With Outdoor Writer, John E. Phillips, and Jalen Conner

Editor’s Note: 27-year-old Jalen Conner is a native of Tuscaloosa and has been fishing Tuscaloosa County’s Holt Reservoir for eight years. A criminal justice student at Tuscaloosa’s Stillman College, Conner fishes two tournament trails – the S.A.B.A and the Jim Austin.

Jalen Conner and I went fishing upriver from Rock Quarry Boat Ramp (more info here) on Holt Reservoir in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, in early June. From 7:00 am to noon, we caught 10 bass and probably missed twice as many, with the biggest bass weighing about 4 pounds. While that bass was in the live well, it spit-out a crawfish it just recently had been eating. This clued Jalen into the fact that a soft-plastic Zoom Z-Craw was exactly the right bait for the bass we wanted to catch. 

“The crawfish color I fish, as well as what most anglers fish on Holt Reservoir, is the Alabama Craw,” Conner explains. “Its main body is orange, and its pincers are red. During the summer months, the Zoom Z-Craw in the Alabama Craw color is the exact color of the crawfish here at Holt at that time. The crawfish will be in the grass, so when the currents aren’t running, or the current’s light, the bass will move into the grass to feed on the crawfish. However, they’ll eat crawfish almost every day during the summer.” 

Another color of the Z-Craw that Conner fishes in the summertime is a watermelon red. He dyes the pincers with chartreuse dye. Conner fishes two types of the Zoom Z-Craw – the Junior and the larger Zoom Craw.

“I don’t tell the bass what size of crawfish they want to eat,” Conner explains. “I’ll flip both sizes and colors down the bank and in the grass. Whichever-size Craw gets the most bites is the one I’ll continue to fish. I think the bigger Z-Craw causes a reaction strike from the nearby bass, and that’s why it receives more bites than other baits do.”

Conner went on to explain: “When I’m fishing the Z-Craw, I’ll rig it Texas-style with a Gamakatsu 3/0 hook with a 3/8-ounce tungsten bullet weight in front of it. I then peg the weight to the eye of the hook. Although the Junior and the larger Z-Craws in the Alabama Craw and the watermelon red are my favorite colors, I’ll also fish a purple Craw that looks like a small bluegill. Bluegills and crawfish are what the bass are primarily feeding on in the grass and on the bank structure in the summer at Holt.” 

Jalen Conner fishes on the Black Warrior River
Jalen Conner catches a fish on the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa County

Tuscaloosa, AL – Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports (TTS) has partnered with the Bama-Q Grilling Series to host Grilling in T-Town on Saturday, July 9th at Druid City Social as an official Steak Cookoff Association (SCA) competition.  With the goal of creating more opportunities for family-friendly events that unite the community through food sport, TTS is working with local private chef and traveling food judge Alison Hudnall and experienced food sport promoters, Alabama Coasting and Bama-Q productions, to bring this SCA sanctioned event to Downtown Tuscaloosa.  

Admission is free to the public and guests will enjoy food trucks, a sampling tent, local vendors, cold drinks, live music, and a family-friendly atmosphere.

This SCA-sanctioned event and World Food Championship qualifier invites top-tier traveling competitors as a way to promote food sport tourism to the City of Tuscaloosa.  Local businesses, organizations, and amateur backyard cooks are invited and encouraged to register to compete as well. The top-performing locals will be recognized and eligible to win special prize packs. The competition will also feature a World Food Championships qualifying event with the best dessert taking home a golden ticket to the World Food Championships Finals in Dallas.

To ensure a level playing field, all steaks for the competition are provided by local sponsor Northriver Cattle Co. and are included in the competitor registration fee. Judging will be completely blind.

Food sport has become a new American pastime.  As food sport has grown, various sanctioning bodies have emerged across a large range of cooking styles, methodologies, and categories of food. KCBS, FBA, MBN, IBCA, SCA, PNWBA, WFC are just a few sanctioning bodies that offer both seasoned chefs and everyday cooks a chance to take home a win. With cash prizes up for grabs, many have turned to food sport as a way to monetize a hobby. Each sanctioned competition offers up another opportunity for any competitor to land themselves a spot on a national stage.​

Learn more about the SCA format and rules by visiting https://www.grillinttown.com or by contacting David Calametti. Click here for the SCA registration link.

From hiking and fishing to biking, boating and more, Tuscaloosa County is the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts. If you’re looking for things to do in Tuscaloosa – or around the community – you’ve come to the right place for outdoor options!

Whether you’re chasing adrenaline-fueled adventure or a leisurely stroll in the sun, Tuscaloosa’s proximity to countless lakes, rivers and trails gives visitors easy access to the great outdoors. Discover how to experience the best of Mother Nature. 

RIVER RANGERS 

The heart of Tuscaloosa is the Black Warrior River, and the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk is a testament to the city’s adoration of this waterway. With 4.2 miles of woodsy, pet-friendly paths along the river’s southern bank — plus a playground and splash pad for the littles — there’s fun to be had around every bend.

