1. The River Walk
Disguised behind all of the commotions of Tuscaloosa lies the scenic River Walk. The 4.5 miles of path that runs directly next to the Black Warrior River serves as an ideal spot for picnics, dog walks, or leisurely strolls. Get out of the house, grab a friend, and go enjoy the view!
2. Dreamland BBQ
If you are from Tuscaloosa, or just Alabama itself, you know about this famous spot. Founded in 1958 by “Big Daddy” John Bishop, Dreamland has been a staple in Tuscaloosa’s food scene, serving communities across the state and even the country. You can still visit the original Dreamland location at 5525 15th Avenue East in Tuscaloosa. Pro Tip: Get the banana pudding.
3. Civil Rights Trail
To understand the rich history of Tuscaloosa’s civil rights history, it is crucial to examine the Civil Rights Trail. Many Alabamians are aware of the civil rights history that surrounds our state, but many might not be aware of the important events that took place in Tuscaloosa. The trail has 18 stops that tell of the extraordinary action that shaped this town forever. Visit https://civilrightstuscaloosa.org/trail/ to print your trail brochure.
Downtown Tuscaloosa has maintained its southern charm over the many years of change. Find a stylish outfit at The Pants Store, indulge in a nice dinner at Depalma’s, or sip on a craft cocktail at Sessions Bar. With dozens of businesses, new and old, its streets offer exciting experiences for everyone!
5. Lake Tuscaloosa
Right smack in the middle of Tuscaloosa you can fish, boat, or lie out with your friends at gorgeous Lake Tuscaloosa. This is the perfect spot for a quick, relaxing day trip with your friends or family. With 117 miles of shoreline, you sure won’t run out of room to play!
6. Crimson Tide Football
Alabama football fans have the honor of being some of the loudest, rowdiest fans in all of college football. To be honest, it’s hard to bite your tongue when your team has won 18 National Championships AND you have a larger stadium than Auburn.
7. The Strip
The Strip. Home to Quick Grill, the Yellow Hammer, and of course, Rounders. College kids love it, locals- well, probably don’t hate it too much. This is truly the place to go if you want that thrilling nightlife experience with a hint of college kid energy. Experience the electric energy on the strip that adds such an exciting element to Tuscaloosa!
8. Nicks in the Sticks
Nothing beats family-owned cooking- especially family-owned SOUTHERN cooking. Nicks in the Sticks has been serving the Tuscaloosa community since 1953 and has gone down in history ever since. Even though the venue is quite small, they dish up big flavors. If you have the chance to go, don’t forget to put a dollar bill on the ceiling!
What’s a good ole southern town without a good taproom? Tuscaloosa is home to 3 craft breweries: Loosa Brews, Druid City Brewing Company, and Black Warrior Brewing Company. New to the Tuscaloosa beer scene is The Grocery Brewpub that is set to open in the next few months!
10. The Immense History
While this one post could be a novel, T-Town has been a historical hotspot for centuries! Once the state capital in 1825, Tuscaloosa has been the home to the Creek Indian tribe and the site of a Civil War standoff. Grab a friend and discover the antiquity of Tuscaloosa throughout the many museums and tours offered throughout the town.
11. Kentuck Art Festival
Nothing screams fall in Tuscaloosa like changing leaves, football, and seasonal festivals. For 49 years, the Kentuck Art Center has been the epicenter of creativity for this community. The Kentuck Festival is filled with great music and art pieces from over 270 inspired creatives. While 2020 put a damper on the previous year’s fun, we are hopeful for the new year and the continuation of the spirit of Kentuck!
12. Tuscaloosa Farmers Market
Shop local, eat local, enjoy local. Supporting the Tuscaloosa community has never been easier thanks to the farmers market’s weekly Saturday appearance! Get your weekend fix of artisan bread, farm-fresh vegetables, and fabulous finds from your local small business owners at the Tuscaloosa Farmers Market- but remember to wear your mask!
13. The People
A deadly virus and a couple of tornados. It will take more than that to rock this town to its core! This community has endured so many hardships throughout the years. Yet still, we emerge stronger than ever and proud of the community we have built together! I could think of 1,000,000 reasons why I love Tuscaloosa, but 15 will have to do justice for now!
The best time of year is steadily approaching and it seems that the gift list is growing longer by the second. That’s where we come in to save the day. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing some stellar local shops that will make this year’s Christmas shopping a breeze. Not only will this guide save you loads of time, but it’s also a way to show your love and support for the many phenomenal local businesses in Tuscaloosa! Want your favorite shop featured? Send us a direct message and let us know!
For your Brewery Buds…
There is always one kind of gift that gets put to good use with just about every recipient: alcohol. Whether you’re searching for your favorite IPA or a unique kind of wine, we have what you’re looking for in Tuscaloosa! Loosa is a spectacular local bar that offers 63-Taps that you can drink on-premise, or fill up in a growler and take home. They always keep 30 of the freshest draft beers from Alabama breweries plus rare beers from all over on tap. If alcohol isn’t the direction you were thinking, check out their T-shirts, hats, and glassware! Whether you’re a local or a first-time visitor a souvenir is always a great little reminder of your experience here in T-Town.
For the Evermoving Explorers…
Although the temperatures are getting lower and lower, it is still important to stay active outside whether it is to exercise or for other sporting purposes! Staying outside and distanced is a safe and healthy way to enjoy activities with friends and family, so for all those outdoorsy companions, check out Woods and Water or Wagner’s. Woods and Water is a store that fills every outdoorsy person’s fantasies, whether for hunting, fishing, or other assorted outdoor activities! A local shoe store, Wagner’s, has another seasonal gift guide for everyone to put a holiday spring in their loved ones’ step this season! Browse through the wide selection of shoes and active outerwear divided into for him, for her, for girls, or for boys sections.
For your Foodie Friends…
Wheww… Where do we even start? To gift a delightful dining experience and incredible Italian cuisine check out the local favorite Depalmas! If a brunch date is more your style, gift your friend with mimosas and a view at River, or with a Southern-styled breakfast at The Waysider. For that unpredictable foodie friend, a Cravings gift card can go a long way. The city’s one-stop-shop for specialty candy, craft beer, wine, dessert, and so much more is located downtown for your convenience.
