Nestled just north of Detroit, Royal Oak is one of metro Detroit’s most popular suburbs thanks to its thriving downtown, abundance of entertainment, and small-town charm.
This vibrant city packs a lot of punch for its size, offering visitors all the amenities of a big city in an easy-to-navigate community.
The pedestrian-friendly downtown area, which serves as the heart of Royal Oak, seamlessly connects to a diverse array of attractions and activities beyond its compact boundaries.
From morning through the evening hours, Royal Oak offers engaging experiences across the arts, sports, dining, nightlife, and family entertainment realms. Read on to discover the very best things to do in this energetic Detroit suburb.
1. Take a Walk Down Main Street
At the heart of downtown Royal Oak lies Main Street, a hub of shopping, dining, and nightlife. Take an evening stroll on the pedestrian-friendly street to browse the boutiques and boutique shops selling clothing, gifts, jewelry, and more.
Stop for a bite to eat at one of the many cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating. When the sun sets, neon signs illuminate as the bustling entertainment district comes alive. With its variety of storefronts and constant activity, Main Street is the place to see and be seen.
2. Explore the Farmers Market
For fresh produce and artisanal treats, stop by the award-winning Royal Oak Farmers Market held every Saturday from May through December. Rain or shine, over 60 local farmers and vendors set up outdoor stalls brimming with Michigan-made products.
Find seasonal fruits and veggies, fresh flowers, baked goods, honey, handcrafted items, and much more. Many vendors accept credit cards along with cash. With its laid-back atmosphere and quality offerings, it’s a weekend highlight.
3. Tour the Detroit Zoo
Address: 8450 W 10 Mile Rd, Royal Oak, MI 48067
The renowned Detroit Zoo located right in Royal Oak offers 125 acres of exhibits to explore. Get eye-level views of gorillas, lions, rhinos, giraffes, and other creatures in their naturalistic habitats.
Don’t miss seeing the Arctic Ring of Life, the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, the butterfly garden, and the herd of zebras grazing in the field. With both indoor and outdoor viewing areas, it’s an ideal activity year-round.
4. See a Concert at the Royal Oak Music Theatre
Address: 318 W 4th St, Royal Oak, MI 48067
Catch a show at the iconic Royal Oak Music Theatre, one of the area’s top live music venues. This historic 1928 theater hosts major national touring acts from rock, pop, country, and comedy genres.
Recent performers have included Coheed and Cambria, Jackson Browne, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Sebastian Maniscalco. The general admission theater offers seating in the balcony or orchestra pit up close to the stage. Music fans won’t want to miss this premier concert experience.
5. Learn History at the Royal Oak Historical Museum
Address: 1411 W Webster Rd, Royal Oak, MI 48073
Explore the city’s unique history at the Royal Oak Historical Museum, situated within the 1927 Farmers Market building, where exhibits chronicle the transformation of Royal Oak from a rural farming village to a model suburban community.
View vintage artifacts, photos, stores, and a replicated soda fountain. Check the schedule for upcoming exhibits and programs related to local history. Admission is free, making it a budget-friendly outing.
6. Go for a Jog or Bike Ride
This is home to over 56 miles of paved recreation paths perfect for walking, jogging, biking, skating, and more. The Red Run Greenway follows the Red Run Drain through several parks.
The 2.5-mile Clark Park Fitness Trail has 22 fitness stations along the way. Or bike along the Pleasant Ridge Bike Path shaded by towering trees. With well-maintained trails running throughout the city, staying active outdoors is easy.
7. Catch a Show at the Comedy Castle
Address: 310 S Troy St, Royal Oak, MI 48067
For side-splitting entertainment, don’t miss a show at the renowned Comedy Castle. This intimate club has hosted legendary comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, and Jay Leno early in their careers on its historic stage.
Today you can see rising stars along with seasoned comics perform standup routines Wednesday through Sunday evenings. With reserved seating and full food and drink menus, it offers a top-notch comedy club experience.
