We get it – summer in the South is hot and humid!  But, you’re in luck if you live in the area or are visiting!  If you’re looking to take a dip outside of your normal community pool, we invite you to “beat the heat” with these seven swimming holes in the Tuscaloosa area!  One of the greatest assets of our area is that it’s home to many secret and not-so-secret swimming spots that have you feeling like you’ve entered an oasis in your own backyard.

Be sure to tag @VisitTuscaloosa in any photos you take when you’re having fun at these local gems.

 

  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 or paddleboard and is exceptional for bird watchers. 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 beautiful waters!

 

  1. Lake Lurleen State Park

Lake Lurleen is a Tuscaloosa icon for its camp grounds, hiking trails, and fishing spots, but it is also 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 and offer small boat rentals for a minimal cost.  Admission to the state park is $3 per adult or $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. This is a spot that has something for everyone!

 

  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, relax on a boat with friends and family, or to paddleboard the afternoon away. 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 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 Noon – 5 p.m. six days a week and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Grab a cooler and head on over!  Daily user fee is $5 per person and under 2 is free.

 

  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! Before Tuscaloosa’s official dog park opened, UA’s Arboretum served residents dogs 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.  You can often find several dogs and their owners staying cool in the water and playing fetch by the pond’s side!  As always, we ask that you pick up after your pups to help keep the area clean!

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!

Oh, 2020… There’s not much to say about this hot mess express of a year. During the past dreadfully long several months, COVID-19 has managed to do one thing right: prioritize health as a nation. I’m not talking about physical health alone, I’m referring to mental health as well. Despite the obvious physical health risks brought on by COVID, social isolation and quarantine can also deeply affect one’s mood and mentality. Although we wished farewell to Self-Care Month when Spooky Season arrived, this upcoming Saturday marks World Mental Health Day! That’s why we have taken the time to dive into some of the many ways to nourish your mental health in T-Town!

Body

It is so important to take care of your physical health while working on your mental health as they are deeply intertwined. Contrary to popular belief, taking good care of your body doesn’t have to feel like a chore! There are endless ways to get moving and enjoy yourself in T-Town. Don’t believe us? Check out some of our suggestions below to get the inside scoop on local products and services to improve one’s mental health!

For beginners and pros alike yoga can help manage mental health by keeping your mind at ease and body engaged. There are a few awesome different yoga studios available with enjoyment! Yoga Bliss is a yoga studio just down the street from The Strip that offers a great variety of classes. The selection ranges from entry-level Beginner Fundamentals, specialized classes like Yoga Nidra, and classes like EveryBODY, which is designed to be useful for all who attend. Visit the Yoga Bliss website above for more information on pricing and registration! There are many other nice studios around the city as well including Painted Lotus Yoga and Wellness! For a slightly more intense workout, check out The Barre CodePure Barre, and HotWorx.

Regular exercise and fresh air have the dual benefit of improving your physical health and encouraging growth in your mental state as well. By staying active and keeping your blood flowing, you’re allowing the brain to relax a bit while it is fully engaged in the actions. This kind of mindfulness has been proven to improve focus, mood, and overall mentality throughout the day! Although attending a local gym or taking specialized exercise classes are incredible ways to boost your mental health, there are a plethora of other places around the city to stay active as well.

The Riverwalk along the Black Warrior River is not only a delightful spot to relax, but it is also a prime location for a light jog, intense running session, or quick outdoor workout! Lake Tuscaloosa and Lake Nicol are a great outdoor choice, too, offering a number of activities like hiking, swimming, or even paddleboarding! All of these spots not only offer somewhere to get your blood flowing but also make the perfect setting to relax and meditate by the water. A little fresh air and peace and quiet can help calm the senses.

Spirit 

Another helpful way to manage and monitor your mental health is to treat yourself to a local spa or salon on occasion. By prioritizing self-care in your routine your self-worth and psyche can improve significantly. It is important to know what specific activities help you feel as relaxed as possible, so don’t hesitate to explore all the many local options available! Treat yourself to a day of pampering to commemorate World Mental Health Day at one of the following locations around Tuscaloosa!

For those that enjoy relaxation in a traditional sense, there is nothing better than a classic spa day to show yourself a little TLC. Not only would a massage ease the nerves, but a manicure and a pedicure couldn’t hurt either! In Tuscaloosa, Spa Belle La Vie and Nancy Taylor Day Spa are just a few of the many serene locations where visitors can enjoy massage therapy, beauty treatments, and even salon services. For the guys out there who respect the power of proper pampering, visit Greasy Hands Barbershop for hot shaves, clean cuts, and a relaxing atmosphere!

If pampering is the way to go for you, what better way than discovering a responsible and fun way to clean yourself: soap! The Left Hand Soap Company is a local soap workshop in Downtown Tuscaloosa that produces specialized soaps, shampoos, and other natural cleaning products since 1999. Due to COVID-19, visitors are not allowed to inside the workshop, but products are available for purchase online for pick-up! Visit the Left-Hand Soap Company website to view the various products and swag available.

Mind

Staying focused on a calming and/or mentally-stimulating activity can be an exceptional tool to properly manage your mental health. This includes listening to music, reading a new book, or learning something new! Whether or not you are already passionate about music or books, these activities are widely available for anyone to pick up and enjoy on the daily. Music and books come in a number of different genres and subjects, so there are endless ways to enjoy both activities! Additionally, learning something new stimulates the mind and creates a sense of accomplishment, like learning to ride a bike or finishing a good book!

