Everyone has heard of Detroit and knows it for its many contributions to the automotive and music industries. But, not as many are familiar with the myriad of things to do in Auburn Hills Michigan, a Metro Detroit suburb that was once home to the Palace of Auburn Hills.
This pleasant city is known for its green spaces, arts and culture, and shopping and dining outlets. But, it is also an important part of the local automotive industry that uses Detroit as its headquarters.
If you are planning on visiting Auburn Hills Michigan — or if you are looking for a day trip away from Detroit — this suburb is worth the visit. It offers a respite from the noise of the city but still has plenty to do whether you are looking for theater, music, history, or just a great place to have dinner.
Our helpful guide has everything that you need to plan a trip to Auburn Hills, no matter how long you want to stay.
Outdoor Things to Do in Auburn Hills Michigan
Explore Nature at Hawk Woods Park & Campground
Hawk Woods Park & Campground is one of the best-known nature parks near Auburn Hills. This 88-acre property includes everything from wetlands to forests and open fields. There is plenty of space for activities of all kinds — from hiking and biking to camping and learning about nature.
The nature trails range in terrain and difficulty, but most are simple loops that are easy for hikers of any age or ability. Also, the trail features educational signs maintained by the local Boy Scouts to teach visitors about the local flora and fauna, as well as historic sites.
Enjoy an Outdoor Concert at Riverside Park
Riverside Park is one of the best outdoor spaces in Auburn Hills. But it is so much more than just a simple park. Home to Knight Amphitheater, it is also a popular concert and event venue throughout the year. You will find a variety of live shows going on by both local and traveling performers.
Even when there isn’t an event underway, Riverside Park is an excellent place to enjoy strolls by the water, barbecues and picnics, or a ride in a canoe or kayak. The park also features a playground, splash pad, and restrooms that are open to the public.
Explore the Clinton River Trail
The Clinton River Trail is a rail trail that runs through suburban, urban, and rural areas of Detroit’s northern suburbs for 16 miles in Oakland County, Michigan. The CRT runs through the heart of Oakland County, passing through Sylvan Lake, Pontiac, Auburn Hills, Rochester Hills, and Rochester, on a former rail line known as the Michigan Airline.
Ideal for bikers and pedestrians, the trail runs just one block away from the downtown area of Auburn Hills, making it a great place to enjoy a stroll or ride after a meal or meeting friends for a drink.
Play a Round of Golf
Auburn Hills is an extremely popular spot for golfing enthusiasts. The town is home to the famous Fieldstone Golf Club, widely considered to be one of the best greens in Metro Detroit.
However, it is far from the only one in the area — there are estimated to be roughly 170 golf courses within easy distance of Auburn Hills. The town is also home to the Evolution Sportsplex, an indoor facility that makes it possible to play golf all year.
Here, visitors can take a private lesson from a PGTAA Master Professional or just enjoy playing on their own.
Don’t want to play a round? Hit from the elevated tee boxes at Top Golf!
Stroll Through Downtown Auburn Hills
Downtown Auburn Hills is a walkable business district with stores, private event spaces, restaurants, and frequent public events located along the Clinton River at the intersection of Auburn and Squirrel Roads.
Summerfest, Paddlepalooza, Halloween Spooktacular, Summer Concert Music Series, and many other community events are held in the Downtown district. It also includes a variety of businesses and restaurants run by community-minded entrepreneurs.
The nearby Riverside Park is also easily accessible, offering many more activities for visitors of all ages.
Learn at the Hawk Woods Nature Center
On the same land that makes up Hawk Woods Park, yet distinct from it, is the Hawk Woods Nature Center. This is an excellent place to learn about native Michigan plants, animals, and insects, as well as take educational programs.
You will find regular special programs and events taking place throughout the year, including activities such as geocaching. If you love learning about the natural world around you — and there is no better place to do it than Michigan — you won’t want to miss a visit to the Hawk Woods Nature Center.
Indoor Attractions in Auburn Hills Michigan
Learn About the Ocean at the SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium
One of Auburn Hills’ most popular attractions is the SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium located inside the Great Lakes Crossing Mall. This amazing Michigan aquarium features a variety of exhibits where you can view and interact with more than 250 marine species.
