A Nick Saban-Inspired Itinerary Filled with Things to do in Tuscaloosa
You know what they say… “All good things must come to an end.” And while we’re excited about this new era of welcoming Coach Kalen DeBoer to Tuscaloosa and to the Crimson Tide family, we can’t help but be a little in our feels about Coach Nick Saban’s retirement. So, what better way to pay a Tuscaloosa tribute to the GOAT than a Saban-themed trip to the town he and Ms. Terry have called home for 17 years?
Whether you’re local or coming in from out of town, this lineup is built for champions!
Since we’re celebrating the Saban’s, it’s only right we remind you of the option to stay at the hotel they have ownership in. Built in 2022, The Alamite is filled with elevated Crimson Tide touches.
Once you check in and settle into one of the 112 boutique guest rooms, you don’t even have to leave the property for dinner. The Alamite boasts two incredible restaurants guaranteed to please any palette.
If you’re feeling more of a casual, laid-back atmosphere we recommend hopping on the elevator to the rooftop bar Roll Call. You’ll find a thoughtfully curated menu of seasonal shareables and entrees. They often have live music you can enjoy while looking out over the Downtown Tuscaloosa skyline or towards the lights of Bryant Denny Stadium.
If you’re leaning toward a formal dining experience, you’ll love the Alamite’s house restaurant Forte Cuts and Cocktails. Forte seamlessly marries the charm of classic old-world European cuisine with the sophistication of a modern setting. Step into a world where timeless flavors meet contemporary elegance.
For music lovers, the newly renamed Mercedes – Benz Amphitheater doesn’t have a bad seat in the house. Shows are still being announced for the 2024 season. The music venue seats 7,470 along the Black Warrior River right next to the future location of The Saban Center, a first of its kind STEAM hub for education training, arts participation and academic support for teachers and families, opening in 2026.
If you’re an early riser like coach and want to start your process in the morning, we’ve got a breakfast spot that has never lost.
Opened in 1951, The Waysider is one of the oldest continuously operating restaurants in all of west Alabama. You’ll need to bring your appetite and your patience to this local favorite. Crowds are known to gather early for the generous portions of hearty breakfast classics. If these walls could talk, they’d have quite some tales of Tuscaloosa. Another legendary Alabama football coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant, was known to dine on his favorite menu item, country ham, regularly at a particular table tucked away by the door.
Once your bellies are full, you might want to walk off some of that delicious breakfast with a stroll along the Walk of Champions outside Bryant-Denny Stadium. There are several social media worthy photo opportunities here. You’ll definitely want your picture made with the 2,000-pound bronze statue of Nick Saban along the Coaches Walk. This is the site where students and fans brought tokens of their appreciation in the days following his retirement announcement.
The University of Alabama hosts student-guided stadium tours most days at 11:00 a.m. For $25.00 per person, you can get a first-hand look at the game day experience from the perspectives of coaches and players.
To truly understand Alabama Football, you’ll need to go back in time to long before Nick Saban stepped on campus. Paul “Bear” Bryant coached at The Capstone from 1958-1982. He is considered by many, including Coach Saban, to be one of the greatest football coaches of all time. To celebrate his legacy, The University of Alabama houses the Paul W. Bryant Museum, complete with six exhibits that highlight the university’s sports successes. Bryant won a record 323 career games and six national championships.
By this point, you’ll probably have worked your appetite back up. Don’t worry, we’re not sending you far. Located in the shadows of Bryant- Denny Stadium, sits one of the most iconic restaurants in Title Town. If a Crimson Tide football museum and a classic diner had a baby, it would be Rama Jama’s. Alabama sports memorabilia hangs, sits and stands on every wall, ceiling and surface in sight. You’ll walk away from this place with not only a fantastic meal, but also more knowledge of one of the most storied sports programs in the country. You might have to play a little defense depending on the crowd, but the food and experience is well worth the wait. We recommend having the National Championship BLT. It has 18 strips of bacon on it, one for each Crimson Tide national title.
While you’re close by, you might as well hit up another UA staple if you’re up for a boozy beverage. Just down a stretch of campus known as “The Strip,” sits a bar famous on its own. Gallettes is home of The Yellowhammer—and we’re not talking about the state bird. This drink is a blend of rum, vodka, amaretto, orange juice and pineapple juice. While it is delicious, we don’t recommend having too many. They’ll sneak up on you… and we’ve got a lot more Saban celebrating to do!
For afternoon activities, we have a few different plays in our playbook.
Coach Saban has been known to spend time with his players off the field and on the water. That’s right…. the GOAT on a boat! Several videos have gone viral of coach captaining his pontoon while relaxing with several of his players on board. Lake Tuscaloosa is the perfect place to tube, waterski, wake board and sight see. No boat? No problem. You can rent vessels from Pier 43 or one of Tuscaloosa’s newest attractions Captain’s Club.
If the water isn’t for you, and perhaps you have little ones with you on your trip, the Sabans thought of that too. During their time in Tuscaloosa, they’ve donated funds through their nonprofit Nick’s Kids Foundation to create two new playgrounds for children of various ages. One is located on the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk, and you can find Mason’s Place, an all-inclusive playground for children of all abilities, at Sokol Park.
If you’re looking to volunteer while you’re in Title Town, here’s a unique way to say you helped the Saban’s build their dynasty, literally. Coach and Ms. Terry have sponsored 20 Habitat for Humanity homes in this community since an EF-4 tornado destroyed much of Tuscaloosa in 2011. Hours after Coach Saban’s retirement announcement, Habitat confirmed the Sabans would sponsor one last home to commemorate the Tide’s latest SEC championship win against the Georgia Bulldogs. This home is known as the LANK House (Let All Naysayers Know). If you’d like to volunteer your time to help with this historic build, you can visit habitattuscaloosa.org/volunteer.
Regardless of how you spend your afternoon in Tuscaloosa, we think you’ll love ending your day on a sweet note. River is a restaurant favorite here locally. Living true to its name, this urban dining experience is located on the beautiful banks of the Black Warrior River. If you really want to tip your hat to Coach Saban, order his all-time favorite treat, the Oatmeal Crème Pie. This delicious dessert is a made from scratch buttercream filling sandwiched between two warm oatmeal cookies. Is your mouth watering yet?
As you can tell, the Saban’s have done a whole lot more for our city than just win a lot of football games. They’ve helped weave the fabric of this community by giving, serving and building a legendary legacy here. Although Coach Saban is stepping off the field, he and his family are continuing to leave their mark on Tuscaloosa.