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.
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 City of Tuscaloosa and the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority will host a Fourth of July Celebration on the River on Sunday, July 4, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. This free, family-friendly event is open to the public and will include live music, kids’ activities, fireworks, and more.
The PARA kids’ zone, which will be located inside the Amphitheater, will open at 6 p.m. with games and activities for all ages. The Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra will perform around 7:45 p.m. Fireworks will begin at 9 p.m. after brief remarks from Mayor Walt Maddox.
“We are thrilled to bring back our City’s celebration of the birth of our nation this Fourth of July, after having a scaled-down event last year,” Mayor Maddox says. “Now that we can safely gather outdoors, the City of Tuscaloosa can celebrate this important day in a way that would make the founding fathers proud.”
Limited parking will be available in the grass lot by the Amphitheater. Attendees may also park in the free Downtown Intermodal Facility and take a shuttle or walk to the Amphitheater. Because of construction in the area, Tuscaloosa Police will be on-site directing traffic.
The Amphitheater’s clear bag policy will be in effect for this event. To receive text alerts for weather and event information the day of the event, guests can text “TUSC4TH” to 888-777. To learn more, please visit Tuscaloosa.com/COTR.
1. Tuscaloosa’s Museums
Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum is one of the great museum options that we have in T-town. Located at Tuscaloosa’s historic Queen City Park along the Black Warrior River, this museum is filled with knowledge and appreciation of our local and regional history and natural resources through exhibits, museum educational programs, and educational outreach efforts. For those interested in extinct models, the Alabama Museum of Natural History is a perfect place to visit with its ancient fossils and many other exciting things to discover!
2. Art Galleries
We have some incredible and diverse art galleries in town that are definitely worth a visit. The Kentuck Art Center in Northport is an all-in-one museum, gallery, and event location that is now featuring Good Trouble: Civil Rights Past and Present. In the heart of downtown Tuscaloosa lies another local gem: Paul R. Jones Gallery. Currently, the exhibition Mario Andres Robinson- A Brush with Time is on display. The Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center is another great place to explore on a rainy day. Their gallery hours are 1-3 pm Monday – Friday and this week, they show the Tuscaloosa County Schools Art Exhibit!
3. Coffee Shops
What cozier place could there be to hide from a rainy day than a traditional coffee shop? The smell of coffee and pastries in the air, people reading the newspaper, studying or chatting steadily alongside a laid-back playlist…. sounds perfect to us! Tuscaloosa offers many such magical places. For example, the local chain Turbo Coffee, Monarch Espresso Bar downtown, or the new kid on the block Just Love Coffee. Choose any of these and you won’t be disappointed!
Local breweries in Tuscaloosa are the perfect place to spend a gray afternoon among friends and one of America’s favorite drinks: Beer. Druid City Brewing Company, Black Warrior Brewing Company, and Loosa offer great brews and relaxed space to lean back and enjoy an ice-cold one on this dreary day. These local treasures have the coolest merchandise to brighten up your wardrobe today!
Shindig Family Entertainment Center is another excellent option for rainy days like today. This is your one-stop entertainment center with bowling, laser tag, arcade games, mini-golf, and a restaurant with a lounge! Forget about your worries and completely immerse yourself in all of the family fun that this awesome place has to offer!
Being on the outside isn’t always such a terrible thing. Especially in a beautiful city like Tuscaloosa. When you’re spending time with loved ones, eating your favorite snacks, and grabbing a drink or two as you enjoy the wonderful weather. It doesn’t get much better than this. Sometimes just being outside can make a bad day better, so we have decided to make you all a list of some favorite porches to immerse yourself in the outdoors with food and drink close at hand.
Loosa Brews – Loosa’s porch game has been stepped up since they opened. It has tons of table and bar style seating. It’s partly shaded, but fully equipped to be your next favorite hangout joint! With 63 beers on tap there’s a beer and a chair for everyone there!
Taco Mama – Taco Mama’s outdoor seating faces out onto University drive so whether you’re there to sunset watch or people watch, there’s a sitting activity for every personality! Not only that, but they serve beer and margaritas. So if you’re not huge on the beer scene, you’ve still got a place on their porch!
