Are you looking for things to do when it’s raining in Tuscaloosa? You’ve come to the right spot!
1. Tuscaloosa’s Museums
Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum is one of the great museum options that we have in T-Town. Located at Tuscaloosa’s historic Queen City Park along the Black Warrior River, this museum is filled with knowledge and appreciation of our local and regional history and natural resources through exhibits, museum educational programs, and educational outreach efforts. For those interested in extinct animals, the Alabama Museum of Natural History is a perfect place to visit with its ancient fossils and many other exciting things to discover!
Did You Know: The University of Alabama actually oversees five museums in total, including the two mentioned above as well as the Moundville Archeological Park, the Gorgas House Museum, and the Paul W. Bryant Museum.
2. Art Galleries
We have some incredible and diverse art galleries in town that are definitely worth a visit. The Kentuck Art Center in Northport is an all-in-one museum, gallery, and event location. In the heart of downtown Tuscaloosa lies the Paul R. Jones Gallery, the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, Harrison Galleries, and the Tuscaloosa Art Garage (great for the kiddos) – all great spots to explore on a rainy day. If you happen to be in town the first Friday of the month, be sure the check out the First Friday Art Walk, featuring these galleries and more!
3. Coffee Shops
What cozier place could there be to hide from a rainy day than a traditional coffee shop? The smell of coffee and pastries in the air, people reading the newspaper, studying or chatting steadily alongside a laid-back playlist…. sounds perfect to us! Tuscaloosa offers many such magical places. There’s so many to select from, you can’t go wrong. Just to get you started, check Turbo Coffee, Monarch Espresso Bar, Just Love Coffee, Heritage House Coffee & Tea, or Strange Brew Coffeehouse.
Local breweries in Tuscaloosa are the perfect place to spend a gray afternoon among friends and one of America’s favorite drinks: Beer. Druid City Brewing Company, Black Warrior Brewing Company, and Loosa offer great brews and relaxed space to lean back and enjoy an ice-cold one on this dreary day. Looking for a glass of wine? Check out The Wine Market. How about a cocktail? Visit Session Cocktails.
5. Putt Putt Golf, Bowling, Arcade and more
Shindig Family Entertainment Center, Bowlero, and Crux Climbing are all excellent options for rainy days. This venues offer activities such as bowling, laser tag, arcade games, mini-golf, climbing, and a restaurant with a lounge! Forget about your worries and completely immerse yourself in all of the fun that these awesome places have to offer! Coming late 2023 – PopStroke! Soon you’ll be able to eat, drink, and putt next door to The University of Alabama Campus.
6. Tour Historic Homes
Historic Tuscaloosa works hard to preserve several historic homes located around Downtown Tuscaloosa. Tuesday through Saturday, guests can enjoy free tours of The Old Tavern, the Battle-Friedman House, and the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion. Additionally, people can tour the Murphy-Collins House and the McGuire-Strickland House by appointment and for special occasions.
- Any of Tuscaloosa’s Museums
Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum is one of the great museum options that we have in town. Located at Tuscaloosa’s historic Queen City Park along the Black Warrior River, this museum is filled with knowledge and appreciation of our local and regional history and natural resources through exhibits, museum educational programs, and educational outreach efforts. For the ones who are rather interested in extinct models, the Alabama Museum of Natural History is a perfect place to visit with its ancient fossils and many other exciting things to discover!
- Art Galleries
We have some incredible and diverse art galleries in town that are definitely worth a visit. The Kentuck Art Center in Northport is an all-in-one museum, gallery and event location that is now featuring Good Trouble: Civil Rights Past and Present. In the heart of downtown Tuscaloosa lies another local gem: Paul R. Jones Gallery. Currently the exhibition It’s Like That: Selections from the Collection of Rebecca and Jack Drake is on display. Works for this exhibition were selected by independent curator Paul Barrett!
- Coffee Shops
What cozier place could there be to hide from a rainy day than a traditional coffee shop? The smell of coffee and pastries in the air, people reading the newspaper, studying or chatting steadily alongside a laid-back playlist…. sounds perfect to us! Tuscaloosa offers many such magical places. For example, the local chain Heritage House, Monarch Espresso Bar downtown, or the new kid on the block Just Love Coffee. Choose one and enjoy!
