Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Tuscaloosa, AL

  • Published 2023/04/12

Tuscaloosa is the fifth-largest city in Alabama and is the state’s main center of education, commerce, and trade.

It is also home to the University of Alabama and its football team, the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The city is very colorful and joyful and provides a large number of unique, fun, and affordable options to tourists.

In addition, Tuscaloosa has some unique and world-famous restaurants that serve delicious dishes like mouth-watering burgers and fresh oysters.

Tuscaloosa is also home to Alabama’s administrative offices, making it one of the most well-managed and disciplined cities in the state.

Being a dynamic and expansive city, Tuscaloosa is definitely going to be one of your favorite vacation destinations around the world.

Are you excited to discover what else this vibrant city has in store for tourists?

Check out this list of the best things to do in Tuscaloosa, Alabama:

Take a Leisurely Stroll through the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk

Daytime view of Tuscaloosa Riverwalk

Deutschlandreform, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Tuscaloosa Riverwalk is not something less than a dream turned into reality.

It is spread over a trail of two miles, which is converted into a path along the banks of the Black Warrior River.

In addition to that, it is home to a large number of shops, eateries, and a playground.

It is an ideal attraction for kids and adults and is suitable for activities such as walking, jogging, bicycling, picnicking, or simply relaxing.

The dishes served at the eateries alongside the park are quite delicious and affordable at the same time.

The Tuscaloosa Riverwalk is painted in a unique combination of colors during different seasons, which definitely attracts a lot of tourists.

Take a Peek into Football History at the Paul W. Bryant Museum

The Paul W. Bryant Museum was opened in 1988 in tribute to coach Paul Bryant, who trained the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide football team.

It is believed that he was so efficient in his teachings that the team secured six national championships under his coaching.

The museum is built on the campus of the University of Alabama.

Since the museum is dedicated to a football coach, it has a large number of displays and exhibitions that deal completely with football and its history in Tuscaloosa.

A lot of the museum’s collections are dedicated to the life of the famous coach.

Apart from Coach Bryant, the museum also honors other notable football coaches and players.

Attend a Concert or Music Festival at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater

Aerial view of the Tuscaloosa amphitheatre

Ttownfeen, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Tuscaloosa Amphitheater is a big open area located on the banks of the Black Warrior River.

It was designed by a famous construction company and opened to the public in 2011.

The amphitheater is built on an area covering 15 acres of land and has enough capacity to seat 8,400 guests at a time.

It is primarily used as a site for conducting public events such as concerts, music festivals, and more.

Since its opening, the theater has witnessed a large number of concerts and events by well-known artists around the world.

Take Your Kids to the Children’s Hands-on Museum of Tuscaloosa

In a city full of war memorials and historical items, the Children’s Hands-On Museum of Tuscaloosa is a place where children can find refuge during their trip to the city.

This museum was built using some unique technologies and offers as many as 25 exhibitions aimed at teaching various things to children in a fun way.

Most of the exhibitions at the museum focus on topics like arts, civics, and stem technology.

However, it is essential to note that only children aged 0 to 13 are allowed in the museum.

Alongside the regular exhibitions, the museum also organizes events such as Halloween parties, Nickelodeon Day of Play, school field trips, educational tours, and much more.

Witness the Remains of the Alabama Central Female College at Capitol Park

Capitol Park was the site of the Alabama Capitol in the year 1826.

The seat was shifted in 1847, so the building was converted into a college.

The Alabama Central Female College stood on the premises until 1923, when the building burned down in a severe fire.

At present, Capitol Park presents the site of what remains from the severe fire.

The park is surrounded by lush green grass on all sides.

Capitol Park is one of the places in Tuscaloosa where people can enjoy the ruins of history and the present at the same time.

Watch a Heart-Pumping Football Match at Bryant-Denny Stadium

Exterior of the Bryant Danny Stadium

Rob Hainer /

Tuscaloosa has always honored its great people, and Bryant-Denny Stadium is one such attraction that does this.

Opened in 1929, the stadium was a tribute to George Danny, the President of the University of Alabama.