Attractions include the underwater Tropical Ocean Exhibit tunnel, where you can walk underneath sharks, sea turtles, and more. Also, the aquarium has a touch pool where you can touch sea urchins, crabs, sea stars, stingrays, and other small creatures.
This is one of Michigan’s largest and most popular aquariums, making it a must-visit for anyone in the area, especially those with young children.
Build at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Michigan
What kid doesn’t love playing with Legos? At LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Auburn Hills Michigan, kids and adults alike can spend hours playing with a whole new world of Legos and Lego displays.
There are not only thousands of blocks for building and playing but also two rides and a 4D cinematic experience that is all about — you guessed it — Legos. You can even take a class to learn about how to build creations that you’ve never attempted before.
This is the perfect destination for Lego lovers, whether they are young or old.
Enjoy an Unusual Activity at The HUB Stadium
The HUB Stadium in Auburn Hills isn’t your average entertainment center. It’s a place where you and your friends can enjoy signature cocktails while learning how to throw axes. The stadium has five classic ax-throwing stations and 10 interactive stations, as well as golf simulators and football bowling.
As if that weren’t enough, there is also a full menu of food, signature cocktails, and craft beer. One thing is certain — when you go out for an evening at The HUB, it won’t be like any other night out that you’ve ever had.
Catch a Show at Meadow Brook Theatre
The Meadow Brook Theatre in Auburn Hills Michigan is known affectionately as “Michigan’s answer to Broadway,” founded in 1966 to promote arts and culture in Michigan.
Shows of all kinds take place throughout the year, and you never know what you will find. The season program is released on the theatre’s website in advance with a lineup of jazz concerts, musicals, classical plays, instrumental concerts, and much more.
Additionally, there are seasonal performances and traditions, such as the annual adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” during the holiday season.
Raise a Glass at Michigan by The Bottle Tasting Room
Michigan’s unique climate by the Great Lakes makes it one of the best wine producers in the Midwest. Michigan by The Bottle Tasting Room is a wine bar serving locally grown and produced wines right in Auburn Hills.
Michigan by The Bottle partners with family-owned boutique wineries throughout the state to offer a menu of one-of-a-kind vintages that you can’t find anywhere else.
You can stop for a tasting or attend one of the venue’s many events — from trivia nights to live music and more. There is even an on-site art gallery from a local artist.
Restaurants in Auburn Hills Michigan
The Four Korners Restaurant is a simple American diner located in Auburn Hills. The menu here focuses on American comfort food favorites with specials such as loaded potato soup, corned beef sandwiches, burgers, and more.
Four Korners has both indoor and outdoor seating, making it perfect for a family lunch or dinner at any time of the year.
Lelli’s of Auburn Hills is a family-owned Italian restaurant that has been operating in Auburn Hills since 1939. This top-rated eatery specializes in Northern Italian fare, which draws inspiration from the cuisine of the Alps, as well as Austria and Switzerland.
Now, in its fourth generation, Lelli’s continues to serve the best Italian food that you can find in Metro Detroit.
Thai Rose Restaurant is a newer eatery on the scene in Auburn Hills Michigan, having opened its doors in 2021. Nevertheless, it is already making a reputation for itself as one of the best Asian restaurants in town. This family-run restaurant specializes in Southeast Asian cuisine prepared by an expert chef.
Spargo’s Coney Island brings together all the best of Mediterranean and American cuisine. This casual eatery offers both Greek and American diner favorites — from gyros and Mediterranean salads to cheeseburgers, steaks, and more.
Spargo’s is open for breakfast as well, ensuring that you have plenty of opportunity to enjoy something from its hearty menu.
Family Table Cafe & Bakery is a labor of love from a father and son who have run the establishment since it opened in 2016. It offers fresh-baked goods and light meals with ingredients sourced from local growers and producers — from the local veggies to the coffee beans.
Auburn Hills Michigan Hotels & Other Lodging
Millpond Inn Bed & Breakfast is located close to Auburn Hills in the town of Clarkston. This family-owned B&B offers the perfect combination of privacy and community with comfortable rooms and communal areas for barbecues and outdoor activities.