Local breweries in Tuscaloosa are the perfect place to spend a gray afternoon among friends and one of America’s favorite drinks: Beer. Druid City Brewing Company, Black Warrior Brewing Company, and Loosa offer great brews and relaxed space to lean back and enjoy an ice-cold one on this dreary day. These local treasures have the coolest merchandise to brighten up your wardrobe today!
Shindig Family Entertainment Center is another excellent option for rainy days like today. This is your one-stop entertainment center with bowling, laser tag, arcade games, mini-golf, and a restaurant with a lounge! Forget about your worries and completely immerse yourself in all of the family fun that this awesome place has to offer!
Catch a Movie
The museum scene in Tuscaloosa is evergrowing. While it’s rainy outside, you can visit exhibits from art to natural history! The Alabama Museum of Natural History has shown its beauty through exhibitions, collections, and quality programs of teaching, research, and service for over 150 years. The Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center has served as a hub for the arts in Tuscaloosa. You can currently observe the newest exhibition, “Eye Music” by Elizabeth Rand Photography. New exhibitions are opening every month so there is no absence of great talent to enjoy!
Our four legged friends are the best, and here in Tuscaloosa, we have tons of places where dogs are welcome and often the guest of honor. Here are some of the best dog-friendly spots in town for the next time you need a day out with your pup!
As one of Tuscaloosa’s hottest hangouts, Innisfree is always guaranteed to be a good time! What makes it even better though is its dog-friendly environment. You can’t go to “the Free” and not run into a four-legged friend hanging out on the patio! It’s the perfect place to go if you want to have a day out with friends, and since dogs are the best friends you can include them in your outing to Innisfree. If you’re looking for a great atmosphere for both you and your dog, grab your pup and head to the Free!
This dog park opened just a few years ago at Munny Sokol Park and at the time was the most requested PARA amenity by Tuscaloosa natives! Since its opening, the park has been a mega success and is a great place to let your dog run and play in a safe environment. The park features three separate areas: a training pen, a small dog pen, and a large dog pen. There are large grassy areas for the dogs to run wild and a small muddy area that is perfect for dogs who love to get a little messy!
The best exercise partner anyone can ask for is a dog! That’s why The Riverwalk is the perfect place to go to bond with your pup. Your dog will never complain about exercising with you and will make it fun for you! There are a few park areas along the trail equipped with gazebos and benches for you and your dog to take a break and rehydrate if needed. Keep your dog and yourself in shape and hit the trail at The Riverwalk!
Black Warrior has some of the best brews in town and welcomes dogs any time of the day! The friendly service and great atmosphere at Black Warrior is a hit among Tuscaloosa natives and their pets. You and your dog can enjoy the atmosphere from the patio, or from the upstairs area where games such as corn hole, shuffleboard, and darts are available. You can also take your dog in the fall and watch the Tide compete on one of the flat screen TV’s with your best friend alongside! What could be better?
They say a dog is a man’s best friend, and who better to go fishing with than your best friend? At Lake Lurleen State Park you can take your pup and fish along Lake Tuscaloosa! If fishing isn’t your thing, you can hit the trails for some hiking. Your dog will be in heaven with all the sticks he’ll find lining the trails that will make for perfect chew toys! You can also rent a canoe and let your pup float across the lake with you for some much-needed relaxation. If your dog loves the outdoors, Lake Lurleen State Park will be his perfect playground!
Written By: Bailee Kennamer
Photo By: @elsiemae_the_acd on Instagram
Living in town, it can feel you have to get used to the highs and lows of tourists. Fall and sometimes spring can see heavy amounts of visitors from all over, taking control of the town. Bringing with them big city crowds to our small college town, it’s easy to feel like you want to leave when they start coming in. Summer, however, is open roads and clear skies. Why not take advantage of this quite season down home and finally see the side of Tuscaloosa all those visitors get to enjoy. Not to mention going on trips can be costly! Why risk the pain of travel when your backyard is a growing destination? Embrace the serenity of summer and explore town like a true tourist. The wait times downtown are dwindling, the roads are clearing up, and you can enjoy the finer side of Tuscaloosa.
