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48 Hours in Tuscaloosa

While in Tuscaloosa, law students like to think of themselves as locals, learning about their new home, exploring neighborhoods, participating in activities, and enjoying as many restaurants as possible.  We understand that heading somewhere new can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you are trying to learn about a community in a short visit. So we’ve chosen some of our favorites to make this ultimate 48 hour itinerary.

Whether you’re visiting Tuscaloosa for the first time or think of driving onto University Boulevard as a homecoming, we think everyone can discover some of the things that make T-Town great in this guide.

Day 1- Get to know the campus

What better way to start your visit to Tuscaloosa than by diving into the campus that may be more famous than the city itself?

UA central campus and denny chimes

11:30 a.m. Lunch at Rama Jama’s

Rama Jama’s is just about as close as you can possibly get to Bryant-Denny Stadium without actually being inside. A veritable shrine to Alabama football, it could give the Bryant Museum a run for its money when it comes to its collection of Crimson Tide memorabilia.  But you don’t have to be a Bama fan to love their food.  Grab a hamburger and one of their famous milkshakes and take a class in quintessential all-American food without having to leave your chair.

1:00 p.m. Alabama Museum of Natural History

A great place to start your afternoon at UA is in one of the three iconic yellow-brick buildings on campus.  The Alabama Museum of Natural History, located in Smith Hall, has come a long way from the small Natural History Museum collection that’s been a part of The University of Alabama since its classes began in 1831.  Now home to thousands of invaluable specimens from all lines of scientific research, even lovers of architecture can enjoy the multi-story Grand Gallery with its sweeping staircase made of Alabama marble and sky lights that flood the room with sunlight.

denny chimes and UA quad

2:00 p.m. Hang out on campus

Take a drive down University Boulevard and check out the quad.

There are not many places more beautiful than a college campus, and the campus of The University of Alabama is no exception.  With an idyllic quad surrounded by beautiful buildings, the campus provides plenty of places to stretch out on a blanket and relax or walk around and take in the beauty of the campus architecture. If you want to learn more about what you are seeing, look at the tour videos on the University’s website.

4:00 p.m. Shopping

If you are looking for some Alabama merchandise, grab some swag at the Supe Store, the official bookstore of The University of Alabama, or at one of the shops around campus.  You may even want to head downtown to check out shops like The Locker Room, which has been an outfitter of choice for residents and students in Tuscaloosa for over a half a century.  For most of its existence, it was located steps from The University’s campus, but with a recent move to Downtown Tuscaloosa, the store has even more space and an added inventory to match.

outdoor porch dining

6:00 p.m. Early Dinner Downtown

Head to one of the favorite spots among law students:

  • Avenue Pub
  • Central Mesa
  • Chuck’s Fish
  • Five
  • Ichiban
  • River
  • Urban Bar & Kitchen

7:30 p.m. An Evening Downtown

If there isn’t an A-list musician tearing up the stage at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, but you still have hopes to see live music, follow your ears downtown to the live music that suits your fancy.  You can’t miss at Druid City Music Hall.

Or if it is the first Friday of the month, participate in First Friday Art Walk, which is when you can see art exhibits displayed at local galleries and coffee shops.

Tuscaloosa ampitheater

Day 2 – Explore the City

8:30 a.m. Breakfast

Pick up some breakfast to go from Babe’s Donuts and enjoy some amazing fresh donuts.

9:00 a.m. River Market

Head down to the Black Warrior River to check out the River Market. Grab some fresh produce, meats, and flowers, all grown by local farmers. Open year-round every Saturday until noon.

10:00 a.m. The Riverwalk

The Riverwalk is a paved trail along the southern bank of the Black Warrior River that runs for several miles from downtown Tuscaloosa through to the campus of The University of Alabama and beyond. With a variety of park areas that are all dog friendly sprinkled along the trail, the pathway has plenty of benches, gazebos and hammock-friendly trees for quick breaks. The trail also provides a playground near the Public Library and a splash pad at the Bama Belle dock.

plate of fries

11:30 p.m. Downtown Northport

Downtown Northport is just across the river.

Make a stop at Alley Cake Company. This hidden gem is behind the main shops in Downtown Northport.  You can order gorgeous cakes and sweets ahead of time for special occasions, but if you walk in on a random afternoon, you’re in for a treat.  You can never predict what fun treats will be in the case, but we’ve never had anything we didn’t love.

Walk around Downtown Northport to see some great little shops including:

When you set foot in Anders Hardware, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time. Since 1909, friendly folks have been helping Tuscaloosa and Northport residents with all their hardware store needs.

The Toy Shoppe is the place to go if you want to find a unique mix of toys you can’t find at the “big box” stores. They’ll even assemble and wrap your toys free of charge.

The Kentuck Art Center is really a work of art itself.  Historical highlights of this century-old building pair perfectly with custom design elements by studio artists.  Inside the Kentuck buildings you will find the exhibition gallery, a shop, and work spaces for several studio artists in residence.  And outside, enjoy the Courtyard of Wonders, a perfectly-shaded space filled with folk-art sculptures and mosaics.

1:00 p.m. BBQ Lunch

It’s a barbecue rivalry for the ages.  In Tuscaloosa, you love one or the other. Be prepared to pick a side in this war.

Dreamland opened in 1958


Archibald’s which opened in 1962

2:30 p.m. Museums

Try one of these museums to give your afternoon some culture.

art gallery exhibit

The Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art at the Paul R. Jones Gallery honors the late Paul R. Jones who, during his lifetime, amassed one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of twentieth-century African-American art in the world.

OR…take a short drive down to Moundville Archaeological Park  which was occupied by Native Americans from approximately 1000 A.D. to 1450 A.D., when it was the largest city in North America.

depalmas restaurant in downtown tuscaloosa

6:00 p.m. Dinner at Depalma’s

Grab a glass of wine and take it slow at DePalma’s. While the waits can be long to get into this smaller restaurant that’s been on a corner downtown for decades, it’s worth it for the great Italian dining offered in this downtown staple.

9:00 p.m. An Evening at the Alcove

The Alcove is probably the most award-winning bar in Tuscaloosa and is a favorite of grad students. Whether it’s the local Tuscaloosa Magazine, or national publications like Men’s Health and Garden and Gun, everyone seems to agree that the Alcove is a great place to kick back and enjoy great drinks with fun people.

Day 3 – Explore the Outdoors

8:30 a.m. Breakfast at the Waysider

Waysider is a legendary favorite of some of Bama’s best coaches. Whatever you get, if you aren’t ordering a side of biscuits, you aren’t doin’ it right.

10:00 a.m. Lake Day

Take a mid-morning hike at Lake Lurleen. Rent a canoe or bring your bike for one of the many multi-use trails that surround the lake. All you need is $4 cash and some good shoes!

coffee shop bar

12:00 p.m. Coffee Downtown

Grab a quick cup of coffee for the road on your way out of town.

Heritage House Founded in 1994, Heritage House was the first coffee shop in town (yes, they were here before Starbucks). Over the years, they have expanded and now have three locations around town.

Monarch Espresso Bar Self-described “craft coffee,” this shop started with a kickstarter and took off from there.

Turbo Coffee and fresh, made in-house cold-pressed juices, acai bowls, superfood smoothies, and pastries.

FIVE Java Coffee and juice bar in one.

UPerk Nitro Iced tea & coffee on tap. That sounds pretty intense.

**This guide is not intended to be an endorsement of any of the listed locations or activities, nor is it an exhaustive list. Tuscaloosa has a lot of great things to offer, most of which are not within this list. So get out there and explore to find your favorites!