In the west-central region of Alabama sits Tuscaloosa, a small city with just under 100,000 residents that nonetheless offers huge potential for fun.
The University of Alabama’s football team plays its home games in Tuscaloosa, Alabama! There is much more to do in Tuscaloosa than just watch a game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, as anybody who has visited or lived there will attest. Visiting you will find a lot to see, visit, eat, and drink while you’re in Tuscaloosa, whether you’re there on a road trip, on a weekend without football, or to tailgate and see the historic Crimson Tide play.
Whether you’re fascinated by Civil War History or you need to keep the kids entertained, Tuscaloosa is famous for having something for everyone, no matter their particular interests.
15. Check Out the Children’s Hands-On Museum
No trip to Tuscaloosa is complete without a visit to this fun museum. Designed for children ranging in age from newborns to teenagers, the Children’s Hands-On Museum can be a great time for people of all ages. Build a pyramid as you learn hieroglyphics, make your own wiggle bot, and solve crimes with your crafty child sleuths.
The Children’s Hands-On Museum also offers Saturday theme days, special programs, parties, field trips, holiday celebrations, and much more for families to enjoy. Just keep in mind that adults must be accompanied by children under 18 to get in!
14. Tour the University of Alabama
The home of the nationally famed Crimson Tide, Tuscaloosa is a college town through and through. As such, it’s the perfect place to take a guided campus tour or attend a football game. Don’t forget to pick up Crimson Tide spirit wear from one of the many campus shops or bookstores while you’re there!
The scenic grounds of The University of Alabama are a popular spot to enjoy a picnic or take a stroll through beautiful flower-lined paths as well. If you want to see more than dozens of sights around campus without taking a single step, you can also book a tour on a low-speed golf cart courtesy of Joyride Tuscaloosa.
13. Picnic at Lake Nicol
One of Tuscaloosa’s most beloved outdoor areas, Lake Nicol is a hotspot for everything from paddleboarding to picnicking. You can swim in the beautiful lake, savoring the scenery while you do, or bring your own kayak or SUP board to paddle around on.
One word of advice: despite what you may read online, it’s not a good idea to jump off of the cliffs at Lake Nicol unless you want to risk serious injury (or worse) along with a $500 fine!
12. Take In the Tuscaloosa River Market
If you like farmer’s markets, you’ll love the Tuscaloosa River Market.
Loaded with delicious local produce and wonderful local goods, this is the place to go for everything from handmade artisan crafts to locally produced meats and baked goods. The market is open year-round every Saturday from 7 a.m. until noon and consistently makes it to the top of various lists of fun things to do in the area. Don’t miss it!
While it may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you’re planning a trip to the Heart of Dixie, Tuscaloosa offers enough things to do to fill up anyone’s itinerary!
11. Tour Some Local Breweries
Hops-heads looking for something lively to do in Tuscaloosa will have a great time visiting the many breweries in the area. Druid City Brewing has a reputation among locals for being a fun, quirky spot, while Black Warrior Brewing is known for its laid-back atmosphere.
If you prefer wine, check out The Wine Market and its 20 different wine options, or head to Session Cocktails if you fancy a mixed drink. Local favorite Loosa Brews also gives you the option to play pinball and arcade games as you sip your suds.
10. See a Show at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
Anyone who enjoys vibing to live music outdoors will not be sorry they visited the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.
This popular venue showcases just about every type of music you can imagine throughout the year, from classic rock to country and everything in between. Ticket prices vary for each event, so check the official event calendar for important admissions info.
9. Patronize The Kentucky Art Center
If you like the idea of spending the afternoon viewing breathtaking art created by local artists, the Kentuck Art Center right over the bridge in Northport is the place to go.
There, you’ll find many unique galleries and exhibits, as well as art workshops designed to provide a more hands-on experience. There’s even a gift shop where you can purchase one-of-a-kind items crafted by contributing artists.