Tuscaloosa Riverwalk
Credit: Trail Therapy Life

The new Randall Family Park and Trailhead along the northern bank of the Riverwalk adds to the excitement, offering additional places to play, explore and revel in the river’s beauty. Tuscaloosa’s neighboring city, Northport, also offers a paved path connecting guests to its historic downtown.

PLAYTIME PROS 

Thanks to the city’s array of parks and playgrounds, playtime is never far away. At the sprawling Sokol Park, discover bike trails, playfields and Mason’s Place, the city’s first public all-inclusive playground, designed to allow children of all ages and abilities to play together. 

Hurricane Creek Park is home to a creek with multiple swimming holes, rope swings and waterfalls, plus about 7 miles of hiking trails. To check out more parks and playgrounds, visit tcpara.org

If a round of golf is more your speed, head to Ol’ Colony Golf Course. Fun fact: The 18-hole, public course is also home to the UA golf teams.

LAKE LOVERS AND CAMPING CONNOISSEURS 

Lake Lurleen State Park is only 9 miles from Tuscaloosa, but this scenic retreat feels worlds away from the hustle of Tuscaloosa on game day. The park features 91 campsites with water and electric hookups, but the real star of the show is the lake itself and its 23 miles of shore-hugging trails that beckon hikers and bikers alike. 

Other local favorites include Lake Nicol, which is popular with bird watchers and paddleboarders, and Harris Lake, where you’ll often find locals going for a swim or relaxing in a hammock. Venture a bit further afield to discover Deerlick Creek Campground, where 46 campgrounds are nestled in a forest along the shores of Holt Lake. Need a Paddleboard rental? Check out Tuscaloosa Paddleboard for a convenient option! Need a pontoon boat rental? Check out Pier 43 on Lake Tuscaloosa.

Lake Nicol
Lake Nicol Photo Cred: @andrela.barao

FISHING FANATICS 

Anglers in Tuscaloosa don’t have to travel far to find a place to cast their lines. The Black Warrior River runs right through town and contains thousands of spotted bass per river mile, making it a dream destination for fishing. Just 5 miles north of town is Lake Tuscaloosa, a man-made reservoir with nearly 180 miles of shoreline perfect for fishing. When you’re ready to put a boat in the water, check out this blog for some boat landings in the area.

Fishing in Tuscaloosa County

Still looking for things to do in Tuscaloosa? Continue to explore our website or contact our office today for personalized suggestions!

Not many communities have six different bodies of water within 25 minutes (or less) from their downtown, but Tuscaloosa and Northport do!  The natural resources hidden within our community are abundant – but many have no idea how lucky we are. If you’re looking for things to do in Tuscaloosa, you’ve come to the right spot! In hopes to help educate residents and guests, we’re dedicating an entire blog series to Tuscaloosa’s Outdoor Adventures.  Recently, we shared about the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk and are excited to highlight Lake Lurleen State Park today.

Lake Lurleen State Park is located nine miles northwest of Tuscaloosa and Northport.  It’s 1,625-acres offers plenty of recreation and relaxation to enjoy your surroundings and to feel the tranquility of the nature that surrounds you!  Well, besides their annual Camp Fear Trick or Treat event – that might not offer much relaxation, but it sure is a {spooky} highlight each year!

Things to do in Tuscaloosa - Lake Lurleen State Park
Photo Credit: Alabama State Parks

Facilities, Activities, and Amenities

The facilities at Lake Lurleen State Park include a modern campground, activity building, picnic areas, play areas, pavilions, a beach and bathhouse, fishing piers, RV storage, boat rentals, and boat-launch areas. The state park also offers over 23 miles of multi-use trails ranging from easy to moderate in difficulty. Several miles hug the shoreline of the lake and are open to both hikers and mountain bikers. 

The beach is definitely one of the most popular parts of the park.  With sand in your toes and refreshing water to cool off, Lake Lurleen can be a chill day of relaxation… or of high-level mountain biking and exploring experience, too. You truly can have the best of both worlds.  

It’s not uncommon to see the beach filled with families playing, dogs swimming, fishermen casting their pole, and much more on a nice summer day.  In fact, the State Park offers rentals such as fishing and paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards.  The main attraction, though, is the beautiful 250-acre lake. It measures nearly one and a half miles in length, one-half mile wide, and at its deepest is 48 feet. 

Things to do in Tuscaloosa - Lake Lurleen State Park - Boat rentals
Photo Credit: Alabama State Parks

Now, for all you fishermen, the lake has largemouth bass, bream, catfish, and crappie. Needless to say, anglers are sure to reel in a nice catch with some patience. Boat-launch areas and pier and bank fishing are available.  Gasoline motors of any size may be operated on the lake but there is no water or jet skiing allowed. All State and Federal boating laws are enforced and children age 8 and under are required to wear approved personal flotation devices at all times while in a boat.

Entrance Fees, Park Hours, and Camping at Lake Lurleen

The park is conveniently located near local attractions and resources including: the cities of Northport and Tuscaloosa, The University of Alabama campus, Northport Wal-Mart, gas stations, restaurants, and much more.  You truly have no idea that you’re just a few miles from town when in the park!

Daily Park hours are 7 am to sunset.

