The City of Tuscaloosa has a plethora of activities to do and places to enjoy, but there are a few incredible local gems that are just waiting to be discovered! So, what hidden treasures are the locals not telling you about? We pulled together a list of spots around Tuscaloosa that you may not have heard of and could potentially become a regular part of your rotation! These suggestions range from delicious food and drink destinations to quiet spaces to relax and unwind for a bit.
1. Kentuck Art Center
For those who are looking to explore the fine arts side of Tuscaloosa, the Kentuck Arts Center is a local spot that more people ought to be aware of! Located off-campus in Northport, the Kentuck Art Center is a collection of many different artists and creators exhibiting their work for anyone to see and learn about. Kentuck’s mission is “to perpetuate the arts, engage the community, and empower the artist” and is open all year long for anyone!
2. Catfish Heaven
Named for their delectable catfish offerings, Catfish Heaven is a fish lover’s dream! Fried and prepared fresh daily, Catfish Heaven is a local restaurant that has been serving up savory catfish and irresistible hot wings since 1993. For over 25 years, the brothers that opened Catfish Heaven have been making this delightful and delicious destination in the Historic West End of Tuscaloosa a local favorite! Catfish Heaven’s dining room is currently closed for safety due to COVID-19, but they are still offering take-out orders for anyone looking to expand their list of go-to restaurants in Tuscaloosa!
As a spot filled to the brim with a diverse collection of drinks, beers, wines, and more, Cravings is a must for anyone looking to expand their drink repertoire. In addition to drinks, Cravings is also a good place for a bite to eat! There is an offering of snack foods, deli favorites, and an incredible breakfast offering for everyone to enjoy. Not to mention they serve unbelievable Detroit and Sicilian style pizza that will turn you into a regular customer in no time. Visit Cravings to discover new drink favorites and see if it becomes one of your new go-to spots in Tuscaloosa!
4. Ernest & Hadley’s
Ernest & Hadley’s is a charming local bookstore located a few blocks away from Downtown Tuscaloosa just waiting to be discovered. This bookstore is filled with popular picks, classical favorites, and even highlighted works from local Alabama writers! In addition to being a store, Ernest & Hadley’s regularly hosts events that are open to any and all visitors, so be sure to check online ahead of time for more information. Currently, Ernest & Hadley’s is operating with safety in mind and is allowing only five (5) patrons at a time and even has a curbside pick-up option available for anyone who would prefer not to enter the store!
5. Ruan Thai
Since 1991, Ruan Thai has been serving up fresh and savory authentic Thai food to students and locals alike with their extensive menu of delectable offerings. Ruan Thai offers both a lunch and dinner menu and even has dedicated portions of its menu for its sushi dishes and curry specials. Due to COVID-19, Ruan Thai is currently available through curbside pickup and through the delivery service, Crimson 2 Go. This locally-owned, authentic Thai restaurant is located on the Western end of the Strip and is the perfect local option for authentic Thai food in Tuscaloosa!
6. Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center
The Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center is a place for fans of fine arts and culture to explore and for everyday adventurers to discover! It is home to a rotating lineup of galleries that exhibit the thought-provoking and insightful power of the mediums of the fine arts. Not only is the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center a delightful spot to immerse yourself in fine arts and culture, but it is also a stop on the Civil Rights Trail of Tuscaloosa! In addition to visiting the resident exhibit, this center is an important site to learn the history behind it as it pertains to the City of Tuscaloosa as a whole.
7. Catch 22
If you are looking for a bar to hang out and enjoy outstanding cocktails at the end of a long day, Catch 22 is the place for you. As the home of house drink specialties galore, including pickle-, cucumber-, and even pepperoncini-infused vodka, this bar is known for creating a unique flavor in each creation. Located in Downtown Tuscaloosa on 6th Street, this is a great place for anyone looking to unwind with some boutique cocktails and refreshing favorites! Additionally, Catch 22 has recently extended their outdoor patio to accommodate social distancing requirements and create a safe environment for customers!
8. The Oasis
Located in Cottondale is a restaurant named The Oasis, offering a welcoming and Southern environment with the delicious food to back it up! The Oasis is famously known for its savory burgers and their incredible appetizers, including jalapeńo poppers, fried pickle spears, and fried mushrooms. The Oasis is truly a hidden gem for eating and may soon become one of your regular food spots in town! In order to accommodate the COVID-19 situation, The Oasis is currently only able to offer pick-up orders that can be placed at the restaurant.
9. Innisfree’s Lucky Lunch
I know what you’re thinking. “Everyone knows about Innisfree…”. Although that may be true, many regulars and first-time visitors alike don’t know about the spectacular meat and three meals available from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. With classic options like chicken parmesan, chicken tenders, or country fried steak you can experience irreplaceable southern cooking right in Downtown Tuscaloosa! The meat + three meal also falls under $10, so Innisfree is easy on your bank account, too.
10. Van de Graaff Park
Whether you’re looking for your next nature adventure, picnic spot, or photoshoot set this local treasure has it all. Fish, hike, or camp on the gorgeous acres of Van de Graff with its breathtaking parks and large ponds stocked with freshwater fish! Along the way, you can also find a section of Alabama’s oldest iron bridge crossing over Mill Creek. This local’s secret is nestled in Northport. Revel in nature’s beauty and enjoy some fresh air at Van de Graaff Park.