If you’re visiting the area in October, you won’t want to miss the Kentuck Festival of the Arts, which features more than 250 artists, activities, and local food and beverage vendors.
8. See the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion
If you’re a fan of old homes and historic buildings, this Italianate mansion, Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion, is one thing in Tuscaloosa you do not want to miss. Construction on this historical landmark began in 1859 and took three years to complete.
The stunning restored house is an impressive one, with plenty of unique features and stunning architecture to explore. It’s also a venue for parties, meetings, weddings, and other private events. Free tours are offered every day from Tuesday through Saturday at 3:30 in the afternoon.
7. Step Into History at the Murphy Collins House
Also known as the Murphy African-American Museum, this meeting house was built around 1923. The windowsills, bricks, and beams used in its construction were salvaged from the remnants of Alabama’s previous capitol building in Tuscaloosa after it burned.
Today, the building houses the African-American Museum, which highlights the families who lived in the home as well as the life and culture of African-Americans in the area. The museum is open for tours Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., but tours must be scheduled in advance.
6. Soak Up Some Rays on Lake Tuscaloosa
If you’d rather spend your time in Tuscaloosa boating, fishing, and swimming, you’ll definitely want to visit Lake Tuscaloosa. The largest body of water in the area, the lake features three different public boat launches: Sharps Landing, Binion Creek, and Rock Quarry.
If you don’t have your own boat, no worries: you can rent a pontoon boat from Pier 43. Advanced reservations are required, and no pets are allowed onboard. Make sure you check out the dam that was built to create the lake while you’re on the water!
5. Stop By The Old Tavern
Built way back in 1827, The Old Tavern on Broad Street in Tuscaloosa is a staple of the downtown area.
During the time of its construction, the state had just voted to move its capital from Cahaba to Tuscaloosa, and work on a new capitol building began shortly after. The Old Tavern was put up nearby as an inn and gathering place for workers and travelers.
By the 1960s, the tavern had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of being demolished. A group of citizens raised funds to move the tavern from its original location to its current home at Capitol Park. The tavern has been beautifully restored and is open for tours Tuesday through Saturday.
4. Walk the Civil Rights History Trail
Beginning at Capitol Park and ending at the Howard-Linton Barbershop, this historic pathway covers a lot of ground! There are 18 stops along the trail, each with markers providing information on events relating to everything from enslavement to Bloody Tuesday.
Visit the old jail, the Paul R. Jones Museum, the Alston Building, the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, and more as you make your way along the trail. It all starts when you pick up a pamphlet at the Visitor’s Center.
3. While Away an Afternoon at Sokol Park
There’s always something going on at Sokol Park, which features an athletics complex for softball, baseball, soccer, and other sports. Sokol Park North is also home to multipurpose fields, community garden plots, shelters, and more.
There are hiking and biking trails of various levels of difficulty at Sokol Park South, as well as an outstanding dog park for your furry friends.
2. Investigate Moundville Archaeological Park
Moundville is a Native American civilization site that bustled with activity about 1,000 years ago. At one time, it was the biggest city in the Americas north of Mexico. Today, it’s a beautiful park where you can explore the awe-inspiring mounds once used by people of power.
Make sure you visit the on-site museum to learn about the people who lived on the land long ago. There’s a campground with tent and RV sites nearby if you’re planning an extended stay.
1. Visit the Paul W. Bryant Museum
Since opening in October of 1988, the Paul W. Bryant Museum has been the stop U-of-A football fans are obligated to make. Visitors can gaze upon legendary memorabilia in exhibits that follow the long history of the University of Alabama football program, with notable games, players, and coaches highlighted throughout.
The Paul W. Bryant Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; tickets can be purchased online or at the door.
As you can see, Tuscaloosa has a lot to offer everyone. If you are looking to do more in the surrounding area, check out other weekend trips from nearby Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
These areas are perfect for a quick day trip or a long weekend getaway. Explore our favorite things to do or peruse some pre-built itineraries.