One of our resolutions for the New Year (now fewer than three hours away!) is to (1) be financially responsible and (2) to spend our dollars in Michigan whenever possible. In support of this goal, this column will feature “day trips” over the next few months: culturally interesting jaunts within an hour or two of Royal Oak which our readers may not have visited in awhile. Or ever.
Flint, Michigan is a scruffy city located about an hour northeast of Royal Oak which has a lot in common with Detroit. It is suffering from the decline of the auto industry. Its citizens are a proud, hard-working lot. Its population has been in decline. And/but it has a rich cultural history.
Start your Day Trip to this city with a visit to the Flint Institute of Arts. The museum completed a $12.6 million renovation in 2005 which left it with improved exhibits and a stunning building. While over 85,000 visitors check out its permanent and visiting exhibits annually, the crowds are noticeably thinner than at the Detroit Institute of Arts — an advantage for the visitor who wants to leisurely peruse the collection without screaming kids underfoot.
Current exhibits include Las Artes de Mexico: From the Collection of the Gilcrease Museum and Masterpieces of European Painting from Museo de Arte de Ponce. The museum also features an elegant “member’s room” which is open to the public, a film series, art courses, a shop featuring, among other things, Michigan artists, and a small cafe. (Hint: thanks to Target, the museum is free on Saturdays!)
Car buffs will love the Sloan Museum which is right next door. It features a healthy dose of historic cars as well as displays on regional history. As much for the anthropologist (check out the display on camping, featuring a 60s era RV) as for the auto enthusiast, this museum is as fun for kids who will love the interactive displays as it is for adults who can relive their childhoods while viewing nostalgic displays.
After you’ve had your fill of museuming, stop by The French Laundry in Fenton on the way home. (Another hint for the wise traveller: this place is great for breakfast and lunch, and just so-so for dinner, in our opinion.) From “Would Be Prom Queens” (sandwiches) to “Eat Your Greens Child” (salads), this place located at 125 W. Shiawassee at Adelaide knows how to do lunch!
Are there any day trips which you would like to see featured? Or, what’s your favorite spot in Flint? Leave them in the comments.
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