The “Druid city” – named because of all of the massive water oak trees planted in the 1940s and the name of the ancient Celtic people who worshipped oaks!
This is the proud home to the University of Alabama, the fifth largest city in Alabama, and a true example of the hospitality of the Deep South.
It’s a place where you live and die by the results of your hometown football team, where you can cruise down the open road with the vast blue sky in front of you, and where the brown brick of the campus buildings somehow seem to shine in the autumn sun.
Whether you’re coming to Tuscaloosa because of a friend, child, or relative at the University of Alabama or you’re just planning on cheering on your team, this guide to the best things to do in Tuscaloosa will help shed some light on when and where you should spend your time in this friendly city.
What to Pack for Tuscaloosa
The first thing to pack for Tuscaloosa is always your travel insurance documents.
If this is an overnight trip that includes flights, I recommend purchasing insurance through Travel Insurance Master.
This will help cover you in case you have to cancel the trip due to illness, lose your luggage along the way, or other potential problems.
Preparing for the Weather in Tuscaloosa
When it comes to other packing, remember that Tuscaloosa is in the South!
So, for most of the year, you’ll get by just fine with shorts and T-shirts.
However, it can get colder in the winter months!
Does it Snow in Tuscaloosa Alabama?
Nope, it doesn’t quite get that cold!
At its coldest, Tuscaloosa averages a low of 34º and a high of 56º in January.
So, if you’re traveling between November and March, you’ll want to be prepared with a warm coat and some gloves, but you can leave your snowshoes at home!
Don’t Forget to Wear Your University of Alabama Apparel!
The most important thing when packing for Tuscaloosa is your University of Alabama gear!
This is another great “Roll Tide” shirt to wear around town!
How to Get Around Tuscaloosa
Don’t forget that it’s much easier to see Tuscaloosa by car so you can get around on your own!
Rental cars are perfect if you’re flying into the area.
We recommend using Discover Cars price comparison to find the cheapest deals!
Where to Stay in Tuscaloosa
There are a few considerations when it comes to booking somewhere to stay in Tuscaloosa, including budget and what part of the city you want to be in.
Here are a few suggestions of where to stay in Tuscaloosa with your family or significant other, broken down by budget.
|How to Book
|Bama Bed & Breakfast
|Historic home, beautiful
|Check availability here
|Check availability here
|Check availability here
Budget: Splashing Out ($200+ per night)
This is one of the most beautiful places to stay for any fan of the Crimson Tide!
Not only do you get a suite within this historic Alabama home, but it’s only two blocks from the stadium, and the decorations inside are in UA colors.
There’s a gorgeous lawn out back, a full breakfast included, and plenty of Southern hospitality to go around.
Even if it’s not game day, the location in proximity to the campus and the complimentary wine and cheese on arrival (oh, yes!) is more than enough reason to stay here.
Budget: Mid-Range ($100 – $200 per night)
If you want to be located downtown in Tuscaloosa, this is the hotel for you!
You’ll only be about a mile an a half away from the campus, and perfectly located for the downtown and Riverwalk attractions.
Sleek, welcoming, and with free parking (hello, score!), this hotel shines for couples and families wanting a mid-range option in Tuscaloosa.
There’s also a terrace with great views, so you’ll get to soak in the sun in between your adventures!
Budget: Uh…on one! ($100 or less per night)
Want a safe and clean place to sleep in Tuscaloosa that won’t break the bank?
Rodeway Inn has got you covered!
For a budget hotel, it has amazing modern rooms, a free hot breakfast, close location to the highway (but no road noise) and, by all accounts, one of the best budget hotel showers ever.
Iconic Things to Do in Tuscaloosa
Some of the best things to do in Tuscaloosa are on this list because they’re the ultimate must-dos.
Many of these fun Tuscaloosa activities are time-honored traditions and on the Tuscaloosa “bucketlist”.
Which ones will you tackle on your visit to Tuscaloosa?
1. Wander along the Riverwalk
The Black Warrior River flows through the heart of Tuscaloosa, and next to it is a paved walking and running path that stretches almost five miles.
The Riverwalk is constantly filled with local residents and visitors of all abilities enjoying a nice stroll by the river, or getting their heart rate up with some fast-paced biking or running.
There are also benches lined up along the path, so if you want to pack a snack and enjoy watching the world go by and the river flow on, you’re more than welcome to do so!
This is a great way to get around in Tuscaloosa when you want to stretch your legs and see more of what natural Tuscaloosa has to offer.