Stop by the Tuscaloosa Public Library or Ernest & Hadley’s to get lost between the pages of a new book! Both of these spots are home to a wide collection of titles, familiar or new, and are available for all to enjoy. In addition to books, both the library and the bookstore host events/virtual events where patrons can learn more about authors and other literary greats related to the titles they have checked out or would like to explore. Sit back, relax, and keep your mind sharp with a great book!

For those that enjoy turning their records on and sitting idle on their couch for a blissful afternoon, Oz Music is a must-visit shop in Tuscaloosa. Oz Music has all anyone could need to become a major album collector and listener, from record players and cleaning supplies to throwback vinyl and brand new records! CDs are still available for those who prefer that method of jamming their favorite tunes.

Learning is a great way to exercise and stimulate the mind if you are needing a break from your everyday troubles. Learning about something new opens up your mind to new experiences and emotions, which has the dual benefit of improving your mental health and expanding your knowledge base! Three special destinations in town, the Paul R. Jones Gallery, Harrison Galleries, and the Paul W. Bryant Museum,  provide a safe haven to learn about new perspectives and stories you’ve have yet to discover. All of these museums are exciting places to dive deeper into the diverse history and art of this area.

Mental health remains a significant topic in our nation as the unexpected isolation that came with COVID-19 continues to affect mental health. This meaningful topic affects millions and deserves extensive evaluation. Before this can happen, we must not be afraid to seek or offer help. If you or anyone you know is suffering from mental health distress, contact your medical provider for more information on services to help treat these challenges, or learn more at MentalHealth.gov.

Written by: Jamie Hoven & Will Baggett

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.

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

Spring is coming fast this year in Tuscaloosa which means it’s getting to be perfect for a nice picnic day before the summer heat creeps up on us. Luckily there are so many great spots around town for a day in the great outdoors! From the city to the outskirts there’s a place to lay that blanket down.

Van de Graaff Arboretum
Across the river and north of downtown Northport, you’ll find the latest PARA development. The Van De Graff Arboretum is 33 acres of freshwater ponds and protected swamplands filled with natural southern beauty. The hidden gem held within the park is the reused 1882 King Bowstring Bridge. Once used to cross the Black Warrior, it was closed in 1896 to slowly disappear from the area until it was reclaimed for the park. With porch-style swings and the surreal look of the historic bridge over the creek, it’s surely the latest picturesque place to picnic.

Riverwalk
No place around town comes to mind faster for a quick picnic than the Riverwalk. Along the trail, there is plenty of places to settle down and relax under the towering trees. There’s the secluded riverside grassland between Manderson Landing and the condos, or the lookout between the Tuscaloosa Bank and Riverfront Village. The best part is you’re not too far from after meal treats at Orange Leaf or some cocktails above the Black Warrior at River.

Lake Nicol
Across the river, you can find one of the most secluded and naturally beautiful places in Tuscaloosa. Lake Nicol is a man-made lake with a slew of trails that meander to Cliffside views of the lake. These ledges make for a perfect spot to get away from it all in under a 15 min drive. Take in the serene views and picturesque waters all while resting on a cliff.

Capitol Park
An easy walk from downtown, you can find yourself in our own Romanesque ruins. The remains of the former capital building create a romantic sense of history and feel like they’ve always been that way. If you’re lucky you can lay down the blanket right inside the former rotunda under the shadow of the curved bricks. It’s a great quick getaway with easy access to great coffee and restaurants.

Hurricane Creek
While not an official public park, this secluded natural wonder offers adventure alongside some impressively untouched parcels of land right outside the city. The best plan for Hurricane Creek is to take a canoe, load it up with your picnic, and paddle through the mouth of the creek, under the old trestle bridge, until you find a bank perfect to rest at. Fair warning, parts of this land are privately owned, but there a few spots open to the public. Be sure to check the Map on Hurricane Creeks website before setting off on your picnic adventure.

Black Warrior SUP Championship on Lake Nicol

Serene waters surround the city of Tuscaloosa and its county. Lake Tuscaloosa is the largest in the county, Lake Lurleen is a man made oasis, and then there is Lake Nicol. This Cliffside lake is more secluded, and off the beaten path than its commercialized neighbor. It’s not overflowing with eco-tourists and families trying to beat the Alabama heat; It’s simply calm waters and picturesque cliffs tucked underneath towering pines. Despite being only a short drive from civilization, natures take over of the lake gives it that secluded, and far off feeling found in the outskirts. The cliffs stand tall over blue waters, with winding trails leading to them. The waters gently wave with the blue skies shining above. Lake Nicol even hosts an island near the southern tip, offering a truly disconnected environment to freely row and paddle about.

The Black Warrior SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) Championship will be one of those rare times the lake is given the spotlight. These six to three mile courses starts early in the morning, with three races planned, and a one-mile fun race open to anyone. If you’re worried you’ve missed your chance, you can still register to compete in the races, and take in this hidden gem of waters and cliffs. The guests and traveling athletes will convene over its calm water and collectively find the beauty hidden by this lake. People will gather and watch the paddleboards glide over the lake and absorb the tranquility and uninhibited natural wonder of Lake Nicol as the Champions are crowned. The competition benefits the American Heart Association and certainly helps your own. Getting outside and being active over cool waters will bring a benefit only found in the great outdoors. While Lake Tuscaloosa and Lurleen sit pretty as the top bodies of water in the county, by the time the excitement dies down, and the day starts to close, Lake Nicol will be wearing a new crown in the eyes of the people. If you want to get out, explore the natural beauty in town, and take part in this exciting and fun filled race, you can register through PaddleGuru. The one-mile fun race is $20.00, the 3-mile race is $30.00, and the 6-mile race is $40.00. if you feel The American Heart Association deserves more, you’re welcome to add a donation along with the cost. The Race takes place July 16th at Lake Nicol.