Lake Lurleen State Park offers reasonable fun with affordable entrance fees (excluding camping):

There are a variety of camping options, including 91 modern campsites with water and electric hook-up; 35 sites with sewage drain connections. Modern bathhouses are conveniently located throughout the park as well.  Camping reservations can be made by telephone (205-339-1558) with Lake Lurleen State Park.  Reservation office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 am – 4 pm.  You can also make a reservation online or through the Central Reservation Center (1-800-ALA-PARK).  Those office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 am – 5 pm.

Things to do in Tuscaloosa - Lake Lurleen State Park - Camping
Photo Credit: Alabama State Parks

Want to view a map?  Click here to view a Lake Lurleen State Park Map.

At the end of the day, the communities of Tuscaloosa and Northport, along with others in West Alabama, offer outdoor adventures such as Lake Lurleen State Park, legendary sports experiences, history that’s shaped us, artists that enhance us, and some of the South’s most soulful food.  Yes, we most certainly are Alabama’s “college town” … and so much more!

Request a visitor guide today to begin planning your next trip to #VisitTCL and we hope you’ll considering exploring Lake Lurleen State Park!

Take a timeout from your Tuscaloosa sports adventures and grab some grub at one of Tuscaloosa’s finest sports-centric eateries!

The Historic WaysiderBest known as the place where legendary coach Bear Bryant ate breakfast (his favorite was country ham), The Waysider serves up southern meals in a historic red house near downtown Tuscaloosa. Visiting from the rival team? You can expect your pancakes to be served in the shape of an elephant.

The Historic Waysider - Tuscaloosa's best sports-centric eateries

Nick’s in the Sticks: No, not that Nick … Nick’s in the Sticks is an iconic Tuscaloosa landmark known for delicious steaks, massive onion rings and its signature drink, The Nicodemus. Leave your mark on Tuscaloosa by adding a signed dollar bill to the ceiling.

Baumhower’s Victory Grille: Owned by former Alabama star Bob Baumhower, this sports bar is home to “Hey Coach!”, a live radio show broadcast from the restaurant, which allows you to get up-close with ‘Bama’s coaches.

Baumhower's Victory Grill - Tuscaloosa's best sports-centric eateries

Ajian: Looking for fast-casual sushi? Try Ajian, owned by former Alabama quarterback A.J. McCaron, who led ‘Bama to back-to-back national titles in 2011-12.

Rama Jama’s: Located in the shadow of Bryant Denny Stadium, Rama Jama’s is the place to go for fabulous food. Breakfast served all day, a wide variety of sandwiches, and the best sweet tea and milkshakes this side of heaven. Fan of a BLT? Kick off game day with a National Champion BLT – currently, that’s 18 strips of bacon.

Dreamland Bar-B-Que: It all started with a dream when God visited John “Big Daddy” Bishop and told him to open a restaurant. The original Dreamland, built by the hands of Big Daddy and located in Tuscaloosa, opened in 1958. Since then, this BBQ joint has been nationally recognized for their hickory-fired ribs, white bread, and BBQ sauce. Today, the ribs are still prepared using the same technique Mr. Bishop used more than six decades ago. PS – Their banana pudding is pretty legendary, too.

Dreamland BBQ - Tuscaloosa's best sports-centric eateries

Gallettes: It wouldn’t be gameday without indulging in a famous Yellow Hammer from Gallettes! This potent tailgate cocktail is served in iconic yellow plastic tumblers. While the recipe is a secret, some guess it’s a mix of vodka, rum, amaretto, orange and pineapple juices.

Northport Spotlight – Billy’s Sports Bar & Grill: With one location in Birmingham and their second location in Historic Downtown Northport, Billy’s was designed to be comfortable. It’s local’s favorite spot for good food, live music, great drinks, and a relaxing atmosphere to catch your beloved sports teams on TV. During football season, Billy’s offers a free shuttle to and from campus.

Billy's Sports Bar & Grill - Tuscaloosa's best sports-centric eateries

The Tuscaloosa and Northport communities are filled with incredible eateries and this is just a few of the many sports-related restaurants we have to offer! Check out our Eat page to find even more.

For Sharon Thomas Ransom, barbecue is in her bones. She began learning the craft at age five, when her parents opened a barbecue restaurant in the back of their house. Today – five decades later – she owns and operates Thomas Rib Shack in the community she loves. Thomas Rib Shack is just one of many local restaurants in Tuscaloosa and Northport.

Ransom is as fixed in the community as her barbecue. A natural conversationalist, she entertains her customers and employees all day at the restaurant, and she enjoys being with people. “I love my community,” she said. “We’re resilient. We bounce back.”

About five minutes from downtown, you’ll find Thomas Rib Shack, a meat-and-three restaurant that’s never really advertised, but has thrived for 50+ years. 

The food speaks for itself.

“If you have good food, the people will come, ” says Sharon Thomas. Born-and-raised in Tuscaloosa, she’s got a lot of friends, because every person that walks through the door is an old or new one, starting at 10 am and not lightening up ‘til they sell out. 