Named for its views of the nearby pond, this inn is a cozy oasis for travelers of any age.
If you prefer a vacation rental over a hotel, this Wooded Lakefront Home in Auburn Hills Michigan is an excellent choice. Made for larger parties, this rental has six bedrooms in total, making it ideal for family getaways, bachelorette trips, and more. Also, there are many outdoor spaces for relaxing by the lake.
The Royal Park Hotel is located close to Auburn Hills in nearby Rochester Michigan. This highly-rated luxury hotel offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Paint Creek. The Royal Park is decorated in an English Manor style, making it feel both elegant and cozy — the perfect luxury vacation spot.
The Olde Mill of Clarkston is a lakefront retreat widely considered a hidden gem of the area. This family-owned oasis offers comfortable rooms in view of the lake with nearby access to two more bodies of water. It’s the perfect place to hit the water in a kayak or enjoy the view from the quiet front porch.
This beautiful vacation rental stands on the shore of Williams Lake. Offering two bedrooms and access to the entire home, the rental will make you feel as though you’re in your own private oasis.
Located in nearby Waterford Township, this lake getaway is near the Huron River and Pontiac Lake State Recreation Area.
More to Know About Auburn Hills Michigan
Auburn Hills is a suburb to the north of Detroit just over 30 miles outside of the city. It has existed in its current form only since the 1980s.
Before that, it was established as the town of Auburn in 1821, and then the name changed to Amy in 1880 and again to Auburn Heights in 1919. In 1983, the town combined with Pontiac Township and became the City of Auburn Hills.
Today, Auburn Hills Michigan is a small but prosperous suburb with a population of roughly 24,000. It is home to the headquarters of several world-renowned auto manufacturers and universities, such as Oakland University, Baker College, and Western Michigan University.
Like many Michigan towns, Auburn Hills offers plenty of opportunities for spending time outdoors. The city is home to 22 parks and green spaces, many of which offer access to the nearby Clinton River.
Consequently, the city has many opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, and other forms of outdoor recreation. It is notably home to Hawk Woods Park and Riverside Park, both of which are major attractions.
Recent renovations downtown have made large student centers and living spaces, some of which occupy space in historic buildings. But, the biggest economic contributor, by far, is the city’s automotive and tech industry, which employs up to 80,000 people.
These include the Oakland Technology Park, which has campuses for Chrysler, Comerica, and EDS, as well as branches of Guardian Industries, Volkswagen, Maserati, and others.
Weather in Auburn Hills
Auburn Hills has a mild, wet climate with warm summers, frequent rain, and cold, snowy winters. The best time to visit is between late May and mid-September when the weather is usually pleasant, mild, and sunny.
FAQs About Auburn Hills Michigan
What is Auburn Hills Michigan known for?
Though it is distinct from Detroit, Auburn Hills Michigan has played an important role in the state’s famous car industries.
Even today, the town is home to the U.S. headquarters of Volkswagen, BorgWarner, Farecia, and Maserati, among others.
How far is Auburn Hills Michigan from Detroit?
Auburn Hills Michigan is considered to be a suburb of Metro Detroit. It is roughly 34 miles outside the northern side of Detroit.
Is Auburn Hills Michigan a nice area?
Auburn Hills Michigan is a prosperous area of Metro Detroit and is widely considered one of the best places to live.
Most of the area is solidly suburban with a young population. There are also many shopping, dining, and entertainment options, as well as excellent schools.
Plan Your Visit to Auburn Hills Michigan
Auburn Hills is known as a pleasant suburb of Detroit where visitors and locals alike can enjoy a wide variety of activities. Its position on the Clinton River makes it ideal for camping, hiking, biking, and many other outdoor sports that Michiganders love.
But, it is not just a place for outdoor sports enthusiasts — Auburn Hills Michigan has something for everyone. Whether you are interested in history, dining, arts and culture, or something else, you will find tons of activities and events in this peaceful suburb.
With the city of Detroit just a short drive away, Auburn Hills is the perfect place for a day trip or as a place to stay while exploring the big city.
If you are planning to visit Metro Detroit and explore the nearby area any time soon, take a trip to Auburn Hills Michigan. This unique town is worth the detour!