2. Explore the University of Alabama Campus
It’s no secret that the University of Alabama campus is one of the major heartbeats of Tuscaloosa, and they not only tolerate visitors, but welcome them!
This campus has consistently been ranked as one of the most beautiful colleges in all of America, and it’s not hard to see why.
From the gorgeous exterior of the President’s Mansion (the white columns seem to go on for days), to the softly rustling trees in Woods Quad, you’re spoiled for choice in Instagram-able backdrops and Alabama history everywhere you turn.
Visitors are encouraged to park in the Campus Drive Parking Deck and make use of the Crimson Ride Bus Hub (a FREE service!) to explore campus.
3. Watch a Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium
There’s nothing like seeing a home game at Bryant-Denny Stadium!
It’s one of the absolute best things to do in Tuscaloosa.
The whole town is awash in crimson and white, and spirit is at an all-time high.
Over 100,000 fans can fit in Bryant-Denny Stadium, and even more use the campus and surrounding areas to tailgate, which really makes game day something special.
If you thought you knew what team pride was, you’re about to be blown away by the pride of the South and the fierceness with which Bama fans celebrate!
You’ll want to plan your route ahead of time on game day, making sure to have a Gameday permit and an idea of where to park.
Multiple streets are closed off, and the entire main campus area is shut to thru traffic three hours before kick-off, so be sure to plan ahead so you don’t miss the start!
4. Follow the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Trail
The Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History Trail is a guided tour that takes visitors through the city’s important landmarks related to the civil rights movement.
This trail is an essential way to learn about the local history and the struggles of the African American community in Tuscaloosa.
It is an immersive experience that provides visitors with a better understanding of the impact of the civil rights movement on the city and the country as a whole.
The trail begins at the historic Tuscaloosa County Courthouse, where many civil rights cases were tried.
This courthouse played a significant role in the civil rights movement, particularly in the case of Autherine Lucy, the first African American student to enroll at the University of Alabama.
The courthouse also served as a focal point for civil rights protests in the 1960s.
Just over ten miles south of Tuscaloosa is one of the most interesting and historic areas of all of Alabama.
If you’re thinking of pristine mansions or buildings dating back to the Civil War, go further into the past!
This is a Native American heritage site that was home to a prehistoric community settled 800 years ago.
During that time, Mississippian people built over 20 mounds around a main central hub, which served both as homes and ceremonial spaces.
Together, they built the area to be what once was America’s largest city north of Mexico – over 300 acres!
Today, visitors can enjoy gorgeous views of these mounds, as well as an on-site museum that showcases some of the treasures found here.
There are also some gorgeous nature trails and places for a picnic, so you can enjoy the outdoors!
Things to Do in Tuscaloosa for Kids
You don’t have to be a college student to appreciate Tuscaloosa!
It’s got plenty to do for kids of all ages – with some Tuscaloosa attractions specifically for them, and others that the entire family can enjoy together.
Here are the best kid’s activities in Tuscaloosa to add to your Tuscaloosa itinerary.
In Smith Hall on the UA campus, you’ll find a treasure trove of natural specimens and information about Alabama’s ancient past – including fossils and dinosaur facts sure to delight kids of all ages!
The Alabama Museum of Natural History is dedicated to preserving the work and legacy of Dr. Eugene Allen Smith, who was the state geologist for almost 40 years.
In addition to regular museum offerings for the grown-ups, the museum has interactive exhibits that are sure to excite younger visitors.
Visit in the summer to enroll your middle-schooler in a week-long Fossil Camp, or attend a Junior Naturalist day program with your K-5 aged kid(s)!
7. Bear Bryant Museum
I’ve included the Bear Bryant Museum in the best thing to do in Tuscaloosa with kids because there’s nothing more special to an Alabama fan than bringing their kids up to love the same team they do!
Dedicated to Alabama’s legendary coach Bear Bryant, this museum takes visitors through the history of Alabama football and celebrates all things crimson!
In addition to seeing physical artifacts, like jerseys and a replica of Bryant’s office, there’s also a research room where all of Alabama’s games can be watched.
Visiting this museum is a perfect way for your family to gain even more appreciation for your favorite college team and the famous names who made it what it is today!
8. Children’s Hands-On Museum of Tuscaloosa
Run, don’t walk, to the Children’s Hands-On Museum – one of the best Tuscaloosa places to visit if you’ve got kids from the ages of 0-13!
This fascinating museum is dedicated to helping kids learn through play, and they’ve got an amazing array of exhibits where kids can immerse themselves in new worlds.