For the Auspicious Artists…
Bring the artistic wonder of Kentuck Arts Center to family and friends with the power of the Kentuck Festival of the Arts 2020 Virtual Marketplace. This virtual dream come true is available now until December 31st to safely celebrate local artists. With a wide variety of pieces and creations, the Virtual Marketplace is a fabulous way to browse and discover new tastes and trends within the art community all from the safety of your home. Not only is this a safe way to shop, but it also an incredible way to support local artists from around Tuscaloosa and all of West Alabama.
All Fired Up Ceramic Studio offers gift cards for visitors to purchase for their friends and family this upcoming holiday season or year-round for other celebrations! Gifts can come in the shape of gift cards for use at the All Fired Up studio or even take-home kits to move the ceramic fun to enjoy in the safety of your own home! All Fired Up is a delightful spot where you, along with friends or family, can stop by to create and paint your very own pottery creations together. This activity is a relaxing way to both blow off steam and express creativity through shape, color, and design! Visit All Fired Up’s website to learn more about the store and their different gift offerings.
For the Reserved Relaxers…
In the chaos that has been 2020, many people are looking for ways to healthily unwind and enjoy time to themselves or just time in peace and quiet. Tuscaloosa is home to several spots where you can find the gift of “solace” to give to one of your closest companions. Ernest and Hadley offers gift cards, branded gifts, and even store memberships as part of their gift gallery and is sure to provide a thoughtful and easy gift to give a book lover or someone looking to read more heading into the new year. Monarch Espresso Bar is another way to give the gift of peace and quiet by offering gift cards to give to friends and family this holiday season.
1. If savory Lamb Chops topped with Blackberry Reduction and a side of Garlic Mashed Potatoes and sautéed Kale sounds like your dream dinner, then you should definitely include Evangeline’s in your T-Town itinerary. As one of the area’s premier restaurants, this divine treasure provides exceptional service for private intimate dinners, social events, and corporate parties. From a small rehearsal dinner to a lavish party for friends and family, Evangeline’s has the atmosphere to create the ideal experience.
2. Do you consider seafood, steak, & sushi three of your main food groups? If so, then Chuck’s is most definitely calling you. Offering a diverse menu in trendy surrounds with a loft & full bar, this local favorite has a well-earned reputation as a T-Town staple. It is also perfect for special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. Crowd favorites include the crab cakes, sushi, scallops, and pizza. With attentive service and an unforgettable dining experience, you’ll always leave this happy and stuffed – and ready to come back again.
3. It would be a disservice to Tuscaloosa cuisine to discuss our incredible local dining without including Central Mesa. Established in 2017 by owner Craig Williams, this local treasure offers a Southern twist on traditional Latin-American dishes. The story of the restaurant is built upon a passion for providing fresh, great-tasting food and cocktails. Every dish is prepared in-house from scratch to ensure quality taste. The heart of the restaurant beats to provide a relaxed atmosphere and sense of community, where people can come and enjoy exceptional food and drink.
4. Ignite the creative in you and experience the Dinah Cultural Arts Center’s current exhibit, Stephanie Kirkland: “Windswept: Abstract Landscapes”. This moving collection of acrylic paintings was inspired during a road trip out West, which included hiking through Glacier, Zion, and Grand Canyon national parks. This week’s gallery hours of 1:00 p.m.to 3:00 p.m. offers the last chance to witness this captivating creation firsthand. Trust us, you don’t want to miss it!
5. Kentuck Art Center offers a unique view into the minds of the endlessly talented local artists all around Tuscaloosa. From handmade, one-of-a-kind jewelry to kitchen pitchers, this gold mine is ideal for a one-stop-shop for holiday gifts. The Kentuck Gallery Shop offers an incredible shopping experience either online or in-person!
6. Fall foliage peak is on the horizon and one of the best places to take in the changing season is the Riverwalk. This first-rate paved trail sits along the southern bank of the Black Warrior River near downtown Tuscaloosa and is suited for both walkers and bikers. Along the 4.5-mile trail, there are a variety of (dog-friendly) park areas, benches, gazebos, and trees for hammocks and picnics. The pathway also provides a playground near the Public Library and a splash pad at the Bama Bell dock for the kids. For nighttime walkers, it is well-lit with street lamps along the way.
7. Get a taste of the (tamer) Tide. Take in the jaw-dropping beauty of UA’s campus in its most unique form: somewhat still and tranquil. Casually absorb the captivating architecture and elaborate landscaping that is so easy to take for granted during the football fan frenzy that accompanies one of the greatest dynasties in college football history. It offers another great place to enjoy the fall colors while viewing landmarks such as the President’s Mansion, Denny Chimes, Bryant-Denny Stadium, and historic Foster Auditorium – where Malone-Hood Plaza and the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower celebrate the spot where the University of Alabama was first integrated.
Let’s be honest, the first word that comes to mind when you hear “Tuscaloosa” is most likely football. While the Crimson Tide dynasty is undeniably an incredible aspect of T-Town, it is impossible to experience the entirety of our city without the missing pieces. Your answer, most likely, was not history, but what if I told you it deserves a spot in the top five, at least? Below we have compiled just a few of the different ways to immerse yourself in the diverse and captivating history of the one and only Tuscaloosa!
The most extensive historical attraction in Tuscaloosa is the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Trail, with 18 stops spread throughout Downtown Tuscaloosa. This trail is a compilation of historical Civil Rights sites throughout town, where prominent events occurred, whether it was the location of a riot, a safe house for those escaping racial persecution, or exhibitions of art from Black artists and creators. The Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Trail is a wonderful activity for families and friends to walk around historical Tuscaloosa and learn about the rich and difficult history of the city. Each location along the trail offers a different glimpse into a not-so-distant past and can be an important lesson for all of us in modern times!
