16 Best Things to Do in Oakland County, MI

Oakland County, MI
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Offering miles of trails, relaxing parks, and exciting outdoor adventures, Oakland County, Michigan is one of the best places I've been to.

Whether you'd like to sit at a coffee shop, read a book, or simply enjoy the scenic vistas around, this beautiful county never runs out of exciting things to do.

Territorial Governor Lewis Cass founded the county in 1819 with Detroit and Pontiac Railroad being the bridge for people to settle in the area.

The county has a population of 1,274,395 as of the 2020 census and is the second-most populous county in the state.

If you're planning on a trip to the county, I rounded up a list of the best things to do in Oakland County, Michigan.

See Live Performances at the Pine Knob Music Theatre in Clarkston

Performance at the Pine Knob Music Theatre in Clarkston
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One of the top-notch amphitheaters in the world, the Pine Knob Music Theatre is where you can watch live music, plays, comedy shows, and many family-friendly events.

This top-selling concert venue can seat up to 15,000 audiences on the lawn and in the pavilion.

Many touring musicians have graced the stage at the amphitheater, including famous ones such as Chicago, Rascal Flatts, Korn, Evanescence, Jack Johnson, Kid Rock, and many more.

There's also a nice open-air beer garden called The Tree House by Lume, where I got my delicious craft beer and Union Mac Shack's popular mac and cheese.

If you love barbecues, you can also try Coppercraft Club's mouthwatering Bar-B-Que from the grill, which I dig.

But if you're more into concessions, there are plenty of food options to choose from at the venue.

I was here sometime in May, which is typically the start of summer concerts with lots of great musicians and acts.

In Pollstar’s 2022 Year-End Rankings, the Pine Knob Music Theatre ranked number one.

Enjoy a Night Walk at Glenlore Trails in Commerce

Over a mile of immersive and illuminated trails await you at Glenlore Trails with amazing light displays, sensory elements, and more.

In the fall, from Thursday to Sunday, this immersive forest lights up filled with magical moments.

I've also encountered many live performances along the way from musicians, dancers, and theater actors, which add to the magical vibe.

Don't forget to take photos because this walk is a night to remember!

It will take an hour for you to finish exploring around, but it's all worth it.

There are also concessions to grab some drinks and snacks.

Get Your Coffee Fix at Atomic Coffee in Royal Oak

I know it can take a trip if you only need coffee while in Oakland County, but Atomic Coffee in Royal Oak is worth the trip if you're not closer to the city.

I've been to a few coffee shops in the county, but Atomic Coffee tickled my fancy, especially its famous Lavender Latte, which everyone has been raving about.

Its location is also a walk around downtown, which makes it easier for tourists to find.

Apart from Lavender Latte, many customers also love its signature drinks such as nitro cold brew, honey vanilla latte, Mexican mocha, cardamom rose latte, and honey bear brew.

Also, its delicious pastries are a must-try.

I'm not a big fan of drinking my coffee with any baked goods, but I did try its almond croissant with my latte, and it was amazing!

Also, the coffee shop roasts its own coffee each week with different blends; all are sourced from the top coffee productions in the world like Guatemala and Colombia.

Royal Oak was established in 2015 and also offers smoothies, tea, raw juices, and breakfast sandwiches.

Take Your Kids to Safari Playground in Walled Lake

If you're traveling with kids, take them to Safari Playground, which features an African wildlife theme.

Located in Walled Lake Commons Shopping Center, this indoor playground offers lots of arcade games, a laser tag arena, and mini bowling.

One of the kids' favorite play structures is the jungle gym, which is perfect for all kids of any age.

And of course, kids love the food here, especially the pizza and wings!

Safari Playground is a great spot to burn out the kids' energy and also have their time of life while traveling!

Have a Glimpse of the Natural World at the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills

Freshly mowed lawn at the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills
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Explore and see the wonders of the natural world at the Cranbrook Institute of Science.

There are interactive exhibits that you can check out, as well as a great collection of artifacts and different objects.

There's also a planetarium, which showcases different educational and informative shows perfect for toddlers and older kids.

Exterior view of the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills
ajay_suresh, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I dig the T-Rex exhibit where I had a chance to touch dinosaur bones, fossils, and lots of crafts to do to discover the natural world.

If you're traveling with kids, I highly recommend the Cranbrook Institute of Science!

Experience Marine Life at Sea Life Michigan Aquarium in Auburn Hills

Whether you're traveling with your family or friends, or even solo, there's a perfect place to see the marine life even above your head; literally.

At Sea Life Michigan Aquarium in Auburn Hills, you get to see plenty of aquatic animals with more than 250 species and over 2,000 marine creatures.

Sharks, green sea turtles, rays, jellyfish, seahorses, and a lot more are all here.

I do love the exhibits at Sea Life Michigan Aquarium, including the shipwreck, tropical ocean, and an interactive touch pool, among others.

But what I find more amazing is its underwater ocean tunnel, which is the only one in Michigan!

Get Active at Treerunner Adventure Park & Mini Golf in West Bloomfield

If you're a lover of outdoor excursions like me, head to TreeRunner Adventure Park & Mini Golf.

This aerial forest park offers terrific fun in the trees with over 45 zip lines, 14 aerial trails, climbing platforms, and a lot of exciting obstacles to deal with.

There's also an 18-hole mini golf course if you prefer to do your adventure on the ground.

All these obstacles and platforms are ideal for all skill levels with the help of its amazing staff.

Treerunner Adventure Park & Mini Golf was established in 2014.

