The weather is perfect. The colors are amazing. And we are all looking for ways to get out and enjoy the last vestiges of fall, make memories with our families, and have those quintessential moments of fall fun.
So we decided to pack up our family of 7 to have a fall adventure in Flint & throughout Genesee County. Flint is a 1.5 hour drive for us, so it’s perfect – we get out of our normal routine and get to experience some new things without having a long drive ahead of us.
Plus, Flint has some great things to do on the fall #MIAwesomeList that we just had to check out.
Here is what you’ll find – a 48-hour, family-friendly Flint fall things to do list that I’m pretty sure you’ll love as much as we did.
Whether you are a Genesee County local or you are within a couple of hours drive, you definitely want to check out all of the fabulous family fun and adventures that Flint has to offer.
Day 1 – Flint Family-Friendly Fall Things to Do
Sloan Discovery Museum
The last time we were in Flint, we visited FIA. After seeing the incredible Flint Institute of the Arts, we were so excited to check out another of the Flint Museums – the Sloan Museum of Discovery. This museum was undergoing a large remodel and it is now complete as of July 2022.
And all I can say is WOW.
First, I will say that I love how all of the museums in Flint are on the same street. It makes it so easy to go from the Sloan Museum to the Planetarium (you can even buy combination tickets) or to go across the street and visit FIA.
Tip: If you are a Genesee county resident, RUN. The Flint Institute of the Arts and The Sloan Museum of Discovery are free for you! And they are amazing! Sloan also has a teacher discount (the woman selling tickets must have known I was a teacher with a pack of kids in the middle of the day) which is free entry for the teacher.
As soon as we rounded the corner from the entrance and ticket area, we were greeted by a completely hands-on experience room called Discovery Hall. Here, kids can learn and touch and experience all sorts of amazing things.
In one corner, your kiddo can learn about air pressure, air currents, and even get an inside look at how our lungs work with a collection of pipes, scarves, and squishy balls that sail through the clear pipes on air currents.
This alone entertained my kids for a full half hour. And we were just getting started.
In the middle of the room is a wheel where energy is converted into other kinds of energy. Several people can join in to use kinetic energy to light up a light. One peddles a bike, one uses their arms – there are 6 stations in all, working together to show energy at work.
After getting that body temp up, you can walk in front of a heat-detecting camera which displays you on the TV screen based on your heat mapping. I had the baby in the carrier and it was crazy how cool the carrier itself was, especially since the baby inside was so warm and snuggly.
Next to this, there is a large magnetic wall where pipes and fittings can be rearranged to make ball runs. My son would have stayed there all day trying to figure out how to make the longest ball run possible.
The next exhibit, though, was my personal favorite. There were upside-down two-liter bottles locked into a rocket launcher. And you got to test water and air pressure, or a combination of the two, to launch the two-liter bottles. This wasn’t just my favorite – kids kept coming back to this one to do it again and again.
There were 4 more interactive and hands-on displays as well as crafts and experiments you could make to take home. And I’ll probably chronicle all of that in another post, but I will say that we intended to be here for about an hour and didn’t want to leave. We shut the place down!
After the hands-on experiences, we headed into the museum portion where there is a ton of Flint history. And as a mom with a gaggle of kids, I thought it was just the right amount of reading.
My oldest and avid reader was interested. My growing-in-confidence reader could read it without it feeling overwhelming. And I could read the signs while walking with the ones who can’t read and would rather look at the pretty displays.
I call this a win-win.
After we shut down the museum, it was time for some dinner.
I knew before we even took the vote that the first restaurant the wolf pack would want to visit would be Luigi’s for pizza. My kids know that you can never go wrong with pizza and we were hungry!
So we headed to Luigi’s and immediately couldn’t decide what we wanted to eat. Every single choice looked amazing. We asked our waitress for her recommendation. She said she had worked there for 30 years (!) and she still craved the pizza on her day off. Now THAT is an endorsement!
We chose to order four 8″ pizzas so we could try a little bit of everything, and not a single one disappointed. Everyone’s favorite was the one they had picked out (of course) but right now as I type this, I’m salivating over the BLT pizza (my choice) and wishing I had one right now.
I love visiting these kinds of restaurants on our travels. And so jealous of locals who get to enjoy them any time they want!
Day 2 – More Flint Family-Friendly Fall Things to Do
Flint Farmers’ Market
We loved visiting the Flint Farmers’ Market in the winter and we couldn’t WAIT to get back there so we decided to start our day there.
Obviously, we needed breakfast, but we also kept getting distracted by all of the amazing vendors! So we had a breakfast appetizer of cider donuts from Porter’s followed by the main course of bagel sandwiches from Bagel on the Run and delicious chai lattes from Penny’s to warm us up.
Pro Tip: Saturday mornings the farmers’ market is incredibly busy. If you’re planning to eat there, come early, and have a backup plan if you’re traveling with kids.
And for breakfast dessert, everyone got to choose a treat from Semi-Sweets. Two of my kids shared a piece of brownie cheesecake – where a brownie serves as the crust – and it was incredible! All of my kids loved the chocolate mousse. But I must say my biggest regret of the morning was only ordering a small fruit tart when it was so good, I found myself wishing for a large!