Built in 1835 and surviving nearly two centuries, the Battle-Friedman House is one of the oldest standing buildings in the City of Tuscaloosa. The history of this house lies in its journey of ownership from family to family over the last two centuries. The house was originally built by the Battle Family, a plantation-owning couple from North Carolina who had recently moved to Tuscaloosa. Then, towards the end of the Reconstruction Era in 1875, the Battles foreclosed on the house, and its ownership was transferred over to the Friedmans, a Hungarian family who had moved to Tuscaloosa to open up a store and eventually became a respected member of the Tuscaloosa community. Ultimately, the Friedman family willed the house to the City of Tuscaloosa in 1965, and has since been preserved as a location of historical significance located just outside the heart of Downtown Tuscaloosa!
For fans of historic architecture and intricate design, the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion is a beautiful destination throughout Tuscaloosa’s history. This mansion was built in the late 1800s, with its construction being halted for the Civil War, causing a number of incompletions in the initial construction of the mansion itself. The mansion was designed by architect Samuel Sloan – also known for designing Bryce Hospital – but was unfortunately built by slaves, given the timeframe in which it was constructed. Before becoming an official historical site to the City of Tuscaloosa and in addition to being used as a residence, the Van de Graaff Mansion has also been used at the city library. Admission to the mansion for viewing is free, plus the space is available for rent for events and celebrations! For more information about the mansion, visit its dedicated website.
As the host of a number of exhibits and featured speakers over the years, the Alabama Museum of Natural History is one of the most impressive buildings on the University of Alabama campus. This museum is home to many different exhibits, collections, and programs dedicated to educating its visitors about the natural wonders of Alabama and the Earth itself. It dives into the ancient and modern history of all the nature that is all around us, even here in the City of Tuscaloosa! The museum is housed inside Smith Hall on campus, just off the quad, and is open to all who wish to learn more about the science that lives around us in our everyday lives. For more information about admission and hours of operation, visit the Alabama Museum of Natural History website on the University of Alabama website.
For those avid fans of both Crimson Tide athletics and the history of Tuscaloosa, there is no better place to visit than the Paul W. Bryant Museum. This museum is an exploration into the history of not only the best coach in the history of collegiate football but also the history of one of the most decorated athletic programs in the history of all collegiate athletics! Extensively archived over the course of the university’s history, the exhibits and videos featured in the museum show an in-depth look into the growth and evolution of Alabama athletics navigating through segregation, World War 2, and of course, the beginnings of the Iron Bowl rivalry! The museum is open Thursday to Sunday with varying admission prices – including free for visitors aged 6 years or younger – so be sure to visit the museum website for more information, as well the opportunity to buy admission ahead of time.
Lake Lurleen is a site of natural beauty located close to the City of Tuscaloosa and is ripe with natural wonders for all to discover! Lake Lurleen is a 250-acre Lake Lurleen home to many varieties of fish, and measures nearly one and a half miles in length, one-half mile wide, and goes as deep as 48 feet! Visiting Lake Lurleen State Park in Fall is one of the best times to visit as leaves are changing colors and the temperatures are moderate enough to enjoy a relaxing hike or a walk around the area. The park facilities include campgrounds, picnic areas, play areas for kids, pavilions for gatherings, beaches, piers for fishing, RV storage, and boat rentals. Admission is required for day use, so be sure to visit the Lake Lurleen State Park website to learn more about admission prices and the rules and regulations of using the park’s facilities on a daily basis.
Located about 13 miles south of the City of Tuscaloosa is the Moundville Archaeological Park, one of the most prominent Native American heritage sites in modern-day North America. This park was once the location of the largest city north of modern-day Mexico and was home to the Mississippian tribe of Native Americans. On this 326-acre preservation, 800 years ago, the Mississippian tribe celebrated with festivals and ceremonies, sites of which are visible today for visitors! As an extension of the modern-day City of Tuscaloosa, this is a destination of great historical significance to the original peoples that inhabited our country centuries ago. This site is currently hosting the Virtual Moundville Native American Festival, a celebration of the original peoples who inhabited this land and their rich culture that survives to this day. Joining in on the festival is a beautiful opportunity to learn more about an ancient civilization that thrived and prospered only a short distance away from Tuscaloosa!
Written by: Will Baggett
Edited by: Jamie Hoven
After months of anticipation, the first game day of the 2020 Alabama Crimson Tide football season is approaching! Although the weekend will look a bit different this year, there are so many ways to experience the city of Tuscaloosa. Below we have put together the Ultimate 2020 T-Town Tour Guide, full of local dining, enticing entertainment, and spectacular shopping. Be sure to stay safe and wear a mask while you explore the town. Enjoy your weekend adventures and let the good times (and the Crimson Tide) roll!
9:00 am – 9:45 am:
The first stop on our itinerary is Babe’s Donuts, located on Greensboro Avenue in the heart of Downtown Tuscaloosa. Known for its sweet treats and delicious coffee, this on-the-go option is currently open for to-go orders, making it convenient to start your day off on a good note! As you embark on your weekend journey stop by Babe’s for a classic donut – or mix it up with a Fruity Pebbles donut – and some cold brew coffee. Before you know it this local gem just might become your new T-Town favorite!
10:00 am – 11:30 am:
Located just down the street at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center is the Sarah Garden Armstrong Exhibit: Threads and Layers. Sarah Garden Armstrong is an Alabama native and alumna of the University of Alabama, returning to Tuscaloosa to share her captivating work through different types of media, from paintings and sculptures to handmade artist books! This Friday is your last chance to visit her incredible exhibit, so be sure to visit the Event page for more information.
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm:
Your next stop along the T-Town Tour is Heat Pizza, located on Government Plaza. Choose wisely their wide selection of pizzas, including vegetarian and gluten-free options! Enjoy your lunch safely outside on the patio, with plenty of space for social distancing. As a matter of fact, Heat’s variety of beer, wine, and cocktails pairs perfectly with this perfect fall weather! With 5 years of experience serving pizzas, salads, drinks, and good times to Tuscaloosa, Heat will make your time here unforgettable.
2:00 pm – 4:30 pm:
The Paul R. Jones Museum has reopened its doors just in time for Bama’s season kickoff! Come experience the eclectic art of T-Town and explore their newest exhibit, “When They See Us, What Do They See?: Perspectives on Black Art”, curated by Barbara-Shae Jackson. The purpose of this exhibit is to ask visitors the question: What does the aesthetic experience of a person perceiving a work of art look like when it does not reflect their culture or personal life experience? Jackson, currently a doctoral student in cognitive psychology at The University of Alabama, is curating this collection to identify the responses of different visitors when they view art created by black and white artists. This weekend is your last chance to visit this thought-provoking exhibit, so be sure to visit the event page for more information.
