Spring is here and with it come showers! No need to worry though, Tuscaloosa offers a bunch of interesting and fun things to do indoors! Alongside the typical museum visit – which is of course still an awesome adventure – we show you some exceptional and memorable things to do on a rainy day!
- Any of Tuscaloosa’s Museums
Yes sure it is the cliché part of this list, but even at a classic topic like museums, Tuscaloosa has some places to surprise you. Have you ever been to a car museum? The Mercedes-Benz Visitor Center, located 15 Minutes outside of Tuscaloosa, offers you an inside view on car production in America’s only Mercedes factory and the famous brand’s history! On top of that, guided tours are available.
For the ones who are rather interested in extinct models, the Alabama Museum of Natural History is a perfect place to visit with its impressive dinosaur bones and many other exciting things to discover!
- Art Galleries
As John F. Kennedy already said, “If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.” and so the diverse art galleries in town are always worth a visit. The Kentuck Art Center in Northport is an all-in-one museum, gallery and event location that offers exciting exhibitions at all times. In the heart of downtown Tuscaloosa lies the Paul R. Jones Gallery, currently showing the exhibition “Perspectives: Individual Explorations of Identity Through Image” and the Sarah Moody Gallery, which is known for the UA’s Permanent Collection!
- Coffee Shops
What cozier place could there be to hide from a rainy day than a traditional coffee shop? The smell of coffee and pastries in the air, people reading the newspaper, studying or chatting steadily alongside a laid-back playlist…. sounds perfect to us! Tuscaloosa offers many such magical places. For example, the local chain Heritage House, the brand new Monarch Espresso Bar downtown or the traditional Edelweiss in Temerson Square. Choose one and enjoy!
The three big breweries in Tuscaloosa are the perfect place to spend a gray afternoon among friends and America’s favorite drink: Beer. Druid City Brewing Company, Black Warrior Brewing Company and Band of Brothers offer great brews and some even offer guided tours to learn something about the brewing process. Of course, it’s also a nice place to just sit and enjoy drinking it in a nice and homely atmosphere!
It doesn’t matter if you prefer classic theater or movie theater because Tuscaloosa has both and either is the perfect place to escape a rainy day! Enjoy a new blockbuster or any other genre you like at the Cobb Theaters Hollywood 16 Cinemas and choose between 2D, 3D and even more fancy options to make your movie experience a perfect fit. You could even dive into more old school theater as you watch a play at the Bama Theater, whose old atmospheric style is almost magical! It offers concerts, independent movies and stage play.
We couldn’t decide on just 5 for this article so here’s our encore! Two more to add to your rainy day to-do list:
- University Mall
Shopping is always a great choice! The “place to be” on a rainy day is University Mall! Located on McFarland Boulevard, it offers tons of stores with all your favorite styles and brands. Children’s entertainment and numerous restaurants also offer fun and entertainment for anyone and guarantee a relaxed day of shopping.
- Breakout Tuscaloosa
You are adventurous and looking for a real challenge on a rainy day? Then you should definitely try the new trend of escaping room games! The reopened location “Breakout Tuscaloosa” offers four different themed breakout rooms in which you have to solve a riddle and escape the room in a certain amount of time. There’s also a breakout expedition downtown with laser tag! The escape rates are between 20% and 35% – it must be a challenge!
Written By: Katharina Horvath – Intern
We have a lot going on in the One and Only Tuscaloosa this weekend! Friday night will play host to the anxiously awaited reinstatement of Live at the Plaza! This event has been a hit every year during the summer months and is starting back again this Friday with a new entertainment district! Magic City Smooth Jazz are kicking off the season with their laid back vibes. Grab a blanket and find yourself a seat on the lawn because Live at the Plaza is back!
If you’re not too keen on the great outdoors, we’ve got you covered. Right down the road, the Mojo Trio Band are playing at Band of Brothers Brewing Co.! The Tuscaloosa band has been around for nearly a decade and will be playing all of your favorite rock, country, funk, and other songs. It gets even more exciting as Band of Brothers will be hosting a Crawfish Boil! Bring your appetite for this delicious event because it doesn’t get any better than craft beer and crawfish!
All weekend long you can enjoy a softball tournament as University of Alabama graduate Haylie McCleney returns to Tuscaloosa to play fastpitch at Bowers Park! She will be donating the funds from the tournament to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The Ultimate Fastpitch Experience is a tournament series designed to promote and showcase the individual brands of professional fastpitch players through the vehicle of amateur fastpitch tournaments!
Saturday is just as exciting as Friday and is kicked off by the One and Only Tuscaloosa Mayor’s Cup! Whether you run, walk, or ride in a stroller, everyone wins in this cup! Now in its 11th year, the 5k has raised more than $211,000 for the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative. While Mayor Maddox won’t be running this year, that just opens up the opportunity to root on the runners with him from the sidelines! This event is always a hit each year and we expect it to be even better this year!