Local restaurant in Tuscaloosa and Northport - Thomas Rib Shack - Sharon Thomas, Owner
Sharon Thomas, owner of Thomas Rib Shack

The Southern dishes are down-home, authentic, and consistent, served up in a family-first atmosphere (yep, her kids work there too). Classic fried chicken, fall-off-the-bone ribs, mac-and-cheese, cornbread, and even pig’s feet and chitlins.

Sharon remembers her parents perfecting their famous BBQ sauce in the kitchen when she was just 11 years old, and it’s been the same ever since. That’s what keeps people coming back for more.

What you can expect: “Nothing fancy. Just us.” And that’s more than enough. 

A positive outlook: Recently interviewed on her experience during COVID-19, Sharon shared that the most important lesson she learned was to stay focused, stay faithful, and stay committed, she said. “No matter how bad things look, don’t give up. The darkest hours are just before the dawn.”

For a true taste of the south, try Thomas Rib Shack!

If you’re looking for places to eat on gameday in Tuscaloosa, you’ve come to the right spot! Founded in 1958 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Dreamland is hailed as one of the best BBQ joints around and has been a legendary staple in our community and on game day since it began.  It’s said that this famous joint serves ribs to over one million people per year. 

With a slogan of “Ain’t nothing like ‘em nowhere,” they are most notably known for their hickory-smoked ribs – and it’s true – there ain’t nothing like ‘em nowhere!  Over the years, Dreamland has expanded to 10 locations across Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.  While they have experienced growth, the original location in Tuscaloosa remains its most unique.

Places to eat on gameday in Tuscaloosa - Dreamland BBQ - The Original

Dreamland truly started with a dream. Founded by John “Big Daddy” Bishop, Big Daddy said that God visited him and told him to open a restaurant and he obliged (lucky us!!). As Big Daddy embarked on this adventure, he began cooking in his front yard.  The original Dreamland, which was literally built by the hands of Big Daddy, would eventually open its doors, selling everything from ribs to burgers, and even postage stamps. But people quickly began to take note of the hickory-fried ribs, white bread, and signature barbecue sauce, and soon visitors were coming from all over.

Places to eat on gameday in Tuscaloosa - Dreamland BBQ Ribs
Photo provided by Dreamland BBQ

As you enter the rustic looking location, dubbed “the original”, you are greeted with warm smiles and an invitation to “sit wherever you want”.  You’ll notice license plates, Alabama football memorabilia, dollar bills and pictures on the ceilings and walls.  On the tables you’ll find their famous spice called “shake”, which you can buy.  The employees are dedicated – several at the original location have been there for years – and wake up at 5 am to begin preparing the food.  One employee, Raymond, has been with Dreamland for over 45 years and Reggie, who manages the pit, has been there for 25 years!  Knowing that many of their guests are limited on time, especially on game day, you can also expect quick and friendly service.  

We had a chance to visit with the assistant general manager of the original Dreamland, Jasmine Lewis, and she shared that, “People come in from Texas, California, and all over to try our ribs and our sauce. We [the original location] are totally different from our other locations; we serve the same ribs, but everybody says it just tastes different here.”

Speaking of the ribs… after six decades Dreamland still prepares them using the same technique. They roast the pig over a hickory wood fire pit and baste them with their signature vinegar-based barbecue sauce.  Also unique to Dreamland is the plain pieces of white bread served before every meal. No, it’s not toasted and it doesn’t have butter on it, but they serve it with their famous warm barbecue sauce for you to enjoy dipping the slices of bread into for an appetizer.Dreamland also makes what we believe is the best banana pudding we’ve ever had! It’s made with crispy Nella wafers and creamy vanilla pudding that makes for a great dessert to end your meal (dreaming about it as we write this).  Jasmine confirmed that this, too, is her favorite menu item.

Places to eat on gameday in Tuscaloosa - Dreamland BBQ Banana Pudding

Fun Fact: Jasmine shared that, surprisingly, the busiest day for them is not game day but is actually the Fourth of July. Dreamland is filled with in-house guests, catering orders and their drive-thru, which was a positive outcome from COVID-19 [the drive-thru].

Today is also your lucky day because… drumroll please… on their website you can find detailed instruction on how to make their famous barbecue!  You can also purchase many of Dreamland’s staple sauces, rubs, and seasoning online or at one of their locations. The restaurant offers t-shirts, hats, and gold gear, available to ship anywhere in the U.S.

Now, we promise we’re not exaggerating about how scrumptious this BBQ is, but if you don’t believe us, here’s what one Dreamland customer had to say!

“I’ve ate barbecue all over the US, let me say these ribs have everyone beat to a frazzle! Tender, juicy, and best flavor I’ve ever had! Beats Memphis barbecue hands down! And be sure to order the banana pudding for dessert.”

Dreamland BBQ Customer

When it comes to places to eat on gameday in Tuscaloosa, there’s certainly many options to select from. Whether you’re traveling to Tuscaloosa or West Alabama for a gameday, or for other purposes, a stop at Dreamland BBQ is a must.  When it comes to spots uniquely local to Tuscaloosa, Dreamland is at the top of the list!  For more information about Dreamland BBQ, contact Dreamland Barbeque Tuscaloosa at 205-758-8135.

