As one of the largest cities in Alabama, Tuscaloosa is a hub of activity and excitement. From its lively nightlife to its rich history, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city.
The population makeup of Tuscaloosa, Alabama is quite diverse, which lends to its unique culture and atmosphere. The city is home to the University of Alabama, which creates a youthful and energetic vibe.
If you’re visiting the seat of Tuscaloosa County, here are 12 things to do in Tuscaloosa that you can’t miss!
WALK THE TUSCALOOSA CIVIL RIGHTS HISTORY TRAIL
First up is a flashback to the Civil Rights Movement. The Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History Trail is a walking tour that covers significant sites in the struggle for equality.
The trail includes 18 locations, each with its own marker detailing the events that occurred there. During your walk, you’ll hear first-hand accounts from people involved in the Civil Rights Movement.
The Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History Trail begins at Capitol Park. It serves as a necessary reminder that the Alabama State Government had a role to play in protecting and promoting White Supremacy. As the trail progresses, you’ll see how the Civil Rights Movement transformed the city of Tuscaloosa and the state of Alabama as a whole.
Some parts of the tour get pretty heavy, with topics such as lynching and police violence being covered. However, this powerful and moving experience will give you a new perspective on Tuscaloosa’s history.
The tour is an all-day activity, and definitely worth a trip.
ROLL TIDE AT A UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA FOOTBALL GAME
Those who are not from Alabama might not know what ‘Roll Tide’ means — but as soon as you visit Tuscaloosa, you will. In short, it’s a phrase used by University of Alabama fans to show their support for the team. They’ll greet each other with it, scream it during the games, and even get it tattooed on their bodies.
When it comes to college football, Alabama is a powerhouse. The team has won an impressive 18 national championships and countless SEC titles. Needless to say, football is taken quite seriously here.
On Saturdays in the fall, the entire city of Tuscaloosa comes alive to support the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Even if you’re not a big sports fan, you’ll want to experience this one-of-a-kind event at least once.
The atmosphere at a Crimson Tide game is electric. You’ll see people of all ages painted from head to toe in red and white, cheering their hearts out for the team. The team plays at Bryant-Denny Stadium, which can accommodate a staggering 101,000 fans. Going to a game is absolutely one of the best things to do in Tuscaloosa!
NO GAME? THEN VISIT THE PAUL W BRYANT MUSEUM
If you happen to visit Tuscaloosa, Alabama during the off-season, you can still get your Crimson Tide fix at the Paul W. Bryant Museum. This museum is dedicated to the history of University of Alabama football and, of course, Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.
The museum features interactive exhibits, rare artifacts, and a film chronicling the life and career of Coach Bryant. The coach’s office has been preserved and is open for visitors to see. You can even sit in his chair and imagine what it was like to be one of the most successful coaches in college football history.
Keeping with the theme of social justice, the ‘Breaking Barriers’ exhibit chronicles Bryant’s successful integration of black players onto the University of Alabama football team. This was a controversial move at the time, but one that paid off in the long run.
Located on the University Of Alabama Campus, the Paul W Bryant Museum is a must-see for any Crimson Tide fan.
SEE A CONCERT AT TUSCALOOSA AMPHITHEATER
While you’re on campus, be sure to check out the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. This outdoor concert venue hosts a wide variety of musical acts throughout the year. From blues and jazz to rock and country, there’s something for every musical taste.
The amphitheater has a much smaller capacity than the stadium, making it the perfect size for an intimate concert experience. The venue also has a great view of the Black Warrior River, which makes for a beautiful backdrop.
Note that shuttles depart from the nearby downtown Tuscaloosa district to take concertgoers to and from the amphitheater. This is an excellent service, as parking can be challenging to find on campus. There’s food, bathrooms, and plenty of seating, so you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
TAKE THE KIDS TO THE CHILDREN’S HANDS-ON MUSEUM
If you’re traveling as a family, you’ll want to check out the Children’s Hands-On Museum. This museum is designed specifically for kids and will surely be a hit with your little ones.
The museum has 24 interactive science, art, and history exhibits on three floors. There’s plenty to keep kids entertained for hours on end. Kids can dress up in costumes, lay on a bed of nails, and even get lost in a maze.
The Children’s Hands-On Museum operates on the principle of ‘The Power of Play.’ This means that kids can learn while they’re having fun. And what could be more fun than building your slingshot or extracting DNA from a strawberry?
The CHOM is open from Tuesday to Saturday only, so plan your visit accordingly. You might also want to look at their events page, as they often host special events and workshops. For example, they had an Independence Day Bash on July 1st with Zeigler hotdogs, popcorn, and a firework craft station.
OR EXPLORE THE ALABAMA MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
A museum option for history buffs in Tuscaloosa is the Alabama Museum of Natural History. This museum is tailored for anyone who loves science, nature, or history.
The museum has various exhibits, ranging from dinosaurs to minerals. You can also see the Bama Bug fest or participate in a hands-on activity. The museum also offers a range of classes and workshops for all ages.
As you wander through the halls of this museum, you’ll be transported to the Age of Dinosaurs, the Coal Age, and even the Ice Age. You’ll see fossils, rocks, and minerals from all over Alabama, and you’re sure to learn a thing or two along the way.
