Whether you’re looking to explore the outdoors or simply need an activity that allows for safe social distancing, Tuscaloosa is a hidden gem, especially as we work our way through the summer and come upon a beautiful fall season.  If you’re planning a trip to Tuscaloosa, we encourage you to check out the many local trails within our community.  To help, we’ve identified a few uniquely local top picks below!

We’d love for you to tag @VisitTuscaloosa in any photos you take when you’re here!

Lake Lurleen is a favorite of locals looking for relaxation and recreation alike! The park’s trails are open to hikers and mountain bikers, and the park offers 91 campsites for those looking for an extended stay. If that isn’t enough to draw you in, the park also boasts fishing, swimming, boating, and a beach. Whether it’s walking your dog along the shoreline or renting a kayak, Lake Lurleen truly has something for everyone!

About 20 minutes from Tuscaloosa lies another paradise for those looking to enjoy the outdoors: Lake Nicol. This local favorite offers a chance to get off the beaten path and explore the wonder of mother nature. The many species of birds that call the area home make for excellent birdwatching. Visitors also enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, and picnicking on the shore.

Hurricane Creek has been an important part of the Tuscaloosa community for decades. In fact, the park’s popular Eagle Scout Trail was planned and blazed by local scouts. Explore this local favorite by canoeing down the creek, traversing the park’s biking and hiking trails, or simply taking in the native plants and wildlife. 

Located just 10 minutes east of The University of Alabama campus, the Arboretum has grown to become a perfect spot for an outdoor getaway.  Dozens of native and non-native trees provide a nice shade to enjoy the nearly 60 acres of land, situated in the heart of Tuscaloosa.  It’s also located adjacent to the former University golf course and VA Center.

Munny Sokol Park trails offer over 11 miles of trails where the locals enjoy running, walking, or mountain biking. Located a short drive from downtown Tuscaloosa, Sokol Park offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options, where dogs are also allowed but must be kept on a leash. This park also contains a brand new all-inclusive playground so kids of all ages and abilities can enjoy Sokol. 

The Riverwalk is perfect for those who don’t want a strenuous hike. This is an excellent paved trail located along the southern bank of the Black Warrior River near Downtown Tuscaloosa.  The pathway has plenty of benches, gazebos and hammock-friendly trees for quick breaks and picnics. and offers a playground near River and Another Broken Egg, and a splash pad near the old Bama Belle dock. The trail is well lit.

Sometimes you want to take a dip outside of your normal community pool that is, oftentimes than not, swarmed with others who have the same “beat the heat” ideas like you! Tuscaloosa and the surrounding area are home to many secret and not-so-secret swimming spots that will make you feel like you’ve escaped the kiddie pool area and entered an oasis in your own backyard! Here are 8 of the best swimming spots in the Tuscaloosa area:

 

  1. Hurricane Creek 
Hurricane Creek Park located on Highway 216 is a local favorite for cooling down in Tuscaloosa’s scorching sun. Hurricane Creek Park is open to the public from dawn to dusk. This spot is a wonderful place to explore native plants and aquatic wildlife, or spend time enjoying nature and soaking up the sun with friends and family! Visitors are encouraged to wear rubber-soled shoes so that they will not slip on the shale which exists along part of the stream. The water is usually deep enough to do some serious swimming if you’re up for it! If not, there is a shallow, flat end to sit, relax, and unwind!

 

  1. The Cliffs at Lake Nicol
Beyond the Lake Nicol Spillway near North River lies The Cliffs at Lake Nicol. This lake is relatively small, but packs a big punch when it comes to fun in the sun and aquatic activities! While its swimming holes are a crowd-pleaser, Lake Nicol is also known as a great beginner’s spot for those who want to canoe. Beware, this location is called “The Cliffs” for a reason, but do not get too caught up in the lure of thrilling excitement. There is a $500 fine for those who take their chances and jump off of Lake Nicol’s cliffs. Plus, this is extremely unsafe, so you’re better off wading in the waters with the rest of the smarty-pants!

 

  1. Payne Lake
Payne Lake is one of the lesser-known isolated gems of Tuscaloosa. Located off County Road 71, Payne Lake offers a perfect shallow swimming spot that is perfect for water activities and picnicking. While this location is one of the few that is a little bit of a drive from the heart of Tuscaloosa, escaping the city can come with its perks! Tucked conveniently within the Talledega National Forest, Payne Lake is the picture-perfect campground scene with its tranquil waters, boating, and fishing activities. We promise this swimming spot is worth the drive! Wake up early to pack a lunch and head on out to make a full day out of Payne Lake!