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm:
Return to Downtown Tuscaloosa for a nice sit-down dinner at Chuck’s Fish where you can enjoy delicious appetizers and savory seafood dishes. This restaurant is a wonderful way to kick-off the weekend and celebrate the beginning of Alabama Football Season with family or friends! With a menu complete with classic cocktails and incredible entrees, Chuck’s is sure to be a crowd-pleaser no matter who is in your entourage.
7:30 pm – 10:30 pm:
Friday night LIVE MUSIC is returning to T-Town! Live from the Bama will begin at 7:30 pm, with limited in-person seating to ensure social distancing. Tickets are available to purchase for $10 here. If you are unable to attend the concert, join in on the fun virtually via the live stream on our Facebook page! Featuring local bands GrAystone and Casie & the NoJoes, this show will be sure to kick off your weekend the right way. Not to mention, all proceeds go directly to the Bama Theatre during this difficult time. To show your support for the irreplaceable Bama Theatre you can donate at your convenience here.
9:00 am – 10:30 am:
Start off your Saturday with a traditional T-Town breakfast at The Waysider, Tuscaloosa’s oldest restaurant in town! Once a regular stop for the great Bear Bryant, this classic local joint is located on Greensboro Avenue. Experience a bit of T-Town’s southern-style cooking with homemade biscuits, complimentary beignets (per request), or ham cooked to perfection. Not much of a breakfast person? No worries, The Waysider has delicious lunch items on the menu as well! Keep in mind that seating is limited, so be sure to budget for time as you may have to wait for a table!
11:00 am – 12:30 pm:
If you need a place to entertain your kids, look no further than the Children’s Hands-On Museum. This educational oasis is a delightful spot where your kids can learn about exciting subjects, like friction and temperature, all while having a blast! CHOM has set several guidelines in place to ensure the safety of all staff and visitors, like temperature screening at the entrance and controlled capacity inside. Ahead of your visit to the museum, check online for more information about exploring this interactive museum safely! If you aren’t comfortable taking your kids to CHOM, you can take CHOM to your kids with CHOM at home! Encouraging interactive learning is now easier than ever before with this resource up your sleeve.
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm:
Now it’s time to walk on over to Avenue Pub for a bit of local flavor to celebrate a football-filled afternoon! This treasure is a wonderful spot for spending quality time with loved ones and indulging in comfort food galore. With tasty sandwiches, fresh salads, and banging burgers, Avenue pub has what it takes to put you in a good mood for the rest of the day. If you just so happen to find yourself needing a spot to watch the Crimson Tide, there is a special offer of local beer for $4/pint during the game.
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm:
Between lunch and the start of the night football games, you can take a stroll around Downtown Tuscaloosa and do some necessary game day shopping. Whether you are looking to spruce up the Tide Pride in your repertoire or hoping to find the perfect crimson outfit, there are plenty of local shops to discover. For men, The Locker Room is a great spot for gameday polos and outerwear for later in the season. For women, whatever your style may be, Vintage Cotton Boutique offers a wide selection of unique pieces to help you put together the ideal football season wardrobe for any occasion!
6:00 pm: Alabama Crimson Tide at Missouri Tigers
ROOOLLLLLL TIDE ROLL into the return of college football! Wear your lucky socks and put your game face on because the highly-anticipated time is officially here. Whether you are at the game or cheering on the tide elsewhere, enjoy Tuscaloosa’s inexplicable, electrifying game-day atmosphere. Bama fans and locals alike know exactly what that feels like. Now is the perfect time to experience T-Town’s Bama fan phenomenon with the rare game-day hotel availability and local businesses eager to share their products/services with you.
10:00 am – 12:00 pm:
Start Sunday morning off the right way at Rama Jama’s with a hearty breakfast at this University of Alabama-themed grill on Bryant Drive. Admire Bryant-Denny Stadium in all its glory as you enjoy more incredible local food. With classic options like fresh biscuits, crispy bacon, and unbelievable ham, it’s no surprise this hometown hit has hundreds of rave reviews. After a long, exciting Saturday of exploring Tuscaloosa and cheering on the Crimson Tide, a southern-styled breakfast at the one and only Rama Jama’s is just what the doctor ordered.
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm:
The Paul W. Bryant Museum is back open for this year’s football season! They are so excited to welcome visitors to town and share the gilded history of Bear Bryant and the Alabama Crimson Tide! After enjoying a Saturday full of football, the Bryant Museum is the perfect place to spend your Sunday afternoon, watching and learning about the history of Alabama Athletics. Walk in the footsteps of Alabama greats with the exhaustive collection of items and memorabilia of past sports history at The University of Alabama. Be sure to visit Bryant Museum’s website ahead of time to purchase admission and check hours of operation.
2:30 pm – 5:00 pm:
Downtown Tuscaloosa is a great place to shop around and discover local businesses that offer clothes, accessories, furniture, and more. Olive Tree Antiques and Twice as Nice are delightful examples of antique shops in Downtown T-Town. Places like these have something for just about everyone with eclectic inventory that is constantly changing. Whether it be kitchenware, jewelry, an antique, or interior decorations you are bound to discover some T-Town treasures that would make the perfect souvenirs.
Safety is the top priority for returning to campus, but that does not mean sacrificing the ability to enjoy yourself and to enjoy new experiences, especially in the City of Tuscaloosa. There are plenty of ways to maintain a safe, physical distance while also enjoying what Tuscaloosa has to offer, whether it be the scenic views, rich history, or the one-of-a-kind businesses and restaurant culture of this city. Below, we have compiled a list of ways to stay socially active while also being socially distanced!
