Explore Farmington HillsModified: February 15, 2023 | Story by Brandon Alger
First settled in 1824, Farmington was later incorporated as a village in 1867 and a city in 1926. Until the 1950s, Farmington was a small village with limited ties to Detroit. Still, during the post-war building boom Metro Detroit consumed Farmington and the surrounding township, now known as Farmington Hills. Farmington Hills was incorporated as a city in 1973. Today the middle-ring suburban communities of Farmington and Farmington Hills are heavily connected with convenient access to nature, the northern suburbs, and the amenities and benefits of Detroit. These thriving communities also have many options for a weekend afternoon or night out. Here are a few examples:
Marvelous Marvin’s Mechanical Museum
Marvelous Marvin’s is composed of a near-equal parts museum, an old-school retro arcade, and a modern gaming arcade. The museum portion contains rare interactive mechanical gadgets that can tell you a story or amaze you with the wonders of a century ago. Walk into the arcade portion and play Gen-X and Millennial childhood classics such as Pacman, The Simpsons Arcade game, Dance-Dance Revolution, HydroThunder, and a variety of pinball machines. Make your way back into the arcade where you’ll find your more modern arcade experience filled with games that generate tickets for prizes such as Skeeball, Cyclone, basketball, and many others. The prices are great too, no cover, and $20 should last you an afternoon. Marvin’s has something to appeal to the museum-goer, the gamer, and the whole family. I have spent hours here that felt like minutes.
The Farmington Syndicate
The Syndicate is Downtown Farmington’s new social district, established in 2020, and is a place where people may purchase and consume alcoholic beverages outdoors in designated areas such as Riley Park, the Masonic Plaza, or along Grand River. The syndicate also features some of the best beverage and dining options in all of Farmington and Farmington Hills such as:
- Farmington Brewing Company – With 15 taps and a variety of beers, you’ll find something to enjoy here. My favorite is their Vanilla Bean Porter which has a dark body of chocolate and coffee and finishes with a genuine, and non-artificial, note of vanilla. No kitchen here, but snacks are available if you need a quick bite.
- Basement Burger Bar – This spot features arguably the best burgers you’ll find in Farmington. Join for pub trivia on Mondays and Wednesdays, and don’t miss the neighboring 1-Up Arcade that’s located inside where you can play classic video games like Space Invaders or Mortal Kombat, or enjoy arcade favorites like air hockey and pinball. The arcade is kid-friendly until 8pm, and better for adult-gamers after that.
- Los Tres Amigos – This local chain doesn’t disappoint with its Farmington Location at the corner of Grand River and Warner. Enjoy outdoor patio dining in the summer and be sure to try their fajitas. Their lunch specials punch way above their weight when it comes to value.
- Chive Kitchen – At 33043 Grand River and open Tuesday-Saturday, Chive is a great place to try creative cocktails and unique wines. If the social district isn’t your scene, you can also host a private event after 7 pm or invite a private chef to your own home.
- Sidecar Slider Bar – The Slider has been a mainstay of Detroit dining for generations, and Sidecar looks to 1-Up (see what I did there?) the slider game in Farmington with a higher quality slider. Located at 32720 Grand River you can explore a huge variety of sliders that include everything from your basic beef sliders to salmon, ahi, turkey, and even vegetarian options.
- The Loft Cigar Lounge – We can’t all have a smoking room in our homes, but if this is your preferred style of sophistication, you can follow up a great meal in downtown Farmington in an upscale venue with a fine cigar and whiskey by visiting The Loft.
Main entrance located at 24915 Farmington Road – Heritage Park is a massive, 211-acre park with over 4.5 miles of hiking trails, which can also be used for cross-country skiing when the weather permits. Heritage Park also has a splash pad, playground, and rental options for shelters and an amphitheater. If you’ve got kids along for the ride, be sure to check out the nature center and the kid-friendly nature discovery trail.
Apothecary Espresso and Coffee
Located at 23366 Farmington Road, Apothecary will bring you into the heart of Downtown Farmington and is a fun, casual alternative to the chain coffee shop. Whether you’re looking for a simple brewed coffee or something fancier, Apothecary prides itself on being an inclusive location that enhances its community with open-mic nights, trivia nights, and even the occasional comedian, so be sure to keep an eye on their calendar for special events.
Located at 29995 W. 12 Mile Rd. Formerly Harrison High School, this new community center is massive at over 245,000 square feet. The Hawk has all the standard features of a community center such as:
- Aquatics Center – With water slides, a lazy river, zero depth entry for kids, and lap swimming lanes.
- Fitness Center – With stationary and spin bikes, treadmills, free weights and machines, and modern adaptive equipment.
- Gymnasium – With three basketball courtes, volleyball nets, and locker rooms for your pickup games.
The Hawk also features a state-of-the-art performing arts theater with 766-seats, a makerspace with sawing and printing abilities, a full stadium and track, and childcare for ages 3-11. As far as community centers go, Farmington Hills has one that is arguably among the best in the metro area, and the entire region.
Downtown movie theaters are nearly extinct, but one still thrives in Farmington. Located at 33332 Grand River, and opened in 1940, this old-school theater can take you back in time or show you the latest blockbuster release – depending on which night you visit. Concessions here are a fraction of what you’ll pay at a major theater and private screenings are also available.
Riley Park and Sundquist Pavilion
Another important feature of downtown Farmington, and located at 33133 Grand River, Riley Park and the Sundquist Pavilion were designed as a gathering place for the communities for Farmington and Farmington Hills. Today you’ll find the Farmington Farmers and Artisans Market, free concerts, dances, and the Harvest Moon Celebration. During the winter, weather permitting, Riley Park will have an outdoor ice rink.