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!
1. If savory Lamb Chops topped with Blackberry Reduction and a side of Garlic Mashed Potatoes and sautéed Kale sounds like your dream dinner, then you should definitely include Evangeline’s in your T-Town itinerary. As one of the area’s premier restaurants, this divine treasure provides exceptional service for private intimate dinners, social events, and corporate parties. From a small rehearsal dinner to a lavish party for friends and family, Evangeline’s has the atmosphere to create the ideal experience.
2. Do you consider seafood, steak, & sushi three of your main food groups? If so, then Chuck’s is most definitely calling you. Offering a diverse menu in trendy surrounds with a loft & full bar, this local favorite has a well-earned reputation as a T-Town staple. It is also perfect for special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. Crowd favorites include the crab cakes, sushi, scallops, and pizza. With attentive service and an unforgettable dining experience, you’ll always leave this happy and stuffed – and ready to come back again.
3. It would be a disservice to Tuscaloosa cuisine to discuss our incredible local dining without including Central Mesa. Established in 2017 by owner Craig Williams, this local treasure offers a Southern twist on traditional Latin-American dishes. The story of the restaurant is built upon a passion for providing fresh, great-tasting food and cocktails. Every dish is prepared in-house from scratch to ensure quality taste. The heart of the restaurant beats to provide a relaxed atmosphere and sense of community, where people can come and enjoy exceptional food and drink.
4. Ignite the creative in you and experience the Dinah Cultural Arts Center’s current exhibit, Stephanie Kirkland: “Windswept: Abstract Landscapes”. This moving collection of acrylic paintings was inspired during a road trip out West, which included hiking through Glacier, Zion, and Grand Canyon national parks. This week’s gallery hours of 1:00 p.m.to 3:00 p.m. offers the last chance to witness this captivating creation firsthand. Trust us, you don’t want to miss it!
5. Kentuck Art Center offers a unique view into the minds of the endlessly talented local artists all around Tuscaloosa. From handmade, one-of-a-kind jewelry to kitchen pitchers, this gold mine is ideal for a one-stop-shop for holiday gifts. The Kentuck Gallery Shop offers an incredible shopping experience either online or in-person!
6. Fall foliage peak is on the horizon and one of the best places to take in the changing season is the Riverwalk. This first-rate paved trail sits along the southern bank of the Black Warrior River near downtown Tuscaloosa and is suited for both walkers and bikers. Along the 4.5-mile trail, there are a variety of (dog-friendly) park areas, benches, gazebos, and trees for hammocks and picnics. The pathway also provides a playground near the Public Library and a splash pad at the Bama Bell dock for the kids. For nighttime walkers, it is well-lit with street lamps along the way.
7. Get a taste of the (tamer) Tide. Take in the jaw-dropping beauty of UA’s campus in its most unique form: somewhat still and tranquil. Casually absorb the captivating architecture and elaborate landscaping that is so easy to take for granted during the football fan frenzy that accompanies one of the greatest dynasties in college football history. It offers another great place to enjoy the fall colors while viewing landmarks such as the President’s Mansion, Denny Chimes, Bryant-Denny Stadium, and historic Foster Auditorium – where Malone-Hood Plaza and the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower celebrate the spot where the University of Alabama was first integrated.
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
Let’s be honest, the first word that comes to mind when you hear “Tuscaloosa” is most likely football. While the Crimson Tide dynasty is undeniably an incredible aspect of T-Town, it is impossible to experience the entirety of our city without the missing pieces. Your answer, most likely, was not history, but what if I told you it deserves a spot in the top five, at least? Below we have compiled just a few of the different ways to immerse yourself in the diverse and captivating history of the one and only Tuscaloosa!
The most extensive historical attraction in Tuscaloosa is the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Trail, with 18 stops spread throughout Downtown Tuscaloosa. This trail is a compilation of historical Civil Rights sites throughout town, where prominent events occurred, whether it was the location of a riot, a safe house for those escaping racial persecution, or exhibitions of art from Black artists and creators. The Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Trail is a wonderful activity for families and friends to walk around historical Tuscaloosa and learn about the rich and difficult history of the city. Each location along the trail offers a different glimpse into a not-so-distant past and can be an important lesson for all of us in modern times!
Built in 1835 and surviving nearly two centuries, the Battle-Friedman House is one of the oldest standing buildings in the City of Tuscaloosa. The history of this house lies in its journey of ownership from family to family over the last two centuries. The house was originally built by the Battle Family, a plantation-owning couple from North Carolina who had recently moved to Tuscaloosa. Then, towards the end of the Reconstruction Era in 1875, the Battles foreclosed on the house, and its ownership was transferred over to the Friedmans, a Hungarian family who had moved to Tuscaloosa to open up a store and eventually became a respected member of the Tuscaloosa community. Ultimately, the Friedman family willed the house to the City of Tuscaloosa in 1965, and has since been preserved as a location of historical significance located just outside the heart of Downtown Tuscaloosa!
