Culture, Detroit City Guide

15 Things I’ve Learned About Detroit

Moving to Detroit? I have lived in the greater Detroit area for a year and a half now. And although I do not live in the Detroit city limits, I do live 8 miles outside of the city. We spend a lot of our time in Detroit for work and play.

Since moving to Michigan, I have learned quite a bit about my new home. For example, it took me a while to understand this, but Detroit and Metro Detroit are connected but different.

Metro Detroit is considered the suburbs and many Detroiters do not consider Metro Detroit the same thing as Detroit.

But I’ve met people from the ‘burbs who will say they live in Detroit, even though they’re referring to the metro area. It’s kind of confusing. Me personally, I usually say I live in Metro Detroit.

**UPDATE: This post has been updated with new photographs of life in Detroit and the metro area. 9/18/19



15 Fun Facts for If You're Moving to Detroit

1. Detroit food is amazing!

Since moving to Detroit, we have tried an assortment of Detroit-style foods. Have you ever had a Detroit-style pizza? It’s delicious! You guys, I was stuck on those chain pizza restaurants when I lived in Tennessee.

But Detroit pizza? It has given me a newfound love for pizza! And not just pizza, but other types of food, too. Greek, Italian, and Polish, just to name a few.

Supino's Pizzeria Detroit
Photo of my nephew Landon eating a “ginormous” slice (his words) of Supino’s Pizza!


Beans and Cornbread Southfield
One of our favorite Metro Detroit restaurants is Beans and Cornbread! Photo of Travis and Zechariah at Beans and Cornbread in Southfield, Michigan


Brunch in Detroit
Detroit also has an electrifying brunch scene! That’s quite the word choice for describing brunch, huh? But the food served for brunch is AMAZING! I want to try it all and I hope to try more places! Photo of a delicious Vanilla Bean waffle I ordered for brunch at the Cafe Muse in Royal Oak, MI



Which leads me to another great food discovery I have found in Detroit: the food trucks. I love all of the food trucks that serve authentic food.

Hero or Villain Detroit Food Truck
Photo of Zhen standing in front of Hero or Villain Food Truck


One Detroit-based food truck restaurant we love is Detroit 75 Kitchen. It’s a stationary food truck restaurant located in Southwest Detroit. Detroit 75 Kitchen features these delicious, mouth-watering artisan sandwiches.

My favorite day to go is on Fridays because of the fish sandwiches. They are SO good! I have never had a fish sandwich as delicious as the one Detroit 75 Kitchen makes.


Detroit 75 Kitchen
Detroit 75 Kitchen is one of our favorite restaurants in Detroit. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)


Detroit 75 Kitchen
Michala loves Detroit 75 Kitchen’s artisan chicken sandwich and seasoned fries. Photo Credit: Jennifer Hamra

2. Michigan Left

I learned if my GPS says take a right and then a sharp left, it more than likely means to make a Michigan Left. A Michigan Left is when you make a legal U-turn. It’s the only legal way to turn left on most major streets.

A Michigan left is an at-grade intersection design which replaces each left turn with a U-turn and a right turn. The design was given the name due to its frequent use along roads and highways in the U.S. state of Michigan since the late 1960s. In other contexts, the intersection is called a median U-turn crossover or median U-turn. The design is also sometimes referred to as a boulevard turnaround, a Michigan loon or a “ThrU Turn” intersection. “Michigan Left”. Wikipedia

When I first saw a Michigan Left, I was very confused. I didn’t understand why I had to keep driving down the street just to make a turn around to turn left. But after living and driving in the area for a while, I get it now and I actually prefer it. I wonder how I’ll feel when I go back home, though?


Michigan Left
Stylized depiction of the design in Grand Haven, Michigan, at US 31 and Robbins Road (north to the right), showing the additional area necessary to make a turn on a narrow median. (Credit: Nandhp on Wikipedia)

3. Bumpy Roads in Detroit

Speaking of the driving, the roads here are a little bumpy. In some areas, it’s very bumpy. I remember when we first moved to Detroit, I would get very frustrated every time we were on the road. At the time, I was very pregnant so each bump was uncomfortable for me. Now, I am used to the bumpy roads. In fact, if we are driving on a smooth road, I notice it right away.

