The Tourist’s Guide to T-Town

Corrie Wilson, Contributing Writer

Tuscaloosa has something for everyone, whether you are a foodie, music lover, art aficionado or outdoors enthusiast. In this college town we call home, residents  are presented with a variety of opportunities to experience unique Alabama culture that extend beyond the walls of Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports is a marketing organization responsible for promoting Tuscaloosa as a travel destination. TTS prides itself on promoting everything Tuscaloosa has to offer. 

“With our team’s knowledge, we are able to strengthen the community’s economic position and vitality, and we enhance Tuscaloosa’s public image as a dynamic place to live, work and visit,” TTS said.  

For the outdoor adventure fans, take some time to visit Tuscaloosa gems Hurricane Creek Park, Lake Nicol, Lake Lurleen, Lake Harris, River Walk and the UA Arboretum for picturesque views, scenic trails and water sports. 

Addison Parker, a sophomore majoring in creative media from Ohio, said her favorite thing to do in Tuscaloosa is walk along the River Walk and visit the River Market to decompress.

“I thought Tuscaloosa would feel large and intimidating, but after coming here, it almost immediately felt comfortable and familiar, like a home away from home,” Parker said.

If you are looking to bring your dog along, Sokol Park is the perfect place for both you and your pet to enjoy. These outdoor destinations are within minutes of each other and are considered “hidden gems” in the Tuscaloosa area.

For history lovers, Tuscaloosa’s Civil Rights Trail is ideal for learning about Alabama’s past while exploring the city. While on the free self-guided group tour, you are taken around the Downtown Tuscaloosa area, educated about Tuscaloosa’s role in the civil rights movement and shown historic landmarks.

Tuscaloosa also offers a vibrant arts scene, so for the arts and music enthusiasts, be sure to check out the free Kentuck Art Night, which is held on the first Thursday of every month at the Kentuck Arts Center in Northport. Other notable sites include the Bama Theatre, which hosts community events and performers, and the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, a venue for live concerts and events. 

The Tuscaloosa Amphitheater offers a wide range of music performances, and some of its recent lineups include Santana, Erykah Badu and the Beach Boys.

Foodies, rejoice: Tuscaloosa boasts a wide variety of restaurants, bars and coffee shops that are certain to please even the pickiest palates. 

From legendary local spots like Rama Jama’s and Nick’s in the Sticks, to elegant eateries like DePalma’s and FIVE Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa’s food scene lives up to the hype.

For your morning coffee, head to popular spots Heritage House Coffee & Tea, UPerk and Turbo Coffee. If you are looking for great drinks, stop by locally owned Black Warrior Brewing Company for craft beers. 

TTS said those who come to visit Tuscaloosa shouldn’t be afraid to go outside the walls of Alabama football. For out-of-state students, Tuscaloosa becomes a second home and is easy to fall in love with. 

The people, food, arts scene and sports culture are just a few reasons why Tuscaloosa is a fantastic place to visit from out of state and enjoy as a student. In addition, the verdant landscapes that surround the area make for scenic nature spots perfect for a relaxing weekend.

Maria Evola, a sophomore from Macomb, Michigan, said her transition to Alabama was easy because of the people she’s met. Her favorite thing about Tuscaloosa is the love Tuscaloosans have for their hometown. 

Kevin McCreary, a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering from Chicago, Illinois, said his favorite things to do in Tuscaloosa are play basketball with his friends at the recreation center and eat at Taco Mama’s in Downtown. 

Though Tuscaloosa has a lot to offer, many out-of-state students come in with a preconceived notion of what Tuscaloosa is like. 

“I feel like a lot of out-of-state people think of Tuscaloosa (and Alabama in general) as a tiny town full of close-minded people,” said Jordan Wootten, a sophomore majoring in marketing from Mississippi. “I definitely ran into this stereotype as I told people where I was going to college, and I know that one visit to Tuscaloosa could change their minds.” 

However, when an out-of-state student or visitor comes to T-Town, they can expect a warm welcome.

Sydney Aivazian, a junior majoring in marketing said “Tuscaloosa isn’t just a college town. It’s a college home and the people here make everything feel as though you belong right where you are.”