 

  1. Lake Lurleen State Park
Lake Lurleen is a Tuscaloosa icon for its hiking trails and fishing spots, but it also is home to a perfect sandy lakefront beach! Beat the heat when you head over to its waterfront to have a relaxing day on the “beach”! Lake Lurleen’s swimming spots are open from 7 am to 9 pm every day so you can be ready for the heatwave all day! Admission to the state park is $3 per adult/$1 for children and seniors (children under age 6 admitted free)

 

  1. Lake Harris
Lake Harris has been a famous swimming spot for University of Alabama students for decades, and for a great reason! Hosting high cliffs, two dams, hiking trails, a beach, and lots of water to swim, you’ll never get bored of this Tuscaloosa hotspot! Lake Harris is a tranquil place to relax, swim with friends, and enjoy a sunset picnic. The swimming area is open one hour prior to sunrise and an hour after sunset. Make the most out of your sweltering day with a little swimming with friends!

 

  1. Lake Tuscaloosa
By now, we all know that Lake Tuscaloosa is a hotbed for fun outdoor activities! Surrounded by hills and southern pines, Lake Tuscaloosa is a scenic spot to lay out and sunbathe or relax on a boat with friends and family. While this lake is popular with boats and watercraft, that doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy the water on your own! Or if you are feeling adventurous, and have your boating license, you can rent a pontoon boat of your own to take on the open waters! Pier 43 on Lake Tuscaloosa has various boats to choose from to make sure you have the best fit for your sun-filled day!

 

  1. The Harrison Taylor Splash Pad
While the Harrison Taylor Splash Pad is not a nature-filled natural swimming hole, it is still an outdoor aquatic adventure for your little ones! The splash pad offers many water devices to keep your kids cool and entertained while the heat is high! Staying out of the sun is also a convenience thanks to the many shaded pavilions surrounding the Harrison Taylor Splash Pad. The park is open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m six days a week and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Grab a cooler and head on over!

 

  1. UA Arboretum
We can’t forget our furry friends when the heat starts to rise! Puppies deserve to cool off too and the University of Alabama Arboretum is the perfect spot for you and your pup to take a walk and cool off! Before Tuscaloosa’s official dog park opened, UA’s Arboretum served the area’s residents looking to burn off some extra energy. The pond, located a short walk from the entrance, still serves as an unofficial dog park of sorts, and you can often find several dogs and their owners staying cool in the water and playing fetch by the pond’s side!

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.

According to reliable sources, there are almost 20% children living among the Tuscaloosa population – which is more than you think! The city has countless schools and daycares, so we know where the little ones spend their time while the parents are at work, but what about the more fun parts of the day, free time and weekends? Playing in the own backyard or doing sports activities is already fun, no question. Now, how about something more special for your kids to spend their precious free time? Tuscaloosa provides tons of amazing places and activities that are children-friendly!

1. Tuscaloosa Barnyard

It should be pretty safe to say that all children love animals. Maybe yours are lucky and have a dog or a cat around the home, but when do they have the opportunity to experience all kinds of other animals, too? There is a unique and amazing place in Tuscaloosa that makes it possible: The Tuscaloosa Barnyard! At this petting and fun farm 30 minutes outside of town, you can get in touch with bunnies, ducks, lambs, ponies, pigs and many other cute animals! It also provides a pool, a splash pad, wagon rides and more. During the summers, the Barnyard even turns into a summer camp!

2. The Children’s Hands-On Museum

You can’t start early enough to introduce your kids to arts and culture! “CHOM” is where children explore, create, and discover every time they visit. This unique museum in downtown is tailor made for the little ones, to introduce them to arts, crafts, and exciting exhibits in an interactive and exploring way! It provides fun for kids of all ages and they will never ever get the idea of calling a museum boring afterward!

3. Bama Lanes Bowling

If you are looking for some indoor fun instead, you should check out the bowling alley Bama Lanes on 15th Street! They help kids of all ages to get familiar with the balls, even the very little ones. Whether you rent a couple of lanes for a birthday party or just play on a random day, there’s always a good time ahead at the bowling ally! And if anybody gets hungry, just grab something to eat right on site. Pause your game to enjoy burgers, wings and more at their amazing grill, or take your snack popcorn to the lane and let it support you while you take on your kids for 10 frames!