For fans of historic architecture and intricate design, the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion is a beautiful destination throughout Tuscaloosa’s history. This mansion was built in the late 1800s, with its construction being halted for the Civil War, causing a number of incompletions in the initial construction of the mansion itself. The mansion was designed by architect Samuel Sloan – also known for designing Bryce Hospital – but was unfortunately built by slaves, given the timeframe in which it was constructed. Before becoming an official historical site to the City of Tuscaloosa and in addition to being used as a residence, the Van de Graaff Mansion has also been used at the city library. Admission to the mansion for viewing is free, plus the space is available for rent for events and celebrations! For more information about the mansion, visit its dedicated website.
As the host of a number of exhibits and featured speakers over the years, the Alabama Museum of Natural History is one of the most impressive buildings on the University of Alabama campus. This museum is home to many different exhibits, collections, and programs dedicated to educating its visitors about the natural wonders of Alabama and the Earth itself. It dives into the ancient and modern history of all the nature that is all around us, even here in the City of Tuscaloosa! The museum is housed inside Smith Hall on campus, just off the quad, and is open to all who wish to learn more about the science that lives around us in our everyday lives. For more information about admission and hours of operation, visit the Alabama Museum of Natural History website on the University of Alabama website.
For those avid fans of both Crimson Tide athletics and the history of Tuscaloosa, there is no better place to visit than the Paul W. Bryant Museum. This museum is an exploration into the history of not only the best coach in the history of collegiate football but also the history of one of the most decorated athletic programs in the history of all collegiate athletics! Extensively archived over the course of the university’s history, the exhibits and videos featured in the museum show an in-depth look into the growth and evolution of Alabama athletics navigating through segregation, World War 2, and of course, the beginnings of the Iron Bowl rivalry! The museum is open Thursday to Sunday with varying admission prices – including free for visitors aged 6 years or younger – so be sure to visit the museum website for more information, as well the opportunity to buy admission ahead of time.
Lake Lurleen is a site of natural beauty located close to the City of Tuscaloosa and is ripe with natural wonders for all to discover! Lake Lurleen is a 250-acre Lake Lurleen home to many varieties of fish, and measures nearly one and a half miles in length, one-half mile wide, and goes as deep as 48 feet! Visiting Lake Lurleen State Park in Fall is one of the best times to visit as leaves are changing colors and the temperatures are moderate enough to enjoy a relaxing hike or a walk around the area. The park facilities include campgrounds, picnic areas, play areas for kids, pavilions for gatherings, beaches, piers for fishing, RV storage, and boat rentals. Admission is required for day use, so be sure to visit the Lake Lurleen State Park website to learn more about admission prices and the rules and regulations of using the park’s facilities on a daily basis.
Located about 13 miles south of the City of Tuscaloosa is the Moundville Archaeological Park, one of the most prominent Native American heritage sites in modern-day North America. This park was once the location of the largest city north of modern-day Mexico and was home to the Mississippian tribe of Native Americans. On this 326-acre preservation, 800 years ago, the Mississippian tribe celebrated with festivals and ceremonies, sites of which are visible today for visitors! As an extension of the modern-day City of Tuscaloosa, this is a destination of great historical significance to the original peoples that inhabited our country centuries ago. This site is currently hosting the Virtual Moundville Native American Festival, a celebration of the original peoples who inhabited this land and their rich culture that survives to this day. Joining in on the festival is a beautiful opportunity to learn more about an ancient civilization that thrived and prospered only a short distance away from Tuscaloosa!
Written by: Will Baggett
Edited by: Jamie Hoven
The City of Tuscaloosa is one of the most picturesque college towns in the South, and there is no question as to why! Denny Chimes, the Black Warrior River, and Woods Quad are only a few of the beautiful locations around the city that are perfect for photography and social media content. We have pulled together a list of 10 spots in and around the City of Tuscaloosa that are sure to spice up your photo album and give your social media feed a boost!
- Empty Lot between Monarch and Alcove
At first glance, visiting the lot between Monarch Espresso Bar and Alcove Bar may not seem to be the right location for an Instagram photoshoot, but with the right ideas, it can make your followers do a double take! The lot between Monarch and Alcove is vacant and is mostly used for outdoor seating, but there is an abundance of exposed brick, just waiting to be used as a backdrop. This brick background along with the greenery of the area offers just the right amount of rustic aesthetic that your following won’t begin to believe you are just blocks away from Downtown Tuscaloosa!
- Grace Aberdean Habitat Alchemy Mural
Located at the corner of 9th Street and 22nd Avenue in Downtown Tuscaloosa is a furniture store: Grace Aberdean Habitat Alchemy. This delightful furniture shop is local and community-oriented, serving the purpose of selling vintage and recycled furniture in an expressive and frugal way. However, for a unique and exciting new addition to your social media repertoire, check out the mural located on the side of the shop’s building! The mural is painted on an exposed brick wall, so it has the added benefit of being rustic and artsy at the same time, adding an interesting subject to your photography.