Explore the cool waters
Living here, it can feel like you’ve seen it all, but I can assure you there is something out there you still haven’t done. Every local by now has experienced something on the campus grounds, but Tuscaloosa is far more than just the University of Alabama.
There’s a good chance you may have skipped or even forgotten that there are great choices for some waterside adventures. Our natural beauty offers a wide arrange of places and hidden gems to get out into some cool and refreshing waters without having to head always to the Gulf.
Just 20 minutes outside of town is the grand dame of lakes – Lake Lurleen. Take a quick drive out and explore the rustic beauty of the woods with the shimmering waters gracing the shorelines and beaches. It’s a perfect day getaway for any family or friends who want to be close to the waters without the crowds of Gulf Shores
While a popular hangout for students, there’s no denying the beauty found up along the cliffs of Lake Nicol. The lake is left open to explore with meandering paths along the cliffs and the open waters to canoe or swim around. It can feel like a totally different world far from any civilization without having to go too far from home.
Explore this rugged creek that feeds the Black Warrior and gets lost among the towering trees and rustic old rail bridge that looms over the waters. Hurricane Creek is an untamed stretch of rolling waters that feels like you’re the first person to ever see it while being a quick drive out east from town. Be careful, as some of it cuts through private property, but there are many online guides for how to safely see this untouched stretch of water and wetlands
Sip and Sample
Around town and at many local bars you may be noticing more and more labels of craft beer being made in our fair city. Microbreweries have found their way into Tuscaloosa and have made quite a home here. Take advantage of this wealth of wheaty waters and sample the best of t-town’s brewers.
Down by the Drish house circle, Band of Brothers is the latest addition to the beer scene in Tuscaloosa. With a great space that is all too often filled with great events, live music, or both while food trucks make their way outside. Band of Brothers is a One and Only experience everyone needs to try.
In the same shopping center as local favorite Mr. Chens, this classic brewery is home to the iconic chalk murals. Admire the art over a frothy pint of local beer, and be sure to check when their awesome events like comedy shows and games are going on to add to the true Druid City Brewing excitement.
Their downtown location and second story game room make this brewery an outpost of grown up fun, with childhood games like full-size Jenga and Cornhole. For those who abstain from drinking, try their Root Beer made in house. It’s a soft drink classic that tastes like summer and is a far better choice than water.
Breakout and jump around!
Beat the heat by checking out these awesome local attractions that are sure to be both amazing memories and just all out fun
With their new location, Breakout Tuscaloosa offers more than just their puzzle rooms with a new laser tag section! Chase each other around, or band together to solve some of the trickier escape rooms set in abandoned hotels and haunted houses.
Go back to that old-school excitement of childhood summers bouncing around at Upsurge. Jump from each trampoline inside the giant warehouse with obstacle courses and deep foam pits to try to escape. It’s the ultimate indoor adventure you can find in town!
The greatest way to truly feel out of your routine is to get some much-needed pampering. Getting out, and having others take care of you is something everyone deserves to experience at least once, and one of the best ways is to head towards a spa. Tuscaloosa has several great spots ranging from the pinnacle of luxury, to more cozy and affordable that can give you that all so needed feeling.
Across the river, there is a luxurious oasis for self-indulging in some elaborate pampering. With facials, massages, and therapies like seaweed wraps and salt scrubs designed to wash away all your stress and give you a renewed relaxed state of mind.
Located down on 15th, this one and only spa offer wonderful services from beauty to message with a level of dedicated care and attention. From the standard massage services to Neuromuscular Therapy. This special service focuses on trigger points to work out the pain and bring back a calming sense of relief.
This hidden gem on the south side of downtown is tucked away in an old tiny brick home. The wellness spa specializes in massage and facials that cost in much more affordable range for those who want to treat themselves without having to hit their wallet too hard.