The different lakes located around Tuscaloosa have been a regular relaxation spot for students over the years. In order to have a fun and peaceful time, visiting one of the nearby lakes is a modern time twist on a classic activity for UA students. These lakes are not only wonderful places to swim and rent kayaks for, but they are also a peaceful spot to read a book and enjoy the nature of the Tuscaloosa area. What better way to substitute a library table or a lakeside picnic table? These lakes offer services that allow you to either rent paddleboards for the day, paddle your own kayak around to the different scenic spots along the lakefront, or layout at the beach to continue working on your summer tan! The most popular lakes around the City of Tuscaloosa to check out are Lake Lurleen, Lake Nicol, and Lake Tuscaloosa.
Civil Rights Walk
The City of Tuscaloosa has a history intertwined with the Civil Rights movement, and there is a presence of that history all around Downtown Tuscaloosa. Traveling through history along the Civil Rights Walk is a way to stay active outdoors and be proactive about the history and importance of the Civil Rights Movement to our city. Visit (website) to locate the markers located around Downtown Tuscaloosa and learn more about the lasting impact that the Civil Rights Movement has made on the history and people of the City of Tuscaloosa. Visit here to learn more about the Civil Rights Trail of Tuscaloosa and how you can find more and more resources regarding the Civil Rights Movement in Tuscaloosa.
Historic Downtown Tuscaloosa
Downtown Tuscaloosa is a relaxing area of town where anyone is free to walk around and wander from door to door to find something they feel drawn to. There are numerous boutique stores and businesses where eclectic finds are inevitable. If you’re looking for a new wardrobe, or maybe just some refreshing new pieces, check out Pause Boutique, Effie’s Inc., or Pants Store! Walking around Downtown Tuscaloosa is a peaceful yet adventurous activity for all to find unique local while staying active after months of quarantine. However, Downtown Tuscaloosa does feature a lot of locations that would require entering a building, so be sure to pack a mask and be safe when visiting indoor storefronts and shops.
Self-Guided UA Tour
The University of Alabama has a rich history that every student and resident of Tuscaloosa ought to learn and become familiar with. At the heart of it all is The Quad, which is filled to the brim with its own history but also offers one of the most picturesque areas of campus. A refreshing way to stay connected to the culture of the university while maintaining physical distancing outdoors is to take a stroll around the University of Alabama campus and soaking in the history of the many buildings and locations. Many locations, including the ones located on the Quad, include historical markers that indicate the historic significance of their existence (or previous existence) and offer a glimpse into what truly defines this university.
Enjoy the scenic nature of the Black Warrior River from the comfort of a relaxing hammock or a light jog along the riverfront. The Riverwalk is 4.2 miles of a paved trail that offers visitors a place to enjoy the outdoors in a way that is safe and distanced from others, and versatile enough that anyone can find themselves enjoying an afternoon out and about. The Riverwalk is a great place to go on a quick run, exercise on a bike, and walk your dog, plus offers serene and scenic spots for reading a nice book or enjoying a delicious picnic. Whether you are wanting to stay physically active through exercise and movement or if you are wanting to simply sit outdoors and soak in the sunlight and fresh air, the Riverwalk is a must-do.
Golf and Disc Golf
In order to stay distanced while remaining active, certain sports offer more distanced situations than others, like golf or disc golf. There are several public golf course options located near Tuscaloosa including Ol’ Colony, North River Yacht Club, The Links at Tuscaloosa, Indian Hills Country Club, Tall Pines, and Hidden Meadows. Each of these courses is available on weekends and offers a variety of offerings to satisfy the most serious players and to welcome the more introductory players. If you are more of a disc golfer than a traditional golfer, Bower’s Park is the place to be, thanks to a full 18-hole course primarily located on wooded terrain and featuring beginner and professional tees for players of all skill ranges! Whether you are driving a golf ball or a disc, these activities are a safe way to get back into the swing of things!
A staple of campus life is enjoying the food trucks that make their way onto campus or throughout Tuscaloosa. These days, food trucks are a great way to stay outdoors and distanced while also supporting local businesses of Tuscaloosa. Not only are you able to be smart about what you are eating, but you may discover a new favorite dish or new favorite dining destination! We offer a phenomenal variety with options like Catch a Taste, Aces Tuscaloosa, Cheese Louise Tuscaloosa, and Urban Cookhouse. Food trucks appear in various locations around the city, so be sure to plan ahead of time to be aware of where certain trucks will be located and what their menu will look like! Remember to wear a mask at all times except when you are eating in order to maximize caution and ensure the safety of yourselves and those around you.
Local Farmers Markets
A health-conscious and locally-oriented outdoor activity that everyone can take advantage of is enjoying a farmers market. In Tuscaloosa, a few wonderful options for outdoor farmers markets are Homegrown Alabama Farmers Market, Ingram Farms, Northport Farmers Market, and the Curbside Farmers Market. Shopping at a farmers market can expose you to new flavors to up your cooking game, and they support the local farmers that stock the markets. Be sure to wear a mask while visiting local farmers markets for the health and safety of yourself and the vendors working the markets!
Written by: Will Baggett
Black Belt Adventures recently created a weekend tour of Alabama’s Black Belt, showcasing the region’s best eateries, pit stops, and local goods. The Flavors of the Black Belt Adventure of course passes through Tuscaloosa, stopping by some of the city’s best restaurants and unique locations along the way. To see what made the cut and to take your own adventure through Tuscaloosa, follow along with us!
Archibald and Woodrow’s BBQ
Archibald and Woodrow’s BBQ began serving the Tuscaloosa community from a small cinderblock building in 1962. Three generations later, the restaurant is known across the country for serving some of the best barbecue and ribs that the South has to offer. Archibald and Woodrow’s barbecued ribs, pork, and chicken are known for their trademark hickory-smoked flavor, and their house-made sides and sauces complement each item perfectly. If you’re looking for authentic Southern barbecue in Tuscaloosa, give Archibald and Woodrow’s a try!
Avenue Pub has been serving refined pub classics and a variety of craft beers to the Tuscaloosa community since 2014. Dishes like fish and chips and fried green tomato BLTs are made in-house with locally sourced ingredients, creating simple but memorable dishes. Make sure you try one of their local beer options while you’re there! The restaurant’s laid-back atmosphere creates a sense of community with every guest, making Avenue Pub the perfect place to visit for a casual and welcoming dining experience.