Final Insiders Tip:  When you’re ready to give the famous BBQ joint a try, know that the other locations serve the same menu items as the original Dreamland in addition to burgers and chicken options. Sides include mac and cheese, coleslaw, baked beans, and potato salad.

There really is no such thing as a timeout in Tuscaloosa – and we’re totally okay with that!  While our friends up North or in the Midwest experience winter snowstorms, our ideal southern location in West Alabama is a prime setting for events year-round.

While the University of Alabama is bursting with all sorts of events this semester, Tuscaloosa is also home to many winter and spring activities that are perfect for those living here or visiting.  Whether you’re looking for something that’s indoors or outdoors, family-friendly, or for young adults, we hope you’ll consider a visit to our City.

Continue reading to learn about seven upcoming events that we’re looking forward to in Tuscaloosa!

Theatre Tuscaloosa Presents On Golden Pond

Date: Friday, February 25th (opening date)

This classic play inspired the Academy Award-winning film with Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn.  Norman is a curmudgeon with a strained relationship with his daughter, Chelsea.  Together for their 48th summer at Golden Pond, he and his wife nevertheless agree to care for Billy, the son of Chelsea’s fiancé, and a most unexpected relationship blooms.

To learn more or to purchase your ticket, click here.

Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports Half Marathon + 5K

Date: Saturday, March 26th

On March 26th, join us as we celebrate 10 years of West Alabama’s premier 13.1-mile running event featuring a great course, good food, friendly staff and volunteers, and a run to remember!  As you run throughout the heart of Tuscaloosa, you’ll enjoy scenic views, experience some of Tuscaloosa’s most historic neighborhoods, and get some phenomenal selfie opportunities with many Alabama-related iconic spots like Bryant Denny Stadium and Denny Chimes.  All runners will have access to a post-race party full of beverages and food!  Registration is open for the half marathon and 5k.

For more information or to register, click here.

West Alabama Food & Wine Festival

Date:  Thursday, April 7th

The 8th Annual West Alabama Food & Wine Festival will showcase some of the best local restaurants with tasting tables that highlight signature dishes. Wine tastings are provided by local distributors to introduce trendy and seasonal varietals. The event takes place along the scenic Black Warrior River at the Tuscaloosa River Market and benefits the West Alabama Food Bank!  Details are actively being finalized, so be sure to visit their website to learn more and to purchase a ticket.

Access the West Alabama Food & Wine Festival website here.

Inaugural Tuscaloosa Gauntlet – A Marine-Inspired 5k Obstacle Course

Date: Saturday, April 9th

The Alabama Marines Foundation is excited to host the inaugural Tuscaloosa Gauntlet event.  This is a Marine-inspired 5k obstacle course that is open for anyone to participate – even including a youth heat!  If you’re a fan of obstacle races, you’ll love to hear that this course is one-of-a-kind in Alabama and will feature the Marine’s “O Course” as one of the 20+ obstacles.  They have partnered with Phoenix Races and it is an OCRWC Qualifier.  This race will give all who participate a purpose and a challenge worth celebrating!

To learn more and to register, click here.

Golden Flake A-Day

Date:  Saturday, April 16th

Three months is just too long without football season – but we are in luck!  This Spring game, a long-standing University of Alabama and Tuscaloosa tradition, is our annual college football exhibition game that takes place at the conclusion of spring practice.  Played at the one and only Bryant Denny Stadium, fans get a preview for the upcoming football season for free.  Continuing with tradition, the captains from the previous seasons’ team will also be honored at the annual Walk of Fame ceremony at the base of Denny Chimes, in addition to many other activities!

Check out the Crimson Tide’s 2022 football schedule and A-Day details by clicking here.

Tuscaloosa Mayor’s Cup 5k for Pre-K presented by Mercedes-Benz U.S. International

Date: Saturday, April 30th

On Saturday, April 30th, over 1,000 runners and walkers will gather in Downtown Tuscaloosa for a great cause.  Since the inaugural race in 2007, the Mayor’s Cup has raised over $325,000 for the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative.  The race 3.1 miles and begins and ends at Government Plaza.  We are thrilled to have this annual race return in 2022!

For more information or to register, click here.

Druid City Arts Festival presented by Cadence Bank

Date: Friday and Saturday, May 20-21

Located in the heart of Downtown Tuscaloosa at Government Plaza, the Druid City Arts Festival (DCAF) is a local favorite that we look forward to each year!  Spring will have arrived and it’s the perfect time to enjoy art, music, and food of all kinds.  No matter your age, this festival has something for everyone (plus it’s free to attend – bonus!).  If you have children bring them along! They will have the opportunity to explore the Kids Zone, giving them a chance to show off their creativity too.

As always, never miss an event in Tuscaloosa or Northport with our Visit Tuscaloosa Events Calendar!

The T-Town Edition

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in and around the Tuscaloosa and Northport area! While we had one of the most beautiful fall seasons, the leaves have now fallen and there’s a slight chill in the air.  We now turn to some of our most beloved holiday events of the year. In this edition, we’ll share a few of our favorite festivities, so get your scarves, grab your friends and family, and get ready to have a magnificent time!

