Vintage Metro Detroit Places

Vintage Metro Detroit Places – Metro Detroit Memory Lane Musings from an 80s Child… The 1980s were a great time to grow up in Metro Detroit. Here are some hangouts and things I miss most about my childhood growing up in Metro Detroit during the 70s and 80s.


Vintage Metro Detroit Places and Hangouts

  • Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour & Restaurant in Troy – Farrell’s was birthday party fun long before Chuck E Cheese began dotting the landscape. Located just outside of Oakland Mall, Farrell’s was an old-timey ice cream parlour and family-style restaurant that was perfect for large crowds of kids and families. Farrell’s featured an awesome penny candy store and was known for its gregarious staff and bombastic ice cream presentations. Where else could you get mountains of ice cream served in a pig trough? If you had your birthday party at Farrell’s when you were a kid, you were the birthday king! People were shocked when Farrell’s left Michigan in the early 80s. Farrell’s maintained a couple of locations in Southern California all the way until June of 2019.
  • Little Caesar’s Sit Down Restaurants in Metro Detroit – Remember when Little Caesar’s had sit-down restaurants in Metro Detroit? They were awesome! The pizza was 10x better than today’s Hot & Readys and the restaurant itself was a fun place to eat. Little Caesar’s sit-down restaurants rivaled Pizza Hut restaurants in Metro Detroit and were quite the hangout. Little Caesar’s restaurants had video games, a large menu including chicken & hot dogs. The restaurants served beer beer and… believe it or not… the pizza was actually really tasty! Viva Pizza! Pizza!
  • The Michigan Panthers – As we approach 70 years of Detroit Lions football without a championship, the Michigan Panthers of 1983 invaded the Pontiac Silverdome and brought a title to long-suffering Detroit football fans with the exciting USFL brand of pro football. The Panthers with Anthony Carter and Bobby Hebert captured the hearts of sports fans in SE Michigan. The fun only lasted 2 seasons at the Silverdome. The Panthers left town after the 1984 season.
  • Winchester Mall in Rochester – Winchester Mall is a sentimental choice for me. Located at the SW corner of Avon & Rochester Rd, Winchester Mall was a smallish mall (much tinier than powerhouse Lakeside Mall or Oakland Mall) with quirky stores and a strange cafeteria (yes, cafeteria) in the middle. There weren’t many chain-style stores featured at Winchester and that’s what made it so charming. Winchester had mostly locally owned stores like Annie’s Music Connection, a surf shop (yes, a surf shop in Michigan) and a record store that was owned by a fat guy that sat in a recliner all day and picked his nose (I’m not kidding). Predictably, Winchester was never crowded but it was a great shopping center to find unique items and revel in the quirkiness. Despite the unusual shopping, the movie theatre at Winchester was a top-notch hangout!
  • Meadow Brook Village Mall in Rochester Hills – Like Winchester, Meadow Brook Mall was another atypical place to shop in the 80s. Meadow Brook Mall was located at the current Village of Rochester Hills location and tended to be a little more upscale than Winchester. Meadow Brook had a cobble stone floors and a swanky motif. Meadow Brook had a righteous arcade (Aladdin’s Castle), a Ticketmaster outlet located inside of a trolley in the middle of the mall (I swear I’m not making this up) and a tiny kids area toward the front where puppet shows were staged on Saturdays. To say the least, Meadowbrook Village Mall and Winchester Mall were offbeat – but they were fun places to hang out.
  • Hydrotube at Lakeside Mall in Sterling Hts – Shopping with waterslides? That was the thinking at Lakeside Mall in the 80s. Hyrdrotube was a waterslide located INSIDE Lakeside Mall. They were literally clear tubes with jets of water that zipped all over a large section of the mall. You could be shopping and see kids jetting down in their bathing suits while you were bundled up shopping and heading to Yummyland and Recordtown. Innovative? Yes. Practical? NO! But, it was hilarious. Lakeside also had an ice-skating rink which, I guess, was only slightly more pragmatic.

MORE Vintage Metro Detroit Places – Bill Knapp’s, Z-Rock, The Detroit Vipers, Peaches Records & Tapes, The Ritz in Roseville, Arthur Penhallow, Simulation Station Arcade (near Oakland University), Tilt (Lakeside Mall arcade), Burger Chef, Record Town, Korvette’s, Kresge’s, Arthur Treacher’s, Four Bear’s Waterpark.

How many of these less-than-iconic but still memorable Vintage Metro Detroit places and hangouts can you remember from your youth? Which would you like to see make a comeback?


Vintage Metro Detroit Places Photo (and feature photo above) with permission courtesy of


  1. Lakeside Mall was the closest real mall to where I lived in Macomb County, and I clearly remember the surge of excitement in the “tweener” set when the Hydrotube opened. Too bad it didn’t last long, but it made for some great stories. Thanks for the memories. I wish I could have seen some of the other places you mentioned; they sounded like they would have been fun. There were a few school trips scheduled to go to Meadowbrook, but I was never able to go to them.

  2. P.S. Part of they way I learned Metro Detroit geography was based on such “fun” places. I don’t think I ever went to the “REAL” water park after it opened in the Royal Oak area, but remember learning “Ryan and Dequindre” raods as near that location, as well as the Detroit Zoo. Also, even though they are not specifically in Oakland County, you should post any pictures/memories of the Wave Pools (I think Metro Beach), and Boblo Island if you have any. Most people in Oakland/Macomb/Wayne counties ended up there at some point in the 80s.

  3. YES! I remember sit down restaurants for Little Caesar’s and they were great. We had one in Pontiac on Kennett Rd. just east of Telegraph Rd. and, as I can recall from childhood, it was a surprisingly classy place compared to the Little Caesar’s we know today. And Little Caesar’s pizza pre-1980 was absolutely delicious. Oh, time, you subtle thief of… pizza.

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