Day Trip Royal Oak: Here's a Guide You Can Share With Visitors to Our Town

Thanks for helping us write this things-to-do guide for Royal Oak.

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.

Explore downtown

You may have heard of downtown Royal Oak and its dozens of restaurants and unique retail shops. It's famous for , sidewalk cafes, wine strolls, edgy shops, such as 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:

  • a trendy gift shop to pick up souvenirs or postcards.
  • a three-level vintage store selling casual and formal wear from the 1900s to 1980s.
  • a vinyl record store offering vintage, new and re-released vinyl LPs.
  • Royal Oak's premier sneaker boutique for all the sneakerheadz.
  • this shop houses an interesting ensemble of antique furniture, vintage records and home furnishings.
  • a clothing boutique that specializes in teen and women's fashions.
  • this store carries unique toys, collectibles, art, shirts and other items that you won't find in your average toy shop.
  • this nifty little shop hosts the at 8 p.m. every Friday and Saturday.

For more about Royal Oak's downtown, visit downtownroyaloak.org.

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 offer frisbee golf, and there's a skateboard park at

Kids (and adults, too) enjoy free miniature train rides on select weekends from May to November, weather permitting, at . For more information and train schedules, visit: www.greatlakeslivesteamers.org.

For a printable map of Royal Oak parks click here.

How about lunch?

When you resurface from your fun in the park, enjoy lunch at , it happens to be right next to two air-conditioned movie theaters - the and the - if you need to chill out for a spell.

Not in the mood for a burrito? There are dozens of downtown restaurants, including - its grilled cheese sandwich was featured in Oprah Winfrey's "Sandwich Showdown" in 2008.

Read restaurant reviews in our Patch directory.  

Playing, touring

After lunch downtown, cruise down , a National Scenic Byway, to the 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 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 , authenticated by the PBS History Detectives, at the a visit to the or a walk through the Royal Oak Cemetery. Or stop by 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:

  • (vegeterian/vegan)
  • (burgers)
  • (sushi)
  • (seafood)
  • (steaks)
  • (BBQ)
  • (Italian)
  • (crepery)
  • (check out the rooftop dining)
  • (pub food)

If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to stop at (winners of the ), , , , or for dessert!


Depending on how late you stay, you might want to catch a show at , hear top national acts at the , see a play at the or stop by 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.

Did you see?

  • 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.
  • Farmers and specialty food vendors are at the market every Saturday.
  • 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 : Visit the library's butterfly sanctuary with its nectar plants and original artwork. It's located next to to the and the fountain in downtown Royal Oak.

Where else?

Let potential visitors know where else they should visit by posting a comment on this story. 

Debbie Aliotta June 30, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Create your own art at the Creative Art Studio downtown or at Paint Party Royal Oak.
Judy Davids (Editor) June 30, 2012 at 01:31 PM
It was a lot of fun putting together this guide. Thanks to all who threw out suggestions. Keep them coming!


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