Tuscaloosa Tinsel Trail
benefiting Tuscaloosa’s One Place

Beloved by all, the Tuscaloosa Tinsel Trail has become a hallmark of the holiday season in West Alabama. Nearly 200 festive trees, combined with the ice skating rink at Government Plaza, allow anyone who visits the opportunity to create traditions that make you feel right at home. Feel the joy of the holiday spirit and select your favorite trees as you stroll through Government Plaza. The Tinsel Trail runs through January 17th.

Check out all of the fun activities taking place along the trail and learn more here!

Location: Government Plaza – 2106 6th St, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Parking: Free parking is available on-site in the City’s parking deck.

Holidays on the Plaza
ice skating fun and more

Skate the night away and cherish this delightful cold weather with your friends and family in style. Whether it’s your first-time skating or you’re a seasoned professional, you’re bound to have a blast out on the ice as you overlook the Tinsel Trail – all located within Government Plaza. We are so thankful that the City of Tuscaloosa hosts this for all to enjoy this time of year!

For more information, hours, and tickets, click here.
Tip: Don’t forget to bring socks for the skates that are provided.

Location: Government Plaza – 2106 6th St, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Parking: Free parking is available on-site in the City’s parking deck.

45th Annual West Alabama Christmas Parade
super heroes celebrating Christmas

The 45th annual West Alabama Christmas Parade is happening at 6:30 pm on Monday, December 6th. This parade, put on each year by the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority, is one of the biggest Christmas parades in the state! Get bundled up and prepare for an amazing parade through Downtown Tuscaloosa. This year’s grand marshals include Jheovanny Gomez, Nancie Blewitt, and Pam Parker.

A tree lighting ceremony will take place on the steps of the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse prior to the parade at 5:15 pm.

To get all the details, visit their website here!
To view the parade map, click here.

Dickens Downton
a victorian Christmas celebration in historic downtown Northport

Dickens Downtown is hosted by the Merchants of Historic Downtown Northport, and it is a FREE family event celebrating the Christmas spirit and the joy of giving. At 5 pm on December 7th, attendees can expect live caroling performances, Father Christmas, snow machines, a tree lighting, and live artist demonstrations. In addition, excerpts of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens will be read at Shirley Place and hundreds of people will be dressed in Victorian-era costumes inspired by the popular novel. 


For more information about Dickens Downtown, check this out!
Location: Main Avenue in Historic Downtown Northport

Hotel Capstone’s Jingle Bar
a hotel bar filled with the Christmas Spirit

Get toasty with the elves at Hotel Capstone. Join them for a SELFIE-worthy explosion of Christmas decor, elf-approved holiday cocktails, and magical moments with friends! Book your office party or just grab a group of loved ones for a festive evening of holiday cheer! This will be open until January 2!

For more information visit here.

Check Out These Additional Events!

Dec. 5 at 3 pm: Tinsel Trail Pet Night
– Dec. 10 at 6 pm: Tinsel Trail Family Night
– Dec. 10 at 7 pm: Alabama Choir School Winter Concert, Moody Music Bldg. Purchase tickets here.
– Dec. 12 at 2 and 6:30 pm: The Nutcracker, presented by the Tuscaloosa Community Dancers at
the Bama Theatre
– Dec. 13 at 7 pm: Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra Annual Holiday Concert, UA School of Music.
Purchase tickets here!
– Dec. 16 at 6 pm: Movie by Moonlight Drive-In, supporting DCH Foundation. Learn more here.

We get it, putting together an itinerary can be overwhelming with vast options to select from.  And in Tuscaloosa, the tide rolls all year long with things to do, people to see, and places to be!  So, we want to share Tuscaloosa itineraries to help.  Up first, a 48-hour, fun-filled schedule that offers you a taste of all things Alabama.  While the itinerary below would be best suited during a non-football weekend, you can certainly hit these spots while in town for a football weekend, too!  Either way, this itinerary is pretty legendary…

Day 1

8:30 am – There’s nothing like specialty coffee and doughnuts to kickstart your day! Babe’s Doughnuts serves unique donuts such as Heath Bar donuts, fruity pebbles, and even rich red velvet, yum!  They also have stellar breakfast wraps.

9:30 am – Now it’s time to learn about Alabama football. Roll Tide! The Paul W Bryant Museum exhibits artifacts and memorabilia that trace their long history. The museum includes state-of-the-art displays enhanced by videos highlighting great players, plays, and games, and is open Tuesday – Sunday.  Members and children under 5 are free. Non-member admission for an adult is $5 and children (K-12) are $3.

11:00 am – If it’s a nice day, stroll down Paul W Bryant Drive after exiting the Bryant Museum.  Walking out the door, you’ll be greeted by Sewell-Thomas Stadium, Coleman Coliseum, the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility, and more.  It’s the heart of Alabama’s athletic facilities.  Continue west down Bryant Drive as you make your way towards Rama Jama’s – the perfect bama-fied restaurant for lunch. Rama Jama’s is a sports-centric bar and grill for American eats including all-day breakfast, sandwiches, and shakes. We’re talking about the Large Touchdown Burger Platter, an 8oz burger with a fried egg, choice of hash browns or french fries, and a drink.