From pretending to be a doctor and learning about labs, to driving tractors on the farm and selling produce at the Farmer’s Market, there are so many different nooks and crannies for their imagination to run wild!
The museum also holds regular kid’s events throughout the year, including holiday crafts, storytelling times, New Year’s Eve for kids, and more.
9. Go Camping in Lake Lurleen State Park
Quick, ditch the iPads and pile all of the kids in the car to head to Lake Lurleen State Park!
There, you can spend some blissful family days hanging out with each other in nature, disconnected from the outside world.
Lake Lurleen State Park is about nine miles from Tuscaloosa and has almost 2,000 acres to explore, set on the lovely Lake Lurleen.
In addition to walking, hiking, and biking trails to let everyone blow off some steam, you’ll also find water-based activities like fishing and paddleboating on the lake, as well as play areas.
There are modern campsites with water and electric hook-ups, so you can get out in nature while still being comfortable.
10. Check out the Tuscaloosa Public Library
No matter the time of year, the Tuscaloosa Public Library is one of the best places in Tuscaloosa to go with kids who need a bit of air conditioning and a lot of entertainment!
Of course, you can just come to browse the children’s sections and let them get lost in a good chapter book.
But even better, the library holds kid’s events throughout the week to engage the local kid’s community in reading and learning!
If you’ve got a baby or toddler, there are weekly storytime activities where you can join your child and listen to some age-appropriate tales and meet new friends.
For the elementary set, they’ve got some hands-on fun like LEGO building and crafts.
Even tweens and teens can get involved at the library, with creative writing events dedicated to expanding their imagination and helping them follow their writing dreams for the budding authors out there!
11. Beat the Heat with Ice Cream
Let’s face it.
Tuscaloosa can get hot.
Like, your face is melting hot.
But never fear!
When you’ve got kids complaining of the heat and wanting something cold to eat, you should head to Frost Bite Tuscaloosa.
This amazing ice cream shop has everything from rolled ice cream (totally in these days), to banana splits, to vegan ice cream, to “build your own” options for you to dump those delicious toppings all over your treats!
You can also have your birthday party hosted there, where you and your guests can make your own ice cream.
I know this section is all about the kids, but – hint, hint, adults: turning older has never been more fun!
What to Do in Tuscaloosa at Night
Tuscaloosa certainly doesn’t shut down as soon as the sun sets.
In fact, there’s plenty of nightlife and nighttime entertainment like plays and concert venues to keep you out of the house until way past your bedtime (if that’s the sort of thing you’re into).
Here’s a round-up of some of my favorite things to do in Tuscaloosa after dark.
12. Visit the Bama Theater
This historic Tuscaloosa location is on the U.S National Register of Historic Places and was originally built around 1937 as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
The exterior was done in an Art Deco style, popular of the period, and the interior had a “lavish” design, including clouds and stars on the ceiling!
Today, Bama Theater is Tuscaloosa’s Performing Art Center, and they often put on films, theatre shows, and dance events.
Step inside and you’ll also notice the beautifully painted murals by Navino Nataloni, which create a Mediterranean atmosphere.
13. See What’s On in the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
If your favorite headliner band is coming to town, it’s likely that you’ll see them at the largest outdoor theater in West Alabama – the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.
This amazing venue plays host to major names like The Lumineers, Brantley Gilbert, and The Avett Brothers, among others.
They also host a free 4th of July Celebration, and plenty of activities around the holidays!
14. Enjoy Craft Brews Downtown
Tuscaloosa is a college town, and with that comes a built-in audience for one of Tuscaloosa’s favorite past-times: craft beer!
When the sun goes down, you’ve got lots of options for where to try out the latest brews and hang out with friends in some of the best breweries in Tuscaloosa!
Try Black Warrior Brewing Company for nightly events like yoga, trivia, and poker and to try their extensive beer (and wine!) menu.
Or, head to Loosa Brews for their family-friendly atmosphere, live music, and pinball game room (yes, please).
15. Play Games at the Sports Pub
Combine the atmosphere of a pub with the fun of an arcade and you’ve got The Wheelhouse – Tuscaloosa’s best venue for catching up with friends and enjoying fresh food and a wide variety of drinks.
From Super Smash Bros tournaments, to beer pong, to 8 ball tournaments, The Wheelhouse is full of some of the best things to do in Tuscaloosa for adults!
16. Sing Along at the Druid City Music Hall
For a night spent in an intimate concert hall listening to your favorite acts perform live, the Druid City Music Hall is the place to be!
It’s considered to be the area’s premier live music venue for all types of genres.
Previous acts include Chris Lane, Riley Foster, Luke Bryan, Muscadine Bloodline… and the list goes on!
