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The Flint Cultural Center is a True Hidden Gem + More Winter Getaway Ideas

Thanks to Explore Flint & Genessee for partnering with Awesome Mitten for the 2022 Winter Bucket List.

If you’re looking for a cultural experience for your family this winter, Flint & Genesee is the ideal weekend winter getaway destination. Close to home, family-friendly, and affordable, check out our recommendations for a winter getaway in Flint, Michigan.

Discover Culture in Flint, Michigan

One of the things we love about Flint, Michigan is its emphasis on culture and the arts. In fact, it is home to several nationally recognized cultural organizations.

Plan to spend a day or two exploring this cultural center – without leaving your backyard – this winter!

The Flint Cultural Center offers an imaginative journey that combines learning and entertainment. Spanning the worlds of art, science, and performance art, this diverse and inclusive community center has an array of experiences for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Flint - Winter In Flint
Flint | photo via @flintunitymovement

Flint Institute of Arts

As a shining example of cultural things to do in Flint Michigan, the Flint Institute of Arts offers an assortment of educational and entertaining opportunities.

It’s the second-largest art museum in the state with a permanent collection of over 8,000 artworks ranging from ancient to contemporary pieces. In addition, it has two expansive galleries with temporary exhibits that change throughout the year.

More than 160,000 people visit the FIA every year to view the galleries and participate in art-related programs. It’s also one of the largest museum art schools in the United States with over 1,700 students.

Through a partnership with Huntington National Bank, admission to the FIA is free every Saturday. The energy and enthusiasm during these Huntington Free Saturdays make the museum an exciting place to visit. Also on Saturdays, the Hot Shop hosts free glassblowing demonstrations every hour between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

During these McLaren Health Care-sponsored demonstrations, you’ll see professional artists gather and manipulate molten glass out of a 2,100-degree furnace. Free glassblowing demonstrations occur on Sunday afternoons, too.

Flint Institute Of Arts, Flint - Winter In Flint
Flint Institute of Arts | photo via @rachel_swantek_mott

Palette Cafe

Whether you’re beginning your visit to FIA, taking a break, or need a pick-me-up before you leave, the Palette Café has a delicious menu. It serves salads, soups, signature sandwiches, and desserts. You can even order a cup of gourmet coffee or a glass of wine. Food specials are available weekly, so there’s always something new to try.

Palette Cafe, Flint - Winter In Flint
Palette Cafe | photo via @missjuliesart

FIA Museum Shop

Before you leave, be sure to stop by the FIA Museum Shop. It sells a variety of unique, artist-made and art-inspired merchandise — books, ceramics, children’s items, glass, home decor, jewelry, novelties, stationery, and textiles. The selection changes regularly, so you’re likely to find new items for yourself or gifts every time you shop.

Flint Institute of Music

A cultural winter trip to Flint, Michigan would be dull without music, and the Flint Institute of Music is the best place to go for live musical performances. It’s home to the Flint Symphony Orchestra, which executes innovative, challenging, and inspiring programs.

Another FIM program is the Flint School of Performing Arts. With more than 3,500 students, it’s the biggest community school of the arts in Michigan and one of the biggest in the country. The state-of-the-art facility allows students and visitors to discover the world of dance and music.

Flint Institute Of Music, Flint - Winter In Flint
Flint Institute of Music | photo via @theponderingwanderer

Flint Repertory Theatre

Also an FIM program, the Flint Repertory Theatre (formerly the Flint Youth Theatre) is a professional theatre that’s dedicated to providing highly imaginative and thought-provoking performances that entertain and inspire all ages.

Alongside professional productions, it presents student-driven productions through the Flint Repertory Theatre Education program. In 2018, the theatre was awarded the National Theatre Grant from The American Theatre Wing, which is indicative of the amazing impact that the program has on the community.

The Whiting

For more live entertainment at the Flint Cultural Center, The Whiting is committed to promoting and hosting local, national, and international performing artists. The venue was first opened in 1967 and has undergone renovations over the years that maintain its European style.

