Tuscaloosa is western Alabama’s largest center for commerce, industry, and education, home to the University of Alabama and its legendary Crimson Tide football team.
Attractions such as the Alabama Museum of Natural History, the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art, and Lake Lurleen State Park entertain visitors attending football games and traveling to the city for family-friendly vacations.
1. Tuscaloosa Riverwalk
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Tuscaloosa Riverwalk spans the length of the Black Warrior River’s southern banks throughout Tuscaloosa’s downtown region, offering a paved trail that is open for walking, running, and bicycle use.
The two-way path stretches approximately 4.5 miles throughout the city, beginning at Capitol Park and ending on the eastern side of Manderson Landing. Park areas are showcased throughout the trail, offering dog-friendly exercise areas for pets and owners, and benches and gazebos sprinkled throughout the route allow for day-use picnic sites.
A playground is offered along the trail near the city’s public library, along with a splash pad located at the Bama Bell dock. Parking for the trail is available at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. Tuscaloosa Riverwalk is a great day trip idea.
2. Paul W. Bryant Museum
© Paul W. Bryant Museum
Paul W. Bryant Museum in Tuscaloosa, Alabama honors legendary University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, who served as the Crimson Tide’s head coach from 1958 to 1982 and led the team to a record six national championships. The museum was opened in 1988 on the university’s campus and is part of the University of Alabama Museums system, which also oversees museums such as the Alabama Museum of Natural History.
Collections and exhibits showcase the history of football in the state, with more than a third of collections dedicated to the life and career of the famed coach. Other notable coaches and players are also honored, with a focus on figures who helped lead the school to national championship titles.
Significant artifacts on display include a Waterford Crystal houndstooth hat recreating Bryant’s iconic headwear and a research room containing archival footage of more than 1,000 of the team’s games.
300 Paul W Bryant Dr, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35401, Phone: 205-348-4668
3. The Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
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The Tuscaloosa Amphitheater is located on Jack Warner Parkway near the University of Alabama campus and is the largest outdoor amphitheater in the western Alabama region, seating up to 7,470 eventgoers.
The theater was designed by Harrison Construction and opened to the public in April of 2011 with a concert performance by the Avett Brothers and Band of Horses.
Since then, it has showcased performances by major national and international recording artists such as Kenny Chesney and Patti LaBelle.
Box seats are available for rental at the amphitheater for ticket upgrades, offering premium stage views and in-seat wait staff service.
2710 Jack Warner Pkwy, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, Phone: 205-248-5280
4. The Children's Hands-On Museum
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The Children's Hands-On Museum is an interactive children’s museum in Tuscaloosa that offers 25 unique exhibits aimed at reinforcing STEM, arts, and civics concepts for children ages 0 through 13. Unique exhibits include a replica traditional Japanese house, constructed in collaboration with the city’s sister city of Narashino, and a replica Choctaw indigenous village from the 18th century. Other play areas include a recreated miniature farmer’s market, a child-sized hospital, an arts studio, and a full-sized space station. A wide variety of public special events are held throughout the year, including Halloween-themed events and a celebration for Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play. The museum also frequently hosts school field trip groups and private reservations for birthday parties.
2213 University Blvd, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, Phone: 205-349-4235
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5. Mercedes-Benz US International Visitor Center and Factory Tour
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Mercedes-Benz US International Visitor Center and Factory Tour is located in Vance and showcases the history of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, some of which have been produced in Alabama over the past two decades. The visitor center and museum are open Monday through Friday and offer free admission, showcasing iconic automobiles, race cars, and concept cars manufactured by the company, along with an exhibit on the company’s trademark Peerless Safety. Group tours of the adjoining Mercedes-Benz plant are also offered with advance registration, lasting approximately 90 minutes and detailing company operations. Tours are available on Monday and Wednesday mornings and afternoons and span a walking distance of approximately two miles throughout the plant.
11 Mercedes Dr, Vance, AL 35490, Phone: 205-507-2252
6. Capitol Park
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Capitol Park is the former site of the Alabama Capitol building, which housed the state’s seat of government between 1826 and 1846. Though the building burned to the ground in 1923, its remains still stand at the park today, including the stone foundation of its rotunda and several of its columns. The park is managed by the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society and preserves the state’s 19th-century history in a public setting for residents and visitors to enjoy. It serves as a popular picnic site and offers a shaded pavilion adjacent to the capitol ruins that is available to the public for day use.