Crossroads Village & Huckleberry Railroad
We have been wanting to explore Crossroads Village for a few years now and with the fall’s Ghosts and Goodies event, we knew it was a great time to check it out!
During Ghosts and Goodies, entrants go from station to station in the village, getting to enjoy really great holiday decor as well as getting treats! Our kids (all kids I think) love any excuse to dress up and take home a bag full of candy.
This was so fun! And the map of the candy stations made it easy for us to know where they were going when they only had candy on the brain and it gave them a sense of accomplishment to find all the stations and get a treat at each one.
Plus, there were cider and donuts to enjoy at the last station.
There was a magic show in the Opera House. The magician was really good and very kid-friendly.
And of course, we took the opportunity to ride the Huckleberry Railroad.
All along the train route, there were cool decorations and the conductor told you about each of them as you went. Shrek, the Peanuts gang, dancing skeletons, and so many other cool displays greeted us along our train ride.
As it turns out, one cannot live by cider donuts alone (and if anyone has tried, it’s been me) so we headed to Dom’s Diner for dinner.
Everything was excellent. I insisted on getting fried pickles as they are some of my favorites and the kids all insisted they don’t like fried pickles which was fine by me because they were delicious.
We also had sandwiches all around and everyone loved what they got – grilled cheese for the kids, a chicken BLT for me, and a Detroit One for Matt. When you can get a simple sandwich and it really hits the spot, that’s how you know it’s good.
Day 3 – Even More Flint Family-Friendly Fall Things to Do
I really don’t think there’s a limit to how many times you can enjoy great diner food. So Sunday morning, we hit up Westside Diner.
We loved the 50’s atmosphere and catching up on some of the football games we had missed the day before.
Scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, sausage, and bacon were just the pick-me-ups we needed before we set out on our last day of exploring.
For-Mar Nature Preserve
The weather was perfect and we were itching to get outside and stretch our legs and For-Mar was just the answer.
For-Mar Nature Preserve is the county park you wish you had in your backyard (at least I do).
For-Mar is probably most famous for its treehouse which was built as part of an episode of Treehouse Masters.
This treehouse is the stuff of DREAMS, my friends. It’s mostly used for educational programs but there is a sign hanging on the door that says you can come to the Visitors’ Center to see if someone can open it for you.
And of course, I asked.
The treehouse is possibly even cooler on the inside than it is on the outside (I’m not 100% sure that that’s possible – I still can’t decide even as I type this). They left two trees and built the treehouse around them. I mean, it is so cool!
The kids couldn’t get over the Jenga blocks in the treehouse and built a bunch of structures before it was finally time to head out.
While I went to the Visitors’ Center, the creek called to my children like a siren. They were all down the bank and playing near the water. Seriously, this is why being outside, on a trail, is magic. They will be like, “yeah, no thanks, I don’t want to go on a hike, because bleh, walking” and then we get out on the trail and POOF they are running around, exploring everything, and getting all muddy.
The Garden Area
Matt is a lover of gardening so he headed over to the garden area. Yes, he loved the compost bins. Yes, we had to scope out the raised bed designs. Yes, we discussed the fencing as normal people do.
Also, our kids played in the fairy garden for so long that we decided we need one at our house so they can be in the garden with us and have something to do when picking tomatoes seems super lame.
En route to the garden, there was a stop-off in the butterfly house. Even though it’s not the butterfly time of year, everything was super cool and really nice to walk through.
The Visitors’ Center
Meanwhile, I explored the Visitors’ Center. This is a Visitors’ Center unlike any I’ve been to before. First, there is a wall of backpacks. They are color-coded to different activities you can do at For-Mar with bug kits, scavenger hunts, and more.
You can also borrow walking sticks and snow shoes and I’m sure other really cool stuff because these people know how to make a park fun.
The Visitors’ Center is also chock full of really cool native Michigan species of animals. From what the park ranger told us, most of the animals in there were donated by local families and there are some really cool species, including a wolverine, a wolf, and several bears. There are also fish tanks with local fish and a beehive in plexiglass so that you can see the bees working. (Don’t worry – the bees have access to the outside with a little tunnel.)
We could have stayed all day but we also wanted to check out an orchard while we were in Flint.
We headed to Porter’s Orchard for all of the fall orchard fun that can be had.
We took the hayride over to the corn maze and tried our hand at the maze. We made it back out so I guess we defeated it instead of it defeating us.
We decided to walk back from the maze, play on the playground, and of course, enjoy some cider and donuts.
And if you’ll remember, I’m a pro donut tester and these donuts were excellent. Also, Porter’s has a specialty Honey Crisp cider which has been my favorite this season.
Plus, there are vendors and amazing pumpkins (including a u-pick pumpkin patch), flowers, cornstalks, fresh apples, honey, and super quaint fall fun!
Plan Your Own Flint Adventure
Our 48 hours came to an end and it was time for us to head home. We had an amazing time and it was such a great family trip.
Here’s what I’ll say about our time in Flint – I think everyone needs to give Flint a shot. If you’re local, go out and play tourist in your hometown. If you’re not local, Flint is an excellent day trip location. There are so many awesome family-friendly things to do in Flint.