From Earth to Space-Childhood Discoveries in Flint

From Earth to Space-Childhood Discoveries in Flint

Flint, Michigan has a long history of innovation and automation. It was through the creativity and vision of people like Billy Durant, Louis Chevrolet and C.S. Mott that birthed Buick and General Motors. Although Flint is no longer “Buick City”, the investment these pioneers made in their city is standing. Names of other automotive leaders now grace the buildings where future generations are enriched and inspired.

Flint is still innovating, going through a rebirth and is dedicated to inspiring the young and young at heart. These five locations tie together the importance of history with the creativity that leads to new discoveries. Who knows, visiting these locations may inspire the next brain surgeon, astronaut, actor or botanist!

#1 –  Flint Children’s Museum

1602 University Ave, Flint, MI 48504

Adults & Children: $6  Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10-5,  Sunday 12-4

Photo Courtesy of Margaret Clegg
Our Town at Flint Children’s Museum. Photo courtesy of Margaret Clegg.

The Flint Children’s Museum is always my first suggestion of places to visit in Flint. This museum has SO many activities for children of all ages. The Tot Spot has age appropriate adventures for children ages 0-3. The Discovery Zone has new exhibits every quarter, like Caterpillar Quarter or Fairy Tale Land, to keep children eager to return. The Fractions Pizza Parlor and Smart Mart provide imaginative and collaborative play centers that is a favorite of all ages.

This museum, located on the campus of Kettering University, has become a large fixture in this community. Various businesses and organizations contribute funds to offer free admission days. This allows people near and far to enjoy this gem, regardless of income. I highly suggest following their Facebook page to stay up to date on the opportunities they offer thru the year.

#2 – Longway Planetarium

1310 E Kearsley St, Flint, MI 48503

Adults: $6, Children: $4  Hours: 1:30-4:30 daily, with additional times on weekends

It would not be a stretch to say this is among the best planetariums in the United States. Longway Planetarium has undergone a million dollar renovation. This planetarium now has the largest dome in Michigan and the only projectors of their kind in the United States.

Photo courtesy of Margaret Clegg.
Photo courtesy of Margaret Clegg.

All in one location, children can experience the vastness of space and the depths of the ocean. The offer shows about the human body, robots, sea creatures and so much more! And for the young at heart, “big kids” can experience Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album with awe inspiring visuals.

Longway Planetarium offers free shows to the community every year during the Holiday Walk, which happens every December. It’s also one of the many locations that participate in the Michigan Activity Pass program. This program offers discounts to museums, parks, and family friendly attractions throughout the Mitten through the library system. Longway also participates in the ASTC Travel Passport Program. This program allows members to get discounted or free passes not only in Flint, but across the country!

#3 – Sloan Museum 

1221 E Kearsley St, Flint, MI 48503

Adults: $9, Children: $6   Hours: Monday through Friday 10-5, Saturday and Sunday 12-5

IMG_2377[1]
Photo courtesy of Margaret Clegg.
There are multiple exhibits at Sloan Museum to keep children and parents involved and excited. There is a main exhibit that changes every 4 months that involves hands-on science activities. Past exhibits include a “License to Spy,” as well as “Sesame Presents – The Body and The Scoop on Poop”. Each of these main traveling exhibits include special program days with additional interactive activities. The upcoming “Water’s Extreme Journey” programs will include building a water filtration system,  using water to create art and on-site water quality testing.

Permanent attractions include an extensive exhibit about Flint’s role in the American Dream. This exhibit, boasting more than 500 items antique cars, period clothing, and video footage of historic speeches. This exhibit proudly catalogs Flint and its role in the automotive industry. There is also Wizner’s Whizbang Emporium which offers multiple hands-on activities to encourage family interaction such as a play kitchen and grocery store, lots of board games and a puppet station.

#4 – Crossroads Village

6140 Bray Road, Flint, MI 48505

Adults & Children: $10 +  Hours: Hours very by season and event

Even though I did not grow up in Genesee County, I’ve been coming to Crossroads Village since I was a child. Walking into the village is like taking a step back in Michigan history. Started in the mid 1970’s, this village is home to over 20 structures that date back to the 1880’s. Most of these structures moved here originated within the boundaries of Genesee County. In true 1880’s style, this village is traveled on foot- no cars allowed. You can spend a day as a student in the Stanley one-room school house, take in a vaudeville show at the Colwell Opera House, ride the rails in a 1900s steam locomotive, or learn a craft from one of the many volunteers. My favorite was always the cider mill where you can still press cider today!

Photo courtesy of Margaret Clegg
Halloween Ghost and Goodies at Crossroads. Photo courtesy of Margaret Clegg.

Crossroads Village has many special activities each season which bring visitors back frequently throughout the year. The Christmas at Crossroads brings the village alive under twinkling lights, holiday music and a visit from Santa. Summer is an excellent time to stop in the village with its yearly 5K that winds through the village streets as well as a visit from Thomas the Tank Engine. Halloween Ghost and Goodies invites children and their families to go trick-or-treating, finishing their day with a crisp glass of apple cider and a warm homemade doughnut.

#5 – For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum

2142 N. Genesee Road, Burton, MI 48509

Free Entry – Activity Prices Vary    Hours: Visitor center open daily 8-5, grounds 8- sunset

Photo Courtesy of Becky Belil
Photo courtesy of Becky Belil.

I’m always amazed at just how much there is to do at For-Mar. This one-time sprawling dairy farm has over 350 acres of preserved land. This resource, opened in the 1970’s, is an oasis of nature in a now bustling metropolis. Within its boundaries are trails to walk, unique trees to discover and wildlife to encounter. Wander the beauty on your own or take advantage of one of their Discovery Backpacks, complete with activity sheets and checklists of things to find. For-Mar is also a great place to just sit back and enjoy a summer picnic with friends and family.

The major attraction are the 1,000+ affordable activities offered throughout the year. The many “Knee High Naturalist” and “Wild Adventures” programs can be found in the For-Mar  Family Fun Guide. They even have classes for adults and seniors which include cross country skiing, bird calling and cooking.

 

Flint is a place for dreamers. It has been the birth place of inventors, sports legends, and astronauts. These attractions inspire the same creativity. They encourage children of all ages to believe in who they can become. Bring your family and see first-hand why Flint is one of the many places that make up our awesome Mitten!