4. Lake Lurleen Beach

As the days are getting hotter, it’s a good idea to look for some water to cool off! Did you know that there is a great beach just a few miles outside of town? The beautiful Lake Lurleen offers not only campsites, fishing, and paddling board rentals – it also provides a sandy beach that children love! The water is clean and refreshing, and there is a sectioned off zone in which it is absolutely safe to splash and swim. The sand is also a perfect playground! On site, you can also find bathrooms and some picnic tables to rest, eat and gain some new energy. Drive out and enjoy a one-day beach vacation!

5. Upsurge Trampoline Park

Last but not least, go back to that old-school excitement of childhood summers bouncing around at Upsurge. Jump from each trampoline inside the giant warehouse with obstacle courses and deep foam pits to try to escape. Not only will your kids love it, but they will also wear you out as you jump along with them! It’s the ultimate adventure for you and your children and right down the road!

Written By: Katharina Horvath – Intern

  1.  Brunch at 301 Bistro

With its distinctive charm, specialty cocktails and mouthwatering cuisine, 301 Bistro is sure to be a hit with your mom this Mother’s Day! The renovated train station offers an eclectic vibe with fresh, locally grown food options that combine the flavors of German, Southern, and Creole cuisine. On Sundays, the bistro features a jazz trio, “The Voodoo Saints,” and a special brunch menu that offers exclusive items such as shrimp-and-grits, French toast, and mimosas! This Mother’s Day let your mom take a break from cooking and let the masters at 301 Bistro take over.

  1. Exploring at Lake Lurleen State Park

After your mom enjoys brunch at 301 Bistro, take her over to the 250-acre man-made lake located just on the outskirts of Tuscaloosa where she can enjoy the sweet heat of an Alabama spring. After all the time she spends indoors cooking and cleaning up after the family, she is guaranteed to enjoy some much needed time outdoors. Lake Lurleen State Park offers paddleboat and canoe rentals as well as numerous hiking trails and swimming areas certain to provide just the adventure your mom is looking for this weekend.

  1. Tour the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art

If your mom isn’t so much a fan of the outdoors and prefers the splendor of art and history, the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art is the way to go this Mother’s Day. The art begins with the exterior of the building that portrays unique architecture designed to resemble a Japanese temple. Inside, your mom can find a large variety of collections featuring themes from the American Revolution and Civil War. The museum offers one of the greatest private collections of American art, and the best part of all- it’s completely free to tour. So if you’re looking for a splendid and inexpensive way to impress your mom this Mother’s Day, there’s no better place than the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art.

  1. Mani-Pedi at the Village Nail Bar

Let’s be honest, all our moms deserve a little pampering, especially on Mother’s Day. Village Nail Bar is the latest hit in Tuscaloosa for all who love a good Mani-Pedi. While there, your mom can enjoy a glass of wine or champagne while the pros at Village Nail Bar work on glamming her up. Your mom is guaranteed to be feeling like the queen she is while receiving a hand and foot massage during her Mani-Pedi services. If that doesn’t seem like enough, your mom can take it a step further and enjoy a luxurious facial before she leaves. So if your mom needs a little indulgence and a lot of relaxation, Village Nail Bar is the place to take her this holiday.

  1. Dinner on the Town

Your mom probably cooks dinner almost every night so on Mother’s Day let someone else do the cooking, and take her out to one of Tuscaloosa’s treasured restaurants. If your mom is interested in an upscale place that also offers an exciting atmosphere take her to the locally renowned restaurant, Chuck’s Fish where she can enjoy a delicious seafood entrée. She can sink her teeth into one of the astonishing dishes such as parmesan-crusted grouper or blackened fish tacos. She can finish off the meal with one of Chuck’s signature cocktail like a Crimson Mule or Strawberry Manhattan. If your mom prefers a quieter restaurant with a classier atmosphere, she will certainly enjoy one of Tuscaloosa’s newest culinary treasures, River. This restaurant is surrounded by the beautiful views of the Black Warrior River and features family recipes made from locally grown ingredients your mom is sure to savor. She can relish the southern cuisine from appetizers such as smoked catfish dip, or enjoy the splendid flavor of a flat iron steak. Dinner at one of these amazing restaurants is sure to bring your mom’s special day to a flavorful end.

Written By: Bailee Kennamer – Intern

Living in town, it can feel you have to get used to the highs and lows of tourists. Fall and sometimes spring can see heavy amounts of visitors from all over, taking control of the town. Bringing with them big city crowds to our small college town, it’s easy to feel like you want to leave when they start coming in. Summer, however, is open roads and clear skies. Why not take advantage of this quite season down home and finally see the side of Tuscaloosa all those visitors get to enjoy. Not to mention going on trips can be costly! Why risk the pain of travel when your backyard is a growing destination? Embrace the serenity of summer and explore town like a true tourist. The wait times downtown are dwindling, the roads are clearing up, and you can enjoy the finer side of Tuscaloosa.

