Royal Oaks is close to metro Detroit and is teeming with life and culture. Do you want to be in the middle of things, or do you like to amble through parks and go to bed before midnight? There's no wrong answer, but your choice in neighborhood will make or break your experience. Here's a rundown to help you get your search off on the right foot:
Normandy Road / West 13 Mile Road:Welcome to Baby Boomer Land. Nearly all the homes in this urban neighborhood were built in the days following World War II. Like other residential areas in Royal Oak, the area feels stable and more than a little park-like. $$$
Beaumont / Woodward Avenue:The Beaumont Hospital takes up nearly half of the land in this retirement-friendly community and even owns the adjacent Northwood Shopping Center. The neighborhood is especially popular with executive types who evidently appreciate the nearness to stress clinics and cafeterias. You'll find a mix of hi rise apartments and smaller single-family homes, most of which are well established and well maintained. $$
City Center:Get ready to party! Downtown Royal Oak is one of the most happening places this side of Chicago. The nightlife and performance scene are world-class, and the restaurants are to die for. Toss on your chaps and hit a biker bar, or dress to the nines for a night of theater and haute cuisine. No one will look twice and most everybody will pound one back and dance right along with you.$$$
Catalpa Drive / West Farnum Avenue:If you ever wondered what those trees are with the big bean things hanging down, welcome to the source. When you aren't dodging splatted catalpa fruits, chances are you'll appreciate the historic row homes and architecture. There are lots of college kids around, so the area is predictably progressive, hip, and lively. If you're a fuddy duddy, look elsewhere. $$$
Coolidge Highway / Upton:The busy strip on Woodward Avenue offers all kinds of dining and shopping opportunities, but the side streets retain a quaint and comfortable feel. Grab some gluten-free pizza at Buddy's or head over to Bowlero Lanes to destroy some pins and relive your high school glory days. Life is nice and vacancies are low, so you'll have to search a bit to find a home rental here. $$$$
Cummingston / West 14th Mile Road:Relax and enjoy the sprawling beauty of Cummingston Nature Center, which meanders along Torquay Avenue. The forest and nature trails offer a wonderful reprieve from the city's hustle and bustle, and lend the neighborhood a more suburban feeling. $$
North Main Street / Tenhave Woods:Home to the main Royal Oak High School, this little community is a green wonderland. From Quickstead Park to Starr Jaycee Park to Worden Park, there are more places to hug trees and curb your dog than you'd believe possible. For a real winter treat, strap on some blades and try to stay upright at the John Lindell Ice Arena. Oh, but don't speed. The local fuzz will have you in leg irons faster than you can say, "speed trap." $$
West 13 Mile Road / Crooks Road:This affluent neighborhood delivers the goods: strollable, crime-free streets, stable residents, spacious homes, and awesome kielbasa. If you aren't into tube-shaped mystery meat, you've got to try the ciabatta over at Tania's on Crooks Road. The little community park offers tennis courts and hosts a variety of summertime shows and concerts. $$$
East Hudson Avenue / Mclean Avenue:You might have to spend less on beer and brats to live in this swank neighborhood, but the proximity and convenience are well worth it. Located within a few blocks of downtown Royal Oak, this upscale community offers a mix of luxurious city apartments and stately row homes. You do get the occasional kegger and all-night guerilla Frisbee matches, but the college kids are generally harmless otherwise. $$$$$
You can literally get anywhere in Detroit in about 20 minutes. I-75 and I696 connect nearby and offer super-slab convenience and HOV lanes. Other local arteries, such as Woodward Avenue and Rochester Road offer quick access to retail and industrial districts, with even less traffic. Or save yourself the driving and parking hassles, hop on one of the city's handy SMART buses, which link up to transport throughout the entire metro area.
Food's a personal pleasure, but there are restaurants here that just about anyone will love. Get out and try them. Savor them. And if you want to taste the absolute best of Royal Oak, don't miss out on these four taste bud-pleasing juggernauts:
Oak City Grille
The prices are good and the food is even better. You'll find a crazy good wine selection, a huge assortment of local brews, and local gems like "Potato Encrusted Whitefish" and "Bacon Wrapped Scallops." The crab cakes are divine and atmosphere is downright cheery.
D'Amato's Italian Restaurant
If there are any local wiseguys, they'll be at D'Amato's, scarfing down scaloppini just like the rest of us. This is a fabulous bistro with a varied menu and a stunning dcor. Bring a heat-resistant credit card, it's gonna get used.
Not all good grub requires you to wear a suit or endure harpsichords.Dive into the area's best barbecue, jambalaya, and fried catfish while you listen to great live music at this authentic southern smokehouse. Sometimes it's nice to hang out with folks who'll just smile and nod knowingly when you schlop sauce all over your white polo shirt.
Tom's Oyster Bar
The reigning king of metro seafood restaurants, Tom's is a gustatory treasure. Really, it's that good. Try the oysters on the half-shell and you'll think you've died and gone to Maine.