–by Jennifer Ruple
It would be next to impossible to experience all that neighboring Detroit has to offer in a single day; however, it’s entirely possible to take in one of the city’s eclectic suburbs within that time frame.
Royal Oak, Mich. is filled with trendy eateries, breweries, record stores and boutiques, and is also home to the Detroit Zoo, which is where I suggest you begin your day trip.
Pack your sunglasses and walking shoes – there are 125 acres to explore and 2,400 animals to view at the Detroit Zoo. A must-see is the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, the largest facility for penguins in the world. While making your way to view the penguins, you’ll be treated to a 360-degree 4-D experience inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition and heroic crossing of the Drake Passage complete with sea mist and blasts of arctic air. Once you’re in, you can watch more than 80 cute, frolicking penguins overhead from the tunnels at the underwater gallery.
Try to resist the urge to eat at the zoo though, even if the sweet treats are calling your name, because nearby downtown Royal Oak has a myriad of eateries, particularly along Main Street, to enjoy a relaxing late lunch or early dinner. Check out Ale Mary’s Beer Hall which offers an extensive bottle and tap craft beer selection and beer-eccentric cuisine. Or, opt for some Mexican fare next door at Mesa Tacos and Tequila. Afterwards, explore the shops in the vicinity. Don’t miss Burn Rubber, a hip and trendy sneaker and clothing boutique, which carries the latest in gym shoes and accessories. Satisfy your sweet tooth next door at Taste Love Cupcakes. A 2012 winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and a three-year in a row winner of Hour Magazine’s Best of Detroit contest, the bakery has a gourmet flavor for everyone. Try a sweet potato cupcake with brown sugar cream cheese frosting or a cookies and cream cupcake with buttercream frosting.
If you happen to be in town over a weekend, stop by the Royal Oak Farmers Market for a sack of fresh, seasonal produce. The indoor market, located at 316 East 11 Mile Road, was established in 1925 and is one of the oldest markets in the region. Market hours are Fridays (May-Christmas) and Saturdays (year-round) from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The venue becomes an Antique and Flea Market on Sundays year-round from 8-3 p.m.
There are so many wonderful neighborhoods to explore in and around Detroit, and they’re all just an hour or two away. So don’t delay, make plans soon to enjoy a day in the D!