Some of the roads are in poor condition because of the winter weather. There are so many potholes and cracks in the road. It’s ridiculous. And there seems to always be some kind of road construction.

What makes it worse is a week before moving to Michigan, we bought a new minivan. A year later, our minivan has a few dings in it. As my husband says, you have two seasons in Michigan: winter and road construction.


The roads in Michigan can get pretty bumpy because of the cold, snowy weather in the winter. Also, this is clearly a stock photo. One day I will take a picture of an actual street in Michigan to give you a better idea of what I’m talking about, okay? xo

4. Eastern Market 

I love Eastern Market! I try to go every chance I get. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed a lot of my photos are taken in Eastern Market.

Eastern Market is a big city market which features a farmers market and vendors who sell unique products. We have discovered art, clothing, jewelry, and musicians at the Eastern Market. There is always so much to see and experience. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the beautiful murals which are on display throughout Eastern Market.

A few of my favs at Eastern Market are the farmers’ market, Supino’s Pizzeria, Germack Coffee, Mootown Ice Cream, clothing vendors, and the mural art.

Eastern Market Shed 2
Photo I took of Eastern Market Shed 2


Moo Town
My children enjoying ice cream at Moo Town in Eastern Market.


Supino's Pizza
Delicious pizza at Supino’s Pizzeria (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit)


Eastern Market Mural
fel3000ft’s mural in Easter Market (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit)


5. Different Cultures Found in Detroit

I’m from a small, Army town so living near an Army post I have met people from different cultures. But when we moved to Detroit, I was amazed at the rich culture found in the city.

I love the diversity of the city. I love learning about different cultures, too. And there are so many events and festivals to celebrate the different cultures. I always feel like it’s one big party in celebrating culture. It’s an amazing experience!


Detroit Headwrap Show
Beautifully Wrapped Headwrap Expo in Dearborn, MI (Photo Credit: Jennifer Hamra)


Celebrate India Detroit
Celebrate India at the DIA (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)


Judy Bowman Detroit Artist
“Church Ladies” by Detroit artist Judy Bowman


Traditional African dress and Gele headwrap
I took this photo of a woman at the Detroit African World Festival. It was when my blog was called The Good Life.

6. Carry on. It’s just snow.

When we lived in Middle Tennessee if we got 3 inches of snow just about everything closed. But here in the D if it snows, it’s business as usual.

Last winter, it snowed on and off in Southeast Michigan. I can’t quote the exact numbers for you, but I just know the amount of snow was considered lower than normal. And when it snowed, schools remained open. So did the businesses.

And that surprised me. Again, when I lived in Tennessee if it snowed, schools were closed and most businesses closed, too. So as a Tennessean, the snow in Detroit seemed like a lot of snow to me.

But according to Detroiters, it was a very mild winter. I’m a little nervous to see what a “normal” winter is like then!


Michigan Travel
It snows quite a bit in Detroit! Photo of me on a snowy day in the metro area.


snow at lake
Carry on. It’s just snow! (Photo of my son Elijah at Lake St. Clair)


Michigan Snow
Photo of my daughter Michala standing in the snow. Lol

7. In Detroit, it’s pop- not soda.

Simply said – a soda is called a pop in Detroit. Whereas in the south, it’s called a soda or a coke. I’m just now starting to call it “pop”.

It sounded so strange to me to hear people refer to a soda as a “pop”. Even the restaurant menus say “pop” on it!

Faygo is a Detroit-made pop brand. My favorite is Red Pop. Michala really loves Cotton Candy. (Photo credit: Faygo)

8. Detroit loves Eminem.

So Eminem is from Detroit and most of Detroit loves Eminem. You can pretty much hear an Eminem song on the radio almost every hour. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but radio stations here do play Eminem quite frequently.

And it doesn’t just have to be an Eminem song. It can also be an artist featuring Eminem! I mean, Travis and I have heard Eminem songs that we didn’t even know were Eminem songs!


