Metro Detroit is overflowing with vibrant towns that offer so much to see, do, and experience. While a visit to the big city is always a good time, many Metro Detroit towns have their own bustling downtowns and hot spots that make them a joy to visit.
We love the downtown vibes of these metro towns near Detroit – they’re perfect for a day trip destination or overnight getaway!
Support Local Business in Berkley
Berkley’s downtown is a bit smaller than some other Metro Detroit communities. However, the stores are each so individualistic and nostalgic that you could spend hours exploring them all.
There are quite a few collectors’ and used-item shops amidst the pricier stores. One particularly exciting store is Peninsulas, an outdoorsy store that sells USA-made and Michigan-themed products.
One of the highlights is an antique shop called Odd Fellows Antiques. While walking through, you may discover a whole new section of peculiar items every time you turned the corner.
A business that some people love the most (and spend the most time in) is the Yellow Door Art Market. This store sells homemade goods from more than 60 Michigan artists.
Though they are on the pricier side, it’s definitely worth the cost to support local artisans.
Soak Up Culture in Ferndale
Located close to Berkley and Royal Oak, you can find an outpouring of culture in Ferndale’s downtown area.
The difference is that the individual creators sit at their booths to communicate one-on-one with their consumers. You can feel a real sense of community here, which is very refreshing.
One store loved for more than a decade is the Library Bookstore. At low prices, you can find piles of used books and collectible paper products, like maps, vintage magazines, and postcards.
You could spend hours in this store alone and not even scratch the surface of what it has to offer.
In terms of drinks, one popular place to go in Ferndale is The Detroit Bubble Tea Company. Bubble tea is a Taiwanese drink that combines tea, milk, fruit, and chewy tapioca balls that create the “bubble” effect.
There aren’t many bubble tea shops in Metro Detroit, which makes this one extra special.
Learn About History in Northville
Northville is often overlooked, but its downtown area has become a favorite. It is quaint and historic, and it feels like one of the small towns featured in the Greater Lansing small towns article.
If you’re looking for a bite to eat, stop at the Tuscan Cafe. Treat yourself to a tasty sandwich or grab your favorite coffee drink. It’s a great spot to start your trip in Northville before moving on to other sites.
You’ll also find Wok Asian Bistro in Northville, whose menu boasts eclectic Asian fusion. The coolest part is that it prides itself on using farm-fresh, locally-sourced ingredients in addition to Asia-imported ones.
While in Northville, make sure that you visit Mill Race Village. The Northville Historical Society has worked to preserve local history, and visitors can take a self-guided walking tour past historic churches, homes, schoolhouses, and more.
Enjoy a Show in Farmington
Farmington is a town that many people only visit to see movies at the Farmington Civic Theater. However, there’s a decent amount of other stuff to do there.
For one, there’s a small park outside of the Masonic Temple where you might sit with friends and, perhaps, have a picnic on a nice day.
An obvious standout in Farmington is, as already mentioned, the Farmington Civic Theater. You can watch second-run movies here for much less than at major theaters, which makes the moviegoing experience all the more enjoyable.
Furthermore, the theater is a place to “experience the nostalgia of an old-time theater” while enjoying recent, modern films.
Explore the Great Outdoors in Milford
If you love the outdoors, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Milford. Start your Milford adventure at Kensington Metro Park. Here, you can explore more than 4,000 acres of land and camp, fish, canoe, kayak, walk, hike, bird watch, and swim until your heart’s content.
The Metropark is open all year, which means you can also indulge in ice fishing, ice skating, and cross-country skiing in the wintertime.
When you’re done exploring outside, head to downtown Milford, where you can shop, eat, and enjoy awesome downtown events.
If you’re hungry, check out Czapski’s Kitchen for homemade American, Polish, and Mexican classics, including pierogi, kielbasa, beef brisket, and pork roast.
If you’re looking for a refreshing drink, try Beyond Juice + Eatery, where you’ll find energy smoothies — drinks with as much caffeine as canned energy drinks but made with natural ingredients.
Have Fun Year-Round in Downtown Plymouth
A visit to downtown Plymouth offers the chance to do something fun every time.
Downtown Plymouth is also home to dozens of great events all year long. The list of events includes Santa’s arrival in the winter, summer concerts in Kellogg Park, and the Plymouth Ice Festival.
Even when there’s not a major event, there’s live music and other great entertainment options for the whole family.
While you’re in downtown Plymouth, catch a show at the historic Penn Theatre. It opened in 1941 and offers a unique, single-screen viewing experience.
Shop ‘Til You Drop in Downtown Birmingham
If you love to shop, then you must visit downtown Birmingham. There’s plenty to do, but the Birmingham Shopping District is nationally recognized and full of a fun mix of national chain stores and unique boutiques.
Whether you’re shopping for a wedding dress, new jewelry, furniture, clothes, wine, or unique gifts for your friends and family, you’ll find it all and more in downtown Birmingham, and you won’t run out of options.
If you’re downtown at any point from May to October, stop by the Birmingham Farmer’s Market, which offers live music as you browse vendors who sell fresh produce, plants, flowers, fruits, and more.
Explore the Historic Town of Pontiac
Take a ride just 30 minutes north of Detroit to Pontiac, which was once a key player in the automotive industry and home to one of the biggest General Motors plants in the area.
Pontiac is a town with a rich history, and there’s so much to do when you’re here.
Be sure to visit the Flagstar Strand Theater, a Pontiac institution that’s been open since 1921. It’s the perfect place to see a fun live event from both local and guest acts.
History buffs will enjoy the Pine Grove Historical Museum, which was the home of former Michigan Gov. Moses Wisner. The complex features a carriage house, a schoolhouse, and more.
No visit to the city is complete without a trip to the GM Performance and Racing Center, where you can see for yourself how pro racers prepare on a variety of tracks.
See Innovation Up Close in Dearborn
Located less than 20 minutes from Detroit, Dearborn is a fantastic Metro Detroit city to visit and is home to one of Michigan’s best museums.
If you’re in Dearborn, make plenty of time to visit the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. It’s the biggest indoor-outdoor museum complex in the nation and sees almost 2 million visitors each year.
As you explore all of the wonderful exhibits up close, you’ll learn a lot about innovation and Michigan’s history, but you’ll also have a fabulous time.
Enjoy a Little Bit of Everything in Novi
If you like to have variety on your Michigan adventures, then add Novi to your bucket list. The biggest problem you might have here is deciding what to do first. There are historic landmarks, great restaurants, museums, and awesome shopping malls.
If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, head to BATL to try your hand at axe throwing. Whether you’ve done it before or not at all, it’s a fun experience for everyone.
Of course, one of the main draws of visiting Novi is its shopping opportunities, and 12 Oaks Mall is one of the best places to go. It has everything you want in a mall — national and international brands, a food court, and two floors worth of space to explore.
Start Exploring Metro Detroit Towns Today
But, travel just beyond the Motor City, and you’ll find bustling towns with as much atmosphere, shopping opportunities, great restaurants, and fun as in downtown Detroit.
The natural beauty of Kensington Metropark, the fun of the Henry Ford Museum, the vibes of downtown Plymouth, and more are hard to beat if you’re looking to get out of Detroit and explore.
So, make plans to head to one of these Metro Detroit towns today. You never know what’s waiting for you in a place that you’ve never been before, and you may just find a new hot spot to visit again and again.
Do you have any other downtowns in the Metro Detroit area that you love to visit? Drop a comment below to let us know.
Thanks to Stefani Chudnow for her contributions to this article.