Fall has arrived, and with it came that familiar crisp autumn air, which means the outdoors are calling our names! See for yourself  Tuscaloosa’s breathtaking back yard…and it doesn’t stop there, either. This city’s stunning landscape paired with phenomenal local businesses elevates an already beautiful destination into a MUST-DO Road Trip. Whether you are looking to wind down with an outdoor picnic, take an adventure hiking through the fall foliage, or shop like there’s no tomorrow, let these 10 reasons why Tuscaloosa should be your next weekend getaway guide your planning process. After all, you don’t want the legendary Tuscaloosa Experience to pass you by!

1.jDowntown Tuscaloosa:

A recent addition to the city’s outstanding coffee shop scene is about to open and we couldn’t be more excited! Just Love Coffee prioritizes that sense of community as a business. The laid-back & relaxed atmosphere that makes Just Love Coffee Cafe so special was created to be different than the stuffy reputation of most specialty coffee shops. Downtown Tuscaloosa is a prime place to shop until you drop. Whether you are looking for your next gameday attire at The Pants Store, or searching for an antique accessory at Twice as Nice, this area is ideal for shopping at a vast variety of places that are all conveniently located!

2. Riverwalk

Offering a serene view of the Black Warrior River, the Riverwalk is also the place to hammock, picnic, or relax! There are numerous picnic tables, benches, and gazebos to provide a comfortable environment, allowing you to get the most out of your experience with the great outdoors of T-Town. Let your mind take a rest from all the hustle and bustle of everyday life. If you are looking to work up a sweat and take advantage of the cooler temperatures, there is also a running path along the Riverwalk to enjoy in the morning or throughout the day. In addition to these activities, the Riverwalk is located close to a number of restaurants to enjoy either at the start or at the end of a delightful Autumn day, like Market House Boutique, Another Broken Egg, and River. Be sure to carry a mask with you for safety if you intend to visit any of the restaurants or businesses on the Riverwalk!

3. Lake Harris

Lake Harris is one of the many nearby lakes that offers an incredible setting for a number of different outdoor activities. There are plenty of picnic areas and a beach, where one might spread out a blanket to enjoy their lunch or simply take in the scene. In addition to these spots, there are a number of trees gathered close by the bank, perfect for setting up a cozy hammock! For those who are looking to stay active, there is a 1.76-mile hike around the lake through the trees. As the weather cools down, this area will become a peaceful gathering place for all who wish to experience some of Tuscaloosa’s many hidden gems.

4. Farmer’s Market

The Tuscaloosa Farmers Market is a spectacular shopping spot where you can find anything from a hand-cut Maple & Walnut Cutting Board to a hand-poured Yellowhammer candle scented Alabama Shores, all within walking distance. Each Saturday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. local vendors of all specialties gather at the Tuscaloosa River Market to show off their wares to the community. If you plan on discovering the market’s incredible vendors this Saturday, wear a mask and be prepared to follow all social distancing guidelines!

5. Children’s Hands-on Museum

CHOM is a wonderful place in town where children explore, create, and discover something new every time they visit.  When we say “hands-on” we really mean it!  Learning through play is what CHOM’S exhibits are all about, where kids are encouraged to touch, feel, and play in fantastic exhibits.  Three floors of fun await with 24 exhibits, offering newborns and 13 year-olds alike an opportunity to completely immerse yourself in fun learning processes.

6. Kentuck Art Center

This local favorite 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 all of your holiday gifts. The Kentuck Gallery Shop offers an incredible shopping experience unlike any other online and/or in-person! Also, the 49th Kentuck Festival of the Arts is open NOW until December 31, 2020. With over 180 artist shops specializing in categories like clay, glass, jewelry, mixed media, sculpture, and wood you are bound to find the perfect Christmas present for everyone on your list!

