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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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).
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
The season of summer has arrived and for many, it’s a time that brings family and friends together. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, it’s a great time to “live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, and drink in the wild air.” With the summer heat steadily rising, the lakes and rivers remain in high demand.
Outdoor activities can undoubtedly be enjoyed year-round in Tuscaloosa, but there’s just something special about fishing on a sweet summer night. As we recognize National Go Fishing Day today, we are excited to share some of Tuscaloosa’s hidden gems as it relates to recreational fishing. So, bait up those fishing poles and get ready for the inside scoop on fishing in Tuscaloosa!
We recognize that one of the most frustrating parts about fishing is finding an access point, especially when you’re in an unfamiliar area. That’s why we called in an avid fisherman and TTS board member (and hotelier) Toby Wilson to give us all of his pro tips on fishing in and around West Alabama. These are some of his favorite spots to kick back, relax, catch some fish, and enjoy the beautiful views our area has to offer.
Holt Reservoir is a modest 3,296-acre lake on the Black Warrior River and is located just north of Tuscaloosa from the Holt Lock and Dam upstream to Bankhead Dam. To access this more secluded body of water you can go to Lock 15 or Deerlick ramps. This place is for the fishermen that appreciate alone time with quiet waters!
This particular lake along the Black Warrior River begins in Walker County and forms the border between Jefferson and Tuscaloosa County. The quiet, peaceful feel is very similar to that at Holt Lake. In fact, Bankhead eventually empties into it and is the second largest lake on the Black Warrior River. Be prepared for about an hour and a half commute from downtown Tuscaloosa. It’s well worth it though because the fish are plentiful in this secluded area with plenty of creeks and coves.
Of course, we couldn’t leave out one of the most popular summer spots: Lake Tuscaloosa. Renowned in the area for its year-round fishing and boating culture, this lake stretches 5,885 acres in size. The easiest access points for this lake are Binion Creek, Sharpes Landing, and Rock Quarry.
This stretch of the Black Warrior River in downtown Tuscaloosa is spectacular for fishing without having to drive very far. Riverview Boat Landing is a boat launch to access the river. The sky’s the limit with this one. Some additional activities available are boating, hiking, backpacking, climbing, and animal sightseeing!
To access this body of water from Northport the easiest way to do so is to use Oliver Lock and Dam, which is close to the old country club. One way to get there is through Airport Road where the Roll Tide trestle stands. Similar to the other bodies of water, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, catfish, crappies, and so much more are available in this river.
Be sure to watch out for barges, and make sure you have your fishing license! Don’t forget to bring your up to date boat registration as well. No fishing license? No problem. You can get your license by clicking here!
- Holt Lock and Dam: 12397 Power Plant Rd Tuscaloosa 35406
- Old Lock 15 Boat Ramp: North of Tuscaloosa on Holt Lake of the Black Warrior River
- Deerlick Ramp, located within Deerlick Park: 12421 Deerlick Rd, Tuscaloosa, AL
- Bankhead Dam: 19001 Lock 17 Rd N, Northport, AL 35475
- Binion Creek: 16553 Binion Creek Heights, Northport, Al 35475
- Sharpes Landing: 13662-13698 Sharpes Lake Road, Northport, AL 35473
- Rock Quarry: 11857 Eagle Bluff Rd, Cottondale, Al 35453
- Riverview Boat Landing: 599 7th Ave. NE, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
- Oliver Lock and Dam: Oliver Dam Road Northport Al, 35476
Black Warrior River Lock Phone Numbers (For navigation or water-level questions)
- Bankhead Lock (205) 339-1921
- Holt Lock (205) 553-1711
- Oliver Lock (205) 758-4860
For additional resources, we encourage you to check out the Black Warrior Riverkeeper!
1. The River Walk
Disguised behind all of the commotions of Tuscaloosa lies the scenic River Walk. The 4.5 miles of path that runs directly next to the Black Warrior River serves as an ideal spot for picnics, dog walks, or leisurely strolls. Get out of the house, grab a friend, and go enjoy the view!
2. Dreamland BBQ
If you are from Tuscaloosa, or just Alabama itself, you know about this famous spot. Founded in 1958 by “Big Daddy” John Bishop, Dreamland has been a staple in Tuscaloosa’s food scene, serving communities across the state and even the country. You can still visit the original Dreamland location at 5525 15th Avenue East in Tuscaloosa. Pro Tip: Get the banana pudding.
3. Civil Rights Trail
To understand the rich history of Tuscaloosa’s civil rights history, it is crucial to examine the Civil Rights Trail. Many Alabamians are aware of the civil rights history that surrounds our state, but many might not be aware of the important events that took place in Tuscaloosa. The trail has 18 stops that tell of the extraordinary action that shaped this town forever. Visit https://civilrightstuscaloosa.org/trail/ to print your trail brochure.
Downtown Tuscaloosa has maintained its southern charm over the many years of change. Find a stylish outfit at The Pants Store, indulge in a nice dinner at Depalma’s, or sip on a craft cocktail at Sessions Bar. With dozens of businesses, new and old, its streets offer exciting experiences for everyone!