Each season, it presents productions of all kinds — Broadway, theatre, dance, comedy, and more. The Whiting even hosts the Flint Symphony Orchestra and Flint Repertory Theatre.

Longway Planetarium

Since 1958, the Longway Planetarium has been taking visitors on flights through the solar system and investigations of deep space mysteries. The 60-foot-diameter dome is the biggest in Michigan and one of the most well-equipped and largest in the United States. The new system of cutting-edge projections and cove lights is a first for the nation too.

Every day, 45-minute public shows — including laser shows — are available. While many of the shows are educational, some are holiday-themed as well. On top of that, Longway Planetarium hosts special exhibits and hands-on science activities throughout the year.

Plan to include one of the planetarium’s shows on your weekend itinerary!

Longway Planetarium, Flint - Flint Cultural Center, Winter In Flint
Longway Planetarium | photo via Joanna Dueweke

Sloan Museum

As part of the Flint Cultural Center, the Sloan Museum is home to fun hands-on science exhibits. It originally opened in 1966 and now holds a collection of more than 400,000 artifacts related to the rich history of Flint and Genesee County, dating from as far back as the 1860s.

Families can visit the play area, which has distinct sections for various age groups. Additionally, the museum is home to the Buick Automotive Gallery — a collection of 30 historic automobiles from between the early 1900s and late 1980s.

Note: The Sloan Museum is temporarily located at Courtland Center Mall during renovations in the Flint Cultural Center. Sloan Museum of Discovery will feature re-imagined Flint history galleries, a hands-on science Discovery Hall and Early Childhood Gallery when it reopens at FIA.

Sloan Museum, Flint - Flint Cultural Center, Winter In Flint
“A Bug’s Life” at Sloan Museum | photo via Joanna Dueweke

More Indoor Things to Do in Flint

While there are some fantastic outdoor winter things to do in Genesee County that would be perfect for a weekend family getaway (like ice climbing in Fenton!), sometimes you’d prefer to stay warm and cozy indoors.

You could easily spend multiple days exploring and enjoying all of the exhibits and events happening at the Flint Cultural Center this winter. But perhaps you’re wanting to explore more of the best indoor things to do in Flint this winter.

Capitol Theatre

If you’re looking for more things to do on your winter trip to Flint, Michigan, you won’t be disappointed. The Capitol Theatre offers a mix of movie screenings and other entertainment, such as spoken word, comedy acts, theatrical plays, classical and popular music, and modern and contemporary dance performances.

It’s located in downtown Flint in a historic 1928 building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. You can browse the shows and purchase tickets anytime.

Capitol Theatre, Flint - Winter In Flint
Capitol Theatre | photo via @camillebyers

Flint Farmers’ Market

To experience Flint like the locals, visit the Flint Farmers’ Market downtown. More than 50 vendors have setups inside, so it’s open through the winter. The vendors sell a wide range of locally made and grown products — baked goods, cheeses, meat and poultry, produce, art, and unique gifts.

The Flint Farmers’ Market is home to some awesome community spaces as well:

  • A 70-foot Atrium that serves as a Town Square and ideal meeting space for hanging out or eating a meal.
  • The ELGA Credit Union Demo Kitchen is a state-of-the-art facility with weekly cooking demonstrations.
  • The Market Tap is a full-service bar on the roof that specializes in craft beer, spirits, and wine.
  • The Rooftop Terrace offers an overhead view of downtown Flint.
Flint Farmers' Market, Flint - Flint #Mittentrip Small Business Saturday - The Awesome Mittenguide, Winter In Flint
Flint Farmers’ Market | photo via Joanna Dueweke

Chrome and Ice Winter Indoor Car Show

If you visit Flint in mid-February, plan to attend the Chrome and Ice Winter Indoor Car Show. This three-day event always features an amazing collection of cars with a different theme each year.

Along with the themed vehicles, it always has a slew of classic, vintage, and custom automobiles on display across two arenas. Moreover, the event includes auto-related demonstrations and vendor displays, as well as live entertainment and food.

