Tuscaloosa: Alabama Home of the Crimson Tide!

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Whenever you think about Tuscaloosa (or T-Town as it is known by locals), Alabama, the first thing that may come to mind is football and the University of Alabama. While Bama is a centerpiece of this city, there’s a lot more to discover and enjoy.

Tuscaloosa is in west-central Alabama and has a rich heritage. It is known for its southern lifestyle and a place where neighbors know neighbors. It is also a city with a view and a fun location. It’s nestled alongside the scenic Black Warrior River and offers a captivating blend of rich history and contemporary culture.

But don’t think for a minute that this is a sleepy town. It’s not! Tuscaloosa is a city with charm and vibrant activity. It’s a city that attracts young business professionals but also a place that is home to all ages. It’s Alabama’s fifth-largest city and the county seat of Tuscaloosa County.

When You Visit Tuscaloosa, Expect to Learn Something New

• The Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History & Reconciliation Foundation’s Civil Rights Trail is a compelling experience. Learn how the Rev. Thomas Linton brought positive change to the city of Tuscaloosa. The barbershop he owned was one of the central gathering places for the black community apart from churches.

  • One of the nation’s most revered Native American heritage sites, Moundville Park, is 326 acres covered in flat-topped mounds built by the Mississippian people centuries ago. A bit south of Tuscaloosa, Moundville Archaeological Park is a fascinating historical treasure.
  • Visit Capitol Park, where ruins are located of the 1800s building that served as Alabama’s Capitol.
  • Visit and enjoy the campus of the University of Alabama, founded in 1831!

One of the spots visitors like to see is the Old Tavern. Built in 1827 during Tuscaloosa’s reign as the state capital, the building originally served as a tavern and hotel on a stagecoach route through town.

It is now a museum that informs visitors about early Tuscaloosa commercial architecture and serves as the headquarters for the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society. The second oldest surviving structure in the area was built in 1828 to serve as a dining hall on the campus of the University of Alabama.

Other notable historic buildings and homes in Tuscaloosa include the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion, built by politician and planter Robert Jemison Jr., the Historic Drish House, built in the 1830s by physician John R. Drish, and the Battle-Friedman House, built in 1835 by Alfred Battle.

So, while this city has a strong past, it’s future is even stronger and energetic. West Alabama’s industry and commerce is in Tuscaloosa and is anchored by a sprawling Mercedes-Benz plant.

Is there plenty to enjoy in Tuscaloosa?

College towns offer opportunities for fun, food, employment, and adventure. Count Tuscaloosa in on all of these!

The Tuscaloosa Riverwalk is a good place to start. It’s a 4.5-mile gorgeous path that you can walk, run, or bike beside the Black Warrior River. You can rent paddleboards at one of the docks to see the river from a different perspective. Plus, your kids will enjoy the playground. On the Riverwalk, you’ll find the Tuscaloosa River Market, which hosts weekly farmers’ market.

Appreciate the Arts

Cities that draw visitors and residents are places that have a strong art community. Tuscaloosa is no different. In Northport, the Kentuck Festival of the Arts has more than 10,000 visitors a year from across the country. This festival features hundreds of artists and shows, live music, kids’ activities, food trucks, and local craft beer.

When you visit Tuscaloosa, be sure to check out who’s playing at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. The theater, located on the Black Warrior, is the place to enjoy spring and fall concerts and live performances. It is located along the Black Warrior River and just blocks from the downtown nightlife.

Speaking of downtown, those who love the arts can see a show, ballet, play, or movie screening at the historic Bama Theatre.

Dining and Fun Food (Lots to Choose From)

Heritage House Coffee & Tea This comfy find is beloved by college students and locals and has an impressive coffee menu, and a more extensive breakfast and lunch menu than your average coffee joint. Antique pieces and mismatched wooden chairs fill the Heritage House, making it feel like home.

Avenue Pub The Avenue Pub is the perfect blend of upscale and laidback as a local favorite for brunch, lunch, or dinner.

The Historic Waysider Restaurant A well-loved breakfast spot nestled in a crimson cottage, The Waysider was frequented by legendary football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. You can sit at his preferred table and order his regular, the country ham. If you want a Southern-style breakfast, here’s your destination.

FIVE Although FIVE, appropriately named for the number of main items on its selective but delectable menu, is popular at dinnertime, its Sunday jazzy brunch is the way to go. Live music, artistic décor, and plenty of fun. In the mood for a mocha instead of a mimosa? Pop next door to FIVE Java, the restaurant’s cozy coffeehouse.

Rama Jama’s If you’ve ever attended an Alabama football game, you’ve seen Rama Jama’s. Located a few feet from Bryant Denny Stadium, this memorabilia-covered restaurant serves comfort food like biscuits, burgers, fries, hot dogs, and milkshakes.

City Café Located in charming downtown Northport, City Café has been a go-to destination since it opened in 1931. Anticipate a line if you arrive during peak lunch hours. City Café serves a great breakfast, but lunch is the headliner. You won’t believe the amount of food you’ll get for less than $10.

Enjoy Some of the South’s Finest BBQ

Tuscaloosa, like many Southern cities, has a famous barbecue scene.

Archibald & Woodrow’s B-B-Q Anyone who knows barbecue knows Archibald’s. Located in a cinderblock building in Northport, Archibald’s has been serving their famous hickory-smoked ribs since 1962. Archibald’s is nationally recognized, and locals say you will understand with one bite of the ribs.

Dreamland Bar-B-Q Locals swear the barbecue at Dreamland tastes better when served from the small original restaurant that John “Big Daddy” Bishop opened in 1958. This is the same year a guy they called “Bear” began coaching football.

Fine Dining

Tuscaloosa is a relaxed city, but that doesn’t mean it lacks fine dining.

Evangeline’s This secluded restaurant is a reminder that you can enjoy fine dining even in a college town. The menu features local produce and amazing seafood options like crab cakes, scallops, and shrimp and grits, Evangeline’s always delivers on elegance. Evangeline’s is a white-tablecloth destination.

River Located on the Black Warrior River, River takes advantage of its view with abundant outdoor seating. Drop by and sample appetizers like flatbreads from the wood oven or make a dinner reservation and choose between land and sea options sourced from local farms. River also serves must-try Southern offerings like beignets with espresso cream and butter pecan pancakes.

If you want an authentic Tuscaloosa experience, write these on your to-do list.

Quick Grill The line is worth waiting in at this tiny cinderblock building right off-campus because when it comes to late-night eats in Tuscaloosa, Quick Grill is king. You can order burgers, kabobs, and falafel, but the main attraction is the Messy Fries.

Nick’s in the Sticks The name isn’t a joke. Open since 1953, Nick’s in the Sticks is off the beaten path. You’ll feel like an actual local at this establishment. A basket of warm biscuits greats you as soon as you sit at your table.

Be assured that there is plenty of southern hospitality waiting for you in Tuscaloosa!

Photo by DRX from This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
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