R & R Cigars – This particular porch is highly slept on because not many people take advantage of this incredible honey hole! R & R is a remodeled Victorian home with a huge front porch and plenty of comfortable seating to drink a beer, smoke a cigar, and watch your favorite game on tv.
Honorable mention – Druid City Social – This new gem in town is the perfect spot to have a nice romantic meal. With plenty of outdoor seating and elegant lights, you will have no problem finding a comfortable spot outside to sit down and relax.
Honorable Mention – Innisfree – Innisfree’s porch is another phenomenal place to kick back and drink a cold one. They have plenty of seating and a whole slew of TVs. With a wide selection of drinks, they have a little something for the whole crew!
The Cliffs at Lake Nicol
Lake Lurleen State Park
The Harrison Taylor Splash Pad
We’ve got big plans this weekend here in Tuscaloosa! With our city’s winning basketball streak being over for this year, we have to look forward to something new and exciting to keep our spirits up! There’s something for everyone to enjoy this weekend, so stay tuned to hear all about this weekend’s events!
Laine Hardy at Druid City
We cannot explain how thankful we are that concerts are back in town! You and your friends can head to Druid City Music Hall this Friday, April 9th, to watch Laine Hardy put on an energizing show. You can buy your tickets online at Druid City’s website for the 9 pm show. Masks are still required when entering the venue and must be worn when drinks are not in hand! Remember to be responsible and have a great time!
Bird Fest at Moundville
Spring is in the air and so are Alabama’s beautiful native bird species! Nestled along the banks of the Black Warrior River, UA’s Moundville Archaeological Park (MAP) hosts its annual Birdfest Friday and Saturday, April 9-10, 2021. Birdfest guests can take a bird walk with local experts, including Dwight Lammon (Tuscaloosa, AL). Information on wildlife conservation, bird watching checklists, birdhouse plans and much more will be available and free of charge to everyone. To register for your attendance click here!
Over the Edge
Ready for a thrill-seeking experience? The only urban rappelling experience is here in Tuscaloosa this Friday, April 10th! Over The Edge is a benefit event for the great work of Youth For Christ. All participants will rappel 140 feet from the top of The Tower in downtown Tuscaloosa. Bring a go-getter attitude and leave all your fears at home! For more information visit Over the Edge’s website.
Tuscaloosa Story Walk
This Sunday, April 11th at 11 a.m., PARA, and the Tuscaloosa Public Library present the grand opening of the Tuscaloosa StoryWalk®! Enjoy a beautiful Saturday morning on the Riverwalk while strolling down the trail and reading a fun story! StoryWalk® is an innovative and interactive way for readers of all ages to enjoy a story and the outdoors at the same time. Laminated pages from a children’s picture book will be displayed along the RiverWalk trail. As you stroll down the trail, you are directed to the next page in the story. A StoryWalk® engages young readers and is a great way to practice Active Reading skills!
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!
The weekend is just around the corner and we cannot wait to dive into some of the events that will be happening this week. Your weekend in Tuscaloosa can be jam-packed with fun festivities for all, leaving anyone who participates bound to have a blast. Let’s ditch the week-day blues and put on our optimistic shades for the weekend. Below are some exciting events that will create incredible memories that are sure to last a lifetime.
Laughs at Loosa
This Friday Stand Up Tuscaloosa invites you to Loosa Brews for some comedy on the patio with our Headliner Dan Alten from Louisville, KY, and featuring comics Paige McBride from Birmingham, Zach Bragg from Columbus, MS, and New Yorker Bobby Lockwood. This show is packed with goodness. So come grab a drink, find a seat, and get ready for a fun time with the coolest tribe around. The seating is available starting at 7:30 p.m. and the showtime is at 8 p.m.
Live Music on the Rooftop
We love live music at the Lookout Rooftop Bar and this week’s performer is going to slay! Enjoy a beautiful view of downtown Tuscaloosa as you treat yourself to their great variety of food and beverages. Friday Night on the Rooftop with Brian Rhea will begin at 7 p.m. Let the music take you away as you kick off your weekend with a tremendous start!