Our Favorite Flint Restaurants

To stay energized during your cultural winter trip to Flint, you need to know the spots with the best food. Here are a few of our favorite Flint restaurants to frequent during your Flint, Michigan winter getaway.

Flint Crepe Company

One of them is the Flint Crepe Company, which started out as a food cart in 2008. Since then, it has flourished into a popular restaurant. It serves an array of savory and sweet crepes in a 1920s-style dining room.

Dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options are available, and don’t forget to order some Flint-roasted coffee to go with your food.

Flint Crepe Company, Flint - Winter In Flint
Flint Crepe Company | photo via @cirenex3

Sauce Italian American Kitchen

Whether it’s time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Sauce Italian American Kitchen is ready to serve. Located in a historic bank building in the Entertainment District, this restaurant makes every dish with Italian roots but takes inspiration from the foods served on tables everywhere across Michigan.

The Federal Coffee House and Simmer Rooftop Lounge

Sauce Italian also oversees The Federal Coffee House and Simmer Rooftop Lounge in the Hilton Garden Inn Flint Downtown. The goal at the coffee house is to brew the best coffee, while the open-air rooftop bar is seasonal and serves farm-to-table dishes and crafted cocktails.

Simmer Rooftop Lounge, Flint - Winter In Flint
Simmer Rooftop Lounge | photo via @waynewodtke

Soggy Bottom Bar

For a relaxed environment in the evening, head to Soggy Bottom Bar. It serves savory American food — bacon, hamburgers, and nacho chips — alongside a variety of beer, cocktails, whiskey, and wine.

Soggy Bottom Bar, Flint - Flint #Mittentrip Guide, Winter In Flint
Soggy Bottom Bar | photo via Joanna Dueweke

Shop ‘Til You Drop in Downtown Flint Stores

Before you end your winter trip to Flint, be sure to experience the culture of the downtown shopping district. There are numerous boutique and unique shops to look through, a few of which stand out.

Totem Books

An independent bookstore, Totem Books is a cultural curator of new and used books. It also sells new and used vinyl records of all kinds, as well as cassette tapes, CDs, and DVDs. You can find vintage pins, T-shirts, and other wearables too. If you need a snack during your visit, Totem’s Cafe has made-to-order sandwiches and soups.

Totem Books, Flint - Winter In Flint
Totem Books | photo via @jessarielle

Comma Bookstore

Specializing in art, books, and products by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, Comma Bookstore was established in 2020. Its mission is to empower the community through literacy and culture-focused programs and events.

Comma Bookstore &Amp; Social Hub, Flint - Winter In Flint
Comma Bookstore & Social Hub | photo via @commabookstore

Reclaimed by Whaley

At Reclaimed by Whaley, you can browse new and pre-owned clothing for men and women, collectibles, home decor, small furniture, and more. All of the sales directly benefit the foster children who live at Whaley Children’s Center, making the center a more comfortable space for them to call home.


Although small, SHIFT is a unique venue on the same block as the Capitol Theatre downtown. It specializes in accessories and clothing for women. However, it sells curated collections for kids, men, and homewares too. Every item is distinct, so you won’t find it anywhere else in Flint. During December, it has pop-up shops.

Where to Stay in Flint This Winter

Finding a comfortable place to call home during your winter trip to Flint, Michigan is easy. There are more than a dozen within the city and many others nearby in Genesee County.

Some top options include Knob Hill Bed & Breakfast, Hilton Garden Inn Flint Downtown, and Holiday Inn Express Flint-Campus Area.

Knob Hill Bed And Breakfast, Flint - Flint #Mittentrip Guide, Winter In Flint
Knob Hill Bed and Breakfast | photo via Joanna Dueweke

Check out this full list of Flint hotels and lodging options to start planning your winter getaway.

One Comment

  1. Thank you! I love the writing style of your information– friendly and positive. My husband grew up in Birch Run. We haven’t been back to Michigan since 2019 ( you know why!) But this fall we ARE going to finally be there and I am going to enjoy getting your newsletter as we plan!

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