9. Detroit Proud!

Detroiters love their city!

“Detroit Hustles Harder”

“Say Nice Things About Detroit”

“Everybody vs. Detroit”

These are all very popular sayings (and some businesses) in Detroit. My husband says he has never seen people have so much pride in their city. And the great feeling of pride for Detroit is very catching.

We’ve been living here for a year and a half now, and from our experiences, we believe Detroit is on the rise. I’ve heard people say and read articles stating Detroit is in the midst of a renaissance.

Travis believes this is true. He also thinks we made the right decision to relocate to the greater Detroit area. I have to say, I am happy we moved here, too. 🙂


Detroit Hustles Harder
“Detroit Hustles Harder” Photo Credit: Jennifer Hamra


Detroit Pride
Photo of myself at Eastern Market, standing in front of a beautiful Sydney James mural (Tee is from Detroit-made brand Northern Fashion)

10. Welcome to the Motor City

Detroit is the heart of the automotive industry in America. Home of Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. I didn’t fully understand the meaning of “Motor City” until I learned these three major car companies are headquartered here in Detroit. Travis says, “Chances are if you know 40 people, you know somebody in the auto industry.”

 GM Building
The GM Building at night in Downtown Detroit. Photo Credit: Jennifer Hamra

11. Dream Cruise

The Woodward Dream Cruise is a huge car event which happens annually on the third Saturday in August. People come from all over travel to Detroit to participate or experience the Dream Cruise. It’s a big deal here in Detroit. On Saturday from morning to night, cars drive and up and down Woodward Avenue.

Wooward Dream Cruise
Photo I snapped at the Woodward Dream Cruise 2019.

Today, the Woodward Dream Cruise is the world’s largest one-day automotive event, drawing 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars each year from around the globe—from as far away as New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the former Soviet Union. North American cruisers from California, Georgia, Canada and all points in between caravan to Metro Detroit to participate in what has become, for many, an annual rite of summer. “History”. Official Website of the Woodward Dream Cruise 


Woodward Dream Cruise
Photo I took of a classic car at the Woodward Dream Cruise.


12. Popular Detroit-based Car Shows: NAIAS and AutoRama

Again, because Detroit is the capital of the automotive industry, I found out NAIAS and Autorama are very popular car shows. NAIAS stands for North American International Auto Show.

It is held every year in Detroit, and all of the top automotive brands attend the car show. They feature their new vehicles and even some prototypes. NAIAS is said to be one of the largest car shows in the country!

President Obama even made a special appearance at this years 2016 show. Now, I’m not a big car person (my husband is), but I really enjoyed NAIAS and I plan on attending the 2017 show!



AutoRama, on the other hand,  is a car show which showcases classic cars and products from the automotive industry. It was our first time attending the show this year. We went on AutoRama’s “Student Day” and then again on a different day so my husband could attend. My husband and son were in car heaven, by the way.


Lexus at NAIAS 2016

NAIAS 2016


AutoRama 2016

AutoRama 2016

Detroit AutoRama 2016


13. Just About Everybody Has a Bike.

Except for me. I don’t have a bike. The last time I had a bike, I was probably a teenager, and even then I don’t remember riding my bike that much as a teen. But in Michigan, bicycling is very a popular activity.

Families even ride their bikes together. This was one of the top things I noticed about Detroit and Metro Detroit. Every time we would go out in our van, I noticed people riding their bikes around. I felt so inspired that I told Travis we have to get bikes!

Also, many bicycle enthusiasts customize their bikes. Again, this is something I was not accustomed to seeing. The first customized bicycle I saw was in Detroit and I was absolutely amazed!

Detroiters love biking so much that they even have bike meetups in the city. For instance, Slow Roll Detroit is a very popular bike meetup which meets on Mondays in the summertime. While Soul Roll Detroit meets on a regular basis throughout the year.