- Old Bama Logo on the Side of Gas Station
If you are looking for a unique setting for your upcoming Instagram post, but want to keep rolling out your support of the Crimson Tide, take a quick trip out to Skyland Boulevard near the Walmart Neighborhood Market (not the Walmart Supercenter). Located across the street from the Neighborhood Market store is a gas station that features a mural of an old Alabama Athletics logo that is nothing short of a masterpiece. Timing is crucial for this backdrop as it is located in the parking lot and your shot might be obscured by a car or two. Once the timing is right, get your shots in and show off your Tide Pride!
- Kentuck’s Green Fence
In Historic Northport near the Kentuck Art Center, there is a bright green fence along the side of the sidewalk between two buildings that sticks out among the historic and rustic feel of the area. This fence, adorned with a snake-like decoration, is a delightful backdrop to use when looking for your next Instagram post! The sweet, lime green backdrop of this fence is perfect for showing off multi-colored outfits and high energy subjects to complement its unique location amidst historic buildings. Be careful taking pictures in this spot due to the proximity to the busy road in and out of Northport!
- Private Parking Deck on Greensboro
Located just off Greensboro Avenue by Five Bar is a private parking deck that services patrons of all the nearby businesses and restaurants, but why not use it as the setting of your next Instagram post? This space offers an unexpected backdrop to your social media content, but its unexpected nature is its distinctiveness! The walls feature red stenciled writing over the spaces,
- Walkway between Bryant Conference Center and Alumni Hall
Hidden among two university buildings towards the edge of campus, this spot between Bryant Conference Center and Alumni Hall is a secluded area with trees, grass, and benches for a variety of potential Instagram-worthy pictures. This area between the buildings provides a more private space to share everyday pictures of yourself and friends, without having the ordeal of others walking in and around your shot! This spot is also a great place to experiment with shadows in your photos, given that it is located between buildings and has a number of trees in the area, so be creative!
- Shelby Hall corridor
Shelby Quad is one of the most picturesque spots on the University of Alabama campus. It only makes sense that the interior areas of Shelby Hall would also offer beautiful new perspectives to mix into your social media feed. Walking into the front lobby of Shelby Hall, you are welcomed by a massive lobby that is already photo-worthy, but as you explore more into the building, you will discover the corridors throughout the building and between buildings that provide incredible framing for anything from graduation pictures to simple everyday Instagram posts!
- The Westervelt Company
The headquarters of The Westervelt Company is one of the more unique spots to find around the Tuscaloosa area. This is because it is a fully-designed, elaborate Japanese garden! The Japanese gardens at the Westervelt Company were designed and built by the previous occupying company’s president, Jack Warner, who returned from World War 2 having been enamored with the architecture and design of Japan. The Japanese gardens and accompanying buildings are currently used as the headquarters of The Westervelt Company, but double as a beautiful expression of Japanese architecture and design that will take your photography and Instagram feeds all the way to Japan!
- Marr’s Spring
Located behind B.B. Comer Hall and the Ferguson Student Center is Marr’s Spring, a small park with a pathway through it where peace and quiet can be found amidst the chaos of the University of Alabama campus. This park features a small pond and a bridge over two cisterns, surrounded by a number of towering trees, offering a natural setting in the middle of campus away from the hustle and bustle of the campus. Discover how beautiful this area is for photography and social media content by visiting at Golden Hour or even on a peaceful, rainy day!
- Lake Harris Dam Trail
For those who are looking to get outdoors for their photography and social media content, the Waterfall Branch Trail is a wonderfully obscure option! This trail is located Northeast of town on Lake Harris and if you follow along the hiking trail there, you will find the wonderful backdrop of nature for your Fall photos as we get later and later into the year. In addition to the trails through the woods, the views of Lake Harris also make for picturesque backdrops!
Written By: Will Baggett
Edited By: Jamie Hoven
Summer is winding down and so are the temperatures, which means the outdoors are calling our names! Getting outdoors is important as we navigate our increasingly-virtual lifestyles thanks to COVID-19, so we figured we would compile a list of outdoor adventures for you to discover around Tuscaloosa. This city is a beautiful landscape that only gets better as Autumn starts to sweep across the country, elevating already beautiful outdoor destinations into breathtaking views! Whether you are looking to wind down with an outdoor picnic or take an adventure hiking through the fall foliage, check out this list of outdoor adventures around Tuscaloosa!
- Lake Harris
Lake Harris is one of the many nearby lakes that offers an incredible setting for a number of different outdoor activities. There are plenty of picnic areas and a beach, where one might spread out a blanket to enjoy their lunch or simply take in the scene. In addition to these spots, there are a number of trees gathered close by the bank, perfect for setting up a cozy hammock! For those who are looking to stay active, there is a 1.76-mile hike around the lake through the trees. As the weather cools down, this area will become a peaceful gathering place for all who wish to experience some of Tuscaloosa’s many hidden gems.
