We wrote this little daytrip guide to Royal Oak for a summer series called Patch Passport. The other Patch sites in Michigan — from St. Clair Shores to Dexter and two dozen in between — have done the same.
All summer long, we'll offer up a weekly daytrip guide to another southeast Michigan destination. Coming Sunday: we'll help you plan a daytrip to the Rochester area, with its creek, downtown shopping and a popular eatery where you can order a coney and fries and grab a picnic table by the water (but watch out for ducks.)
But to start, here's what you helped us come up with for our own daytrip guide. Have more suggestions? Add them in the comments.
You may have heard of downtown Royal Oak and its dozens of restaurants and unique retail shops. It's famous for Harley bike night, sidewalk cafes, wine strolls, edgy shops, such as Noir Leather, and parking tickets - so bring along plenty of change or a credit card for parking meters.
Parking is plentiful, sidewalk cafes offer topnotch people watching opportunities, and there are dozens of flat screens dotted around town to catch your favorite sports on TV.
Here are some spots you won't want to miss, according to Patch readers:
- Write Impressions, a trendy gift shop to pick up souvenirs or postcards.
- Lost & Found Vintage, a three-level vintage store selling casual and formal wear from the 1900s to 1980s.
- UHF, a vinyl record store offering vintage, new and re-released vinyl LPs.
- Burn Rubber Sneaker Boutique, Royal Oak's premier sneaker boutique for all the sneakerheadz.
- Vertu, this shop houses an interesting ensemble of antique furniture, vintage records and home furnishings.
- Pitaya, a clothing boutique that specializes in teen and women's fashions.
- Lift Designer Toys & Gallery, this store carries unique toys, collectibles, art, shirts and other items that you won't find in your average toy shop.
- Five15 Cafe, this nifty little shop hosts the Drag Queen Bingo at 8 p.m. every Friday and Saturday.
Find a park
Put on your walking shoes — or helmet, if you brought your bike along for the day trip — and play or have a picnic at one of the city's 50 parks. Nine of the city's parks have tennis courts, Wagner Park and Starr Jaycee Park offer frisbee golf, and there's a skateboard park at Memorial Park.
Kids (and adults, too) enjoy free miniature train rides on select weekends from May to November, weather permitting, at Starr Jaycee Park. For more information and train schedules, visit: www.greatlakeslivesteamers.org.
How about lunch?
When you resurface from your fun in the park, enjoy lunch at Zumba's Mexican Grille, it happens to be right next to two air-conditioned movie theaters - the Emagine Royal Oak and the Main Art Theatre - if you need to chill out for a spell.
Not in the mood for a burrito? There are dozens of downtown restaurants, including Cafe Muse - its grilled cheese sandwich was featured in Oprah Winfrey's "Sandwich Showdown" in 2008.
After lunch downtown, cruise down Woodward Avenue, a National Scenic Byway, to the Royal Oak Golf Center where you can play mini golf or fine tune your golf game at one of the area's premier driving ranges. Not a golfer? The Grand Slam Baseball Training Center is right next door for baseball enthusiasts to practice their hitting and fielding skills.
If you want to get wet, the Red Oaks Waterpark is just a few miles away in neighboring Madison Heights. The Oakland County park has a soak station, a 990-foot long moving river, a triple-flume waterslide and a wave-action pool. Residents of Oakland County enjoy discounted admission rates.
History buffs will enjoy seeing a genuine Abraham Lincoln signature, authenticated by the PBS History Detectives, at the Royal Oak Historical Society Museum, a visit to the Orson Starr House or a walk through the Royal Oak Cemetery. Or stop by Frentz & Sons Hardware and pick up a guide to walk Saginaw Indian Trail.
Where to have dinner?
Here are the restaurants that consistently receive thumbs up from Patch readers; click on the links for in-depth reviews and more:
- Inn Season Cafe (vegeterian/vegan)
- Red Coat Tavern (burgers)
- Ronin Sushi Bar (sushi)
- Lily's (seafood)
- Oxford Inn (steaks)
- Lockhart's (BBQ)
- Pizzeria Biga (Italian)
- What Crepe? (crepery)
- Red Fox English Pub (check out the rooftop dining)
- Duggan's (pub food)
If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to stop at Taste Love Cupcakes (winners of the Food Network's Cupcake Wars), Astoria Pastry Shop, Gayle's Chocolate's, Ray's Ice Cream Company, or Jim's Frostie Treats for dessert!
Depending on how late you stay, you might want to catch a show at Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle, hear top national acts at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, see a play at the Baldwin Theatre or stop by 526 Main for dueling pianos.
When to come
Royal Oak is hopping all summer. If you want to time your visit around a summer festival or event, check out these dates.
- Royal Oak Outdoor Art Fair, July 7 at Memorial Park
- Armenia Fest, July 14 at the Royal Oak Farmers Market
- Royal Oak Garage Sale July 14-15 at the Lafayette Avenue parking structure
- Shakespeare in the Park, Aug. 2-12 at Starr Jaycee Park
- Dream Cruise, Aug. 18 on Woodward Avenue
- Arts, Beats & Eats, Aug 31 - Sept. 3 in downdown Royal Oak
Did you see?
- Inside|Out: Be sure to look for six high-quality reproductions of art pieces from Detroit Institue of Art's collection while in downtown Royal Oak. Most of the pieces hang on the sides of buildings.
- Royal Oak Farmers Market: Farmers and specialty food vendors are at the market every Saturday.
- Detroit Zoo: One of the area's most beloved tourist attractions is located in Royal Oak. Visit 125 acres of habitats, exhibits and attractions, perfect for a day out with the whole family.
- Butterfly Garden at the Royal Oak Public Library: Visit the library's butterfly sanctuary with its nectar plants and original artwork. It's located next to to the Veteran's War Memorial Plaza and the Star Dream fountain in downtown Royal Oak.
Let potential visitors know where else they should visit by posting a comment on this story.