7. Bower’s Park

Bower’s Park is a nearby public park that offers quite a few activity opportunities, like a disc golf course or several fields for rent. Not much different from regular golf, disc golf is an active way to stay busy on a delightful weekend outside! Those looking to get into this sport need to be sure and purchase discs ahead of time, however. As far as a field for rent, Bower’s Park has a number of different fields, baseball/softball or multipurpose, that can be rented out for a small gathering of friends to safely play a pickup game of baseball, softball, and more! Before visiting Bower’s Park, be sure to bring along a mask in case of other visitors.

8. Civil Rights Trail

As temperatures slowly start to drop, it is prime time to spend the day walking around outside and exploring new places. Among the many adventures that await you in town is the Civil Rights Trail, where anyone has the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of history and learn about how the Civil Rights Movement shaped the City of Tuscaloosa. Located primarily in Downtown Tuscaloosa, this trail is perfect for staying active and demonstrates a profound learning opportunity for those who are not aware of the history of Tuscaloosa. Thanks to its proximity to Downtown Tuscaloosa, the Civil Rights Trail is also a good opportunity to discover local dining options, such as Reggae Flava and Brummi’s Yummies. For more T-Town treasures along the trail check out the official guide here.

9. Government Plaza

If you are looking for a versatile area that offers wide-open spaces to safely enjoy this city, then the Government Plaza is the spot for you. Located in the heart of downtown, this 5-acre park makes social distancing a breeze. Soak in all of the cozy fall vibes while diving into a good book from Ernest and Hadley, grubbing on delicious Heat pizza, sipping on some Monarch coffee, or maybe even unwinding with your favorite yoga flow. After months on end of being trapped inside now is the time to relax and appreciate nature in all its wonder. If you want your furry friend to tag along, the sidewalks surrounding the park makes for the perfect path for walking with your furry friend.

10. Lake Tuscaloosa

This local hangout has everything you need for an unforgettable lake day with friends and family. Lake Tuscaloosa has earned its reputation as the perfect fishing spot with bass, sunfish, crappie, and more. If fishing isn’t for you, stand on the shore, hike the lake’s cliffs, or simply take in the captivating views! Only a short drive from the city, this lake makes pairing a morning out in nature and Rama Jama’s iconic Southern breakfast unbelievably easy as well. You are bound to have a blast at this local treasure, especially in this beautiful fall weather.

 

When you’re ready to plan your next road trip to T-Town check out all of the exceptional hotels this city has to offer!

 

Written by: Jamie Hoven

While a college town known for barbecue and big games may not sound like a place for healthy, athletic people, you’d be surprised to find just how active and healthy we can get here in the deep fried south. Tuscaloosa is a proudly named runners city with a plethora of trails and is home to some of the most flavorful healthy food in the state. With the Triathlon on the same day as Alabama Roots Fest, you’ll find the city in full swing with a buzzing downtown and live music from Robert Randolph and the Family Band in Government Plaza!

  1. Explore nature!

If you aren’t used to the springs in Alabama, you might not know that the outdoors can be immaculate in April, and this weekend will be no different. From Lake Nicol’s cliffs to Lake Lurleen’s sandy shores, you’ll feel at one with nature without having to go more than 20 minutes from downtown.

  1. Take some tea time!

Like any college town, we have an abundance of third wave coffee shops like Monarch or Heritage House that serve some fine brews, but for those who like the serenity of a fresh batch of tea or house-made kombucha, welcome to Tea Town. Located in historic downtown Northport, Tea Town started as a tea bike at our farmers market, then became the brick and mortar hang out for live poetry and original tea mixes.

  1. Pedal over to our bike shops!

Worried your bike needs some last minute repairs or just want to spend some quality shopping time? We have great local and regional stores to meet your needs.

Velocity Pro Cycle in Temerson Square is a fixture in our cycling community with events and races around town.

Queen City Cycles in Pinehurst is known for its quality care when it comes to bike repair. They are dedicated to the art of the bicycle, bringing a love that has really elevated the sport in our city.