The stadium has received several laurels and is the eighth-largest stadium in the entire world.

Welcome sign of Bryant-Denny Stadium

University of College /

It has enough capacity to take in more than 10,000 visitors at a time.

The stadium is also famous for hosting some of the major events for home teams and state college football teams.

At present, the stadium is home to both the Alabama High School Athletic Association and Auburn University’s Jordan Hare Stadium.

People watching a game in Bryant-Denny Stadium

Matthew Tosh, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Step Back in Time at the Jemison-Van De Graaff Mansion

Exterior of the Jemison- Van De graaff mansion

William McDill /

This mansion in Tuscaloosa is believed to have been one of the most advanced and beautifully designed houses when it was built in 1859.

The important thing to note is that while the house was still under construction, civil war broke out in Alabama, and the construction was never completed.

But the part that was completed is still a source of awe to many people as it was perfectly and intricately completed by local workers.

The Jemison-Van De Graaff Mansion is also believed to be the first place in Tuscaloosa that had its own bathroom and a gas plant.

It was eventually converted into a city library at one point.

At present, the property is open for rental services, witnessing many weddings and ceremonies.

Tour the Tuscaloosa Federal Building and US Courthouse

Exterior of the Federal Building in Tuscaloosa

William McDill /

Spread over an area of 127,000 square feet, the Tuscaloosa Federal Building and US Courthouse were built in 2011.

The buildings are living examples of the revival of Greek architecture and significant historical art.

Welcome sign of Federal Building and US Courthouse

Deutschlandreform, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This is one of the most expensive infrastructures that stand in Tuscaloosa and was built at the cost of $47.8 million.

The place could easily be said to be the judicial hub of Tuscaloosa as it houses the United States District Court, Bankruptcy Court, FBI, and many other buildings of administrative importance.

The paintings in these buildings are also worth admiration.

Pay a Visit to the Old Tavern Museum

The Old Tavern Museum was built in 1827 and still stands in its original form.

During its operation, the tavern welcomed Confederate soldiers and military officers.

Today, it is one of the standing examples of historical Southern architecture style.

The property was restored once and converted into a museum right after.

The building’s original antique and vintage pieces are still preserved in the museum and exhibit the region’s local history.

Go Fishing or Boating at Lake Nicol

Lake Nicol is beautifully surrounded by forests on all sides.

The lake has a wooded public park nearby.

It is quite accessible from University Boulevard.

The park and lake are located in a central area, which makes them quite accessible from all the other places in the city.

The place is open for public residents and visitors and offers various activities such as fishing, boating, and picnicking on and around the property.

During the summer seasons, the lake also serves as one of the famous spots for birdwatching and is heavily crowded with different species of birds from around the world.

It also offers an opportunity to explore the surrounding forests and wild areas, making it an interesting place, especially for the younger generation.

Admire the Fascinating Displays at the Alabama Museum of Natural History

Exterior of the Alabama Museum of Natural history

Ken Wolter /

A famous tourist attraction in Tuscaloosa, the Alabama Museum of Natural History has existed for the last 150 years.

The place shows the history of the people in Alabama and the different forms of art that they have adopted over time.

It is located on the property of the University of Alabama and provides ample opportunities to increase your knowledge about the state’s history.

Interior of the Alabama Museum of Natural History

Skusnr, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The museum has permanent exhibitions and organizes temporary exhibitions on various topics.

Certain historical items from the Neolithic Age are also on display in this museum.

It is also believed that one of the largest creatures discovered during the time when humans were not on earth was also found in Alabama.

All these things are on display at this museum.

Enjoy Authentic Italian Cuisine at DePalma’s Italian Cafe

This famous Italian cafe in Tuscaloosa has been around for two decades now.

DePalma’s Italian Cafe is known for serving authentic Italian food.

The food here is always made with fresh ingredients.

Another attractive thing about this cafe is that it has an open kitchen so visitors can see how their food is being cooked while they wait for it to be served.

The cafe also allows diners to customize their own pizzas, handmade food items, and much more.

Along with the delicious food, the restaurant also serves beverages ranging from espresso to craft beers.

