America the Beautiful
  •  Stars and Stripes Forever, John Philips Sousa

Attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chair. Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages in plastic containers are permitted; concessions will also be available for purchase from the venue.

Located at 6140 Bray Road in Flint, Crossroads Village is home to more than 34 historic structures. With extensive programming and a robust schedule of events, the venue provides visitors with a glimpse into life in a thriving Great Lakes town at the turn of the century.

Founded in 1991, Music in the Parks celebrates the area’s diverse cultural heritage through music, presenting performers from a variety of genres each year. This year’s lineup also includes:

July 16 – The Elders Irish Rock (Kearsley Park)
July 30 – Scott Gwinnell Jazz (Mott Park)
Aug. 6 – Sweet Willie Tea (Max Brandon Park)
Sept. 10 – Gospel Music Celebration (The Whiting)

All concerts begin at 7 p.m. In case of rain, concerts will be held at The Whiting, 1241 E. Kearsley St., Flint. For more information, visit www.thefim.org or www.facebook.com/flintinstituteofmusic.

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

Flint Symphony Orchestra Presents ‘Music That Moves You’ on Saturday at The Whiting

Bard College

Looking for music that moves you? The Flint Symphony Orchestra has just what you need this weekend.

On Saturday, Jan. 17, the FSO will take the stage at The Whiting in Flint for its “Music That Moves You” Classical Concert.

Conducted by Enrique Diemecke, the FSO will welcome special guest Mezzo-Soprano Abigail Levis, the 2014 William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition Winner. Named “Debut Artist of the Year” by the Joy in Singing Foundation, Levis is emerging as one of the most exciting young singers of today. The New York Times hailed her for her “lithe voice.”

Enjoy an evening with these amazing performers as they bring to life the power of music as it engulfs as an expression of love, transcending suffering and sadness, only to rebuild character, to lift us up and rise from the ashes reborn.

The show begins at 8 p.m. at The Whiting, 1241 E. Kearsley St., Flint. Get tickets here.

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

Flint Symphony Orchestra to Present ‘Holiday Pops’ This Weekend at The Whiting

Photo: MLive

Photo: MLive

HolidayPops2You’ll have two chances to celebrate the season with the warm and joyful “Holiday Pops” musical event this weekend at The Whiting in Flint.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21, you can celebrate the yuletide season with this musical extravaganza featuring the Flint Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Maestro Enrique Diemecke, the Flint Festival Chorus with members of area high school choirs, Flint School of Performing Arts students and additional area musical groups.

Enjoy your favorites like “We Wish You a Little Christmas,” “Too Hot to Handel,” “Let There be Peace on Earth” and Handel’s “Messiah.”

Tickets from are $8 -$32 and can be purchased by calling (810) 237-7333 or (888) 8-CENTER, or visiting The Whiting at 1241 E. Kearsley St., Flint. Learn more here.

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

Flint Symphony Orchestra Set to Take Stage at the Whiting on Nov. 15

AngelRomero

The Flint Symphony Orchestra will present a classical concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, at The Whiting in Flint. The performance will be conducted by Enrique Diemecke and will feature special guest guitarist Angel Romero.

Enjoy a lively set of elegant compositions sure to inspire to search for subtle delights and complexities hidden within the soundscapes of Barber and Brahms, highlighted by Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, the world’s most romantic guitar concerto.

Click here for tickets, or visiting The Whiting at 1241 E. Kearsley St., Flint.

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