Written By: Will Baggett
Edited By: Jamie Hoven
Although the summer is coming to an end, more amazing events are here to make these final weekends a summer to remember. The final Live at the Plaza are this Friday with performances by Jake Austell and Matt Jones. Get your creative juices flowing and get ready for a Super Mario Blowout at Children’s Hands on Museum. Immerse yourself into the Super Mario game by dressing up as your favorite character and playing Mario games. Join local musicians Virginia Hutto and Eva Miller for the ACT 2019 Concert Series. Get ready for a barrel of laughs at the comedy event of the summer, Stand up for Sickle Cell featuring Jermaine “FunnyMaine” Johnson and Lamar Pullom. This event will benefit Sickle Cell Association of West Alabama. For a full list of events occurring this summer and later in the year, click here.
Live at the Plaza🎤🎸
The annual summer concert series is coming to an end this Friday, August 2. Get your blankets, lawn chairs, and dancing shoes ready for the last week of live music. Admission is always free and the food trucks surrounding Government Plaza offer a wide variety of delicious options. Jake Austell will perform from 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. and Matt Jones will close the night from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information about the summer concert series, click here.
Super Mario Blowout at CHOM🎮
Calling all Super Mario fans for a fun-filled day at Children’s Hands on Museum this Saturday, August 3. Get your game face on and prepare to immerse yourself into a Super Mario game with prizes and crafts. The fun starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m. Start preparing your costumes now and working on your gaming technique. For more information, click here.
Virginia Hutto and Eva Miller at the ACT Studio Theatre🎵
Get ready for a night filled with beautiful music from local musicians Virginia Hutto and Eva Miller. All revenue from ticket sales benefit the ACT and help to meet its operating costs to support its mission. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by clicking here.The concert starts at 7:00 p.m. You don’t want to miss this live music event benefitting a great cause. For more information about the event, click here.
Stand up for Sickle Cell at the Bama Theatre🎤
Laugh the night away while supporting a great cause at the Stand up For Sickle Cell comedy show. This event will take place at the Bama Theatre and will feature comedians, Jermaine “FunnyMaine” Johnson and Lamar Pullom. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. and ends at 9:30 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here,or calling 205-758-1761. We can’t think of a better way to spend your Saturday night so purchase your tickets now. For more information, click here.
Later this summer
The Mercedes Benz Druid City Music Festival🎸
Tickets for DCMF 2019 are on sale now and you do not want to miss this opportunity! Big Boi, Turkauz, Break Science and Blackberry Smoke are a few of the talented artists that are coming to Tuscaloosa in August. To learn more about the festival and to purchase your tickets, click here.
Welcome to the single greatest weekend of arts, culture, and music Tuscaloosa has ever had. We have music from a local band rising to stardom returning for a huge show, a band in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (and another that should be), art showcases from the best two art organizations in the area, and that’s just scratching the surface of this weekend’s slate. The 9th Annual Druid City Arts Festival presented by Cadence Bank has finally arrived! Saturday will be a great day of art, entertainment, food, and fun. Below are just a few of the best events going on, but hop over to visittuscaloosa.xyz/events for a full list that includes the NCAA gymnastics regional and Tuscaloosa Titans’ season tip-off.
Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports and Cadence Bank are looking forward to seeing you at the 9th Annual Druid City Arts Festival on Saturday, April 7, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Tuscaloosa’s Government Plaza! DCAF has had rich success in introducing new music and visual artists to Tuscaloosa’s community and has also provided a free day of fun and entertainment for everyone in the past eight years. This year it is going to be bigger and better than ever! Downtown Tuscaloosa will be an entertainment district from 11:00 am until 11:00 pm, so grab a drink and peruse the artwork from artists all over the country. DCAF will feature two-dimensional art, as well as pieces constructed out of clay, fiber, wood, glass, metal, and food. There will also be literature pieces, photography, jewelry, and mixed media. Caleb O’Connor, a local artist, will be on site demonstrating his artwork for everyone to view.
Local Roots, Steel City Pops, La Mexicana, Nothing Bundt Cakes, The Cypress Inn, South Fresh Farms, Jim ‘N Nicks and Chick Fil A are a few of the vendors that will be on site to serve up some delicious food. There will be musical performances all day by many local artists. In addition to the food and music, there will be a kid zone for the children to enjoy. It is going to be a fun community event for the whole family to enjoy. You can check out the list of artists and find out additional information about DCAF by visiting http://www.druidcityartsfestival.com. Be sure to use #DCAF18 and our Snapchat filter when sharing from the event.
Art Night at Kentuck
Art Night at Kentuck is a monthly celebration of art and artists from the local community. Join us at the Kentuck Art Center in Downtown Northport this Thursday night from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm in celebrating these artist’s masterpieces. This event is free and open to the public! Come see what Sydney Gruber has been working on in her studio in the Clarke Building! There will be open studios for all of the Kentuck Artists so you can see what we are working on and enjoy the raw creation process.
