Whether you need a relaxing, laid-back weekend or an exciting one full of hustle and bustle, Tuscaloosa is the perfect option. As one of Alabama’s biggest industry, education, and commerce centers, it is home to some fantastic attractions to please visitors from all walks of life. There is an abundance of things to do in Tuscaloosa on weekends and picking the best ones is no easy feat.
The delightful southern charm of this city is ideal for adventurers, couples, or families alike, with lots of events, delightful food, friendly locals, and an abundance of historical sites that will make your weekend enjoyable and worthwhile.
Venture into the Great Outdoors
Sunny days and pleasant weather are a perfect opportunity to go out and about in Tuscaloosa. Lucky for nature lovers that Tuscaloosa has picnic opportunities aplenty. There are so many spots to enjoy outdoor activities and the first has to be the Riverwalk.
The Black Warrior River runs through Tuscaloosa, offering paved multi-use trails which are suitable for an easy stroll, hiking, running, and taking pets for a walk. Along the trail, there are benches and lots of green areas to have a picnic, making it an ideal spot to unwind and relax in serene surroundings.
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Not far from the Riverwalk, there is a stunning man-made Lake Nicol which is only 15 minutes drive from downtown. Secluded and peaceful, this lake also has several miles of hiking trails. On top of that, kayaking and canoeing are hot here, with cliffs and inlets all around the lake and a little island right at the center to explore. From Lake Nicol Road you can also take Lake Harris Road that will take you to an equally idyllic Lake Harris but keep in mind that camping and motor vehicles are not allowed on this lake. Instead, you can park a bit further off and enjoy the trails that will lead you to the lake where you can enjoy a sunset or even take a dip.
The great outdoor adventure around Tuscaloosa doesn’t end here. As if the waterways and lakes aren’t enough, active visitors can hike through Hurricane Creek Park with multiple loops winding through it, accompanied by small beaches and swimming holes, running and biking trails, as well as various offshoots and paths. This park simply makes up for a perfect picnic opportunity you shouldn’t miss when visiting Tuscaloosa.
Tour Mercedes-Benz International Visitor Center and Museum
You don’t have to go all the way to Germany to admire and come face to face with the production of the iconic Mercedes-Benz. In fact, Tuscaloosa is the only place outside Germany with a Mercedes-Benz museum which will give you a detailed insight into the history of the company as well as some earlier models. Not only does the complex welcome all visitors with a knack for automobiles but it also offers educational and exciting tours of the plant.
Once there, you will be able to scour through the five areas telling the story of these vehicles: safety, performance, innovation, design, and vision. There is one thing to keep in mind, though. If you’re visiting Tuscaloosa on Saturday or Sunday, you won’t have the chance to visit the plant nor the museum because they’re open for visits Monday to Friday. Instead, it’s best to take a long weekend and go to Tuscaloosa on Friday or else, stay until Monday. In addition to this, the tours of the factory have to be booked at least a few days in advance.
Take a Sports Tour
Among the other things that make this city unique, sport is yet another one that earned Tuscaloosa fame, not only in the States but also worldwide.
If you’re a football fan who happens to be in Tuscaloosa without a clear idea of what to do, you don’t even know how lucky you are. Paul W. Bryant Museum is an awesome point of interest not only because it holds a special emphasis on the legendary football coach Bryant but also because it inspires and educates the audience about significant accomplishments and contributions of the athletes of the University of Alabama. Along with an impressive collection from the career of Coach “Bear”, there is a whole collection of memorabilia from the chronicles of Alabama football.
In case you thought Tuscaloosa has no other sports attractions, wait until you discover the grandiose Bryant–Denny Stadium. This stadium is one of the largest stadiums in the world and 8th biggest in the United States, with the capacity to seat 101,821 fans. Being the home stadium for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team, it becomes the number one spot for special events whenever the home team is playing. If you visit Tuscaloosa just in time to catch a game, you will be amazed at a deafening volume and electric atmosphere all around you.
Take a Step Back in History
Nothing will quite depict just how much Tuscaloosa is important for the US unless you pay a visit to some of the historical sites in and around it. These museums and sites are a great way to spend your Saturday in this lovely city. If you happen to visit Tuscaloosa during the weekend, it’s best to visit the museums on Saturday as they’re closed on Sundays.
The Museum of Natural History is open to visitors Monday to Saturday. Founded in 1831, this museum is the oldest in the state. Collections and exhibitions on display track the wildlife back to ancient history. The museum also hosts special events that are both educational and fun.