The dinosaur fossils on display are some of the most popular exhibits at the museum. And for good reason! These ancient bones are truly a sight to behold. The building itself is also an architectural marvel, with its unique ‘horseshoe’ design.
Be sure to leave some time to explore the museum’s gift shop. With its wide selection of books, toys, and souvenirs, you’ll keep a memento of your Tuscaloosa visit long after you’ve left the museum.
FISH LAKE TUSCALOOSA
All this talk of nature must have you feeling pretty outdoorsy. Well, Tuscaloosa has you covered with plenty of outdoor activities to choose from. One of the most popular is fishing at Lake Tuscaloosa.
This artificial lake is a great spot for bass fishing. In fact, it’s so popular that there’s even a Bassmaster tournament held here. But don’t worry; you don’t have to be a professional angler to enjoy fishing at Lake Tuscaloosa.
The lake is open to the public for fishing, boating, and swimming. The water is clean and clear, and the scenery is beautiful. And if you don’t have your own boat, no problem! You can rent a pontoon boat from one of the many marinas on the lake. This is a great way to spend a day with family or friends.
Just be sure to get your fishing license before you head to the lake. You can purchase one online or at any number of locations around town. And if you need any gear, just stop by one of the many tackle shops in Tuscaloosa.
STROLL THE TUSCALOOSA RIVERWALK
As mentioned above, the Black Warrior River runs through the heart of Tuscaloosa. A 4.5-mile walking trail called the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk runs alongside the river. Like Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History Trail, the Riverwalk starts downtown and winds its way through the city.
This is a serene place to take a walk, get some fresh air, and enjoy the scenery. The Riverwalk is also popular with cyclists, with a lane dedicated to bikes. And if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can even run the length of the trail.
Although it only takes about an hour and a half to walk the entire trail, you can easily spend a half day here. Just pack a lunch and make the most of it! You’ll find plenty of picnic tables, benches, and even hammocks during the stroll.
SHOP THE TUSCALOOSA RIVER MARKET
A local tradition extending back to the 19th century, the Tuscaloosa River Market is the best place in town to find fresh produce, flowers, and so much more. This Tuscaloosa farmer’s market is open all year on Saturdays from 7 am to noon. Local farmers and vendors operate it, so you can feel good about supporting the community.
Various vendors sell everything from fruits and vegetables to flowers and handmade goods. Grass-fed meats and organic products are also available. And if you’re looking for a unique gift, you’ll find plenty of artisanal goods to choose from.
The River Market is also great for grabbing a bite to eat. Food trucks and carts sell all sorts of goodies, from breakfast sandwiches to ice cream. Outside of the Saturday farmer’s market, River Market doubles as a venue for events and festivals. Check their calendar to see what’s going on during your visit.
Weddings are also commonplace here, so don’t be surprised if you see a bride or two walking around!
TOUR THE OLD TAVERN MUSEUM
For a taste of Tuscaloosa history, be sure to visit the Old Tavern Museum. This 19th-century building served as a stagecoach inn and later a Civil War hospital. Today, it is one of the oldest standing buildings in Tuscaloosa and houses a museum.
The museum is small, but packed with information. During the 1900s, the inn became a private residence for violinist Taylor Robinson. A few personal belongings are still on display. You’ll also learn about how the tavern was almost demolished, but residents fought to have it moved instead.
It was during this operation that many new artifacts were discovered, which are now on display in the museum. Located right next to the Children’s Hands-On Museum and Capitol Park, the Old Tavern acts as a complement to your day of learning.
THE MERCEDES-BENZ U.S. INTERNATIONAL VISITOR CENTER
Mercedes-Benz is a world-renowned German automaker with a plant located just outside of Tuscaloosa. And in 2015, they opened a visitor center for tours and events. Although they are now closed to the public in preparation for EV production, the visitor center should be open again soon.
When it reopens, the visitor center will offer tours of the plant and a museum with interactive exhibits. You’ll learn about the history of Mercedes-Benz and see how they design and build their luxury vehicles. The visitor center is also home to a cafe and gift shop.
The roughly two-hour factory tour takes you through the entire production process, from start to finish. You’ll see how the cars are designed, many impressive machines, and how testing is done before shipping to dealerships.
KAYAK AT LAKE LURLEEN STATE PARK
Finally, you can end your Tuscaloosa adventure with a day of kayaking at Lake Lurleen State Park. This 1,620-acre state park offers plenty of activities for the whole family. In addition to kayaking, you can swim, fish, hike, and camp. There are 91 modern campsites with power hookups.
There is a sandy beach for swimming and plenty of areas to fish in the water. The lake is stocked with bass, bream, and catfish. You can rent one at the park if you don’t have your own kayak. Kayaking here is a relaxing way to take in the natural beauty of Alabama.
Calm waters and quiet surroundings make this state park the perfect place to unwind. There are also 12 miles of hiking trails that wind through the woods if you’re feeling active. The lake is surrounded by forests, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see wildlife.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO ALABAMA
- YOUR ALABAMA VACATION
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- LAKE MARTIN: 19+ Best Ways To Enjoy The Freshwater Coast
- MOBILE: 12 Surprising Things To Do In Mobile, AL
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