College Towns of the South: Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Home of the Alabama Crimson Tide

When most people think of Tuscaloosa, they think of the Crimson Tide. But those who know this city well think of so much more: fishermen reeling in bluegill from their boats on Lake Tuscaloosa; students jogging along the town’s scenic Riverwalk; kids filling up on biscuits—and Bama stories of old—at Rama Jama’s across from Bryant-Denny Stadium. Beyond the sports culture that brings the city national attention, Tuscaloosa offers a range of options for travelers.

Visitors who want to stay in the heart of the action should check out Hotel Capstone, located on the University of Alabama campus. It sits adjacent to the Paul W. Bryant Museum, which tells the story of Bama football and pays honor to legendary head coach “Bear” Bryant. For something more secluded, try the Bama Bed and Breakfast, situated on the shores of beautiful Lake Tuscaloosa.

Days here begin with big Southern breakfasts. Diners at Rama Jama’s, the town’s beloved greasy spoon, can check out generations of Alabama Athletics memorabilia. Another favorite, The Waysider is known for its cozy dining room, buttery biscuits, and elephant-shaped pancakes.

Battle-Friedman House
Battle-Friedman House

Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society

Spend the afternoon getting a taste of local culture. You’ll find the famed Hodges Meteorite at the Alabama Museum of Natural History, built in a Classic Revival style that draws comparisons to the natural history museums in Chicago and New York. And be sure to tour the antebellum Battle-Friedman House, featuring Tuscaloosa-styled paneled square columns and a fine collection of Renaissance Revival furniture. Nature lovers will enjoy strolling the Riverwalk and exploring the university’s arboretum on trails winding through native woodlands.

For dinner, reserve a seat at the Chef’s Counter Tasting at Epiphany in nearby Northport, known for its seasonal dishes and extensive wine list. Cap the night raising a glass of hoppy pale ale, brewed locally by Druid City Brewing Company, at The Houndstooth—so named for the iconic patterned hat Bryant wore on the field.


“One of the most unique places on our campus is the Bryant Museum. There’s nothing like it in all of college athletics. It’s an excellent tribute to Coach Bryant, as well as a great place to learn about the culture of our university and the impact that our football program has had.” — Bill Battle, director of athletics, class of 1962

“One of the most relaxing places to take visitors is the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk. It’s so peaceful to watch the flow of the Black Warrior River and the Bama Belle riverboat pass by.”—Meredith Cummings, professor of journalism

“Barbecue and Alabama football go hand in hand; try the ribs at Dreamland or Archibald’s. Then visit Gallette’s and order the Yellowhammer, a specialty drink named for the state bird of Alabama and part of a cheer that goes back to the beginnings of Alabama football.” —Sam Sparks, class of 1971