2. Bower’s Park
Bower’s Park is a nearby public park that offers quite a few activity opportunities, like a disc golf course or several fields for rent. Not much different from regular golf, disc golf is an active way to stay busy on a delightful weekend outside! Those looking to get into this sport need to be sure and purchase discs ahead of time, however. As far as a field for rent, Bower’s Park has a number of different fields, baseball/softball or multipurpose, that can be rented out for a small gathering of friends to safely play a pickup game of baseball, softball, and more! Before visiting Bower’s Park, be sure to bring along a mask in case of other visitors.
Offering a serene view of the Black Warrior River, the Riverwalk is also the place to hammock, picnic, or relax! There are numerous picnic tables, benches, and gazebos to provide a comfortable environment, allowing you to get the most out of your experience with the great outdoors of T-Town. Let your mind take a rest from all the hustle and bustle of everyday life. If you are looking to work up a sweat and take advantage of the cooler temperatures, there is also a running path along the Riverwalk to enjoy in the morning or throughout the day. In addition to these activities, the Riverwalk is located close to a number of restaurants to enjoy either at the start or at the end of a delightful Autumn day, like Market House Boutique, Another Broken Egg, and River. Be sure to carry a mask with you for safety if you intend to visit any of the restaurants or businesses on the Riverwalk!
4. Civil Rights Trail
As Summer draws to a close and temperatures start to drop, it is prime time to spend the day outside walking around and exploring new places. Among the many adventures that await in Tuscaloosa is the Civil Rights Trail, where anyone has the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of history and learn about how the Civil Rights Movement shaped the City of Tuscaloosa. Located primarily in Downtown Tuscaloosa, this trail is perfect for staying active and demonstrates a profound learning opportunity for those who are not aware of the history of Tuscaloosa. Thanks to its proximity to Downtown Tuscaloosa, the Civil Rights Trail is also a good opportunity to discover local dining options, such as Reggae Flava and Brummi’s Yummies. For more T-Town treasures along the trail check out the official guide here.
5. Government Plaza
If you are looking for a versatile area that offers safe ways to enjoy this city then the Government Plaza is the spot for you. Located in the heart of downtown, this 5-acre park makes social distancing a breeze. Enjoy the crisp Autumn air while diving into a good book from Ernest and Hadley, grubbing on delicious Heat pizza, sipping on some Monarch coffee, or maybe even unwinding with your favorite yoga flow. After months on end of being trapped inside now is the time to relax and appreciate nature in all its wonder. If you want your furry friend to tag along, the sidewalks surrounding the park makes for the perfect path for dog-walking.
6. Lake Tuscaloosa
This local hangout has everything you need for an unforgettable lake day with friends and family. Lake Tuscaloosa has earned its reputation as the perfect fishing spot with bass, sunfish, crappie, and more. If fishing isn’t for you, stand on the shore, hike the lake’s cliffs, take in the captivating views, or dip into the refreshing water! You are bound to have a blast in this comfortable weather. Only a short drive from the city, this lake makes pairing a morning out in nature and Rama Jama’s iconic Southern breakfast unbelievably easy.
Written By: Will Baggett
Edited By: Jamie Hoven
Safety is the top priority for returning to campus, but that does not mean sacrificing the ability to enjoy yourself and to enjoy new experiences, especially in the City of Tuscaloosa. There are plenty of ways to maintain a safe, physical distance while also enjoying what Tuscaloosa has to offer, whether it be the scenic views, rich history, or the one-of-a-kind businesses and restaurant culture of this city. Below, we have compiled a list of ways to stay socially active while also being socially distanced!
The different lakes located around Tuscaloosa have been a regular relaxation spot for students over the years. In order to have a fun and peaceful time, visiting one of the nearby lakes is a modern time twist on a classic activity for UA students. These lakes are not only wonderful places to swim and rent kayaks for, but they are also a peaceful spot to read a book and enjoy the nature of the Tuscaloosa area. What better way to substitute a library table or a lakeside picnic table? These lakes offer services that allow you to either rent paddleboards for the day, paddle your own kayak around to the different scenic spots along the lakefront, or layout at the beach to continue working on your summer tan! The most popular lakes around the City of Tuscaloosa to check out are Lake Lurleen, Lake Nicol, and Lake Tuscaloosa.
Civil Rights Walk
The City of Tuscaloosa has a history intertwined with the Civil Rights movement, and there is a presence of that history all around Downtown Tuscaloosa. Traveling through history along the Civil Rights Walk is a way to stay active outdoors and be proactive about the history and importance of the Civil Rights Movement to our city. Visit (website) to locate the markers located around Downtown Tuscaloosa and learn more about the lasting impact that the Civil Rights Movement has made on the history and people of the City of Tuscaloosa. Visit here to learn more about the Civil Rights Trail of Tuscaloosa and how you can find more and more resources regarding the Civil Rights Movement in Tuscaloosa.
