The Scoop: Berkley, Michigan, is a small town with a big heart. Its two main shopping districts feature dozens of family-owned restaurants and boutique shops that add a personal touch to the community. Berkley fosters a feel-good atmosphere where it’s easy to find friendship, romance, and entertainment. If you’re looking for date activities in Berkley, you need look no farther than its charming walkable downtown.
Berkley, Michigan, is a suburban town just north of Detroit. It has a population of over 15,000 people, and it has consistently ranked among the safest and friendliest cities in Michigan.
Jennifer Finney moved to Berkley four years ago and began organizing Berkley Night Out events to engage with the business community. She told us she felt welcomed with open arms and realized what makes this town so special is the people who live and work there. She is now the Executive Director of the Berkley Downtown Development Authority (DDA).
“The people here are so friendly. You walk down the street, and they smile and say hi,” she said. “A lot of Berkley residents have been here many years, so you really get to know your neighbors.”
Locals know and love Berkley for its small-town charm. The walkable downtown offers a low-key setting for a daytime excursion or a night on the town. Dating and married couples can savor unique experiences, make great memories, and find many conversation starters in the town’s boutique shops and restaurants.
People of all ages and backgrounds have come together to make Berkley a friendly place to call home. The city is full of artsy, trendy, and dynamic spaces where couples and families can have a great time.
Whether you’re attending one of the many shopping or at events or visiting the Berkley historical museum, you can bond with a partner while immersing yourself in the culture and spirit of Berkley.
Create Memories While Picnicking, Shopping, and Biking
Berkley has two commercial districts — 12 Mile and Coolidge. These two areas offer shopping, dining, and other entertainment options that can make for engaging date activities. Couples can grab a takeout order from a local restaurant and walk to a park for an impromptu picnic.
Small businesses are the lifeblood in Berkley. The city’s downtown is home to over 55 independent retailers, and each brings a unique personality and passion to their business. Customers can walk into a shop and find the owner working behind the counter and engaging with each customer.
The Artsy Umbrella operates under the motto “Loyal to local” and unites local artists looking to sell their wares and make a name for themselves. The eclectic store is fun to browse, and you can pick up a cute gift for a loved one without breaking your budget.
The Yellow Door Art Market is another trendy and eye-catching place to stop by on a shopping spree. A local couple opened the shop in 2010 to bring a sense of whimsy to the downtown area. Its shelves feature handmade goods ranging from coffee mugs to jewelry.
Finally, Vitrine Gallery is a woman-owned shop that promotes handmade creations, including jewelry, handbags, and clothing.
Couples can stroll around Berkley’s downtown scene and discover a lot of hidden gems along the way. The area has an artsy feel with murals covering the sides of buildings and fairy doors scattered about the city.
“We always encourage people coming to Berkley to walk around and look at the murals,” Jennifer said. “It’s a nice idea for couples to explore downtown because they can see a variety of public art, shop, and dine.”
Berkley is also a bike-friendly community with two MoGo bike stations offering rental options. Visitors can pick up a rental bike in Berkley and go riding about town — or even visit the neighboring towns of Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Oak Park, or Royal Oak, all of which have MoGo bike stations as well.
“Our bike lanes on Coolidge Highway and MoGo bike stations have been a real asset to the city,” Jennifer said. “They’re a great option for adventurous and outdoorsy couples.”
Local Restaurants Offer a Lovely Backdrop for a Night Out
Couples can treat themselves to a fun and laid-back dinner date in Berkley by exploring local restaurants that have been serving up smiles for years.
Amici’s Kitchen and Living Room is a wonderful date spot where couples can split a gourmet pizza pie paired with beer, wine, or cocktails. The restaurant has outdoor seating in the back with lots of greenery surrounding diners and setting the mood.
Just down the street on 12 Mile Road, Berkley Common operates under the motto “uncommonly good” and offers a delightful vegan and vegetarian menu. In 2020, Berkley Common set up a Tiki, Taco, and Street Food pop-up to provide great food in a socially distanced setting. It’s been a huge hit among couples eager to get out of the house and try something new.
Got a hankering for a great brunch date? Coco Fairfield’s on 12 Mile Road is a must. This popular brunch spot is open Wednesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., and its menu includes vegan sloppy Joe’s and French toast.
Republica is a trendy gastropub known for its original cocktails and Instagrammable dishes. The menu offers indulgent burgers as well as freshly made salads, so there is something for everyone here. Plus, the intimate setting is great for having a quiet conversation with your date.
Whether you want to grab burgers and beers at a local pub or enjoy a classy date night on a rooftop or back patio, Berkley’s food scene can satisfy just about any craving and provide an unforgettable dining experience at the same time.
COVID-19 Changed the Social Scene — But Not the Fun Vibes
Throughout the years, Berkley has hosted many popular events and festivals that have become a mainstay in the social scene. The Street Art Fest and Berkley Art Bash, which take place in the summertime, are two of the most anticipated events in the art community. Unfortunately, both of these events had to be canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Michigan had a spike in cases in March 2020 and was among the hardest hit states early on. However, citizens pulled together to flatten the curve and are now adapting to the new normal as businesses reopen.
Early on, Berkley officials partnered with local restaurants to transform sidewalks and side streets into outdoor dining options. These spaces have been popular among residents, especially as the days get cooler, and it has allowed the downtown scene to flourish while maintaining social distancing guidelines. This policy has been approved through March 2021.
The City of Berkley entered Phase Three of its reopening at the end of September 2020. During this phase, the small town has begun promoting social distancing alternatives to traditional crowded events — including an outdoor pop-up concert series — and given residents safe and fun activities that can help them reconnect with the social scene or the dating scene.
“We’re hosting smaller scale events in downtown Berkley now,” Jennifer told us. “Now more than ever, we see that people are craving social interaction, so we want to bring them out to have those experiences.”
Looking to 2021, the Downtown Development Authority plans to continue hosting community events that bring people together and promote small businesses and local artists.
Berkley is a Friendly, Artsy & Romantic Place to Take a Date
From its green parks to its boutique shops, Berkley is a charming place to go on a date. The downtown area has many fun and interesting places to explore with a significant other, and the low-key atmosphere can help foster conversations and connections.
Berkley is a place where locals and visitors can find common ground and have a good time, even during a pandemic.
Jennifer has experienced firsthand how quickly Berkley can turn strangers into lifelong friends. Now, in her work with the Downtown Development Authority, Jennifer endeavors to support and strengthen the spirit of the community through dynamic events and business opportunities.
“We know a lot of people like that small-town charm, and we make sure we bring that to the downtown area, no matter the day or season,” Jennifer said. “That’s something we pride ourselves on. When you come to Berkley, you feel special and you always leave with a smile on your face.”