Trek Bicycle Store is located in Midtown Village and offers Trek bikes and apparel along with repairs and maintenance. Perfect for those loyal to the Trek brand

  1. I can Escher you we have good art

We have such a thriving art scene in Tuscaloosa, from our growing gallery collections to our museums there’s more than enough art to go around. For some classical and historic works like original John Singer Sargent works to up and coming local artists there is truly something for everyone to enjoy.

Kentuck Art Center

Located in the historic district of downtown Northport, Kentuck dedicates themselves to nurturing our city’s art scene. With their recently renovated space, they have constantly changing exhibits and collections that you’ll find it rare to see the same thing twice. The art campus has over four buildings with free Wi-Fi to make a true art space that’s open to everyone. Hours are: Tues-Fri 10 am-6 pm and Saturday 10 am-4:30 pm

Tuscaloosa Museum of Art

A gift to the city by the late Jack Warner of the Westervelt Company, Mr. Warner was a true lover of the arts with his massive collection that he graciously donated to both his hometown and to a wing in the Met in New York, as well as his private collection in his home. The Tuscaloosa Museum of Art is on the Westervelt campus off of Jack Warner Parkway with a wide collection of original American art.

  1. Find a Foodie Oasis

We are not without some incredible eateries in Tuscaloosa beyond the standard southern classics. With new places popping up, there is always an exciting new element to our foodie scene.

Local Roots

Be on the look out or follow them on Twitter to see with this beloved food truck is going to be around town. With a dedication to great local food, they offer healthier choices with some flavorful salads to more indulgent delights like their crispy pork belly with rice buns.

Animal Butter

With options from hot chicken bao buns to their latest Japanese style pancake, there are exotic dishes inspired by the culinary world of international street food. One of their more popular dishes is their veggie burger that has people considering making the switch to living meatless with the savory treat.

The first weekend of the month is always a big arts and culture weekend in Tuscaloosa, and this month has even more to experience than usual! The Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival kicks off Thursday and goes through Saturday, so check out this special music, film, and dance festival that is unique to Tuscaloosa. Kentuck Art Night and First Friday will have tons of beautiful works of art on display for you to enjoy. The Cadillac Three is back in town, and it’s a show you don’t want to miss. While you’re enjoying the local art scene on Friday, grab a drink from your favorite bar because Tuscaloosa will be an entertainment district until 10 pm. Don’t forget to tag us at @VisitTuscaloosa in your social posts while you are exploring the arts and culture scene, and use #FirstFridayTuscaloosa.
Kentuck Art Night
This Thursday night Feb. 1, at 5 pm head to historic downtown Northport for a fun night for the whole family. Kentuck Art Night is a monthly free event that includes: an exhibition at Kentuck Art Center, Kentuck Studio Artists have studios open, pop up shops in the Courtyard of Wonders, a food truck, live music, Downtown Northport artists’ studios, champagne for Big Dog and Fire Ant members of Kentuck, wine, snacks, and cob oven pizza.

 

First Friday
First Friday returns this week to kick off 2018. The galleries involved can’t wait to showcase their amazing works of art to the community. First Friday is completely free, and some of the galleries will be serving hors d’oeuvres for you to enjoy while you admire their masterpieces. While you’re enjoying the local art scene, grab a drink from your favorite bar because Tuscaloosa will be an entertainment district until 10 pm. Taking a stroll through downtown Tuscaloosa is the perfect way to kick off the weekend. Galleries on the Art Walk include The Arts Council and The University of Alabama Galleries at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, The Paul R. Jones Gallery, Harrison Galleries, O’Connor Art Studios and Grace Aberdean Habitat Alchemy. Visit firstfridaytuscaloosa.com for offerings and hours.

 

Cadillac Three
The Cadillac Three is an American Southern rock group consisting of Jaren Johnston, Kelby Ray, and Neil Mason. They have toured with many big-name artists and bands such as Florida-Georgia Line. Catch them at Druid City Music Hall on Saturday, February 3rd at Druid City Music Hall! Doors open at 7:30 pm with music starting around 8:30. Visit ticketweb.com to grab a ticket to this awesome concert.