Historic Downtown Tuscaloosa
Downtown Tuscaloosa is a relaxing area of town where anyone is free to walk around and wander from door to door to find something they feel drawn to. There are numerous boutique stores and businesses where eclectic finds are inevitable. If you’re looking for a new wardrobe, or maybe just some refreshing new pieces, check out Pause Boutique, Effie’s Inc., or Pants Store! Walking around Downtown Tuscaloosa is a peaceful yet adventurous activity for all to find unique local while staying active after months of quarantine. However, Downtown Tuscaloosa does feature a lot of locations that would require entering a building, so be sure to pack a mask and be safe when visiting indoor storefronts and shops.
Self-Guided UA Tour
The University of Alabama has a rich history that every student and resident of Tuscaloosa ought to learn and become familiar with. At the heart of it all is The Quad, which is filled to the brim with its own history but also offers one of the most picturesque areas of campus. A refreshing way to stay connected to the culture of the university while maintaining physical distancing outdoors is to take a stroll around the University of Alabama campus and soaking in the history of the many buildings and locations. Many locations, including the ones located on the Quad, include historical markers that indicate the historic significance of their existence (or previous existence) and offer a glimpse into what truly defines this university.
Enjoy the scenic nature of the Black Warrior River from the comfort of a relaxing hammock or a light jog along the riverfront. The Riverwalk is 4.2 miles of a paved trail that offers visitors a place to enjoy the outdoors in a way that is safe and distanced from others, and versatile enough that anyone can find themselves enjoying an afternoon out and about. The Riverwalk is a great place to go on a quick run, exercise on a bike, and walk your dog, plus offers serene and scenic spots for reading a nice book or enjoying a delicious picnic. Whether you are wanting to stay physically active through exercise and movement or if you are wanting to simply sit outdoors and soak in the sunlight and fresh air, the Riverwalk is a must-do.
Golf and Disc Golf
In order to stay distanced while remaining active, certain sports offer more distanced situations than others, like golf or disc golf. There are several public golf course options located near Tuscaloosa including Ol’ Colony, North River Yacht Club, The Links at Tuscaloosa, Indian Hills Country Club, Tall Pines, and Hidden Meadows. Each of these courses is available on weekends and offers a variety of offerings to satisfy the most serious players and to welcome the more introductory players. If you are more of a disc golfer than a traditional golfer, Bower’s Park is the place to be, thanks to a full 18-hole course primarily located on wooded terrain and featuring beginner and professional tees for players of all skill ranges! Whether you are driving a golf ball or a disc, these activities are a safe way to get back into the swing of things!
A staple of campus life is enjoying the food trucks that make their way onto campus or throughout Tuscaloosa. These days, food trucks are a great way to stay outdoors and distanced while also supporting local businesses of Tuscaloosa. Not only are you able to be smart about what you are eating, but you may discover a new favorite dish or new favorite dining destination! We offer a phenomenal variety with options like Catch a Taste, Aces Tuscaloosa, Cheese Louise Tuscaloosa, and Urban Cookhouse. Food trucks appear in various locations around the city, so be sure to plan ahead of time to be aware of where certain trucks will be located and what their menu will look like! Remember to wear a mask at all times except when you are eating in order to maximize caution and ensure the safety of yourselves and those around you.
Local Farmers Markets
A health-conscious and locally-oriented outdoor activity that everyone can take advantage of is enjoying a farmers market. In Tuscaloosa, a few wonderful options for outdoor farmers markets are Homegrown Alabama Farmers Market, Ingram Farms, Northport Farmers Market, and the Curbside Farmers Market. Shopping at a farmers market can expose you to new flavors to up your cooking game, and they support the local farmers that stock the markets. Be sure to wear a mask while visiting local farmers markets for the health and safety of yourself and the vendors working the markets!
Written by: Will Baggett
The Fourth of July is (almost) here! Time to enjoy the long weekend of burgers and hot dogs on the grill, sunshine, music, boats, fireworks, bonfires, friends, and family! While this year may look a little different, this holiday can provide some much-needed relaxation from the mental stresses of daily, routine life, especially in 2020. Not sure how to spend your weekend in the one and only Tuscaloosa? No worries, we have gathered some ideas below to help you make the most of Independence Day weekend.
It wouldn’t be a Fourth of July celebration without fireworks, and the City of Tuscaloosa is putting on a show that is viewable from downtown at 9 p.m. this Saturday! Free parking is available for all viewers at the Tuscaloosa amphitheater and the Intermodal Facility parking deck. Be sure to tune in to local Tuscaloosa radio stations to listen to live music accompanying the spectacular show. The Tuscaloosa fire department urges leaving the performances to professionals.