8. Tee Off at Red Run Golf Club
Address: 2036 Rochester Rd, Royal Oak, MI 48073
Practice your swing at the scenic 18-hole Red Run Golf Club public course located right in Royal Oak. This challenging championship layout was designed by Arthur Hills and winds through wooded terrain and rolling hills with strategically placed bunkers and water hazards.
After your round, grab a bite in the grill room known for its Reuben sandwiches. With affordable rates and a friendly vibe, it’s a local favorite spot for tee times.
9. Go Rock Climbing
Experience an adrenaline rush at one of Royal Oak’s two indoor rock climbing and bouldering gyms. At Planet Rock, ascend steep walls up to 44 feet high on auto-belay or take a top rope class to master proper climbing techniques, while Boulder House Climbing provides over 7,500 sq ft of bouldering space and fitness classes like yoga. This exhilarating alternative to standard gym workouts is accessible through day passes, granting you access to the routes and gear.
10. See a Production at Stagecrafters Baldwin Theatre
Address: 415 S Lafayette Ave, Royal Oak, MI 48067
Since 1955, Stagecrafters Baldwin Theatre has been Royal Oak’s top community theatre presenting live stage performances. Housed in a restored vaudeville theater, productions include comedies, dramas, musicals, and youth productions running from September through June.
Talented local actors star in recent shows like Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville and the Monty Python musical Spamalot. With broad appeal and affordable tickets, it’s quality entertainment for all.
11. Relax at Oxygen Yoga
Find your Zen at Oxygen Yoga, a tranquil studio and wellness spa located right downtown. Take your pick from a variety of yoga and Pilates classes suitable for all levels.
Massage therapy, acupuncture, infrared sauna sessions, and other healing services are also available. The eco-friendly space cultivates relaxation with amenities like eucalyptus towels, filtered water, and a tea bar. It’s the perfect spot to renew your mind, body, and spirit.
12. Study Nature at Tenhave Woods
Escape into nature without leaving town at Tenhave Woods Nature Preserve. The 110-acre forested oasis provides hiking trails past wetlands, meadows, and stands of hickory and white pine trees.
Look for deer, turtles, butterflies, and other wildlife. Guided programs are also offered throughout the year related to ecology, astronomy, wildlife, and more. With convenient preserves like this, connecting with nature is easy.
13. Bar Hop on a Royal Oak Pub Crawl
Embark on a vibrant nightlife experience in Royal Oak, where microbreweries, dive bars, gastropubs, and lively nightclubs await. Take a pub crawl down Main Street and Washington Avenue, making recommended stops at pool halls like O’Tooles and Bo’s Bistro, enjoying live music at Theatre Bizarre, savoring sliders and arcade games at Old Miami, and participating in trivia nights at Three Blind Mice.
14. Shop ‘Til You Drop
In Royal Oak, a shopper’s paradise, you can explore over 400 shops ranging from national retailers to unique local boutiques. Downtown boasts popular fashion destinations like Anthropologie, lululemon, Madewell, and ModCloth, including trendy shoe stores like Werkshop, DSW, and Soft Sole. Venture beyond the downtown area to discover deals at outlet shops such as Nordstrom Rack, Marshall’s, and HomeGoods. Conveniently, free parking decks are available for you to explore the diverse shopping options throughout the city.
15. Ride Karts at Kart 2 Kart
Get your adrenaline pumping at Kart 2 Kart, the premier go-kart racing spot in metro Detroit. Their state-of-the-art electric karts reach speeds up to 45 mph as you race around the multi-level track.
Try your skills at the challenging 20-turn circuit against family and friends. Leagues and private events are also hosted in the facility which includes billiards and an arcade. With its fast-paced racing action, it delivers interactive thrills.
From art galleries and historic sites to rock climbing walls and electric go-karts, Royal Oak offers dynamic attractions for visitors of all interests.
With its perfect blend of big-city entertainment and small-town community vibes, Royal Oak offers an incredible variety of things to see and do just minutes from Detroit. Experience the energy and creativity of this beloved Michigan destination on your next getaway.