In 2017, Central Mesa began serving authentic Latin American food with a Southern twist in downtown Tuscaloosa. From hot chicken tacos inspired by the classic Nashville dish to beer-battered cod tacos that are straight from the Atlantic Ocean, Central Mesa offers one of the city’s most unique menus. The restaurant prides itself on serving fresh and delicious dishes alongside clean cocktails in a laid back atmosphere. If you’re looking for a unique fusion dining experience, Central Mesa is the place to be!
Chuck’s Fish opened in downtown Tuscaloosa in 2006 with the intention of showing off the best seafood that the Gulf of Mexico has to offer. The restaurant is named in honor of UA graduate Chuck Morgan, a civil rights attorney who fought against racial inequality during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement. Along with freshly harvested seafood, Chuck’s Fish also offers naturally-raised beef and an award-winning sushi bar. If you’re looking for a high-quality dining experience with a great atmosphere, look no further than Chuck’s Fish!
Depalma’s is Tuscaloosa’s premier destination for Italian cuisine that is both authentic and delicious. Since 1995, Depalma’s has been serving pastas, pizzas, calzones, and other entrees to locals and visitors alike. They also offer a wide drink selection as well as desserts, including Depalma’s famous white chocolate bread pudding. The restaurant’s cozy atmosphere coupled with its prime location in the heart of downtown Tuscaloosa makes it a must-try during your next visit!
Since 1958, Dreamland BBQ has been serving hickory-fired ribs and other barbecued favorites to the Tuscaloosa area. Over the years, Dreamland has become one of the most celebrated barbeque restaurants in the South. While they’re known for their iconic ribs, white bread, and sauce combination, Dreamland also serves barbeque sandwiches, smoked sausages, half chickens, and more! Check their online menu for availability at each location, and keep Dreamland in mind the next time you’re craving barbeque!
Located on the banks of the Black Warrior River, River is Tuscaloosa’s top destination for urban dining with beautiful views. Since 2016, River has been serving tender steaks, savory flatbreads, specialty oysters, and more to the Tuscaloosa community. River prides itself on its great food and personal service, and its spacious dining terrace makes the perfect backdrop for a refined dining experience. If you’re looking for fine dining with beautiful riverfront views, choose River!
Along the Way
Besides some of the best dining in the South, Tuscaloosa also has some great sights and spots to visit! The Alabama Museum of Natural History has been celebrating the state’s natural history through exhibits, teaching programs, and service for over 150 years. While on The University of Alabama’s campus, stop by the Paul W. “Bear” Bryant Museum to learn more about the campus’s famous football history. See some of the program’s most memorable moments displayed through state-of-the-art exhibits. To satisfy your artsy side, visit the Kentuck Art Center to learn more about the creativity of the Tuscaloosa community or enjoy one of their year-round programs. Round off your tour around Tuscaloosa with a drink at Black Warrior Brewing Company, which offers a large variety of craft beers and wines that are made in-house.
Black Belt Adventures’ many trails focus on the food, drinks, stays, and sights you’ll encounter on your trip, and shopping lists tell what local goodies you’ll want to pick up along the way. While on your adventure, make sure to enter Black Belt Adventures’ Feed Your Adventure Photo Contest! Simply snap a photo along one of their trails and upload your photo to their website. More information can be found on their website’s Flavors Photo Contest page. View the full brochure here and happy trails!
The Tuscaloosa mural on The Strip is the perfect backdrop for your next photo! Its vibrant colors spell out the city’s name, but there’s more than meets the eye! Jason Tetlak, the mural’s artist, created a technique he calls “red reveal.” When the mural is viewed through a red lens, the word “Tuscaloosa” changes into the phrase “Druid City.” The mural is painted on the side of Egan’s Bar, a Tuscaloosa favorite for over 40 years. If you’re feeling hot after taking your pictures, stop in and cool off with one of their mixed drinks or local craft brews!
The Riverwalk is a paved trail that offers captivating views of the Black Warrior River. With multiple park spots, including benches and outdoor tables, it’s the perfect place for a photo session or a picnic! The Riverwalk is only a short drive from downtown, making it easy to grab a bite from a restaurant like Reggae Flava on the way! Reggae Flava offers a variety of gourmet Jamaican cuisine options, including jerk chicken, curry shrimp, and fish tacos. After filling up on amazing food, make sure you take some beautiful photos!
Hurricane Creek Park
Hurricane Creek Park is a local favorite that makes for a gorgeous setting spending time outdoors and capturing the splendor of nature! The scenery is breathtaking, making this park the ideal place to practice your portrait or nature photography. While you’re there, make sure you enjoy everything the great outdoors has to offer! Take a dip in the creek, walk along one of the park’s hiking and bike trails, or simply sit on the creek bank and take in the tremendous surroundings.
While it may seem out of the ordinary, greenhouses can make for a striking backdrop that brings personality and pop in to all of your photos! In 1984 Tuscaloosa was blessed with Brown’s Greenhouses, a local plant nursery with an expansive selection of indoor plants, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables. Pose with some hanging baskets, stand among the rows of luscious flowers, and explore all 16 of the greenhouses to discover your absolute favorite herb! When it comes to purchasing plants, Brown’s Greenhouses not only has stellar quality but outstanding prices as well.
Black Warrior Railroad Bridge
The railroad bridge that crosses the Black Warrior River would be a fantastic area for your next photoshoot! Located a short drive from downtown behind the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, the wooden and steel truss bridge dates back to 1898. While you’re near downtown, be sure to stop by Alcove International Tavern and grab a drink to find sweet relief from the sizzling summer heat! Alcove offers a wide variety of local craft beers and mixed drinks at reasonable prices, and visitors have raved about the bar’s laid-back and unique atmosphere!
Capitol Park is a historic park in Tuscaloosa that’s perfect for taking photos while learning about the city’s history! Capitol Park is the first stop on Tuscaloosa’s 18-stop Civil Rights History Trail. When Tuscaloosa was the capital of Alabama, Capitol Park was the home of the city’s leading governmental buildings. Only two columns and a foundation remain, and the location is a favorite of many photographers in the area. If you find yourself drained snapping photo after photo, you’re in luck! Nearby is Babe’s Doughnuts, a coffee shop and bakery that serves homemade doughnuts, breakfast bowls and sandwiches, and specialty coffees. Stop in for a sweet treat and a pick-me-up on your way to or from Capitol Park!