If you feel so inclined, you can also explore the Moundville Archaeological Site which holds the remnants of the ancient pre-Colombian culture. These ancient ruins and mounds are only half an hour’s drive from the city and they speak volumes about a Native American society that constructed it over a thousand years ago.
History connoisseurs and appreciators will surely revel in a trip to Capitol Park. Back in the 19th century when Tuscaloosa was the Alabama State Capitol, the beautiful capitol building was an impressive sight. After the fire in 1923, all that remained of the once-majestic edifice are the remnants of the rotunda and pulverized columns which speak about its bygone glory. The ruins are situated within a scenic park in Tuscaloosa and apart from evoking the past, they make up for perfect weekend attraction.
Admire the Art
Long weekends are the best weekends, especially if you head to a lively city such as Tuscaloosa. Art lovers will definitely be thrilled to hear that the city of Tuscaloosa has a special day every month and organizes art events, plays, exhibitions, and other activities. The first Friday of each month becomes the day when businesses, local galleries, restaurants, and theaters open their doors to art lovers across the city. This monthly event is always free and it was driven by the idea of promoting the spirit and culture of Tuscaloosa. During this Art Walk, visitors can pay a visit to The University of Alabama Galleries and The Arts Council at The Paul R. Jones Gallery, the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, O’Connor Art Studios, Harrison Galleries, and Grace Aberdean Habitat Alchemy. This Art Walk is a perfect opportunity to kick off your Tuscaloosa weekend.
As one of the biggest community theatres in the state, Theatre Tuscaloosa and its partner Shelton State Community College deliver premium theatrical experiences all year round. With the 2018-2019 season in full swing, any visitor to Tuscaloosa will have the chance to enjoy their quality theatrical productions.
Get into the Groove at Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
Music fans will be thrilled to hear that Tuscaloosa is also home to the largest outdoor theater in West Bama. This 15 acres, the open-air theater hosted some of the biggest household names in the past decade – Kings of Leon, Rod Stewart, John Legend, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, to name a few.
Located near the University of Alabama campus, it can seat 7,470 eventgoers under the clear blue sky, perfect for enjoying some of your favorite melodies. If you’re planning a weekend in this charming city and want to spend a few hours at a concert, make sure to check out music events in Tuscaloosa and see the upcoming performances.
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Grab a Bite at Fine Restaurants and Cafes
The city of Tuscaloosa is the mecca of gourmet meals and delicious delicacies in the whole state of Alabama. Deciding where to grab a bite is no easy feat, though, as you have so many options at your disposal.
If you feel up for running loose on the calories and giving in to the cravings over the weekend, you should definitely head to Southern Ale House. The best part is that this locally owned charming restaurant is open 7 days a week although they work shorter hours on Sundays. Their mouthwatering Pimento Mac & Cheese and Prime Rib Rolls are a must, along with other food specials from their menu. To top the weekend off at Southern Ale, make sure to try some of the best craft beers around.
In case you want a European vibe to your southern vacay this weekend, look no further than DePalma’s Italian Cafe & Restaurant. This quaint restaurant just outside Temerson Square has been serving freshly prepared pastas and Italian specialties for almost two decades. The locals with a sweet tooth will probably advise you to leave some room for their chocolate bread pudding which is simply delicious.
The sushi in Hokkaido Sushi restaurant is unparalleled in the whole of Tuscaloosa. This is the best place to go if you’re looking for authentic Japanese cuisine in town. You can watch as the chefs slice, flip, and sautée the food, making some of the freshest and most delicious pieces of sushi in Alabama. The best part is that it won’t break the budget as this restaurant is highly affordable.
Providing consistent quality for years on end, Side by Side restaurant is also the one you shouldn’t miss if you’re looking for a mix of sophistication, elegance, and southern charm. The menu incorporates a blend of California, French, and Southern-styles of cooking, all within a classic Tuscaloosa context.
The River restaurant is an awesome opportunity to take a sneak-peak of the scenic Black Warrior River. The restaurant’s patio accommodates guests in a lovely decor overlooking the river against the backdrop of the lush greenery on the banks. The menu is abundant in seafood delicacies and during the weekend, you can feast on a full brunch menu.
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After you spend a weekend in Tuscaloosa, you will come to realize why it goes by the slogan “the one and only”. Apart from its unique name, this city has some unforgettable attractions that should definitely make it to your next weekend bucket list.