2828 6th St, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, Phone: 205-248-5311
7. Bryant-Denny Stadium
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Bryant-Denny Stadium was originally opened as Denny Stadium in 1929, honoring the University of Alabama’s early 20th-century president George H. Denny. Today, it serves as the home stadium of the school’s legendary Crimson Tide football team, players in the Southeastern Conference, and jointly honors the team’s longtime head coach Paul Bryant. The stadium is the eight largest football stadium in the world, holding a capacity of 101,821 seats. Its home team enjoys a record of more than 200 wins since the stadium’s opening and has hosted some of the team’s most important games throughout its tenure as the state’s premiere college football team. Since 2009, it has also been the joint home of the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Super Seven state championship along with Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
920 Paul W Bryant Dr, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, Phone: 205-348-2262
8. The Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion
© The Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion
The Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion is a historic home in Tuscaloosa that was designed and constructed in 1862 for local politician Robert Jemison, Jr. The 26-room Italianate-style mansion was passed through Jemison’s descendants throughout the early 20th century and was the birthplace of Robert Jemison Van de Graaf. In the mid-2oth century, the mansion was converted into a library and later used to house publishing company offices until its acquisition by the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society in 1991. Today, it is open to the public as a living history museum, showcasing the home’s advanced 19th-century technology, which was considered some of the most revolutionary home technology in the state at the time of its construction. Guided tours of the home are available with reservation, and the home may be rented for private special events such as weddings and corporate events.
1305 Greensboro Ave, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, Phone: 205-758-2906
9. The Tuscaloosa Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
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The Tuscaloosa Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse was constructed in 2011, though its architecture is meant to evoke the Greek classical precedent of significant historical state buildings, including the city’s former 19th-century Capitol Building, which burned to the ground in 1923 and is remembered today at the city’s Capitol Park. The 127,000-square-foot building was constructed by Chicago’s HBRA Architects at a cost of $47.8 million and houses facilities for the United States District Court, Bankruptcy Court, Probation Office, Attorney’s Office, Social Security Administration, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. In addition to viewing the building’s spectacular architecture, visitors may also admire its interior design, including a series of fine art paintings depicting the city’s history.
2005 University Blvd, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, Phone: 205-731-0135
10. The Old Tavern Museum
© The Old Tavern Museum
The Old Tavern Museum is housed within the city’s historic tavern building, constructed in 1827 by innkeeper William Dunton. Throughout its operation, the building housed state legislators and Confederate soldiers and temporarily served as the home of Governor John Gayle. Today, the tavern is one of the few 19th-century inns and taverns that remain standing in the state, showcasing the structure’s beautiful early Southern architecture. It has been restored by the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society and converted into a museum that showcases the region’s early history. Original antique furnishings and memorabilia from the city’s Capital period are also displayed throughout the museum.
500 28th Ave, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, Phone: 205-752-1998
11. Lake Nicol
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Lake Nicol is a beautiful local lake that is surrounded by a large wooded public park that is accessible via a heavily-forested entrance road near McFarland and University Boulevards. The park is located near many private residences, giving it a quaint, neighborhood-use vibe, though it is open to the public for residents and visitors alike. Boating, fishing, and picnicking are popular outdoor activities during the summer season, and in winter, the lake serves as one of the best regional sites for golden-crowned kinglet watching. Pine warblers, Eastern bluebirds, red-headed woodpeckers, and brown-headed nuthatches also populate the region, along with occasional sightings of bald eagles and osprey.
12. The Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum
© The Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum
The Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum is part of the University of Alabama Museums system and is located at the city’s historic Queen City Park, housed within its former pool house building, which was constructed in 1943 by Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice Don Buel Schuyler. After half a decade of use as a pool house, the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2011, the pool house as converted into a museum that chronicles the development of the city’s transportation systems and their impact on its economic and civic life. It is open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays during the morning and afternoon hours, with the exception of major national holidays.
1901 Jack Warner Pkwy, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, Phone: 205-248-4931
13. Murphy-Collins House and African-American Museum
© Murphy-Collins House and African-American Museum
Murphy-Collins House and African-American Museum preserves a two-story craftsman-style bungalow constructed in the early 1920s as a home for Will J. Murphy, the region’s first licensed African-American mortician. Its construction incorporated significant materials recovered from the city’s former Capitol Building after it burned to the ground in 1923. Today, it is operated by the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society and operates as a living history home and museum, showcasing the lifestyle and culture of the area’s notable early African-American residents. Home tours are available Wednesdays through Saturdays or by special appointment by contacting the facility directly. School programming is offered at the facility throughout the year, focusing on the Civil Rights Movement and aspects of African-American culture.