Wide Open Spaces
Another major component of celebrating the Fourth is basking in the glorious summer sun. Tuscaloosa is the perfect place to relax in the great outdoors with so many beautiful lakes, rivers, and parks. Lake Tuscaloosa has everything you need for a traditional family lake day, whether you boat, fish, or swim. You and the entire family are bound to have an unforgettable Fourth celebration at this local hangout. Another option is Lake Nicol, a man-made lake with a slew of trails that meander to captivating Cliffside views. These ledges make for a perfect spot to get away from it all in under a 15-min drive. Take in the picturesque waters on a paddleboard or admire the serene views while hiking in one of the most secluded and naturally beautiful places in the city.
Picnic Like a Pro
If you aren’t up for this adventure, pack a bag and enjoy a picnic on the captivating campus of The University of Alabama! Waitr also has offered a 50% off delivery special this weekend! Take advantage of this phenomenal deal and order from your favorite local restaurants! Whether you choose a juicy burger from Rama Jama’s, the game-changing wings from Catfish Heaven, or an unforgettable Chipotle Marinated Pork Tenderloin from Southern Ale House! For dessert, check out The Whimsey Cookie’s adorable and delicious Fourth of July Cookie Set.
If you need a cool down from the Alabama heat, stop by Las Piñas on McFarland Blvd for some homemade ice cream, chili powder popsicles, or fresh street corn! This family-owned business brings a modern twist to the classic ice cream shops. They serve 100% homemade frozen treats and snacks with the combination of Mexican and American flavors! If snow cones are more your style, Summer Snow is the perfect spot for you! With over sixty flavors to try, this shaved ice shop has proven itself as a staple within this community.
It’s safe to say that Tuscaloosa is a big city, and like any busy area, there are so many unique areas that make it special. With so many different sides to explore, we wanted to take you on a virtual tour and highlight everything that this city has to offer. Join us as we guide you through Tuscaloosa and show you what makes our city the One and Only!
Downtown Tuscaloosa is the perfect area if you’re looking to shop, eat, or just hang out! With a variety of different local businesses to explore, the area is a hub for entertainment.
Shop: The Pants Store is one of the best downtown destinations for men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories. With name brands like Carhartt, Steve Madden, Quay, Yeti, and more, you’re sure to find something stylish at an affordable price. Find the Pants Store on University Boulevard and get shopping!
Eat: Located on Greensboro Avenue, Central Mesa is the downtown destination for Mexican food with a unique twist. Their dishes include hot chicken tacos and spinach and mushroom quesadillas, but more traditional salads and sandwiches are also on the menu. Central Mesa also has a wide selection of beverages, including specialty cocktails and happy hour specials.
Hang out: If you’re looking for a spot to grab a drink and relax, look no further than Tavern 1831! Situated just off of University Boulevard behind Depalma’s, Tavern 1831 offers a variety of craft beer, mixed drinks, seltzers, and specialty shots. There’s never a cover charge, so feel free to stop in and cool off with one of their daily happy hour specials!
By the River
The Black Warrior River is one of Tuscaloosa’s most scenic locations. Whether you’re looking to get active or simply visiting for the beautiful views, this local favorite has something to satisfy everyone.
Eat: River is one of Tuscaloosa’s best fine-dining establishments. Located on the banks of the Black Warrior River off of Jack Warner Parkway, River serves steaks, seafood, salads, and more. They also offer deals on wine, draft beers, and specialty cocktails during happy hour. If you’re looking to enjoy fine dining with beautiful riverfront views, River is the perfect spot!
Shop: If you’re looking for the latest in women’s fashion, stop by Market House Boutique! With an array of women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories, you’re sure to find something for your next night in or out. Market House Boutique offers more than just clothes; pick up something for your home while you’re there!
Hang out: The Riverwalk is the perfect place to spend a summer evening in Tuscaloosa! Located off of Jack Warner Parkway, The Riverwalk is a paved walking trail that spans over 4.5 miles of the southern bank of the Black Warrior River. Walk along the path, take a jog, or sit on a bench and take in the spectacular views!
Off the Beaten Path
Being in the city is great, but there are just as many places to explore that are only a short drive from the main part of Tuscaloosa!
Eat: Nick’s in the Sticks has been family owned and operated since 1953, and it’s fair to say that this local favorite is a hidden gem. Nick’s in the Sticks is best known for their delicious steaks, giant onion rings, and their famous drink, The Nicodemus. Visitors love the restaurant’s atmosphere and high-quality service. Don’t forget to bring a dollar to sign and add to the collection on the restaurant’s ceiling!
Hang out: Tuscaloosa has tons of parks that are situated on the outskirts of town. Hurricane Creek Park is one of these! Located off of Old Birmingham Highway, this spot is a local favorite for outdoor activities such as swimming and hiking. If you’re feeling bold, try kayaking down the creek, or feel free to simply relax on the banks and take in the park’s natural beauty!