Bite into Mouth-Watering Burgers at Mugshots Grill and Bar

Mugshots Grill and Bar is a chain restaurant that started functioning in 2004 in Mississippi.

Its branch in Tuscaloosa was opened in September 2007.

Since then, the place has been a famous spot for local gatherings and hangouts.

This particular bar is famous among locals for the high-quality food they serve at very affordable prices.

Mugshots Grill and Bar’s burger has been voted the best burger in Mississippi for consecutive years.

Apart from that, the bar offers an extensive and rich menu that includes different types of burgers and appetizers.

They also offer specially handcrafted beers from local breweries.

Mugshots Grill and Bar is a must-visit place during local festivals, as these events are the best time to enjoy Tuscaloosa’s culture and liveliness.

Treat Your Taste Buds to Dreamland BBQ’s Secret Recipes

A restaurant chain with several branches around the US, Dreamland BBQ was first opened in Tuscaloosa by “Big Daddy” John Bishop in the year 1958.

The barbeque restaurant is especially known for their secret recipes, which they have been following to prepare their dishes for more than 50 years.

Dreamland BBQ offers different types of southern food to its visitors.

It also has a full-service bar that serves some of the best drinks from local microbreweries.

There’s also an open kitchen where customers can watch their food being cooked and enjoy the food afterward.

Attend a Captivating Performance at the Bama Theatre

Marquee of the Bama Theatre

M2burnett, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The historic Bama Theatre is the community’s performing arts center and is found in the center of the city’s dining and entertainment district.

Since 1938, the theater has been a fixture in Tuscaloosa and continues to serve as a location for entertainment and the arts.

Today, it continues to dazzle visitors with its sparkling lights and engaging season of performances.

The Bama Theatre showcases bands, Acoustic Nights, the Bama Art House Film Series, performances from regional arts organizations, and other events.

It is available for hire for productions put on by community organizations as well as for performances organized by outside producers.

Head to Avenue Pub for Artisan Beer and Delicious Handcrafted Dishes

Avenue Pub provides a unique spin on pub favorites along with artisan beer and creative drinks.

Avenue Pub established a second facility in Orange Beach in 2021 after their first store opened in Tuscaloosa in 2014.

The goal of their restaurant has always been to serve delicious, freshly prepared cuisine that can be enjoyed in a setting that fosters a feeling of community.

Every menu item at Avenue Pub is handcrafted in-house, using ingredients that are mainly sourced from nearby farmers and food producers.

Avenue Pub is designed with the intention of giving every customer a delightful eating experience.

Have a Blast with Your Friends at Escape Tuscaloosa

The concept of escape rooms started to take off throughout the world, but Escape Tuscaloosa wanted to give it a unique twist.

They wanted to offer everyone who enters a clean, enjoyable, and challenging experience, plus their accommodations are really genuine—unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Escape Tuscaloosa provides rooms of varying challenges and occasionally even multi-room adventures, unlike the majority of escape rooms.

Additionally, they can accommodate any occasion, including birthdays, team buildings, women’s nights out, and more.

Have fun with pals while exploring the famous Escape Tuscaloosa.

Order the House Specials at Half Shell Oyster House

Authentic New Orleans-inspired meals served with a touch of Southern friendliness are the specialty of Half Shell Oyster House.

Classic favorites and house specialties include Fried Shrimp, Seafood Gumbo, Crab Cakes, Seafood-Stuffed Portabellas, Redfish Orleans, and more.

Oysters, shellfish, hand-cut steaks, pasta, and other dishes are also available on their menu.

Just like their food, their specialty martinis and beverages are unique.

With their daily happy hour, indulge in their specialty martinis, beverages, or glasses of wine.

Take a Guided Tour of the Historic Battle-Friedman House

Tuscaloosa is home to an antebellum townhouse called the Battle-Friedman House, which Alfred Battle and his wife Millicent Battle constructed around the 1800s.

The Friedman family purchased the property in 1875; the seller was a trader from Hungary who immigrated to the United States.

