Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Flint, MI

  • Published 2022/11/29

Located on the banks of the Flint River, the city of Flint in Michigan is the county seat of Genesee County, with a population of 81,252 as of the 2020 census.

The city is the birthplace of the automobile company General Motors, thereby earning the nickname “Vehicle City.”

Fur trader Jacob Smith founded it in 1819 and established a trading post on the historic Saginaw Trail, which became the center of the lumber industry.

Despite the numerous crises the city has experienced over the past decades, it keeps its head high and prides itself in attracting tourists.

Free activities, for instance, are among the reasons why tourists flock to the city.

You can explore the city’s best-kept secrets, from museums to historic structures and quaint shops downtown.

Here are the free things to do in Flint, Michigan:

Join the Fun at Back to the Bricks Car Show

A car at the Back to the Bricks Car Show

Wirestock Creators /

Nicknamed Vehicle City, Flint hosts an amazing week-long car cruise called Back to the Bricks, which happens in August every year.

The annual car show event celebrates Genesee County’s old tradition of teenagers cruising from one spot to another.

Established in 2004 by Al Hatch and team, the annual car cruise started with only a few hundred cars to half a million car enthusiasts from around the world.

Classic cars at the Back to the Bricks Car Show

Wirestock Creators /

The five-day event is inspired by Detroit’s Woodward Dream Cruise and is sponsored by General Motors, ELGA Credit Union, Buick, and more.

Check out the amazing types of cars in the flesh, celebrate with the locals, and enjoy the free music events in downtown Flint!

Back to the Bricks’ annual car cruise takes place at the historic Saginaw Street.

See the Majestic Stepping Stone Falls

One of Flint’s jewels, the man-made Stepping Stone Falls is a great destination for picnics, hikes, and bike rides.

The falls connect the Flint River to the 600-acre Mott Lake, which is stocked with fish and a nice fishing area.

The man-made falls feature customized forms in different steps and levels, offering beautiful cascading water.

There are picnic tables if you intend to spend a full-fun day at the park to enjoy the views or take scenic strolls through the well-maintained trails.

Officially opened in 1972, the falls are inspired by Cascade Falls, which are also man-made and located in Jackson, Michigan.

You can find the Stepping Stone Falls on Branch Road.

Go Hiking at the Flint River Trail

The city features a scenic Flint River Trail for the outdoorsy type, which you can hike or bike.

The 27-mile trail takes you to different parks and historic sites throughout Flint and Genesee County.

It’s well-kept and runs on both sides of the river, which takes you to Bluebell Beach and the other to Crossroads Village.

The Flint River Trail was established in the 1980s.

You can start your way at Longway Boulevard.

Browse through the Expressive Artworks at the Flint Institute of Arts

Exterior of the Flint Institute of Arts

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every Saturday, the Flint Institute of Arts offers free access for all visitors to get a chance to see spectacular artworks from the 15th century to the present.

The art museum houses a collection of European, American, African, Pre-Columbian & Native American, Asian, and contemporary artworks.

It’s the second-largest art museum in Michigan, offering free art programs, exhibitions, events, and more.

The art museum, with more than 8,500 items, also offers an Art School program to people of all ages.

Founded in 1928, the Flint Institute of Arts offers free Saturday access for all visitors sponsored by the Huntington Bank.

It’s also worth noting that all residents of Genesee County, as well as the members of the art museum, enjoy free access on any day.

Get Your Beach Fix at Bluebell Beach

Nothing’s more fun than cooling down in the water, and Bluebell Beach doesn’t disappoint.

The beach is open for seasonal swimming and has a splash pad for the kids to enjoy on a sunny day.

There are also 14 shade kites and a patio area with picnic tables.

The 0.8-mile Flint River Bike Path at the beach is also a visitor favorite for biking and walking.

Bluebell Beach is located off Bray Road.

Take a Tree Tour at the Glenwood Historical Cemetery & Certified Arboretum

Flint’s notable figures who helped shape the city today are laid to rest at Glenwood Historical Cemetery & Certified Arboretum.

Josiah Dallas Dort, Charles Stewart Mott, and Robert J. Whaley, for instance, are buried at the cemetery.

But what makes this 47-acre historic spot more interesting is the arboretum, which houses almost 1,000 trees of 57 different species.

Most of these trees are of native species, although there’s also a Yellowhorn tree, a native of China.

Take a tour and learn more about each tree by scanning the QR code on its tree tag through your mobile phone.

Two wooded ravine areas at the cemetery also house species of birds, deer, and other wildlife.

Located on the south junction of the Flint River, the Glenwood Historical Cemetery & Certified Arboretum was established in 1855 on West Court Street.

In 2010, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Read a Book at the Flint Public Library

Exterior of the Flint Public Library

Alison Chan (Crazytales), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Read a book and learn something new at the Flint Public Library.

The library houses over 150,000 books and media for everyone to check out, whether for science, digital learning, or others.

If you’re in town and want to spend a nice afternoon reading in a quiet place, the library has lots to offer regarding books.