The University of Alabama
The University of Alabama has countless iconic spots throughout campus for breathtaking photographs! The Quad, President’s Mansion, Bryant-Denny Stadium, Denny Chimes, and many more Capstone classics make this an ideal photography destination. While you’re visiting campus, take the short walk down to The Strip and grab a bite to eat from one of the local restaurants. If you’re looking for Thai food and sushi, grab a to-go meal from Surin of Thailand! From California rolls to fried rice, they have something for everyone to enjoy. College students love it for its reasonable prices and expansive menu. If you’re in the mood for a drink, stop by Gallettes! Known for their famous Yellowhammer cocktail, Gallettes offers specials on wells along with mixed drinks and more!
Van de Graaff Arboretum and Historic Bridge Park
Van de Graff Arboretum and Historic Bridge Park is a beautiful outdoor setting for your next photo session! Located a short drive from Tuscaloosa in Northport, the park’s King Bowstring Bridge is the perfect backdrop. The park prides itself on this historic feature, as the bridge is one of the four spans that crossed the Black Warrior River from 1882 to 1896. Van De Graaff park also has a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy! Hiking, fishing, and camping are just a few of the many amenities that are offered.
The Fourth of July is (almost) here! Time to enjoy the long weekend of burgers and hot dogs on the grill, sunshine, music, boats, fireworks, bonfires, friends, and family! While this year may look a little different, this holiday can provide some much-needed relaxation from the mental stresses of daily, routine life, especially in 2020. Not sure how to spend your weekend in the one and only Tuscaloosa? No worries, we have gathered some ideas below to help you make the most of Independence Day weekend.
It wouldn’t be a Fourth of July celebration without fireworks, and the City of Tuscaloosa is putting on a show that is viewable from downtown at 9 p.m. this Saturday! Free parking is available for all viewers at the Tuscaloosa amphitheater and the Intermodal Facility parking deck. Be sure to tune in to local Tuscaloosa radio stations to listen to live music accompanying the spectacular show. The Tuscaloosa fire department urges leaving the performances to professionals.
Wide Open Spaces
Another major component of celebrating the Fourth is basking in the glorious summer sun. Tuscaloosa is the perfect place to relax in the great outdoors with so many beautiful lakes, rivers, and parks. Lake Tuscaloosa has everything you need for a traditional family lake day, whether you boat, fish, or swim. You and the entire family are bound to have an unforgettable Fourth celebration at this local hangout. Another option is Lake Nicol, a man-made lake with a slew of trails that meander to captivating Cliffside views. These ledges make for a perfect spot to get away from it all in under a 15-min drive. Take in the picturesque waters on a paddleboard or admire the serene views while hiking in one of the most secluded and naturally beautiful places in the city.
Picnic Like a Pro
If you aren’t up for this adventure, pack a bag and enjoy a picnic on the captivating campus of The University of Alabama! Waitr also has offered a 50% off delivery special this weekend! Take advantage of this phenomenal deal and order from your favorite local restaurants! Whether you choose a juicy burger from Rama Jama’s, the game-changing wings from Catfish Heaven, or an unforgettable Chipotle Marinated Pork Tenderloin from Southern Ale House! For dessert, check out The Whimsey Cookie’s adorable and delicious Fourth of July Cookie Set.
If you need a cool down from the Alabama heat, stop by Las Piñas on McFarland Blvd for some homemade ice cream, chili powder popsicles, or fresh street corn! This family-owned business brings a modern twist to the classic ice cream shops. They serve 100% homemade frozen treats and snacks with the combination of Mexican and American flavors! If snow cones are more your style, Summer Snow is the perfect spot for you! With over sixty flavors to try, this shaved ice shop has proven itself as a staple within this community.
7 Ways to Conquer your Child’s Boredom in Tuscaloosa
Create a lifetime of unforgettable memories right here in Tuscaloosa this summer. Kids are out of school, so the pressure is all on the parents to entertain the little ones! Lucky for you, we have an abundance of engaging activities for the whole family to enjoy- especially the young ones! Whether you end up crafting with a take-home pottery kit or indulging in a sweet treat like yogurt and fruit popsicles you (and your kids) are bound to have a wonderful time in the one and only Tuscaloosa!
1. Summer Snow
Cool down with some shaved ice at this local hot spot. Kids will love the vast variety of flavors to choose from, and you will too! From dreamsicle to butterscotch, Summer Snow has a little something for everyone to enjoy in this phenomenal summer weather.
2. La Real Michoacana
This hidden gem is of Tuscaloosa’s best-kept secrets! La Real Michoacana has a wide variety of popsicles and is always working on new flavors! Try flavors like Key Lime Pie, or refreshing Peach. They also have chips and tamales if you are looking to snack on something a little more filling.
3. Steel City Pops
Get something fruity, creamy, or cookie-based, the choice is yours! All pops are gluten-free and made with natural ingredients. Steel City Pops rotates flavors based on the season, so you are guaranteed satisfaction with a light and refreshing treat that pairs perfectly with the toasty summer weather in Ttown!
4. Babes Doughnuts
This sweet spot has so many options to please the entire family! Babe’s doughnut flavors range from Fruity Pebbles to Maple Bacon. They also serve wraps, cold brew coffee, and signature lattes! If you’re avoiding lines, they are still taking orders over the phone. Give them a call and enjoy a delicious doughnut to kick start your day the right way.
5. All Fired Up
This paint your own pottery studio in Tuscaloosa is the perfect place to spend some getting creative with your loved ones. If you’re not ready for a public outing, All Fired Up also has a wide variety of take-home pottery kits that includes a guide with tips and tricks to create the best final product. Whether you make a Dunder Mifflin Coffee mug or a set of 2 teardrop bud vases to decorate your home, All Fired Up has options to reflect any personality and style!