 
Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival
The Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival is a three-day celebration promoting diversity and cultural sensitivity, in the areas of film, music, and dance. These exciting cultural events will include food vendors, craft vendors and more. The West Alabama community will be able to participate in a “Rep Your Heritage” Film Challenge and Spiritual Dance Competition as well as the Africana Film Festival. The festival is Thursday, Feb. 1 through Saturday, Feb.3.

 

Alabama Women’s Basketball Game
Watching the Tide play basketball is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. The Crimson Tide women’s basketball team takes on the Arkansas Razorbacks Sunday in Coleman Coliseum. Tip-off is at 1:00 p.m., and this conference game is sure to be a good one!

The One and Only Tuscaloosa is packed with great events this weekend! Kick your weekend off early with Kentuck tonight as they host their Art Night! You can lose yourself to dance as a band plays throughout the night, eat a cob oven pizza, and then top it off by learning more about their featured artist, Bryce Speed as he presents his paintings titled “Bury the Hatchet”. This monthly event is always a huge hit as you can enjoy local artists under the trees in their beautiful courtyard!

The art continues into Friday as Tuscaloosa’s art galleries, studios, and other local businesses open their doors for the First Friday Art Crawl! The Historic Drish House is putting on a beautiful event for First Friday as they exhibit ceramic sculpture by Mallorie Roberts. Find more art downtown in places such as the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center and Harrison Galleries. At Harrison Galleries, you can find incredible work by Daniel Livingston and observe it while eating catered food from Five Bar and listening to a fantastic jazz trio!

Also on Friday night is the legendary Kenny Chesney as he takes the stage at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater! Kenny Chesney released his first album in 1994 and hasn’t slowed down since with 20 albums to date! With more than 40 top 10 singles and 29 reaching number one, he is definitely a can’t miss artist! Kenny will be bringing along special guest Midland who have only released one single to date. Not only will Kenny Chesney be there, but also a band that can see their stock rising fast!

Like every weekend, the Farmers Market will be taking place at the Tuscaloosa River Market Saturday morning! Vendors set up ripe red tomatoes and famous Chilton County peaches. Musicians sit propped up against the door, playing guitars as you walk in, and freshly brewed iced tea is for sale to help battle the heat! Additionally, local Food Trucks, bakers, artists, and craftsmen gather here to sell their gourmet grub, fresh-baked yeast rolls, homemade jams and jellies and hand-carved cutting boards. Popular summer foods include tomatoes, Chilton County peaches, squash, corn, and local honey!

Wrap things up Saturday with the kids! The Children’s Hands-On Museum will be hosting their Summer Fiesta! Complete with fiesta food, music by DJ Chuckie, folklore, and crafts, this event will be a blast for kids! All of CHOM’s events are included in admission so there’s no need to worry about extra fees. If you like keeping the kids busy, this is the event for you!

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!

Weekends are always packed with great events in the One and Only Tuscaloosa and this one is no different! Start your weekend off across the river at the Kentuck Art Center for their monthly Art Night! Their event is headlined by the opening of “Protègè” an exhibition of work by Bernard Wright, a student of the late internationally known folk artist, Jimmy Lee Sudduth. Along with art night comes pop-up shops in the Courtyard of Wonders, live music, a food truck, even cob oven pizza!

Art continues into Friday as downtown Tuscaloosa hosts the First Friday Art Walk! Local galleries, businesses, and restaurants are open as an event in the evening for the community to see what Downtown Tuscaloosa has to offer. Locations like Harrison Galleries, Grace Aberdean, and the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center will have art displayed, bands playing. Others like O’Connor Art Studios will be open to get a sneak peak at present works as well as allow you to see into the life of local artists!