1:00 pm – Now let’s head for the Quad!  As you walk from Rama Jama’s hit up Bryant Denny Stadium, the Walk of Champions, the legendary Coaches Walk, and Tuska.  This whole area offers many Instagram-worthy photo opps!  As you mosey on to the Quad, which is also home to our beloved Denny Chimes, you’ll find a 22-acre quadrangle in the center of UA.  Take time to soak up the sun and explore that area of campus. Surrounding Denny Chimes you’ll find hand and footprints of past Alabama team captains in the concrete.

3:30 pm – Another classic part of an “Alabama Gameday” experience is Gallettes. You must try one of their famous gameday Yellowhammers! The atmosphere is easygoing and it’s a refueling hang out spot loved by locals and visitors alike.

6:00 pm – Who’s hungry for steak? One of Tuscaloosa’s beloved local gems is Nicks in the Sticks. With traditions like their famous “Nicodemus” and pinning dollar bills to the ceiling, this classic joint is almost always packed out, so come a little early and enjoy yourself.  Our mouths are watering just thinking about that filet wrapped in bacon and their dinner rolls.

8:00 pm – Now you’re ready for some live music, right? Temerson Square is a tremendous place to scout out local, live music! From country to rock and alternative, there will be such a wide variety of music.  You’ll have many options to end the night with in this area.



Day 2

7:30 am – If you enjoy a good run or walk, hit up the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk or campus – or both!  There’s something so motivational about running along the Walk of Champions. It’s like you can feel the presence of legends right there.

9:00 am – Another incredible breakfast joint is The Waysider.  You feel like you’re at home the moment you step in – much like how legendary Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant felt when he at there, too. Their customer service always guarantees a happy visit, too. Be sure to check out the homemade biscuits and beignets or their incredible sugar-cured ham!

10:30 am – Now it’s time to buy some Alabama swag.  Check out the University’s Supe Store to find some of the best Bama gear.  Speaking of Alabama swag, another spot to explore (if you didn’t yesterday) is The Strip.  While it’s home to many bars and restaurants, there are a few other spots you can purchase gameday attire.

1:00 pm – Lunchtime (so much food!) Local Tip: Innisfree goes far beyond a bar. They have some of the most delicious grub that never fails to surprise people! For example, the secret menu item is the Irish Gold Chicken Fingers, which are out of this world. On gamedays, this spot is packed with fans as the bar boasts many TVs, making it perfect to keep up with all-things sports.

2:30 pm – Now it’s time to explore the beautiful and revitalized area of Downtown.  If you have the kiddos with you, the Children’s Hands-On Museum is a great place that allows little ones to explore, create, and discover! There are also a plethora of storefronts, eateries, and attractions to entertain those of all ages.  Some long-time retail spots downtown include The Locker Room, The Pants Store, and The Shirt Shop.

4:30 pm – Before heading to dinner, you might want to take a quick break in the downtown area.  If you’re looking for a park, head over to Government Plaza.  Need a quick drink, a solid charcuterie board, or something sweet?  Check out The Wine Market.

6:00 pm – It’s dinner time! Baumhowers Victory Grille is one of those places you can’t miss while in town. If you’re an avid Alabama fan, you’ll probably recognize that name.  Alabama football legend Bob Baumhower is the owner of this local spot and the restaurant is home to the weekly radio show “Hey Coach with Nick Saban” during football season!


8:00 pm – There’s nothing like ending the day with drinks at a friendly, homey brewery. We have two local breweries in town that both offer wonderful atmospheres. But if Black Warrior Brewery and Druid City Brewing Company aren’t your style, don’t fret, our website can help with that.  Fun fact: Druid City is famous for their wall-art and it’s not uncommon for you to see art featuring legends like Coach Nick Saban or Bear Bryant.  It’s another perfect spot for a selfie in T-Town. For a starry night, Hotel Indigo’s The Lookout Rooftop Bar is a beautiful place to admire the city from above with a beautiful view of the Black Warrior River.

While Tuscaloosa offers a unique blend of sports, history, outdoor adventures, music, and food for every palate, we hope that you enjoyed this “Alabama” themed itinerary featuring legendary history, popular gameday spots, and just all-around one-of-a-kind experiences that only Tuscaloosa has to offer.  Stay tuned for more!

Ready to plan your trip? Request a free Visitor’s Guide by clicking here!

Tuscaloosa is located in the heart of West Alabama, and in the South, which means our warm weather season is around for a bit longer!  Although this community has an abundance of adventurous outdoor attractions, sometimes, you just need indoor options to beat the heat.  Whether it’s an ice cream shop or a trip to the bowling alley, we’ve got just what you need to enjoy Tuscaloosa… a bit on the cooler side.

