If you’re wanting to explore new spots with the family this fall and winter, the Flint & Genesee area should definitely be on your radar. It’s a quick drive from metro Detroit, making it the perfect day trip or even overnight option. Plus, between its events, cider mills, parks, museums and more, there really is something for everyone.
“People who visit tell me all the time that we’re a nice-kept secret over here since there is just a tremendous amount of things to do,” says Barry June, Director of Genesee County Parks. “Genesee County Parks is actually the largest county parks system in the state, so that alone has so much to offer.”
With Halloween coming up, June recommends making the trip out to two family-friendly events: Halloween Ghosts and Goodies and Wolverine Campground’s Halloween Celebration.
During October, Halloween Ghosts and Goodies will take place at Crossroads Village every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Halloween. “The event has really become a family tradition for a lot of people, and we are actually expecting over 40,000 people this year,” June explains.
The enchanted forest, magic show, straw maze and 20 treat stops are sure to get you and your dressed-up little ones into the holiday spirit; however, June suggests you don’t leave until you’ve experienced the famous Huckleberry Ghost Train Express, a 40-minute ride through the autumn countryside.
Nestled on the north shore of the Holloway Reservoir, Wolverine Campground is a refuge for families seeking the fall colors and an up north feel without the long drive. On October 9 specifically, June says the campground’s Halloween Celebration will occur where young campers and their families will have the opportunity to trick or treat around the campsites and much more.
Outdoor fall fun
It’s not fall without cider and donuts, and although there are quite a few cider mill and orchard options in the Flint & Genesee area, June says it’s worth mentioning that Porter’s Orchard Farm Market and Cider Mill in Goodrich — complete with a petting farm, fall corn maze, pumpkin patch, hayrides, pig races and more — is actually celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
Another area favorite is Almar Orchards and Cidery in Flushing, which is one of the largest organic apple orchards in the midwest and known for one of the best tasting apple ciders: J.K.’s Scrumpy Farmhouse Organic. Cheers!
In addition to cider mills and orchards, June says that with over 20 miles of the Flint River in the Genesee County Parks, there are many great locations to fish. Additionally, he adds that all-season hiking and biking is extremely common, especially at the 383-acre For-Mor Nature Preserve and Arboretum, which is home to seven miles of trails, a memorial garden, a barrier-free treehouse and more.
Winter fun, too
When snow begins to fall, June says to keep in mind that the Genesee County Parks boasts three different sledding hills, as well as many snowmobile areas. (Mt. Holly Ski and Snowboard Resort is quite popular, too!)
He also highly recommends getting tickets for this year’s Christmas at Crossroads Village. A family tradition for over 30 years, Christmas at Crossroads provides you and the kiddos the opportunity to take an evening ride on Huckleberry Railroad, witness thousands of sparkling lights and enjoy a visit with Santa.
On those too cold or too snowy days, the Flint Children’s Museum (recommended for children ages 2 to 10) or Michigan’s premier astronomy education facility, Longway Planetarium, are always fun family options.
How to get started planning
See what Flint & Genesee has to offer and start planning at exploreflintandgenesee.org. Click the “Things To Do” dropdown menu option; all of the activities are organized by category, which makes for very easy searching.
Learn more and plan your own trip at Explore Flint & Genesee. Visit www.exploreflintandgenesee.org.