Let’s face it: because of the coronavirus pandemic, vacationing likely looks a bit different for everyone. Thankfully, there are other options. A staycation means you can still spend a weekend away from home without ever having to leave the city, and planning one is easy in Tuscaloosa! With so many local restaurants, shops, and unique locations to enjoy, there’s no shortage of things to do. We’ve compiled a schedule below to help you plan your next Tuscaloosa staycation!
Located in the heart of downtown and only a short walk from lots of bars and restaurants downtown, Home2 Suites is a beautiful hotel with a modern atmosphere. With a spectacular view of the downtown Tuscaloosa nightlife, there are several amenities that make this hotel a top choice. Enjoy free, hot breakfast, free wi-fi, free parking, and the indoor pool!
Candlewood Suites is another fine hotel for your weekend staycation. With a convenient location near Interstates 20 and 59, you can check out one of Tuscaloosa’s many attractions including The University of Alabama campus, a plethora of museums, nature trails, and plenty of unique shops! Experience top-notch customer service, spotless rooms, luxurious beds, and a great pool! Enjoy all that this special hotel has to offer by making a reservation online today!
Along the banks of the Black Warrior River and just minutes away from campus and downtown, enjoy a breathtaking view at Residence Inn on Rice Mine Loop. This hotel is devoted to giving guests an amazing experience from start to finish, including great amenities like complimentary Wi-Fi, a free breakfast buffet, complimentary grocery delivery service, a grilling patio with fire pits, 24-hour fitness center, and an indoor pool. This hotel is also pet-friendly, so bring along the whole family for this staycation!
Out and About
If you’re looking to spend some time in the great outdoors this weekend, look no further than Lake Lurleen. The park is located only 20 minutes outside of town, and visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, swimming, fishing, kayaking, just to name a few. Lake Lurleen is also known for its birding trails, and don’t forget to stop by the park’s Nature Center to learn more about the region’s plants and wildlife!
Sokol Park is another outdoor spot that’s perfect for a weekend afternoon. The park is located a short drive from Tuscaloosa in Northport. Sokol Park offers a wide variety of facilities, including multipurpose fields, bike trails, and a track. There’s also a dog park if you want to bring your favorite furry friend!
If shopping is more your speed, Earnest & Hadley Booksellers is a hidden Tuscaloosa gem. With a wide selection of used, new, and collectible books for sale, you’re sure to find the perfect one for you! Earnest & Hadley also offers books from local authors, including fiction and nonfiction works. Stop by the store today, or shop online if you’re looking to social distance!
For a laid-back dining experience, GloryBound in downtown Tuscaloosa is a local favorite. With over 15 types of gyros to choose from, including chicken bacon ranch, surf-n-turf, and veggie, this restaurant can satisfy any craving! In 2014 & 2015 Restaurant Hospitality ranked the pepperjack gyro as one of the best sandwiches in America! Enjoy the juicy rotisserie seared beef and lamb wrapped with lettuce and onions topped with pepperjack cheese, crispy bacon, and phenomenal comeback sauce!
If you’re interested in fine dining in a classy atmosphere, stop by R. Davidson Chophouse! This restaurant is located downtown and has a number of sophisticated dishes. From jumbo lump crab cakes to the RD Chophouse burger, their expansive menu ensures that there’s something for everyone! Make your reservation online on their website, or order takeout if you’d prefer to eat at home.
Out on the Town
If you’re looking for a sweet treat, Brummi’s Yummies is open downtown and ready to serve you some of their homemade baked goods! Custom cakes and cupcakes are their specialties, but banana pudding, cheesecakes, and brownies are also available. No matter what you’re in the mood for, Brummi’s Yummies is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth!
If you’re looking for after-dinner drinks this weekend, drop by Nocturnal Tavern! This local gothic-styled club/bar is located in the dark little corner of Tuscaloosa. Enjoy the mysterious atmosphere and Victorian-style as you choose between domestic and imported beverages, as well as a variety of mixed drinks. They open at 5:00 p.m., so don’t hesitate to get the party started a little earlier this weekend.
Summer is officially here, and there’s no better place to spend it than Tuscaloosa! With a variety of local businesses ready to help you make the most of these long, hot days, there’s always something to explore. Check out these options and make the most of your summer in the One and Only Tuscaloosa!
Snow Cones: Snow cones are some of the best summer treats around! To help you battle the heat, stop by Summer Snow. This shaved ice shop on University Boulevard has been serving the Tuscaloosa community since 1988, and their unique assortment of flavors is sure to satisfy any palette! Try the refreshing pink lemonade, or let your taste buds escape to a tropical paradise with coconut. Summer Snow is iconic to the city of Tuscaloosa, so come prepared to enjoy all that this local favorite has to offer.