Buy Fresh Produce at Oakland County Farmer’s Market in Waterford

Local farmers and artisans gather together at Oakland County Farmer's Market to sell their fresh produce, food, and handmade products.

From May to December on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, the market opens to the public.

I was able to buy pretty flowers here for a friend and some delicious homemade maple syrup and honey.

Most of all, there are lots of fresh, locally grown vegetables, fruits, and many more.

Drop by Oakland County Farmer’s Market and see what tickles your fancy!

Spend a Day at Seven Lakes State Park in Holly

Bee hive at the Seven Lakes State Park in Holly
James W. Thompson / Shutterstock.com

In such a small town in Holly, it's unbelievable that you can find Seven Lakes State Park here.

But it's real.

I've been to this beautiful park, which offers 230 acres of trails, campsites, a fishing area, shoreline, swimming, hunting, and kayaking, among others.

Swans at the Seven Lakes State Park in Holly
James W. Thompson / Shutterstock.com

You won't believe that I did almost everything possible here with my friends except for hunting, which I still need to learn.

But I did, yes, and it was surreal.

I was here in the fall, and the colors are magical!

So, if you're in Oakland County, Seven Lakes State Park is the place to be!

Mushrooms at the Seven Lakes State Park in Holly
James W. Thompson / Shutterstock.com

Grab a Bite at 5th Tavern in Bloomfield Hills

Traveling also means good food, and if you were to grab a locally-owned restaurant, 5th Tavern is one of the best spots to visit in the county.

The restaurant features TV screens, where you can also watch your favorite sports while enjoying its delicious food and specialty drinks like its bottomless mimosa!

It's famous for its mouthwatering American comfort food selection, which is all made from scratch.

Try its delicious hand-cut steaks, salmon, omelets, French onion soup, rattlesnake pasta, and more.

There's also live music at 5th Tavern, particularly a violinist, which I dig!

Watch a Movie at MJR Waterford Cinema 16

I remember when a movie that I was anticipating was finally out in theaters, and I was exploring Oakland County, and I had to quickly take myself to MJR Waterford Cinema 16.

What I love in this theater is its free popcorn and soda refills, and of course, its comfortable recliners with enough leg room.

The theater's humble beginnings can be dated back to the 1980s, and its name MJR is the namesake of its slogan, Movie Just Right.

Apart from Waterford, the theater also has other locations in Michigan, which is easier for many travelers to just take a quick drive and watch a movie.

Overall, it was a great experience for me and my friends at MJR Waterford Cinema 16.

Laugh Your Heart Out at One Night Stans Comedy Club in Waterford

Laughter is the best healer, right?

But even when things are easy for you, I suggest checking out One Night Stans Comedy Club, which is a premier spot in the area for its world-class comedians.

I was here with my friends, and we enjoyed every bit of it.

One Night Stans Comedy Club can seat up to 300 guests with comfortable seating and great views from the seat.

I also like that they would give you free popcorn!

It also hosts different events like a Retro Game Show and Drag Queen Game Night.

Get in Tune with Nature at Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve in Southfield

Tall trees at the Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve in Southfield
leon lemeshko / Shutterstock.com

About a 20-minute drive from the county's capital, you can find Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve in Southfield, which is filled with flora and fauna.

The 42-acre preserve offers an abundance of native plants and wildlife, and stunning woodlands, native meadows, and forested wetlands.

When I was here, I made sure that I get to the beautiful Carpenter Lake, which is stocked with bluegill, largemouth bass, catfish, and more.

Black squirrel at the Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve in Southfield
leon lemeshko / Shutterstock.com

Its relaxing ambiance offers serenity, which is the perfect place to reconnect with nature, and is also a great spot to take pictures!

Enjoy nature's best at Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve!

Have a Good Read at Pontiac Public Library

In Pontiac, the county's capital, there's a library called Pontiac Public Library, where you can settle down for a bit and have a good read.

For those who love reading, a quick visit to the library will complete your day with its amazing selection of books for all ages.

I'm a huge fan of novels, and this library doesn't disappoint!

The library also offers a great selection of digital resources for reading, research, and study.

Pontiac Public Library also hosts programs and events for kids, teens, and adults.

Buy Unique Gifts and Souvenirs at Made in the Mitten in Royal Oak

One thing that makes me excited about traveling is to buy myself and my loved ones some unique souvenirs from that trip, and Oakland County is no exception!

In Royal Oak, you'll find Made in the Mitten, which offers beautiful customizable gift baskets and handmade products made by local artists.

From home decor, clothing, handmade candles, and Michigan-brand coffee and snacks, Made in the Mitten is a gem in Oakland County.

So before you head back home, make a quick trip to Made in the Mitten to spice up this travel.

Trust me, it's worth the drive!

Browse Vintage Mechanical Devices at Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills

Here's another spot to explore in Oakland County.

At Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills, you get to see vintage and classic mechanical games and arcades, coin-operated animatronic dummies, and a lot more.

There are amazing exhibits that I've seen here, which you can also enjoy.

One notable display is the classic gypsy Fortune Teller Machines, which were used in many carnival sideshows, and most of them are even functional to this day.

Another interesting exhibit here is one of Sing Sing Prison's electric chairs, which was used to execute prisoners.

Marvin Yagoda founded Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, which can be dated back to the 1930s.

Final Thoughts

From water adventure to chilling out at a coffee shop, Oakland County is truly a gem in Michigan.

There are plenty of adventures awaiting you at this place, and I can't even wait to come back and explore more of them.

So, pack your bags and make memories in Oakland County, Michigan!

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