 

Explore the cool waters

Living here, it can feel like you’ve seen it all, but I can assure you there is something out there you still haven’t done. Every local by now has experienced something on the campus grounds, but Tuscaloosa is far more than just the University of Alabama.

There’s a good chance you may have skipped or even forgotten that there are great choices for some waterside adventures. Our natural beauty offers a wide arrange of places and hidden gems to get out into some cool and refreshing waters without having to head always to the Gulf.

Lake Lurleen

Just 20 minutes outside of town is the grand dame of lakes – Lake Lurleen. Take a quick drive out and explore the rustic beauty of the woods with the shimmering waters gracing the shorelines and beaches. It’s a perfect day getaway for any family or friends who want to be close to the waters without the crowds of Gulf Shores

Lake Nicol

While a popular hangout for students, there’s no denying the beauty found up along the cliffs of Lake Nicol. The lake is left open to explore with meandering paths along the cliffs and the open waters to canoe or swim around. It can feel like a totally different world far from any civilization without having to go too far from home.

Hurricane Creek

Explore this rugged creek that feeds the Black Warrior and gets lost among the towering trees and rustic old rail bridge that looms over the waters. Hurricane Creek is an untamed stretch of rolling waters that feels like you’re the first person to ever see it while being a quick drive out east from town. Be careful, as some of it cuts through private property, but there are many online guides for how to safely see this untouched stretch of water and wetlands

 

Sip and Sample

Around town and at many local bars you may be noticing more and more labels of craft beer being made in our fair city. Microbreweries have found their way into Tuscaloosa and have made quite a home here. Take advantage of this wealth of wheaty waters and sample the best of t-town’s brewers.

Band of Brothers Brewing Company

Down by the Drish house circle, Band of Brothers is the latest addition to the beer scene in Tuscaloosa. With a great space that is all too often filled with great events, live music, or both while food trucks make their way outside. Band of Brothers is a One and Only experience everyone needs to try.

Druid City Brewing Company

In the same shopping center as local favorite Mr. Chens, this classic brewery is home to the iconic chalk murals. Admire the art over a frothy pint of local beer, and be sure to check when their awesome events like comedy shows and games are going on to add to the true Druid City Brewing excitement.

Black Warrior Brewing Company

Their downtown location and second story game room make this brewery an outpost of grown up fun, with childhood games like full-size Jenga and Cornhole. For those who abstain from drinking, try their Root Beer made in house. It’s a soft drink classic that tastes like summer and is a far better choice than water.

 

Breakout and jump around!

Beat the heat by checking out these awesome local attractions that are sure to be both amazing memories and just all out fun

Breakout Tuscaloosa

With their new location, Breakout Tuscaloosa offers more than just their puzzle rooms with a new laser tag section! Chase each other around, or band together to solve some of the trickier escape rooms set in abandoned hotels and haunted houses.

UpSurge Trampoline Park

Go back to that old-school excitement of childhood summers bouncing around at Upsurge. Jump from each trampoline inside the giant warehouse with obstacle courses and deep foam pits to try to escape. It’s the ultimate indoor adventure you can find in town!

 

Breathe Easy

The greatest way to truly feel out of your routine is to get some much-needed pampering. Getting out, and having others take care of you is something everyone deserves to experience at least once, and one of the best ways is to head towards a spa. Tuscaloosa has several great spots ranging from the pinnacle of luxury, to more cozy and affordable that can give you that all so needed feeling.

Spa Belle La Vie

Across the river, there is a luxurious oasis for self-indulging in some elaborate pampering. With facials, massages, and therapies like seaweed wraps and salt scrubs designed to wash away all your stress and give you a renewed relaxed state of mind.

Gilda’s Salon & Day Spa

Located down on 15th, this one and only spa offer wonderful services from beauty to message with a level of dedicated care and attention. From the standard massage services to Neuromuscular Therapy. This special service focuses on trigger points to work out the pain and bring back a calming sense of relief.

Chancee’s Spa

This hidden gem on the south side of downtown is tucked away in an old tiny brick home. The wellness spa specializes in massage and facials that cost in much more affordable range for those who want to treat themselves without having to hit their wallet too hard.