The Tuscaloosa Half Marathon is this Saturday at Government Plaza and Downtown Tuscaloosa! The start time for the race is 7 a.m. Ideally located, runners get a sampling of the rolling hills along the Black Warrior River, the jaw-dropping Tuscaloosa River Walk, portions of the University of Alabama campus, and some quaint downtown neighborhoods. The participants will have plenty of room to spread out and fully enjoy the event!
From 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday Children’s Hands-on Museum will be hosting an Easter extravaganza like no other! Get egg-cited and hop on down to CHOM for extraordinary egg science experiments and other cool crafts!
Wondering what’s happening down here this weekend in the City of Champions? Don’t worry, we got you covered! With all of the snow and ice behind us – hopefully – we are eager to get out of the house and shake the dust off! Let’s take a closer look at what’s hip-happening in Ttown this weekend!
Ah yes, this city sure does love its music! With live music happening most Thursdays at the Lookout Rooftop Bar, you simply can’t go wrong! Grab some buddies or your furry friend and head to the Lookout for a night filled with funky jams and fun drinks. Live music is performed every Thursday night from 6 pm to 9 pm. Want to see the lineup? Click here to check it out! Remember, the Lookout Rooftop is smoke-free and pet friendly, and practicing all social distancing protocols to offer you a fun night out!
Druid City Music Hall is newly renovated and welcoming artists back onto its stage! Rumours: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac is coming to town this Friday, Feb. 26th. Rumours is the country’s premier Fleetwood Mac tribute band. Based in Atlanta, GA, Rumours captures the energy of Fleetwood Mac at the height of their career by blending perfect harmonies, precise instrumentation, and a visually engaging stage show. Sounds like something you would enjoy? You can visit Druid City Music Hall’s website to purchase tickets! And as always, remember your mask ladies and gents.
For the Children
Another week, another family fun event at the Children’s Hands-On Museum! Come help The Lorax, Cat in the Hat, and Hortoncelebrate (early) Dr. Seuss’s 117th birthday! A photo booth, crafts, and games will all be included in admission. This is a safe, socially distant celebration so bring your snazziest mask and a great attitude!
As we all can agree, our city is full of rich, engaging history. The Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum is proudly hosting “Stitching Together Tuscaloosa’s History” for the dates of February 16 – March 27. This University of Alabama student-curated exhibition was created as a celebration of Tuscaloosa’s ever-changing and diversifying communities. This exhibition takes a new look at the Tuscaloosa Bicentennial Quilt through the lens of Black History and the rich stories spun by African American quilters. This free admission event is a perfect way to educate yourself and others about our community while also observing the amazing craftsmanship of the Bicentennial Quilt!
Happy New Year! We are thrilled to welcome in 2021. Events are trickling in slowly, but surely as our city adapts to the new norms and you can find events for the whole family this weekend!
Tuscaloosa Farmers Market
Start your day off right with a cup of coffee and a basket of locally grown produce! The Tuscaloosa Farmers Market takes place on Saturday from 7 am until 12 pm. Featuring fresh, locally grown produce; grass-fed meats; unique artisan crafts; and an Alabama authenticity that cannot be replicated, the Tuscaloosa Farmers Market has something for everyone! Support your local farmers and artisans by shopping local.
Static Shock at Children’s Hands-On Museum
Looking for a perfect activity for your children (ages newborn to 13)? Look no further than the Children’s Hands-On Museum’s “Static Shock” event! Open from 9:30 am to 4 pm, CHOM offers three floors of fun with 26 unique exhibits to play in. This Saturday, children can experiment with static electricity, take on the circuit board challenge, and demo a Van de Graff generator! This event will be socially distanced and have a visitor limit.
Second Saturday Outdoor Music Series
Round out your Saturday with some socially distanced live music! This event takes place at the Buddy Powell Pavilion from 1 pm until 4 pm with the lineup as follows…
1 pm: MHC & The Biscuit Cannons
2 pm: MarK Ultras Thought Police
3 pm: Susy & Andrew
The creators of this event series have asked people to please bring their own chair or blanket, wear a mask, and socially distance themselves!
We have a lot going on throughout the upcoming winter months and are excited to share more. Give us a follow on our social media pages (@visittuscaloosa) for more announcements and future events. We can’t wait to see you around Tuscaloosa!