It’s also one of the best destinations to learn more about the city and the rest of Genesee County.

The library also holds different educational programs for children and is a great community hub for connections and learning.

Established in 1851 by a group of women, the Flint Public Library is funded by local donors, organizations, and private individuals.

It’s located off East Kearsley Street.

Visit What’s Up Downtown

The city of Flint holds different kinds of events and activities, free and with fees to all locals and tourists visiting the city.

When in town, feel free to drop by What’s Up Downtown to learn about downtown activities.

There are many scheduled free events to join almost every week that may capture your interest.

Founded in 2020, What’s Up Downtown aims to diversify the cultural heritage of Flint through social gatherings, activities, and events.

It’s located in Greater Flint Arts Council on Saginaw Street.

Watch Live Music at Tunes at Noon

At Wilson Park across from the Farmer’s Market every day in the summer months, Tunes at Noon hosts free live music concerts at noon.

Picnic tables are available for use, but they may run out, so it’s recommended to bring your own portable chair.

Bring your lunch while enjoying live music!

Schedules of music acts are posted at many local restaurants downtown, or you may drop by Greater Flint Arts Council to get a copy.

Wilson Park is located off East Kearsley Street within the University of Michigan campus.

Explore the Historic Saginaw Street

The road of Saginaw Street

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The historic Saginaw Street was the trading post established by Flint’s founder Jacob Smith.

Today, the brick-lined street is still a hub for many restaurants, shops, and offices and hosts various events and festivals.

You’ll see sculptures, murals, history, and a thriving community running its daily errands.

You can either do this on a sunny day with an ice cream in hand or on colder days sipping your favorite coffee while exploring.

The historic Saginaw Street has been revitalized after years of crises and economic depression.

Take the Kids to Kearsley Park

Kearsley Park is a great destination for traveling families with little kids.

The 52-acre park has a playground where kids can freely play while enjoying the park’s relaxing atmosphere.

It’s peaceful and a nice spot for walking around.

There’s also a soccer field and nice rolling hills for sledding in the winter, a famous park activity.

The historic arch bridge located in the park is also not to be missed!

Established in 1917, Kearsley Park is one of the city’s oldest parks.

Stroll around the Streets and See the Flint Public Art Project

Walking down the historic streets of Flint allows you to see spectacular works of art by local artists.

The Flint Public Art Project collaborates with local organizations, artists, planners, and architects to bring life to the city’s art community.

Established in 2012, the city has become a hub for artists and the community to showcase their talents and skills in art.

Larger-than-life murals have taken the city’s vacant spaces to another level by installing different themed murals.

Street art has also helped the city to shine again after several crises in the past and has drawn many visitors.

There are 10 gorgeous pieces of street art to see, including “Greetings from Flint” by Indecline and “_Frida Kahlo“_ by local artist and lawyer Charlie Boike.

Other Free Things to Do Nearby

You’ll discover historical sites and amazing tourist attractions if you get past the city limits.

See magical spots within just a few minutes drive from Flint.

Get Closer to Nature at For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum

The grounds of For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum

Rahnea Heard /

Stepping outside Flint also means enjoying beautiful meadows, wildlife, walking trails, and gorgeous gardens at For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum.

The preserve opened in 1970 and boasts spectacular natural areas, flora, and fauna.

The 383-acre preserve is another gem in Genesee County and is a popular destination for locals and tourists.

For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum is located off North Genesee Road in Burton.

It’s only an 11-minute drive from Flint.

Enjoy a Game at the Goldenrod Disc Golf Course

If you’re into disc golf, you can have the time of your life playing at the Goldenrod Disc Golf Course, where beautiful woodlands meet sports.

You’ll have your own equipment to play at the golf course.

The course features dense tree trunks, wooded holes, shady woods, and tree-lined grass, making it more fun and challenging.

Most of all, the water hazards are loved by many players who love a challenging game.

For a nice barbecue day, you can also use the picnic areas with grills.

Established in 2003, the Goldenrod Disc Golf Course is a 17-minute drive from Flint to Davison on Irish Road.

Walk through the Streets of Flushing’s Annual Candle Walk

In December each year, the city of Flushing holds a Candle Walk, where downtown streets are filled with thousands of soft-glowing candles.

The two-day event has drawn many tourists to the city with its fun grand parade of Santa Claus to light the ceremonial tree.

The Parade of Lights takes Santa to the city through the glowing streets.

He will then go to Goggins Hall to visit the children.

Right off Main Street, you’ll also see roasting chestnuts on an open fire, which helps the area get a little warmer.

There are also a lot of activities to do with your whole family, especially the kids, such as horse-drawn wagon rides, chainsaw carving, and ice carving.

Flushing’s annual Candle Walk started in 1983 and has continued to flourish.

A drive to Flushing only takes about 18 minutes from Flint.

Final Thoughts

Flint has its own beauty and charm that no tourist would refuse to experience.

It offers a perfect mix of urban and rural vibe.

Check out these free things to do in Flint, Michigan, on your trip!

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