 

Redefine your Dining

It can be all too easy to want to avoid downtown, or any crowd when all the tourists come to town for Fall, or to simply settle down with the same local haunts. A Staycation is the chance to break out some fine clothes, and explore beyond just the entrees and turn dinner into a long flavorful event. With various plates and dishes, it’s a chance to truly enjoy the growing food scene here in Tuscaloosa

R Davidson Chophouse

At the west end of Temerson Square, the Chophouse has brought downtown that old school steakhouse with modern takes on classic dishes. With all to addicting lobster mac n cheese, to one of the best steaks this side of Nick’s in the Sticks. Alongside all the far too tempting dishes, their cocktails almost outdo the food in terms of rich flavors.

River

While the whole interior of this latest eatery is beautiful, ask and wait to sit on the outdoor patio that overlooks the river at sunset and re-encounter what makes this southern city so special. The Black Warrior reflects the multiple shades of pinks and reds while each and every dish at River comes along with graceful presentation and overwhelming flavor. River blends the classic taste of Southern cuisine with global influences that bring the food scene in town to another level, with an atmosphere that can’t be beat

DePalma’s

Yes, DePalma’s. This Italian classic has been sitting on that corner of University and 23rd Ave longer than the graduates of 2017 have been alive. However, I bet it’s been a good while since you’ve waited the infamous wait times during dinner for this Italian treat. When was the last time you’ve gone and really had a feast built for a Tuscan family of 10? Do more than glance over the starters and begin your extravagant dinner with a sea of bread and cheeses that’ll leave you stuffed and happy. Do DePalma’s the right way, Italian style.

 

Rest Easy

A staycation can involve sleeping at home, but that’s not really a treat. Staying at home means you are the maid, room service, the bartender, and bell boy all at once. Plus you’re more concerned with the bills and maintenance than anything else when you’re at home, so why not break out of your rut and into some fresh linen.  Hotel rates in Tuscaloosa drop once graduation is done with, and in the past couple of years, we’ve seen superior stays rise up in the skyline. Sample what it’s like to really come into town, and get away from always having to make your bed for a change

Treat yo’ Self

From Boutique to blissful, there are plenty of refined stays in town to feel ritzy in. With well-known names to a local hidden gem, you can really get away without the added costs of getting away.

The Jack Warner Hotel

You may forget that across the river is Tuscaloosa’s most serene and eclectic resort. Filled with historic antiques collected by Jack Warner, this resort style hotel is far from the hustle of downtown and acts as a wooded oasis. Inside the cozy and charming inn features comfy rooms and unique sights like the 1850 Apothecary Room. This dining lounge is an authentic hand carved paneled room from 1850 and was found in President Grant’s hometown Apothecary in Galina Il. From the Russian tea room to the gardens, this hotel is truly a Tuscaloosa experience to have.

The Embassy Suites Hotel

Hard to miss as one of the recent additions to the downtown skyline, this hotel tends to be a popular choice and it’s hard not to see why. The suite-style lodging and free happy hour in the bar give the hotel a sense of comfort and hospitality while being right in the center of town. The indoor pool and Side by Side restaurant all contribute to why this hotel sits as an anchor in Tuscaloosa tourism.

Hotel Indigo

In the new Riverfront Village development, this boutique style hotel offers incredible views of the Black Warrior with a refined sense of modern style. With chic rooms and intimate eatery in the lobby, Hotel Indigo brings a new level of hospitality to town. Be sure to relax atop the hotel in their roof top bar with some crafty cocktails and savory appetizers as the sun sets over town.

Ball on a Budget

All over town, we have amazing hotels representing national and regional chains that offer comfort on a budget. There are so many excellent choices that will be happy to bring you a hospitable stay without breaking the bank.

However you choose to do your staycation, there is something out in town that you may have never considered trying until now. With all the growth Tuscaloosa has seen, it can be easy to feel lost in your hometown, or pushed aside during the excitement of Fall. Don’t be afraid to try something new and change up how you see this amazing college town that offers so much in such little space. Leave the chores at home, silence your phone, and unplug without having to leave city limits. If there is something you’ve dreamed of doing that isn’t on this list, and can only be found in T-Town, by all means, do it! Life is short and meant to be enjoyed, and we, by all means, have amenities to enjoy. Vacations don’t have to break the bank, and there is more to the city than what meets the eye. Ask anyone who comes to visit, and they will likely share stories that you still have to try, so why not take advantage of being a local and see the other side of the city. While there is no wrong time to treat yourself, take advantage of the down times in in the Druid City and explore your local scene with the carefree attitude of a tourist!