Redefine your Dining
It can be all too easy to want to avoid downtown, or any crowd when all the tourists come to town for Fall, or to simply settle down with the same local haunts. A Staycation is the chance to break out some fine clothes, and explore beyond just the entrees and turn dinner into a long flavorful event. With various plates and dishes, it’s a chance to truly enjoy the growing food scene here in Tuscaloosa
At the west end of Temerson Square, the Chophouse has brought downtown that old school steakhouse with modern takes on classic dishes. With all to addicting lobster mac n cheese, to one of the best steaks this side of Nick’s in the Sticks. Alongside all the far too tempting dishes, their cocktails almost outdo the food in terms of rich flavors.
While the whole interior of this latest eatery is beautiful, ask and wait to sit on the outdoor patio that overlooks the river at sunset and re-encounter what makes this southern city so special. The Black Warrior reflects the multiple shades of pinks and reds while each and every dish at River comes along with graceful presentation and overwhelming flavor. River blends the classic taste of Southern cuisine with global influences that bring the food scene in town to another level, with an atmosphere that can’t be beat
Yes, DePalma’s. This Italian classic has been sitting on that corner of University and 23rd Ave longer than the graduates of 2017 have been alive. However, I bet it’s been a good while since you’ve waited the infamous wait times during dinner for this Italian treat. When was the last time you’ve gone and really had a feast built for a Tuscan family of 10? Do more than glance over the starters and begin your extravagant dinner with a sea of bread and cheeses that’ll leave you stuffed and happy. Do DePalma’s the right way, Italian style.
A staycation can involve sleeping at home, but that’s not really a treat. Staying at home means you are the maid, room service, the bartender, and bell boy all at once. Plus you’re more concerned with the bills and maintenance than anything else when you’re at home, so why not break out of your rut and into some fresh linen. Hotel rates in Tuscaloosa drop once graduation is done with, and in the past couple of years, we’ve seen superior stays rise up in the skyline. Sample what it’s like to really come into town, and get away from always having to make your bed for a change
Treat yo’ Self
From Boutique to blissful, there are plenty of refined stays in town to feel ritzy in. With well-known names to a local hidden gem, you can really get away without the added costs of getting away.
You may forget that across the river is Tuscaloosa’s most serene and eclectic resort. Filled with historic antiques collected by Jack Warner, this resort style hotel is far from the hustle of downtown and acts as a wooded oasis. Inside the cozy and charming inn features comfy rooms and unique sights like the 1850 Apothecary Room. This dining lounge is an authentic hand carved paneled room from 1850 and was found in President Grant’s hometown Apothecary in Galina Il. From the Russian tea room to the gardens, this hotel is truly a Tuscaloosa experience to have.
Hard to miss as one of the recent additions to the downtown skyline, this hotel tends to be a popular choice and it’s hard not to see why. The suite-style lodging and free happy hour in the bar give the hotel a sense of comfort and hospitality while being right in the center of town. The indoor pool and Side by Side restaurant all contribute to why this hotel sits as an anchor in Tuscaloosa tourism.
In the new Riverfront Village development, this boutique style hotel offers incredible views of the Black Warrior with a refined sense of modern style. With chic rooms and intimate eatery in the lobby, Hotel Indigo brings a new level of hospitality to town. Be sure to relax atop the hotel in their roof top bar with some crafty cocktails and savory appetizers as the sun sets over town.
Ball on a Budget
All over town, we have amazing hotels representing national and regional chains that offer comfort on a budget. There are so many excellent choices that will be happy to bring you a hospitable stay without breaking the bank.
However you choose to do your staycation, there is something out in town that you may have never considered trying until now. With all the growth Tuscaloosa has seen, it can be easy to feel lost in your hometown, or pushed aside during the excitement of Fall. Don’t be afraid to try something new and change up how you see this amazing college town that offers so much in such little space. Leave the chores at home, silence your phone, and unplug without having to leave city limits. If there is something you’ve dreamed of doing that isn’t on this list, and can only be found in T-Town, by all means, do it! Life is short and meant to be enjoyed, and we, by all means, have amenities to enjoy. Vacations don’t have to break the bank, and there is more to the city than what meets the eye. Ask anyone who comes to visit, and they will likely share stories that you still have to try, so why not take advantage of being a local and see the other side of the city. While there is no wrong time to treat yourself, take advantage of the down times in in the Druid City and explore your local scene with the carefree attitude of a tourist!
Written By: Deven Wilson – Intern