Like every weekend, the Farmers Market will be taking place at the Tuscaloosa River Market Saturday morning! Vendors set up ripe red tomatoes and famous Chilton County peaches. Musicians sit propped up against the door, playing guitars as you walk in, and freshly brewed iced tea is for sale to help battle the heat! Additionally, local Food Trucks, bakers, artists, and craftsmen gather here to sell their gourmet grub, fresh-baked yeast rolls, homemade jams and jellies and hand-carved cutting boards. Popular summer foods include tomatoes, Chilton County peaches, squash, corn, and local honey!

This Saturday, Band of Brothers will be serving some incredible drinks and will be presenting Kat Taylor and JP Miller! Riding with her father on work trips, she belted out 90s country and cultivated a deep appreciation for the vocal talents of Martina McBride, Faith Hill, and Reba McEntire. Her sets incorporate classic rock favorites, current top 40, soul ballads, and country hits. Today, Kat Taylor’s song “Shame on You” has spent 6 weeks at number 1 on the new music weekly country main charts. This is one performance you don’t want to miss!

Finally, you can catch Annie all weekend at the Bama Theater. With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms everyone’s hearts despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. She is determined to find the parents who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City Orphanage that is run by the cruel, embittered Miss Hannigan. With the help of the other girls in the Orphanage, Annie escapes to the wondrous world of NYC!

This weekend is packed with fine arts in the One and Only Tuscaloosa! Tonight you can head across the river to Kentuck for their Art Night! This event will serve as the official opening reception for Chris CHUB Hubbard’s show “20 Years of Heaven and Hell: Current Works and a Look Back”! Not only that, but there will be pop-up shops for local artists, demonstrations, cob oven pizza, and live music! Art Night has been a staple for the first Thursday night of each month!

On Friday, it’s downtown Tuscaloosa’s turn with the First Friday Art Crawl! Galleries, studios, and businesses across downtown will be open and participating in the art crawl including Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, Harrison Galleries, and Grace Aberdean Habitat Alchemy. First Friday is completely free to everyone and is filled with excitement! There will be live music at different venues and some incredible works of art!

On Saturday morning you can swing by the Tuscaloosa River Market for the Farmer’s Market! Vendors set up ripe red tomatoes and famous Chilton County peaches. Musicians sit propped up against the door, playing guitars as you walk in, and local Food Trucks, bakers, artists, and craftsmen gather here to sell their gourmet grub, fresh-baked yeast rolls, homemade jams and jellies and hand-carved cutting boards.

If you’re more of a music person, head over to Government Plaza for the concert series “Live at the Plaza” where the Matt Jones Trio will be playing! Matt Jones is a local artist who beautifully paints pictures with words through melody over the landscape of his southern roots. With an arsenal of original and cover music, he’s surely an act you won’t want to miss!

Finally, wrap up your night by heading to the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater for Soundgarden! Soundgarden achieved its biggest success with the 1994 album Superunknown, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard chart and yielded the Grammy Award-winning singles “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman”. As if you need another reason to attend, VH1 ranked Soundgarden at number 14 in their 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock!

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

While a college town known for barbecue and big games may not sound like a place for healthy, athletic people, you’d be surprised to find just how active and healthy we can get here in the deep fried south. Tuscaloosa is a proudly named runners city with a plethora of trails and is home to some of the most flavorful healthy food in the state. With the Triathlon on the same day as Alabama Roots Fest, you’ll find the city in full swing with a buzzing downtown and live music from Robert Randolph and the Family Band in Government Plaza!

  1. Explore nature!

If you aren’t used to the springs in Alabama, you might not know that the outdoors can be immaculate in April, and this weekend will be no different. From Lake Nicol’s cliffs to Lake Lurleen’s sandy shores, you’ll feel at one with nature without having to go more than 20 minutes from downtown.

  1. Take some tea time!

Like any college town, we have an abundance of third wave coffee shops like Monarch or Heritage House that serve some fine brews, but for those who like the serenity of a fresh batch of tea or house-made kombucha, welcome to Tea Town. Located in historic downtown Northport, Tea Town started as a tea bike at our farmers market, then became the brick and mortar hang out for live poetry and original tea mixes.