Las Piñas is a family-owned business that is excited to bring a new modern concept of ice cream shops. Serving 100% homemade frozen treats and snacks with the combination of Mexican and American flavors makes Las Piñas a great spot to cool you off and cure your cravings.
They are located at 2003 McFarland Blvd. E Tuscaloosa, AL 35404

Hours of Operation:
Monday – Thursday: 12 (noon) – 8 pm
Friday – Sunday: 12 (noon) – 9 pm

Another way to escape the humidity is taking a trip to Bowlero.  This reinvented bowling alley includes dining, sports, entertainment, and recreational games. They also have incredible food and drinks, as well as an electric atmosphere and service. What are you waiting for? Grab your best friends and join the (air-conditioned) party at Bowlero!
They are located at 2001 McFarland Blvd E, Tuscaloosa, AL 35404

Hours of Operation:
 Monday – Thursday: 5 pm – 12 am
Friday: 5 pm – 1 am
 Saturday: 12 (noon) – 1 am
Sunday: 12 (noon) – 10 pm

If you’re a fan of the arts, you’ll love the Paul R. Jones Gallery. The Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art at The University of Alabama includes one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of 20th-century African American art in the world, grown over decades by the one and only Paul Raymond Jones.
 They are located at 2308 6th St. Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

Hours of Operation:
Monday – Friday: 9 am – 5 pm
Closed Saturday and Sunday

Situated in a quaint and cozy historic home, Ernest & Hadley Bookis Tuscaloosa’s Indie Bookstore that’s located in the heart of downtown Tuscaloosa. This store strives to provide a unique selection of new, used and rare books, and other creative materials from local, regional, and international sources. If you have a deep love of books and wish to share that passion with others, this store is perfect for you. With a village approach, they provide space for book clubs to meet, authors to hold book signings, and even artists to exhibit their craft!
They are located at 1928 7th St. Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

Hours of Operation:
Monday – Friday: 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
Saturday: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Closed Sunday

What many may not realize is that Tuscaloosa and surrounding communities, like Northport, offer several uniquely local spots to shop.  Whether you’re looking for back-to-school clothes, home decor, a night-out-on-the-town or gameday attire, or just simply want to visit some charming local boutiques, we think you’ll find this information worthwhile!

Throughout the community, you can find a plethora of shopping options.  However, for our purpose today, we highlight some specific areas and a few of the locations you will find!  

Have a favorite spot that we missed? Come join the conversation on our social media!  

Lavish is a female clothing and accessories store that has it all, and is just in time for rush and game days! This gold mine is full of unique tops, dresses, bottoms, and shoes. With this local gem, you don’t have to worry about boring pieces, because at Lavish they strive to be ahead of the fashion curve with beautiful lush clothing. This is a must-see in Tuscaloosa, especially if you need a new wardrobe to spice up the new school year.

Alumni Hall has everything you need to cheer on the Crimson Tide. They have it all: great brands, selections, and deals on The University of Alabama apparel, merchandise, and gifts. Official sideline clothing from Nike, fashion and accessories for the ladies and a great kids’ selection. It’s the ultimate place for UA students, alumni, and fans to shop. They also offer 10 percent off for students and military with valid ID.

Bama Fever is your one-stop shop for all things Bama, with options for men, ladies, and kids. They even have Crimson tide options for your car, home, and tailgate. This uniquely local gem will have you walking out of there with some serious school spirit! They can bring the Crimson Tide straight to your kitchen, bedroom, or both. Let your love for the Tide shine with keychains, buttons, wallets, and purses.

High Tide Sports, LLC offers gifts, accessories, and apparel for any and all of the sports fans in your life. This local gem is a popular shop for both Alabama and Auburn fans alike. They specialize in spirit jerseys, tees, and tanks and carry a huge variety of brands, designs, and colors. As a family-owned business, all of its items are competitively priced. 

Pause Boutique is a local legend in Tuscaloosa. From girls to plus size this place has a little something for everyone. The unique jewelry, clothing, shoes, bags and hats, cosmetics, and miscellaneous items make Pause such a wonderful addition to this community. They are open Tuesday through Friday 11-7, Saturday 10-6, and closed on Sunday and Monday.

For those men looking for dapper clothing and accessories, The Locker Room is the place to be! From Bama gear to the finest footwear, this local treasure is truly one-of-a-kind. They also carry the highest quality clothing such as Peter Millar, which is the perfect combination of comfort with high-end style. They’ve got a whole new wardrobe just waiting on you, with hats, cups, a Bama-themed bow tie, and so much more! 

Lou & Co. is a place that the ladies of T-Town cannot get enough of. For those rushing, they even sell bid day gifts that looked like they dropped down from heaven. They also sell wall art, pillows, plush throws, a pajama set in addition to the clothing. Lou & Co. is filled with unique and specialty items, often locally or artisanally sourced, and always thoughtfully chosen by the owner herself.

Bradley’s Market is a unique shop that has earned the love and appreciation of all of its customers. Their vast variety of items for sale is extremely unique, including seasonal goodies, home decor, florals, baby shower necessities, wellness products, wedding registries, and so much more. This unique local shop is the definition of class. Some of the fun items they have include Bees and Honey Puzzle, La Hammam Beach Towel, and a decorative Tuscaloosa Street Map!

Another incredibly unique shop in Northport is called Everlasting. From humble beginnings as a family-owned business, they bring their small-town charm for a fun shopping experience that feels as quality-driven as the products. With decorative accessories for your home, inspirational goods, original works from local artisans, handmade jewelry, and distinct gifts Everlasting has just a little bit of everything.