2601 Paul W Bryant Dr, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, Phone: 205-758-2861
14. The Battle-Friedman House
© The Battle-Friedman House
The Battle-Friedman House is a historic Antebellum period home that was constructed in 1835 by North Carolina native Alfred Battle as a family residence. The home was purchased by local merchant Bernard Friedman in 1875 and remained in the possession of the Friedman family until 1965, when it was acquired by the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society. Since 1972, it was been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is open to the public as a living history home museum, showcasing the state’s only known Antebellum garden. Guided tours are available Tuesdays through Saturdays, and private special event rentals are available for weddings and corporate events.
1010 Greensboro Ave, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, Phone: 205-758-6138
15. DePalma's Italian Cafe
© DePalma's Italian Café
DePalma's Italian Café has been a downtown Tuscaloosa institution for more than two decades, serving fine Italian cuisine crafted from fresh ingredients. Its open-style kitchen allows diners to watch dishes being prepared while they wait for their orders. The restaurant’s expansive menu highlights Italian favorites such as antipasto options, gourmet calzones, and specialty and create-your-own pizzas. House specialties include favorites such as creative handmade ravioli and artisanal lasagna of the day selections. Classic Italian desserts are also available, including the restaurant’s signature white chocolate bread pudding, along with a variety of cappuccino and espresso beverages and an extensive wine and local craft beer menu.
2300 University Blvd, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, Phone: 205-759-1879
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16. Mugshots Grill and Bar
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Mugshots Grill and Bar is a laid-back bar and community gathering place that opened its doors to its first franchise location in 2004 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Its Tuscaloosa location was opened to the public in September of 2007, its third location throughout the American Southeast. Today, the franchise operates 17 locations and has been voted as Mississippi’s best burger for several years running. The bar is known for its low prices and casual sports bar atmosphere. An extensive menu of classic American bar food is offered, including Hawaiian-inspired burgers and bar appetizers. A variety of favorite draft beers are tapped, including regional microbrewery offerings.
511 Greensboro Ave, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, Phone: 205-391-0572
17. Dreamland BBQ
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Dreamland BBQ opened its first Tuscaloosa location in 1958, owned and operated by John “Big Daddy” Bishop, a former regional brick mason. Today, the franchise operates several locations throughout Alabama and Georgia, including its original Jerusalem Heights location, near the intersection of Interstate 59 and Highway 82. It is known for its famous secret recipe barbecue sauce and barbecue ribs, which have been cooked the same way for more than half a century. A wide variety of Southern favorite side dishes are also offered, including homestyle baked beans, potato salad, and coleslaw. A full-service bar is offered at the restaurant, and a large potbellied stove showcases meal preparation for diners to observe.
5535 15th Ave E, Tuscaloosa, AL 35405, Phone: 205-758-8135
18. Archibald and Woodrow's Barbeque
© Archibald and Woodrow's Barbeque
Archibald and Woodrow's Barbeque was originally opened in Northport, Alabama in 1962 by George Archibald, Jr., his wife Betty, and his sister Paulette Washington. The franchise’s Tuscaloosa location was opened in 2002 by the owners’ grandson and serves the family’s classic hickory-smoked barbecue recipes, known for their rich, smoky flavor and slow-cooking to produce the most tender meats possible. A wide variety of Southern barbecue dishes are served, including meat by the pound options, chicken wings, and catfish and whiting platters. Country-style dinner plates are also served, flanked by a variety of classic homestyle Southern side dishes.
4215 Greensboro Ave, Tuscaloosa, AL 35405, Phone: 205-331-4858
River is an upscale restaurant located along the banks of the city’s scenic Black Warrior River that offers a wide variety of Creole-influenced Southern and French fare. Menu options include unique seafood dishes, artisanal flatbread pizzas, and twists on familiar favorites such as shrimp and grits. A full brunch menu is offered on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and happy hour specials on wine, beer, specialty prosecco cocktails, and sangria are available Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons. Though reservations are not required, visitors should know that seating may be limited during peak times such as home football game weekends and University of Alabama annual events.
1650 Jack Warner Pkwy NE Unit 1005, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, Phone: 205-632-3801