  1. Pedal over to our bike shops!

Worried your bike needs some last minute repairs or just want to spend some quality shopping time? We have great local and regional stores to meet your needs.

Velocity Pro Cycle in Temerson Square is a fixture in our cycling community with events and races around town.

Queen City Cycles in Pinehurst is known for its quality care when it comes to bike repair. They are dedicated to the art of the bicycle, bringing a love that has really elevated the sport in our city.

Trek Bicycle Store is located in Midtown Village and offers Trek bikes and apparel along with repairs and maintenance. Perfect for those loyal to the Trek brand

  1. I can Escher you we have good art

We have such a thriving art scene in Tuscaloosa, from our growing gallery collections to our museums there’s more than enough art to go around. For some classical and historic works like original John Singer Sargent works to up and coming local artists there is truly something for everyone to enjoy.

Kentuck Art Center

Located in the historic district of downtown Northport, Kentuck dedicates themselves to nurturing our city’s art scene. With their recently renovated space, they have constantly changing exhibits and collections that you’ll find it rare to see the same thing twice. The art campus has over four buildings with free Wi-Fi to make a true art space that’s open to everyone. Hours are: Tues-Fri 10 am-6 pm and Saturday 10 am-4:30 pm

Tuscaloosa Museum of Art

A gift to the city by the late Jack Warner of the Westervelt Company, Mr. Warner was a true lover of the arts with his massive collection that he graciously donated to both his hometown and to a wing in the Met in New York, as well as his private collection in his home. The Tuscaloosa Museum of Art is on the Westervelt campus off of Jack Warner Parkway with a wide collection of original American art.

  1. Find a Foodie Oasis

We are not without some incredible eateries in Tuscaloosa beyond the standard southern classics. With new places popping up, there is always an exciting new element to our foodie scene.

Local Roots

Be on the look out or follow them on Twitter to see with this beloved food truck is going to be around town. With a dedication to great local food, they offer healthier choices with some flavorful salads to more indulgent delights like their crispy pork belly with rice buns.

Animal Butter

With options from hot chicken bao buns to their latest Japanese style pancake, there are exotic dishes inspired by the culinary world of international street food. One of their more popular dishes is their veggie burger that has people considering making the switch to living meatless with the savory treat.

This weekend is packed with fine arts in the One and Only Tuscaloosa! Tonight you can head across the river to Kentuck for their Art Night! In the main gallery, you’ll be able to observe the sculpture work of Charlie Lucas! Not only that, but there will be pop-up shops for local artists, demonstrations, cob oven pizza, and live music! Art Night has been a staple for the first Thursday night of each month!

On Friday, it’s downtown Tuscaloosa’s turn with the First Friday Art Crawl! Galleries, studios, and businesses across downtown will be open and participating in the art crawl including Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center and Grace Aberdean Habitat Alchemy. First Friday is completely free to everyone and is filled with excitement! There will be live music at different venues and some incredible works of art!

On Saturday morning you can swing by the Tuscaloosa River Market for the Farmer’s Market! Vendors set up ripe red tomatoes and famous Chilton County peaches. Musicians sit propped up against the door, playing guitars as you walk in, and local Food Trucks, bakers, artists, and craftsmen gather here to sell their gourmet grub, fresh-baked yeast rolls, homemade jams and jellies and hand-carved cutting boards.

All of this art is leading up to the main event – Druid City Arts Festival! This event will feature over 90 artists selling beautiful work! Anything from pottery to paintings will be sold in Government plaza while live music and the smells of freshly cooked food fill the air! Headlining DCAF is Matt Jones, a country musician destined for greatness. Local Roots, Tea Town, Jim N’ Nicks, and plenty of other vendors will be serving food and drinks all night long! Most importantly, it’s an entertainment district so you can get a drink from your favorite surrounding establishment and bring it over to the festival with you!

