Because Flint is entwined with the history of Chevrolet and General Motors, it’s no wonder it’s on the rebound as a happening town. With a wide variety of cultural and entertainment choices, it’s a great destination for a long weekend in your Chevrolet Spark. While the compact, city-wise Spark lets you zip into the smallest parking space, its 31.2 cubic feet of cargo room can accommodate all your travel gear. And its available BringGo* navigation app will keep you headed in the right direction.
You know the Spark has verve and sass (you can choose among eight expressive colors, including salsa, jalapeno and lemonade). But you may be surprised at just how much verve and sass Flint has, too.
Here’s what to do in this newly revitalized Michigan city.
See the perfect exemplar of Flint’s comeback: The Durant. Named for GM’s founder Billy Durant, the Durant Hotel stood amongst the finest luxury hotels in the country during GM’s first sixty years. As with many center city landmarks in the industrial Midwest, the Durant went to ruin as citizens fled. An extraordinary renovation preserved even the original tiled floor of the grand ballroom and fashioned the Durant into a magnificent downtown luxury condominium complex. For a glimpse of how GM’s early bigwigs partied and how modern urbanites live today, stop in for a quick tour.
The Cultural Center
Flint’s Cultural Center is a gem set among the trees on the banks of the Flint River. Visit the Flint Institute of Arts. The FIA hosts innovative traveling shows—they range from paintings of the Great Masters to the latest from cartoon art. The Flint Institute of Arts also stages lectures and an art film series, and is home to an exquisite world-renowned glass paperweight collection. The Whiting plays host to Broadway shows, musicians and top-shelf comedians. It’s the concert home of the Flint Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of maestro Enrique Diemecke, famed conductor, and awardee of the Mahler Society’s highest honor. The Sloan Museum (for Chevrolet leader Alfred P. Sloan) is one of the world’s leading automotive museums—not be missed by any auto or pop-culture enthusiast.
Food and Drink
From end to end of Flint’s cobblestoned Saginaw Street, one can find plenty of good eats. At the north end, Table and Tap features house-smoked barbecue and an exceptional collection of Michigan-made craft beers. (Did you know that Michigan is ranked #4 in the U.S.A.’s craft beer industry?) Bookending the restaurant strip is Cork on Saginaw, home of two innovative Enomatic wine sample dispensers and an amazing bacon-cashew caramel corn. In mid-street, there’s high-end pub grub at Blackstone’s Grill, terrific crepes at Flint Crepe Company, bubble tea at Cafe Rhema and tapas at 501 Bar and Grill. Grab a burger at The Torch in Buckham Alley, home base of the re-born arts scene.
The Local Arts and Food Scene
Much of Flint’s rebirth can be credited to a burgeoning arts scene, thanks in part to Greater Flint Arts Council. ArtWalk jams the downtown streets the second Friday of each month, and JazzWalk features jazz performers on the fourth Thursday of each month. Locations vary with the seasons. Flint Local 432 is a hotbed for touring musicians from synth to indie and everything in-between. If your tastes run hard-core, hit the Machine Shop, located a few miles from downtown, for shows from bands like Mushroomhead and Trapt.
DON’T MISS: mid-August’s Back to the Bricks Cruise Weekend. Ranked as one of the USA’s top 20 auto festivals, B2B brings hundreds of thousands of people to Saginaw St. for a celebration of collector automobiles new and old.
ANOTHER DON’T MISS: the Flint Farmer’s Market. Scheduled for a move in spring 2014, the market’s space will double. A past winner of “Best Market in Class,” the new Flint Farmer’s Market promises to create a new town square for downtown.
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David Stanley is a voice-over artist and writer. Musician, teacher and science geek. Coach, skier and bike racer. “I call it curiosity, my wife calls it ADD, but I find nearly everything interesting. My son is 20 and still needs his Dad. I am 54 and so do I.” He is a writer for The Good Men Project and blogs on the oddities of life, sports, kids and education.
This is part of a series of Spark City Guides on Chevy Culture.
*BringGo app must be purchased separately. Requires compatible smartphone. Data plan rates apply.
See dealer or call 1-855-4-SUPPORT (1-855-4-787-7678) for more information.