Kentuck is honored to present a retrospective of work by local living legend Dr. Norman Ellis. A founding member of the Woodworkers Association of West Alabama (WAWA), the 96-year-old still mentors woodworkers in his studio. Ellis’s work consists of whimsical furniture handmade in the Mission style, which features exposed joints and focuses on the natural beauty of the wood used.
It’s the last Art Night to visit The Juneaus’ expansive exhibit of Louisiana art. Pat Juneau and son Andrea create playful metal sculptures that exemplify the culture of Louisiana, while Suzanne and daughter Angelique create one-of-a-kind jewelry using precious and semi-precious stones combined with enameling and precious metals.
Courtyard of Wonders:
Pop-up shops and free cob oven pizza with dough from Mary’s Cakes and Pastries and fresh, locally grown produce from Snow’s Bend Farms. Live music by Jake Sandford and the Jake Sanford Orchestra. Kentuck’s Studio Artists will have open studios for browsing, learning, observing, and purchasing.
Open until 8 pm; members get a 10% discount. Fire Ant and Big Dog members are invited to sample champagne.
To continue with the theme of arts and culture, Friday night is First Friday Art Night. Downtown Tuscaloosa will transform into an entertainment district on Friday night. First Friday is completely free, and the galleries can’t wait to host you. Grab a drink and take a stroll through our magnificent galleries, such as the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, Harrison Galleries, The Paul R. Jones Museum, O’Connor Art Studios and Grace Aberdean Habitat Alchemy. Visit firstfridaytuscaloosa.com for offerings and hours as they vary by location. This event generally begins at 5:30 and runs to 8 or 9 depending on location.
CBDB at Druid City Music Hall
This will be the funkiest weekend of the whole year, between CBDB and Parliament-Funkadelic, and the hometown heroes CBDB get first crack at funking you up on Friday night. This band is on the road to stardom and have a chance to define Tuscaloosa’s music culture in a way R.E.M. did for Athens, GA. This group has a big sound, great writing, and create the type of atmosphere at a show that you have to experience. Our favorite is Pschabongo and gets played on repeat around the Visit Tuscaloosa offices. They have played at many major festivals with high profile bands and will be blowing the lid off of Druid City Music Hall before embarking on a national tour with stops in DC, New York, and Philiadelphia. Doors open at 7:30 pm and the music begins at 9:00 pm.Visit druidcitymusichall.com to purchase tickets to witness the Tuscaloosa’s premier band, and preorder their upcoming album “Out of Line” on itunes or look for it on Spotify May 5.
George Clinton, Parliament-Funkadelic, Morris Day & The Time, and Sheila E will be funking up the Coca-Cola concert series “Funkaloosa.” The Parliament-Funkadelic collective has been around since the late 60’s and has been among America’s greatest funk icons for 50 years and included in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Morris Day and Sheila E joining them makes this an all around incredible show that should not be missed under any circumstances. The doors open at 5:30 pm with the funky beats blasting from 7:00 pm until the funk is within you. This is the type of music that has to be experienced live to be truly heard. To purchase tickets visit ticketmaster.com. #WeWantTheFunk
Styx and Reo Speedwagon have teamed up and they will be rockin’ with special guest Don Felder on Sunday at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. The music begins at 7:00 pm and will have you groovin’ all night long. To purchase tickets visit the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater’s website.
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First Friday is October 7th and will feature art exhibits, live music, and crafts. First Friday is a monthly event, and it is free! It is an excellent opportunity to support our #OneandOnly arts community! This month’s event will include new showcases by galleries including Kentuck Art Center, Canterbury Episcopal, Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center, and Harrison Galleries, Sella-Granata Art Gallery, Sarah Moody Gallery of Art. Join us as we celebrate Tuscaloosa’s flourishing new artists and attractions!
Enjoy the spirit and culture of downtown Tuscaloosa and beyond as you mingle with residents and visitors. Tour art galleries, venues, and related spaces from 5 – 8 p.m. every First Friday of the month. (Each venue might have different hours. Be sure to check their information.)
Exhibit openings at both The Arts Council and The University of Alabama Galleries in the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center take place on First Fridays and are free and open to the public. Additional galleries open on First Friday include the Paul Jones Gallery, Harrison Galleries, O’Connor Studios, Grace Aberdeen Habitat Alchemy, and the makers market. Hours vary during holidays. Galleries on the UA campus have variable hours.
OCT 7 First Friday reception, America the Beautiful- Seen Through a Foreigner’s Eyes, UA Gallery, DWCAC, 5:30-7:30 pm
OCT 7 Open Studio (1st & 3rd Fridays), Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center, Camden, 9 am-12 noon
OCT 7 First Friday reception, Beautiful Decay, Visions of Cuba / Hermosa Decadencia, Visiones de Cuba – Photographs by Chip Cooper, Julio Larramendi and Jim Harrison III, Harrison Galleries, 6-9 pm
OCT 7 First Friday reception, Leanna Leithauser-Lesley: Needlepoint Jazz, Betak/Frangoulis Art Gallery, Canterbury Chapel, 5-7 pm