Spring is coming fast this year in Tuscaloosa which means it’s getting to be perfect for a nice picnic day before the summer heat creeps up on us. Luckily there are so many great spots around town for a day in the great outdoors! From the city to the outskirts there’s a place to lay that blanket down.
Van de Graaff Arboretum
Across the river and north of downtown Northport, you’ll find the latest PARA development. The Van De Graff Arboretum is 33 acres of freshwater ponds and protected swamplands filled with natural southern beauty. The hidden gem held within the park is the reused 1882 King Bowstring Bridge. Once used to cross the Black Warrior, it was closed in 1896 to slowly disappear from the area until it was reclaimed for the park. With porch-style swings and the surreal look of the historic bridge over the creek, it’s surely the latest picturesque place to picnic.
No place around town comes to mind faster for a quick picnic than the Riverwalk. Along the trail, there is plenty of places to settle down and relax under the towering trees. There’s the secluded riverside grassland between Manderson Landing and the condos, or the lookout between the Tuscaloosa Bank and Riverfront Village. The best part is you’re not too far from after meal treats at Orange Leaf or some cocktails above the Black Warrior at River.
Across the river, you can find one of the most secluded and naturally beautiful places in Tuscaloosa. Lake Nicol is a man-made lake with a slew of trails that meander to Cliffside views of the lake. These ledges make for a perfect spot to get away from it all in under a 15 min drive. Take in the serene views and picturesque waters all while resting on a cliff.
An easy walk from downtown, you can find yourself in our own Romanesque ruins. The remains of the former capital building create a romantic sense of history and feel like they’ve always been that way. If you’re lucky you can lay down the blanket right inside the former rotunda under the shadow of the curved bricks. It’s a great quick getaway with easy access to great coffee and restaurants.
While not an official public park, this secluded natural wonder offers adventure alongside some impressively untouched parcels of land right outside the city. The best plan for Hurricane Creek is to take a canoe, load it up with your picnic, and paddle through the mouth of the creek, under the old trestle bridge, until you find a bank perfect to rest at. Fair warning, parts of this land are privately owned, but there a few spots open to the public. Be sure to check the Map on Hurricane Creeks website before setting off on your picnic adventure.