Written By: Deven Wilson – Intern

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.

(without being a cliché)

Spring has sprung, and the blooming flowers and blossoming trees make for one of the best times to show your true love you’re ready to commit! Tuscaloosa is totally for lovers with its southern charms and beautiful scenery. There’s far more to this fair city than just the Denny Chimes proposal. Show your one and only that you’re creative, and try out some of these places to have a truly unique engagement.

Inside the Bama Theatre
There is something magical about the old atmospheric style theater that feels so otherworldly. With the twinkling star lights in the ceiling and the grand Spanish courtyard style décor, it’s a perfect place to surprise them. Whether you see a concert or an independent film, wait for the crowd to leave or get their early and ask the big question. Even better, the second-floor balcony has a great view of the whole interior and might be a more secluded spot.

The University of Alabama Arboretum
Farther west in the outskirts of town, you can find the University of Alabama Arboretum which has thousands of selected plant life, a desert greenhouse, and so much more. Take one of the trails through their collection, a wildflower garden, or just wonder around until you find the perfect place. With the trees blossoming and the warm weather, it’ll surely be a memorable time!

Battle-Friedman House and Gardens
Down on Greensboro Ave, the historic Battle House has one fantastic hidden gem on the property. While the mansion its self is beautiful inside and well worth taking a tour, the gardens are a great little escape. The grounds were designed to be a traditional English garden and the recent efforts of the Tuscaloosa Preservation Society, they have fully restored the gardens to their original style. The perfect spot is the small fountain behind the greenhouse with views of both the house, and the blooming garden.

Any of Tuscaloosa’s Beautiful Lakes
It’s hard to pick just one of the fantastic lakes around town, so picking any will have you on the right course. Lake Lurleen has a fantastic little sandy beach with the lake sprawling out around it, while Lake Nicol has incredibly scenic cliffs overlooking the waters. Even Lake Tuscaloosa has the breathtaking spillway that’ll make a beautiful background when you propose!

Any of the Local Breweries
Hear me out, While not the fanciest of places around town, it is also the least suspected while still being a great venue. From Black Warrior’s laid back atmosphere and game rooms, Band of Brothers‘ proximity to the more elegant Drish House, to Druid City’s iconic chalk murals, there’s a beauty in all three. Now be advised to consider who you’re asking, but to the right person, it could the most unexpected surprise they never thought they needed. Plus, it’s the easiest location for a fast transition to a celebration!
Written By: Deven Wilson – Intern

One and Only: Lake Lurleen State Park

 

If you love being outdoors and are looking for a park that offers a wide variety of activities, then Lake Lurleen State Park is the perfect park for you, your friends, and family. The park offers outdoor activities such as paddle boating, swimming, fishing, hiking, and camping.

 

Located nine miles northwest of Tuscaloosa and Northport, this 1,625-acre park is a scenic retreat set on the banks of the beautiful, 250-acre Lake Lurleen. Named after Alabama’s only female governor, Lurleen Wallace, Lake Lurleen State Park offers plenty of recreation and relaxation.

 

The park’s facilities include a modern campground, activity building, picnic areas, play areas, pavilions, a beach and bathhouse, fishing piers, RV storage, a Nature Center, boat rentals and boat-launch areas. The park also features more than 23 miles of trails ranging from easy to moderate in difficulty and are open to both hikers and mountain bikers.

 

Due to the park’s multitude of trails, Lake Lurleen State Park will play host to the inaugural DCH SportsMedicine Dirt, Sweat & Gears Trail Duathlon on June 25, 2016 at 8:00 a.m. The event will feature a 10-mile trail bike ride on the Ridge Loop Trail followed by a 5K run on the Lakeside Trail.

 

The DCH Health System values the importance of sports in the life of a child and Dirt, Sweat & Gears will help bring health sports activities to young athletes through the DCH SportsMedicine Fund. For more information about the Dirt, Sweat & Gears Trail Duathlon and the SportsMedicine Fund, click here  (add link: https://www.dchsystem.com/our_services/sportsmedicine/dirt_sweat_gears_trail_duathlon.aspx)

 

Be sure to visit Tuscaloosa’s one and only Lake Lurleen State Park for endless outdoor adventures. Located at 13226 Lake Lurleen Road, Coker, AL 35452. For information about the park and rentals, visit www.alapark.com/lake-lurleen-state-park or call 205-339-1558. 

Written by: Adrian Gee, TTS Public Relations Intern