Finally, wrap up your night by heading to the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater for their first show of the season! The amphitheater will be featuring a pair of contemporary gospel acts with Mary Mary and Tasha Cobbs! The Mary Mary duo is often credited along with Kirk Franklin for broadening the fan base of urban contemporary gospel in the 2000s by introducing elements of soul music, hip hop, funk, and jazz. Tasha Cobbs breaks the gospel charts nearly every time she releases an album as 2 of her singles and one EP have all hit no. 1!

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!

There are some awesome events in the One and Only Tuscaloosa this weekend! Kick off your weekend early by heading out tonight to Druid City Brewing Company for Hometown Blues and Brews! Debbie Bond and Radiator Rick will take the stage around 8:00 p.m. to play a dynamic mix of soulful originals and covers! There will be incredible brews as well as some great music that will keep you having fun all night!

Also tonight, Kentuck is hosting their monthly Art Night! This month is featuring an exhibition by nationally known Alabama artist Charlie Lucas! You can lose yourself to dance as a band plays throughout the night, eat a cob oven pizza, and then top it off by learning more about Charlie Lucas as he discusses his art and answer questions!

Art also leads into Friday as downtown Tuscaloosa takes on “First Friday“, the monthly art crawl where galleries and studios open their doors for exciting exhibitions! Come see all the new and continuing galleries and shows at places like Harrison Galleries and the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center (DWCAC). DWCAC’s event will include 15 school teams creating large sculptures made from canned food items! Not only is there great art, but you can also experience studios such as O’Connor Art Studios and even enjoy some live music!

This Saturday will be an exciting one! The Tuscaloosa Half Marathon, which drew in nearly 1,400 participants from 33 states is going on! Come out and cheer on the runners as they move through Tuscaloosa! The race starts and ends at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater and then weaves through downtown, across campus on Paul Bryant Dr. and then back across Jack Warner Pkwy to end at the beginning!

Finally, for the children, you can take them to the Children’s Hands-On Museum this Saturday to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ Birthday where they can watch movies, create crafts, and eat birthday cake on this Seuss themed day! All events are included in admission so it’s sure to be a blast for all children that won’t break the bank!

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

This weekend is overflowing with events in the One and Only Tuscaloosa! Starting tonight, you can celebrate the Power of Pink at Art Night in support of breast cancer awareness and the University of Alabama’s Gymnastics team! Kentuck’s Gallery Shop will have the pink 2016 Festival T-shirts discounted–$10 for short sleeved, $15 for long sleeved. When you purchase anything from Kentuck’s Gallery Shop during Art Night, you can enter for a chance to win free tickets to the University of Alabama’s Gymnastics meet this Friday!

Art continues to dominate the weekend on Friday. On the “First Friday” of each month, you can catch gallery openings and receptions all across downtown Tuscaloosa! A notable exhibit would be at the Paul R. Jones Gallery. As Black History Month gets into full swing, the Paul R. Jones Gallery will be presenting “Freedom? Selections from the Paul R. Jones Collection”. The University of Alabama’s Black Faculty and Staff Association recently joined with Brooklyn-based curator Dalila Scruggs to create a new, long-term exhibition at the Paul R. Jones Gallery in downtown Tuscaloosa!

This Saturday, swing by the Children’s Hands-On Museum where they’re celebrating National Weatherman’s Day! The children are going to get to meet WBRC Meteorologist Wes Wyatt, see the Storm Tracker, and even get up close and personal with a miniature tornado! Afterward, head over to the Bama Theatre to check out the 5th Annual African Film Festival! With African dance, music, storytelling, and film, this is sure to be a #OneandOnly event!

As if this weekend could get any better, we get to end it with a Super Bowl! This Sunday, Band of Brothers is throwing a Super Bowl party to watch the Falcons take on the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. The beer will be flowing and the big screen will be out as we wrap up the NFL season with a bang!

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!

Top 5 Reasons to Attend Kentuck Art Festival

 

  1. Great Music

 

  1. Phenomenal Artists

 

  1. Fun for the Whole Family

 

  1. No really. For the whole family

 

  1. 45th Anniversary