Things to Do in Royal Oak

April 17, 2019 | Story by Michelle Fusco | Photos by Cafe Muse, Royal Oak Music Theatre

From family fun to nightlife, shopping and restaurants, Royal Oak sizzles with energy and excitement–and it’s only fifteen minutes from downtown Detroit. High profile special events keep Royal Oak at the center of attention all year long.

Places to Go in Royal Oak

Most metro Detroiters share fond memories of school field trips or summer family outings at the Detroit Zoo. Where else can you feed a giraffe, watch polar bears plunge, kangaroos jump and penguins waddle all in one stop? Fun spring special events include Zoo Brew on May 3, with more than 100 Michigan craft beers, live music and zookeeper talks, and a Mother’s Day Brunch May 12.

The Royal Oak Farmers Market has been a local institution for more than 90 years, with Friday markets May through Thanksgiving and Saturdays year-round. On Sundays, the market features antiques. Food truck rallies, craft shows, artist markets and other special events round out the calendar. Don’t miss the Spring Fever Beer Festival April 27, one of four in a seasonal series.

Catch a movie at Emagine Royal Oak, with its Dolby Atmos EMAX Theatre, a ginormous movie screen that viewers can watch comfortably from their power-reclining, heated seats. Or support award-winning community theater at Stagecrafters.

 

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Restaurants in Royal Oak

The constantly evolving culinary scene in Royal Oak draws diners for new experiences and old favorites. The challenge is deciding which of several delicious restaurants to choose. In warmer weather, dining and people watching al fresco is the popular pastime. Mix it up with some patio hopping to explore your options.

Some to try: HopCat, Inn Season Café, Lily’s Seafood, Jolly Pumpkin or the newest addition: Diamonds Steak & Seafood. Enjoy featured wines and signature hors d’ oeuvres from downtown restaurants during the The 2019 Wine Stroll on May 18. Watch for the annual Royal Oak Restaurant Week, held in March.

 

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Royal Oak Shopping

Funky salons, vintage boutiques, art and antique galleries, record shops and specialty stores like Ewe-nique Knits, Made in the Mitten and Noir Leather make Royal Oak the ideal destination for an afternoon of retail therapy.

Nightlife & Entertainment

If laughter is the best medicine, a night out at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle is sure to cure what ails you. For 40 years, the club has showcased the best comic talent in the country. Wednesday is open mic night.

The historic Royal Oak Music Theatre is an awesome club-style venue with a full calendar of live events, from concerts to comedy.

Royal Oak offers several bar and lounge options. For a nightclub vibe, check out SCL Royal Oak or Fifth Avenue. Make your way to The Morrie for live music. For a more chill atmosphere, go to O’Tooles or The Rock on Third. Coming this spring, Pinky’s Rooftop Bar, a new upscale cocktail lounge with seasonal outdoor seating will make its way to the scene.

Make a night of it and stay at Royal Oak’s newest hotel, Hyatt Place – Detroit Royal Oak.

Royal Oak Events

For the ultimate Motor City experience, mark your calendar for the Woodward Dream Cruise, which happens the third Saturday in August. The cruise course covers a 16 mile stretch of Woodward Avenue, which runs through Royal Oak. This celebration of car culture draws 1.5 million visitors and more than 40,000 muscle cars, street rods, collector and special-interest vehicles.

Labor Day weekend’s Arts, Beats & Eats is heavy on the beats, with performances by local and national acts from a variety of music genres. Stroll through rows of paintings, sculptures and photography by talented artisans, let the kids enjoy some games and rides, then grab some grub in a food tent or one of several local restaurants.

 

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LGBTQ-Friendly

Pronto! is a popular restaurant and bar that has served the LGBTQ community for decades with a simple menu of sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts plus Sunday brunch. Pronto video bar offers live entertainment, including Broadway-style cabaret nights. Drag Queen Bingo, hosted by Five 15, is held in the space next door, along with Sip, Swish and Stroke guided painting and wine events.

Gay-owned and -operated Café Muse is a downtown restaurant that serves a European-style menu with fresh, local ingredients.

Parking in Royal Oak

Your best bet is to park in one of the parking structures in Royal Oak. The first two hours before 5 p.m. are free and the parking fee is just 75 cents an hour afterward, with a flat rate of $5 after 5 p.m. Metered parking on the street and in surface parking lots is free until 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday, all day Sunday and on civic holidays.

Insider’s Tip: BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike!) Royal Oak is not only highly walkable, it is bike-friendly, with a shared bike lane going north to south on Washington Avenue and plenty of bike racks.

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Mentioned Attractions And Venues
  1. Detroit Zoo
    8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48067248-541-5717Highlight on map | More Details
  2. Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle
    310 South Troy St., Royal Oak, MI 48067248-542-9900Highlight on map | More Details
  3. Royal Oak Music Theatre
    318 W. 4th St., Royal Oak, MI 48067248-399-2980Highlight on map | More Details
  4. Hyatt Place - Detroit Royal Oak
    422 N. Main St., Royal Oak, MI 48067248-545-7030Highlight on map | More Details
  5. Woodward Dream Cruise
    Woodward Avenue from Ferndale to Pontiac, Royal Oak, MI 48073248-672-6118Highlight on map | More Details
  6. Royal Oak Farmers Market
    Royal Oak Farmers Market, East Eleven Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI, USA 248-246-3276Highlight on map | More Details
  7. Emagine Royal Oak
    Emagine Royal Oak, North Main Street, Royal Oak, MI, USA248-414-1000Highlight on map | More Details
  8. HopCat Royal Oak
    HopCat, 5th Avenue, Royal Oak, MI, USA248-556-2202Highlight on map | More Details
  9. Inn Season Cafe
    Inn Season Cafe, East 4th Street, Royal Oak, MI, USA248-547-7916Highlight on map | More Details
  10. Lily's Seafood
    Lily's Seafood Grill, South Washington Avenue, Royal Oak, MI, USA248-591-5459Highlight on map | More Details
  11. Jolly Pumpkin
    Jolly Pumpkin Restaurant and Taphouse, South Main Street, Royal Oak, MI, USA248-544-6250Highlight on map | More Details
  12. Diamonds Steak & Seafood
    Diamonds Steak and Seafood, South Main Street, Royal Oak, MI, USA248-291-5201Highlight on map | More Details
  13. Ewe-Nique Knits
    Ewe-Nique Knits, South Lafayette Avenue, Royal Oak, MI, USA248- 584-3001Highlight on map | More Details
  14. Made in the Mitten
    Made In The Mitten, South Washington Avenue, Royal Oak, MI, USA 248-850-3268Highlight on map | More Details
  15. Noir Leather
    Noir Leather, West 4th Street, Royal Oak, MI, USA248-541-3979Highlight on map | More Details
  16. Pronto!
    Pronto!, South Washington Avenue, Royal Oak, MI, USA248-544-7900Highlight on map | More Details
  17. Five15 Royal Oak
    Five15, South Washington Avenue, Royal Oak, MI, USA248-515-2551Highlight on map | More Details
  18. Cafe Muse
    Café Muse, South Washington Avenue, Royal Oak, MI, USA248-544-4749Highlight on map | More Details