Historic Small Towns, Villages, and Cities
Several of the communities and neighborhoods within the Metro-Detroit area are actually cities in their own right that date back to the 1800s. Although engulfed by the larger metropolitan area, each has its own unique character, history, natural resources, and downtown area. In Oakland County, there are several cities, villages, and small towns that host community events and festivals, including Birmingham, Farmington, Ferndale, Northville, Milford, Rochester, and Royal Oak.
The City of Birmingham is known as “A Walkable Community.” It is located west of Woodward Avenue in Oakland County. Of the communities that have a historic downtown area, Birmingham is one of the most affluent, and it shows in the city's fine shops, restaurants, and art galleries.
The City hosts both a Farmer's Market and “In the Park” concert series.
Annual Birmingham Events include:
- January/February: Little Christmas Tea, Restaurant Week
- March/April: Uptown Film Festival
- May/June: Celebrate Birmingham Parade
- July/August: Birmingham Cruise Event, Bike Festival, Birmingham Street Art Fair
- September/October: Halloween Parade,
- November/December: Holiday Tree Lighting and Santa House Opens, Magic of Birmingham, Winter Markt (German), Magic of Birmingham, Family New Year Blast
The City of Farmington has been settled in one form or another for over 160 years. It is located off of Grand River Avenue in southern Oakland County, one of the major spoke roadways out of Detroit. While several buildings within the city date back hundreds of years, the main commercial corridor, located at the intersection of Grand River and Farmington Road, is a blend of historic buildings and newer plazas tied together by recent streetscape redevelopment. There is, however, a historic area just west of the commercial corridor on Grand River that includes examples of Greek Revival and Victorian architecture. The Rouge River runs through the eastern portion of the city, and the river valley serves as parkland for the city.
The city hosts a Farmers and Artisans Market, as well as a couple of concert/entertainment series in Riley Park: Rhythmz in Riley Park and Family Fun in Riley Park.
Annual Farmington Events include:
- May/June: Art on the Grand
- July/August: Founders Festival
- September/October: Harvest Moon Celebration, Ghost Walk, Heritage Week
- November/December: Holly Days
The City of Ferndale in Oakland County is known as the “Good Neighbors” city, probably because it is an affordable, friendly place to live. Its shopping/dining corridor along 9 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue was redeveloped in recent years and has an eclectic collection of stores, restaurants, and organizations. The city also hosts several events, festivals, and celebrations, including the Gay Pride Parade and Dyke March.
Annual Ferndale events include:
- January/February: Blues Festival
- March/April: Taste of Ferndale, Assembly Line Concert, Green Week
- May/June: Memorial Day Parade, Dyke March, Motor City Pride
- July/August: Fido Does Ferndale, Green Cruise, Ferndale Woodward Dream Cruise
- September/October: Ferndale Funky Art Fair and DIY Street Fair
- November/December: Ferndale Film Festival, Prohibition Party, Holiday Ie Festival & The Warm-Hearted Cookie Challenge
The Village of Milford is located in southwest Oakland County. The small town was at one time known as “Egypt.” Located on the banks of the Huron River, Milford's historical growth was chiefly tied to the water power the river provided. Milford's many parks, historic structures, and picturesque landscape give the village a unique, small-town charm. Milford is also home to the GM Proving Grounds and Kensington Metropark.
The Village hosts a farmers market, movies in the park, and a summer concert series.
Annual Milford events include:
- May/June: Memorial Day Parade
- July/August: Shop, Rock, and Stroll, Fourth of July Parade, Milford Memories
- September/October: Milford Classic Car show, Boo Bash
- November/December: Christmas Parade, MBA Christmas Open House
The City of Northville straddles both Wayne and Oakland Counties. The area was settled in the 1800s as part of Plymouth Township and eventually became a village in 1867 and a city in 1955. The city is known for its Victorian-era housing, quaint small-town atmosphere, and rolling landscape. The city is also home to Northville Downs Racetrack, the Marquis Theatre (a children's theater), shops, galleries, and restaurants. Mill Race Historical Village is a small area just east of the downtown district that contains several historic buildings, the collection of which represent an earlier era in the city's history.
The city hosts a farmer's market and two concert series: Tunes on Tuesdays and Summer Friday Night Concerts.
The annual Northville events include:
- May/June: Arts and Acts
- July/August: Buy Michigan Now
- September/October: Victorian Festival, Ghoultide Gathering, Car Tunes Fall Festival
- November/December: Christmas Tea, Holiday Light Parade
Rochester is located in the Clinton River Valley between the Clinton River and Paint and Stoney Creeks. In addition to its proximity to water power, its growth was due to its location along a major roadway and rail line. The village dates back to 1869, but the area didn't become a city until 1967. While the downtown district still contains several historic buildings, it is the rolling hills, parks and Clinton River, add to the area's appeal.
Rochester hosts a farmer's market, as well as Movies in the Moonlight.
Annual Rochester events include:
- January/February: Fire & Ice Fest
- March/April: Gallery Stroll
- May/June: The Green Living Festival, Greater Rochester Heritage Days
- July/August: Rochester's Great American Bake Sale, Restaurant Week, Rockin' Rods in Rochester
- September/October: Art & Apples Festival, Spotlights Art Show, Rocktoberfest, Oktoberfest, Trick-or-Treat Downtown
- November/December: Gourmet Gala, Lagniappe, The Big, Bright Light Show, Christmas Parade
While the City of Royal Oak (AKA “The City of Trees”) is located along Woodward Avenue in Oakland County, its downtown district is located a few blocks east of Woodward and is made up of a wide mix of restaurants, shops, bars, high-rise apartments. and lofts. In fact, the area has several options for entertainment and nightlife, including Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle and the Royal Oak Music Theatre. It is also home to the Detroit Zoo.
Royal Oak hosts a farmer's market.
Annual Royal Oak events include:
- May/June: Memorial Day Community Parade, Blessing of the Bikes, Summer Stroll for Epilepsy, Clay Glass and Metal Show
- July/August: Outdoor Art Fair. Annual Antique & Garage Sale, Woodward Dream Cruise
- September/October: Arts, Beats & Eats, Spooktacular
- November/December: Royal Oak Chili Cook-Off, Holiday Magic Parade