5. Lake Tuscaloosa
Right smack in the middle of Tuscaloosa you can fish, boat, or lie out with your friends at gorgeous Lake Tuscaloosa. This is the perfect spot for a quick, relaxing day trip with your friends or family. With 117 miles of shoreline, you sure won’t run out of room to play!
6. Crimson Tide Football
Alabama football fans have the honor of being some of the loudest, rowdiest fans in all of college football. To be honest, it’s hard to bite your tongue when your team has won 18 National Championships AND you have a larger stadium than Auburn.
7. The Strip
The Strip. Home to Quick Grill, the Yellow Hammer, and of course, Rounders. College kids love it, locals- well, probably don’t hate it too much. This is truly the place to go if you want that thrilling nightlife experience with a hint of college kid energy. Experience the electric energy on the strip that adds such an exciting element to Tuscaloosa!
8. Nicks in the Sticks
Nothing beats family-owned cooking- especially family-owned SOUTHERN cooking. Nicks in the Sticks has been serving the Tuscaloosa community since 1953 and has gone down in history ever since. Even though the venue is quite small, they dish up big flavors. If you have the chance to go, don’t forget to put a dollar bill on the ceiling!
What’s a good ole southern town without a good taproom? Tuscaloosa is home to 3 craft breweries: Loosa Brews, Druid City Brewing Company, and Black Warrior Brewing Company. New to the Tuscaloosa beer scene is The Grocery Brewpub that is set to open in the next few months!
10. The Immense History
While this one post could be a novel, T-Town has been a historical hotspot for centuries! Once the state capital in 1825, Tuscaloosa has been the home to the Creek Indian tribe and the site of a Civil War standoff. Grab a friend and discover the antiquity of Tuscaloosa throughout the many museums and tours offered throughout the town.
11. Kentuck Art Festival
Nothing screams fall in Tuscaloosa like changing leaves, football, and seasonal festivals. For 49 years, the Kentuck Art Center has been the epicenter of creativity for this community. The Kentuck Festival is filled with great music and art pieces from over 270 inspired creatives. While 2020 put a damper on the previous year’s fun, we are hopeful for the new year and the continuation of the spirit of Kentuck!
12. Tuscaloosa Farmers Market
Shop local, eat local, enjoy local. Supporting the Tuscaloosa community has never been easier thanks to the farmers market’s weekly Saturday appearance! Get your weekend fix of artisan bread, farm-fresh vegetables, and fabulous finds from your local small business owners at the Tuscaloosa Farmers Market- but remember to wear your mask!
13. The People
A deadly virus and a couple of tornados. It will take more than that to rock this town to its core! This community has endured so many hardships throughout the years. Yet still, we emerge stronger than ever and proud of the community we have built together! I could think of 1,000,000 reasons why I love Tuscaloosa, but 15 will have to do justice for now!
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!
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 Code, Pure 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.
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.
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
Father’s Day is fast approaching and if you’re having trouble thinking of the perfect way to celebrate your dad this year, we’ve come up with a few suggestions we hope will help.
What dad doesn’t love to golf? This Father’s Day hit the course with your dad and relieve a little stress. Spend the day bonding over 18 holes, and learn some pointers from the old pro. If 18 holes sounds like a bit too much, you and your dad can choose to enjoy 9 holes, or just a basket at the driving range instead. Either way, golf is a great excuse to spend time with your dad and pick up a few tips to improve your game.
Tuscaloosa Shooting Sports just opened in 2015 and has been a hit with Tuscaloosa’s residents ever since. The facility features driving ranges from 50 to 300 yards and 20 covered shooting positions. If this isn’t enough, there is also four handgun bunkers with two metal targets. Whether your dad is an expert with a firearm or just beginning, the range has everything he needs to sharpen his aim. This is the perfect way to enjoy a little friendly competition with your dad this holiday.
Let your old man take a break from the grill this Father’s Day and head over to The Avenue Pub for a meal cooked up by the experts. The Avenue Pub’s Bacon Burger has made headlines all across the state of Alabama and it will definitely entertain your dad’s taste buds this weekend.
With the relaxed atmosphere, delicious food and endless beer list, your dad will savor the opportunity to let someone else work the grill and pour the beer,
Lake Tuscaloosa is home to hundreds of aquatic wildlife and the perfect place to cast a line this Father’s Day. You and your dad can look for a secluded spot along the banks of the river or rent a canoe, kayak or even a pontoon boat to float in while you hunt for some dinner. Take your dad and take a break from the city crowds this holiday, and enjoy a peaceful afternoon catching fish and floating along.
Let your dad be the beer enthusiast that he is and take him for an enjoyable evening at Loosa Brews. He can choose from over 60 craft beers, most of which are brewed in Alabama. If he’s in the mood to try several he can order a flight, and if he really wants to heighten the experience, he can indulge in some competition with arcade games such as pinball, ring toss, and ping pong. At the end of the night, after he beats you in all the arcade games, you can reward him with a growler of his favorite beer.
And because we couldn’t just stop at five and leave out one of the best events of the entire weekend, we’ve added one more to the list.
If you’ve got small kids and need a way to make Father’s Day special for both Dad and kids, this event is perfect. Take them to Super Dad Day where the kids can dress up in their favorite costumes, make gifts for Dad and meet Batman. This is the perfect event for Dad’s who just want to spend the holiday with their little ones.