Wrap up your Saturday by heading to the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater for their second show of the season! The amphitheater will be featuring American R&B singer and former rapper, Jaheim! Jaheim has been constantly on the top of the R&B charts since his debut album “Ghetto Love” and the second effort “Still Ghetto” both hit platinum! He will follow after his openers: Leela James, Eric Benet, & Daley. It’s sure to be an incredible concert so don’t miss out!
We have tons more going on so check out our great upcoming events, and follow us on our social media pages (@visittuscaloosa) for more announcements and events. Tell your friends and we can’t wait to see you around the One and Only Tuscaloosa!
Written By: Barrett Elder – Digital Media Specialist
Fragrant and soothing, the gentle notes of tea leaves and freshly brewed coffee is the first thing to greet you when you find yourself at Tea Town in historic downtown Northport. The second is the friendly and warm people behind the counter who eagerly serve flavorful and proudly brewed teas! While it feels like the tea shop has been here forever, it wasn’t too long ago you had to wait to see the charming tea trailer or tea peddler as it bounced around town. Founders, Jonathan and Becca Gardner were living with their kids out in rural California, experiencing the growing organic and food-truck movement. It was after their kids grew older, and the closest middle school was an hour away, they made the decision to come back home to Alabama.
As they left the Golden State, they brought with them an excitement for those new trends they noticed and wanted to bring it to Tuscaloosa. Jonathan started working at the organic Snows Bend Farm and dreamt about starting a locally sourced food truck. When they were trying to plan out the idea, it was Becca who said they should start off as a tea truck. She figured since they had a passion for it, and there was an open market for a healthier brand of drinks in town it would work.
Although Alabama isn’t known for its tea leaf production, they still were set on using organically grown leaves, and sourcing from local farmers for anything else they could use like lavender or mint. The name came easily enough since T-Town is one of the more common nicknames for Tuscaloosa. It was the branding of the whimsical, turn of the century-style artwork that needed extra time to steep. Originally the brand would be based on the imagery of Victorian carnivals and circuses. Becca, who is an artist, originally envisioned the idea for the kind of carnival aesthetic.
While originally the truck and overall brand would have that kind of Victorian circus color scheme, it was toned down to the more boardwalk style with string lights and it’s easy to spot muted yellow truck. Becca drafted the ideas with the Victorian style woman in an almost acrobatic pose gently blowing off the playful steam for their logo. As Jonathan puts it, “ anything that looks good” she did.
Their first night with their signature tea truck was at the Kentuck Art Center, and then only two weeks later joined in the Kentuck Art Festival. After some initial bumps in settling into such a large crowd, the tea leaves started to settle. The tea truck was running around town for over a year and a half, spotted at the Tuscaloosa River Market, and art festivals before the idea of becoming a brick and mortar store.
Since the truck needed an official commissary to operate, Mary’s Cakes and Pastries offered to be theirs. So when the time came to pick a place to open out of, Mary gave them a section of the bakery to become their storefront. Here too, with the stained wood and rustic feel you can see the artful eye of Becca alongside the ideas for expanding into more than tea with kombucha, coffee, and other flavorful drinks.
Loving to cook, Jonathan took that passion and used it to create the flavors and smells of their teas with the same attention needed for any culinary creation. Even though tea is their main product, he hasn’t totally left his talent with food behind, and since opening their store they have had food to table nights in the courtyard. They have hosted various cooks and themed dinners in their store to keep that passion for food alive.
While the store and brand have grown successfully, the Gardners have scaled back to keep it going, while gaining more time to spend with their now high school aged kids. They take the time to enjoy their own gardening and exploring the growing art, music, and food scene around town while still keeping their dedication to Tea Town being for the people.
All while staying focused on being a local fixture, they have been able to branch out and sell their blends to other local cafes and stores. Even now they are gearing up to make appearances in Birmingham’s Pepper Place Farmers Market. With the art scene helping build up Tea Town, they’ve been able to give back to it with supporting not only Kentuck, but helping the new organization Sassafras; which is focused on bringing more bike paths, and their main idea for a park with a community garden, sculpture park, and a art center.
They also host poetry nights and events that celebrate the ever-growing art scene in Tuscaloosa. They even had their story come full circle when they hosted the first night for Local Roots outside their store. Jonathan and Becca are now trying to grow more of their own ingredients, but are hoping to get more into possibly farming their own tea leaves. Tea Town started as a little seed of an idea, blossomed into a truck, a store, and now enjoys helping out the community they came to serve one fresh cup of delicious tea at a time!