The acoustics are excellent, and you can also book out the space for private events if you want a unique way to spend a night celebrating in Tuscaloosa.
Romantic Things to Do in Tuscaloosa
Exploring Tuscaloosa as a couple isn’t hard.
There are so many date ideas in Tuscaloosa that you could plan a whole month of activities and have something new to do each day!
Whether you’re into flowers or fast cars, here are some of the loveliest romantic things to do in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
17. The Gorgas House Museum
The University of Alabama’s oldest building, the Gorgas House, was built in 1829 and was a residence and dining hall for the University’s Steward.
Through the years, it was also used as a faculty residence and housed the Gorgas family from 1879 to 1953.
Today, this beautiful building is one of the most breathtaking things to see in Tuscaloosa!
Having survived the campus Civil War burning in the 1800s, its preservation has been a local priority.
Inside, you’ll encounter 19th-century artifacts that help give you an idea of the university’s history and that of its residents during that period in America.
The museum is open Mondays to Fridays (except university holidays), and it’s a nice way to have an on-campus date between classes or while you’re visiting Tuscaloosa.
18. Walk Hand in Hand Through the University of Alabama Arboretum
One of the most fun things to do in Tuscaloosa for couples is to visit the University of Alabama Arboretum.
Breathe some fresh air as you explore miles of walking trails in the 60 acres of this beautiful outdoor space, which focuses on plants native to Alabama.
You’ll wander through woods, see wildflowers growing, and stumble across an experimental garden hosting some rather unusual species.
There are also some greenhouses for more tropical plants that need more a more controlled atmosphere, including beautiful orchids!
This is a stunning place and a great thing to do for couples in Tuscaloosa who just want the time and space to walk and talk and take advantage of the natural beauty of Alabama.
19. Check out the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art
Looking for fun places in Tuscaloosa to explore as a couple?
Art lovers will adore the exhibitions and lectures held at the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art, run by the University of Alabama Department of Art and Art History.
This exhibition space features rotating series that shed light on UA faculty, UA graduate students, and its permanent collection of contemporary art.
Support UA and local artists by stopping by an exhibition or lecture and learning more about what they’re doing for the arts scene in Tuscaloosa!
20. Practice Your Swing on the Golf Course
Whether you already love to spend time together putting your way around a course, or you want to learn this classic sport together, Tuscaloosa has plenty of golf courses with beautiful grounds for you to hang out at!
As a matter of fact, Ol’ Colony has been ranked the best public golf course in Alabama!
It’s a full 18 holes of beautifully maintained greens and gorgeous lakes, so even the worst putter can still enjoy a nice day out in nature!
21. Take a Tour of the Mercedes-Benz Visitor Center
Take a short drive to the east of Tuscaloosa to a town called Vance, and you’ll find a massive Mercedes-Benz visitor center and plant!
One of the most interesting things to do near Tuscaloosa, you and your loved one will enjoy stopping by and dreaming about your future as Mercedes-Benz owners.
(You know, when you win the lottery, or become famous house flippers, or finally beat the house at the casino.)
The visitor center and public tours of the plant are temporarily suspended, but you can still drive up and admire the futuristic architecture and beautiful landscaping– a great backdrop for some stylish couples photos!
Check their website for updates on when they’ll re-open.
22. Enjoy Fresh Produce at the River Market
On the banks of the Black Warrior River, you’ll find one of the most romantic things to do in Tuscaloosa when the weather’s right.
Enjoy the sights and smells of the Saturday Market, which happens every Saturday between 7am and 12pm.
Support local vendors as you taste test their baked goods, fresh produce, and southern delicacies like sweet tea and boiled peanuts.
You’ll also find craft stalls and jewelry, so you can come home with a memento of your time spent together in Tuscaloosa!
23. Take a tour of the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion
The Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion is a historic antebellum home located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The mansion was built in 1859 by Robert Jemison Jr., a prominent local politician and businessman.
The architecture of the mansion is a combination of Greek Revival and Italianate styles, and it features stunning details such as hand-painted ceilings, marble fireplaces, and intricately carved woodwork.
The mansion is now open for free public tours, allowing visitors to experience the grandeur and elegance of a bygone era.
During the tour of the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion, visitors can learn about the history of the home and the Jemison family.
The Jemisons were one of the wealthiest families in Tuscaloosa and played an important role in the city’s development.
The gorgeous architecture, beautiful interior, and engaging history lesson make this one of the best free things to do in Tuscaloosa for couples – or anyone, really!
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