Ice cream: If ice cream is more your speed, stop by Ingram Farms to grab a scoop or two! The produce stand is located a short drive from Tuscaloosa in Northport. Ingram Farms offers a variety of flavors of Mayfield and Blue Bell ice cream as well as local creations, including specialty blends such as orange pineapple. Don’t forget to pick up some locally grown fruits and veggies while you’re there!
Milkshakes: Rama Jama’s is known for its burgers and hot dogs, but did you know that they also offer milkshakes? Located conveniently near The University of Alabama’s campus, Rama Jama’s has been a part of Tuscaloosa’s restaurant scene for decades. Their milkshake selection includes flavors such as caramel, cherry, strawberry, and Oreo, just to name a few. Stop by today and enjoy a cold treat from this uniquely local spot!
Water you waiting for?
Paddleboarding: Water sports are a great way to catch a break from the summer heat. If you’re interested in getting active, try paddleboarding! Tuscaloosa Paddleboarding offers board rentals at the docks by Riverwalk Condominiums and at Lake Nicol Park. Boards are just $20 an hour, but daily rates and group rates for parties of four and over are also available. Call ahead to make a reservation today!
Fishing: Fishing is a popular activity that the whole family can enjoy this summer. Luckily, Lake Tuscaloosa is only a short drive from the city, meaning the perfect fishing spot isn’t far from home! Bass, sunfish, crappie, and more populate the lake’s waters. Stand on the shore, perch on the lake’s cliffs, or take a boat out on the water and see what you can catch!
Swimming: Swimming is one of the first summer activities that come to mind, and Hurricane Creek Park is the perfect place to take a dip! Located off of Old Birmingham Highway, this spot is a Tuscaloosa favorite for outdoor activities of all kinds. Along with swimming, visitors can hike, kayak, or simply sit along the shore and enjoy the park’s unspoiled natural beauty.
Dinner: Located on the banks of the Black Warrior River, River is perfect for a delicious dinner in a beautiful setting. Located a short drive from downtown along the Riverwalk, River’s menu includes steaks, seafood, salads, and flatbreads. Check their website for their happy hour menu, which offers deals on wine, draft beers, and specialty cocktails. Whether for a nice family dinner or a romantic evening out, River is the perfect spot to spend a summer evening!
Drinks: If you’re in the mood for a laid-back and fun atmosphere, look no further than Loosa Brews! Doubling as both a retail store and a full-service bar, Loosa offers dozens of local craft beers and mainstream favorites on draft. Bring quarters and enjoy some friendly competition with their wide selection of arcade and pinball machines! If you’re looking to stay in, call and order a growler or choose from their wide selection of packaged beers and wines.
Get ready for crystal clear skies and sunny days this weekend in Tuscaloosa! Now is the perfect time to explore the unique, local gems of this incredible city. Whether you are savoring brunch at a local cafe, capturing a captivating view of Black Warrior River, or rocking out to some live music at your favorite bar, this town has what you need to make this weekend unforgettable.
The River Market
Visit the Tuscaloosa River Market Saturday for fresh, local produce and homemade goodies. Check out Savory Occasions table for warm bread pudding, or cool down with Tori’s Water Ice snow cones with flavors like tropical rainbow, green apple, cherry, pineapple, blue raspberry, and mango. Curbside pick-up is still available for select vendors. If you plan to attend, don’t forget your facemask! You will not be able to shop the market without it.
Double down on tunes this weekend at Alcove International! Make plans Friday for the sweet sounds of SouthTown starting at 10 PM. They cover classic rock, blues, and dance songs. Saturday night get ready for some rock and roll performed by Non-GMO at 10 PM.
You can catch The Brick and Hubba Show at Rhythm and Brews tonight, and Carson Carlisle Saturday at 10 PM!
If you don’t feel like spending money, The Actor’s Charitable Theatre (ACT) will present a free concert in Capitol Park tonight at 7 PM! Come check it out for a night of live entertainment with your family and friends!
The Great Outdoors
Balance yourself and rent a paddleboard at Lake Nicol! What better way to soak up the rays? Tuscaloosa Paddleboard provides high-quality YOLO boards, and guaranteed fun. This is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and simultaneously get in a great workout! Plus, the view is a spectacular bonus. If you’d rather stay on dry land, check out their local trails and explore the beauty that Tuscaloosa has to offer. Pack a lunch and a picnic blanket to make the most out of these warm summer days.
Try Something New
Grab your brunch crew and head over to Another Broken Egg to enjoy their brand-new menu! Start off with sweet beignets with orange marmalade sauce, and a refreshing summertime cocktail. The Watermelon Cucumber Cooler is the perfect treat for a beautiful weekend!
If you are craving something a little more Southern and traditional, we’ve got the perfect place for you! Mae’s Southern Café uses authentic family recipes for every dish. Need help deciding what to order? Mae’s is famous for their fall off the bone ribs, smoked for 3 hours, and worth every bite! You can’t complete a southern meal without Mae’s sweet tea. Brewed, steeped, and sweetened to perfection every time.