Soul Roll Detroit
Soul Roll Detroit is a popular Detroit bike meetup. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)


Slow Roll Detroit Opening Day 2017
Slow Roll Detroit on their opening day at Eastern Market. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)

14. Detroit Abandoned Building and Urbex Photography

Detroit is known for its abandoned building and urbex photography. Many people from around the world actually travel to Detroit to explore the historic abandoned or old buildings and photograph them.

When I lived in Tennessee, I first learned of urbex photography from Memphis-based photographers on Instagram. I thought it was pretty cool and was immediately drawn to it. I had no idea at the time Detroit was a popular city for urbex.

When I found out about the Detroit urbex scene, I started researching how I could explore the abandoned buildings and photograph it. So far I’ve found a few photography groups who host tours. I went on my first urbex tour a few months ago at the Highland Park Ford Executive Office. (Yes, it was legal. 😉 It was a paid tour with a photography group.

Abandoned Building Photography
Yellow Hat. Photo Credit: Jennifer Hamra


Highland Park Ford Executive Office
Photo Credit: Jennifer Hamra


Highland Park Ford Executive Office
Photo Credit: Jennifer Hamra

15. If you ever get lost in Detroit, just follow the “mile roads”!

Mile roads are unique to Southeast Michigan. Have you heard of the movie 8 Mile? Again, another Eminem reference there, but before I moved to Detroit, I just thought 8 Mile was the name of the movie.

It wasn’t until after we moved here, I learned the 8 Mile reference to Detroit. Eight Mile Road is the dividing line between the City of Detroit and the ‘burbs aka Metro Detroit.

Travis and I have discovered the mile road system is a great way to navigate our way around the large city and metro area. I also learned when most people ask me where I live, I need to say which major mile road I live near and the intersecting street.

It took me months to figure this out. For the longest, I was telling people the actual neighborhood we live. I get it now. 🙂




17 thoughts on “15 Things I’ve Learned About Detroit

  1. I’ve never visited Detroit but looking through your post, I feel like I just left!
    You had me at your first statement when you mentioned how great food is in Detroit. I would literally come to Detroit and plan a restaurant tour! Beautiful family and pictures!

  2. What an awesome post! I see Detroit through a different lens now. I have a few friends who live there, so now I need to visit. 😀 I also lived in Middle Tennessee while going to grad school at Trevecca and living in Nashville. It snowed very lightly once during the five years I lived there, and schools were closed. I was a teacher at the time. When we moved to the D.C. area, we saw SNOW for the first time. Wow…what a difference! Thanks again for showing some love for the Motor City. <3

  3. Wow! That Michigan left would have me all out of sorts. I have trouble in Jersey with those creative turns. The abandoned building photography is amazing! My son would flip over these car shows.

  4. WOW! I haven’t been to Detroit since I was 4yrs old so I have no recollection of it but plenty of pictures since we lived there. I will find out form my parents where we used to live and take them for a visit.

  5. I’ve never been to Detroit before, but I had friends in high school that were from there and relocated. Food trucks have made their way down here and people love them, me included. I love your amazing pictures. Hopefully, one day I’ll get to visit Detroit and check out some of these amazing places you have listed. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I love this post! Your pictures are gorgeous and so are your children! As you know I have been learning more and more about Detroit from my husband who lived there and my friend and I am ready to visit! Have you been able to visit the Motown area? The food looks so good!!

    1. Hi, Nadeen! Thank you! The Motown area is on my list to visit! I was just thinking about this the other day. I hope you will be able to visit Detroit. Let me know when you plan on visiting. Would love to meet up!

  7. This makes me want to visit Detroit even more. Food trucks in the DC area are really popular as well. I love the way they have made a name for themselves in a non-traditional way.

    I enjoy our majorly dramatic snow days. We are such big babies about snow but I love.

    It sounds like you’ve settled in well.

  8. WOW, So much information about Detroit that I had not read about before today. I knew a bit about it but this really gives a good insight about the lifestyle and culture over there.

  9. Thanks for sharing. I would love to visit Detroit one day. Yes, pop instead of soda. My family is from the midwest and always makes fun of me when I say soda.

What are your thoughts?