The two front parlors, the main corridor, and the upper rooms make up the original layout of the home.

Before the Civil War, significant additions were made to the home, including the back rooms and the porch with columns.

Visit the stunning Battle-Friedman House and have a tour of the home.

Catch a Basketball Game at Coleman Coliseum

Exterior of Coleman Coliseum

Chad Robertson Media /

If you love basketball, you can catch a game at Coleman Coliseum on Coliseum Drive.

Opened in 1968, the stadium is home to the Alabama Crimson Tide men’s and women’s basketball, as well as to women’s gymnastics teams.

It can seat up to 16,000 audiences and its striped ceiling makes it unique and more recognizable on TV.

Interior of Coleman Coliseum

Thebobbyroberts, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1974, 1975, and 1981, Coleman Coliseum also hosted the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

It was named after Jefferson Jackson Coleman, an alumnus of the University of Alabama.

You can check out a schedule here to watch basketball or gymnastics, and grab some snacks at the concessions.

Browse Premium Cigars at R&R Cigars Tuscaloosa – The Cigar Mansion

In a beautiful historic 1903 mansion nestles a cigar spot, which is a perfect place for those who collect and smoke cigars, or even as a gift for a loved one.

At R&R Cigars Tuscaloosa – The Cigar Mansion, you get to browse and grab premium cigar brands, including Lost City, High Clere Castle, Guaimaro, Fable, Powstanie, and many more.

There are more than a thousand types of cigars at the shop, and you can have all your time to browse whatever piques your interest.

Also, there’s a Bourbon bar with a great selection of beer, spirits, and wine.

R&R Cigars Tuscaloosa – The Cigar Mansion is located off 6th Street.

Take Your Pet Dogs to Will May Dog Park

If you’re traveling with your furbabies, take them to Will May Dog Park in Sokol Park South on Watermelon Road.

The park offers a safe place for the dogs to freely run around and play with other dogs.

It features two different areas for small and large dogs, which are both fenced, so they can roam around off-leash.

There’s also a training yard for all dog sizes with an agility course.

Will May Dog Park also has paved trails that are also great for walking your dogs, but you need to keep them on a leash.

Bring a Picnic to Monnish Park

Share a delicious picnic with your loved ones at Monnish Park and take advantage of its relaxing atmosphere with lots of beautiful shady trees.

The park features gazebos with picnic tables and grills to use for cookouts, which is great if you’re a traveling family.

Kids can also enjoy playing and interacting with each other at the park’s playground with swings, slides, and an open area to run around.

There’s also a short trail if you want to take nature walks after sharing a picnic.

Monnish Park is located off Hackberry Lane.

Get Your Pulses Active at Civil Axe Throwing – Tuscaloosa

Take your adventure to another level at Civil Axe Throwing – Tuscaloosa on 4th Street.

If you haven’t tried it before, it’s similar to a dart, but you’ll be using an axe.

You’ll have an instructor to put you into a short training before doing it in action with friends and family.

It’s a one-of-a-kind experience to enjoy in Tuscaloosa, especially when you’re celebrating a special occasion like a birthday party.

So take your friends and family to Civil Axe Throwing – Tuscaloosa and enjoy an hour or two of exciting adventure!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Be Dazzled by the Luxurious Vehicles at the Mercedes-Benz Visitor Center

Exterior of the Mercedes-Benz Visitor Center

qwesy qwesy, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located 20 minutes outside Tuscaloosa, the Mercedes Benz Visitor Center comes as a total surprise to its visitors.

The factory outlet has been producing luxurious world-class cars since 1999.

Along with that, the center is also one of Vance’s major tourist attractions and showcases how the center has grown in the past two decades.

The factory tour basically gives you a peek into the manufacturing process, the spare parts used in the process, and an exhibition of the most iconic race cars and famous concepts.

Final Thoughts

There are numerous activities available for visitors of all ages in Tuscaloosa, which is an excellent tourist destination.

It provides a wide range of attractions, including museums, parks, bars, restaurants, and more.

In Tuscaloosa, there’s always something great going around.

Bring your family and friends and have a wonderful trip together.

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