6. Children’s Hands-On Museum
The Children’s Hands-On Museum has something for every day of the week to make learning an interactive and enjoyable experience. Under new social distancing guidelines, CHOM has come up with CHOM at Home to keep your kiddo’s entertained and learning. Visit their website to see what interesting topics they have planned for this week and fun facts that will have the entire family entertained!
7. Ice Cream Run Remote Run
Get rid of that cabin fever and get the whole family out for the Ice Cream Remote Run. This run Is taking place during the entire month of June and can be completed wherever you please, on your own time. This is the perfect opportunity to promote a healthy and active lifestyle and to create a bonding family group activity. What are you waiting for? Grab the whole family and head to the Riverwalk, UA campus, or visit one of the many trails Tuscaloosa has to offer. If that’s not enough, all participants will also receive a medal at the end of the month.
The summer season of open roads and clear blue skies is quickly approaching. The time is now to relax, explore, and treat yourself. This year, try something different: a staycation! Now more than ever is the perfect time to experience Tuscaloosa as if you were a tourist in your hometown. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to plan the perfect Tuscaloosa staycation for you. After all, having an excellent staycation in Tuscaloosa is simple with all of the amazing stops just outside your front door!
9 A.M.: Breathe Easy
The greatest way to truly feel out of your mundane routine is to get some much-needed pampering at 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, Spa Belle La Vie is a luxurious oasis for self-indulging in some elaborate pampering. They have 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.
Chancee’s Spa is a hidden gem on the south side of downtown that is tucked away in a quaint brick home. The wellness spa specializes in massages and facials that are much more affordable for those who want to treat themselves without having to break the bank.
2 P.M.: Check-in
The next step in planning a staycation is finding the perfect getaway. Tuscaloosa has a couple of standout options that can serve as your home away from home.
Located on The University of Alabama’s campus, Hotel Capstone is a historic, full-service hotel within a short drive from downtown. Great dining is just outside your door with a contemporary restaurant and lounge on-site for your convenience. Legends Bistro offers a diverse menu with affordable options for even the most discerning of palates.
The Embassy Suites Hotel is minutes from Capitol Park and Murphy African American Museum. The suite-style lodging and luxurious bar/lounge give the hotel a sense of comfort and hospitality. The indoor pool and Side by Side restaurant all contribute to why this hotel would be the perfect place for a staycation.
4 P.M.: Explore
Our city’s natural beauty offers a wide range of places and hidden gems to enjoy the great outdoors during your staycation.
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. The park features more than 23 miles of multi-use trails that are open to both hikers and mountain bikers. The park also features a Nature Center, fishing, facilities, and paddle boats.
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.
7 P.M.: Dinner
There’s no better way to end a day in Tuscaloosa than at one of the city’s locally-owned restaurants.
Depalma’s is a Tuscaloosa gem with Italian pasta classics as well as pizza and calzones on the menu. For an appetizer, be sure to try their stuffed mushrooms or breadsticks! For now, you are able to take all of these delicacies straight to your hotel room to feast in peace!
If you’re looking for a more laid-back atmosphere, Avenue Pub is just around the corner! Kick back, grab a drink on tap, and be sure to enjoy some phenomenal pub food like the iconic Thai Nachos or the Bacon Burger.
10 P.M.: Drinks
After dinner, Tuscaloosa has many local breweries and bars where you can grab drinks.
Loosa Brews is a locally-owned bar and retailer that has been specializing in quality craft beer since 2014. They offer 63 taps and have a full-service arcade, including a large number of classic arcade machines and pinball machines.
Black Warrior Brewing Company is another great downtown option for after-dinner drinks. The brewery and tap-room have been a staple in Tuscaloosa since 2012 and serve their own beer and wine creations.
Tuscaloosa is slowly beginning the process of reopening its doors! Throughout the painfully long and rather bizarre weeks of quarantine, the city of Tuscaloosa has continued to show resilience through these trying times. Several retail and service businesses are back open at 50% capacity. Some hours will be altered, and safety precautions will slightly differ from place to place. Our local businesses are ecstatic to welcome you back and to safely begin interacting with you when the time is right.
Due to the fluidity of the situation, many businesses have new operating hours for the time being. It’s always a good idea to call ahead and double-check their hours and safety guidelines before driving directly there. You also have access to the business’s social media platforms to stay informed of all sanitary precautions, new business hours, and other adjustments that might need to be made due to the pandemic.
There are several restaurants opening back up that have been taking the necessary precautions to protect their employees and customers throughout these past several weeks. For example, Buffalo Phil’s is now open, just in time to kick off your weekend with some amazing wings. The staff has been working diligently to provide a safe space to serve their customers while abiding by social distancing guidelines. If you are looking to steer clear of the college crowd, Buddy’s Rib & Steak in Northport is now open at 50% capacity. Another excellent restaurant that has reopened its doors is Central Mesa! Check them out to try some of their new menu items, like the pan-seared salmon with Spanish rice (pictured).
Bars are also taking appropriate steps to slowly adjust to the new normal. Loosa, for instance, is not allowing customers to sit at the bar or move around tables. There is plenty of outdoor and indoor seating to provide a safe place to enjoy one of their 63 taps, packaged beers, and wines. If getting out to have a drink doesn’t appeal to you, that’s alright because Loosa still has fantastic to-go options. Black Warrior Brewery is enforcing similar guidelines as well. The bar service has been replaced by table service. Additionally, they are following all CDC and state guidelines to operate safely! If you are comfortable going out at this time, please wear a mask and respect social distancing guidelines.
If the restaurants, bars, and breweries aren’t calling your name just yet, there is plenty more to get into this Memorial Day weekend! We have some phenomenal places here in T-town where you can spend time with friends and family while enjoying the great outdoors. With Lake Tuscaloosa, Lake Nicol, Lake Harris, the Riverwalk, Snow Hinton Park, and Capitol Park, just to name a few, you have no excuse to binge-watch your weekend away.
This is the light at the end of the tunnel for the community of Tuscaloosa as we begin to navigate our way through these unprecedented times. It is important to remember that each and every one of us are coping with COVID-19 in a different way. Respect how others are choosing to protect themselves and their loved ones. Ironically enough, social distancing is an opportunity for us to come together, while apart, and unite as a community.