Tuscaloosa Alabama is a Southern college town with plenty to do besides enjoy a college football game. Just take a look at all your options!
ENJOY TUSCALOOSA FOR FREE
There are plenty of art galleries where you can enjoy the work of both local professionals and students for free. Including the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art [permanently closed] recognized as one of the most extensive collections of art from the 19th and 20th centuries. Check out the other art museums in the area.
The place for lots of unique stores filled with Bama and non-Bama accessories and apparel. Window shopping is always free.
Whether it’s canoeing or casual strolling you prefer, Tuscaloosa has a fair number of spaces in which to enjoy the outdoors. Bring your Frisbee for a game of disc golf at Bowers Park or your mountain bike for the off-road trails at Hurricane Creek. A list of parks can be found at www.tcpara.org.
Stroll along the Riverwalk
Walk, bike, play or relax by the river for a relaxing evening or afternoon. A great diversion after a meal on Jack Warner Parkway.
Explore plants of innumerable varieties and a community organic garden on the University campus.
Our Favorite Things
It offers (often unconventional) entertainment in the form of things like their Fall Movie Series that highlights documentaries, independent films, even movies by more well-known directors like Joss Wheedon. Tickets are only $10 and you can grab a drink while you’re there, too.
Let’s be honest. If you’re in Tuscaloosa, there’s a good chance you’ll be witnessing a college sports event. Schedules and tickets can be found on the University website. They will run you anywhere between $10-$85+ depending on what sporting event you’re interested in.
With over 20 exhibits this is the place to be if you have kids. It promises hours of fun and costs $12 for kids and adults.
If it’s music you want, you can enjoy it here, but it won’t come cheap. Artists like Willie Nelson and The Beach Boys have graced the stage.
Grab a Bite
15th Street Diner [Permanently Closed]
A local fave with their classic southern menu options like chicken pot pie and turnip greens. The fried chicken (and yes, that’s half a chicken on your plate) is perfectly seasoned, crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. Omelets (along with other breakfast foods) are served all day and are packed with ingredients. Cornbread and fried green tomatoes with ranch are a meal-starter must and a southern meal wouldn’t be complete without a $2.99 slice of pecan pie. There’s nothing on the menu over $8.99 (sweet!) and beside plenty of fried fare there are also salads and soups. Update: the owners moved to Huntsville, AL with a new restaurant: https://www.blueplatecafe.com/
Margarita’s Grill [Permanently Closed]
For a meal from even farther south — think south of the border . Another place with meal prices under $10 and a reputation for great margaritas, it offers good Mexican food in good portions for the price. The quesadillas are oozing with that delightful Mexican cheese we love so much and they are cram-packed with veggies (or whatever else you want in them). Tortilla chips at the beginning of the meal are warm and fresh and items like fajitas and enchiladas provide a filling meal for something like $7.99.
Chloe’s Cup [Permanently Closed]
For a cup of coffee, skip Starbucks and head to this cafe on University Blvd. named for the owner’s granddaughter whose portrait hangs on the wall. It’s an unassuming little family-owned joint with a random smattering of art on the walls and handmade jewelry and gifts for sale. They offer yogurt smoothies, a few sandwiches and such, and delightful sweet potato biscuits that are served warm. Oh, and my favorite: Peanut butter mochas!
Money Saving Tips
For a heads up of what’ll be going on during your stay, pick up a copy of Planet Weekly, a weekly paper that highlights entertainment news, new restaurants and Tuscaloosa goings on. It’s a great resource for finding out about art nights, farmers markets, festivals, concerts, even book signings. The paper is free and can be found at lots of area restaurants, coffee shops and hotels.
For cheap accommodation, pitch your tent at Lake Laureen State Park a few miles Northwest and camp around the lake. Fish, go for a swim, walk the trails, bike around the lake or rent a boat while you’re there. Check their website for current site costs.
Whether you’re visiting friends, staying for a few days during football season or dropping off your firstborn for their freshman year, there’s plenty to explore in and around Tuscaloosa.
Alisha is a freelance outdoor journalist and photographer based in Ogden, UT. She loves backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and snowboarding (even though she’s terrible at it). She’s also pretty sure she’s addicted to coffee. alishamcdarris.com