August 29, 2021

University of Alabama Bucket List: 8 off-campus things every student must do

4.5 min read

Now that summer’s coming to a close and school is officially back in session, colleges and universities across the state are once again welcoming freshmen onto their campuses for the first time. As students explore their new homes and find their place on campus, they’ll also want to start getting to know their new community apart from their college colors. Outside of spending time on the Quad and attending Crimson Tide football games, Tuscaloosa offers plenty to do for students off campus. Here are eight things that students absolutely must cross off their Bama Bucket List before graduating.

See our Auburn bucket list here.

Wander along the Riverwalk

The Tuscaloosa River Walk is a 4.5-mile paved trail that runs along the southern bank of the Black Warrior River. Stop at both its end points: Capitol Park, where you can see ruins of the former state capitol building, and Manderson Landing, where there are plenty of benches and picnic tables. On Saturdays, be sure to stop at the Tuscaloosa River Market between 7 a.m. and noon for fresh produce and local wares from more than 70 vendors.

(Tuscaloosa River Market/Facebook)

Attend the Kentuck Festival of the Arts

After 50 years, the Kentuck Festival of the Arts is as much a tradition in Tuscaloosa as winning National Championships. Each fall, thousands of visitors travel from all over the South and the entire country to see and buy the work of more than 270 folk and contemporary artists. In addition to the exhibitors, the festival also features live music, kid’s art projects, food trucks, craft brews, and maker demonstrations. This year’s festival will be held October 16–17 in Kentuck Park.

(Kentuck Art Center/Facebook)

See a Show at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater

Situated on the banks of the Black Warrior River just minutes from downtown, there’s nothing like taking in a concert at the largest outdoor theater in West Alabama. This fall’s calendar of bands includes Lady A, Rod Wave, Chris Tomlin, The Revivalists, Riley Green, Santana, The Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffett, and more.

(Tuscaloosa Amphitheater/Facebook)

Explore Moundville Archaeological Park

Honor Tuscaloosa’s native history by visiting one of the nation’s premier Native American heritage sites. Moundville preserves 326 acres where 800 years ago Mississippian people constructed 29 massive flat-top earthen mounds arranged around a central plaza. Take in panoramic views of the monuments, then stop into the museum to learn more and see artifacts unearthed from the site.

(Moundville Archaeological Park and Museum/Facebook)

Explore the Area’s Lakes

They’re not quite at Great Lake status, but Tuscaloosa’s many lakes offer plenty of opportunity for outdoor recreation. They’re a great place to fish, swim, canoe, kayak, paddleboard, or just go exploring for a day. Popular spots include Lake Tuscaloosa, Lake Nicol (rumor has it there are some secret spots to go cliff jumping there!), and Lake Lurleen.

(Lake Lurleen State Park-Alabama/Facebook)

Take a BBQ Tour 

The latter half of our Bama Bucket List is all about getting your grub on. Alabama is known for its legendary barbecue joints—and Tuscaloosa is no different. Head to Archibald’s in Northport where three generations have been carrying a tradition of out-of-this-world hickory-smoked ribs since 1962. Next, head to Dreamland Bar-B-Que in the city where the famous Southeast chain got its start as Dreamland Café opened by John “Big Daddy” Bishop in 1958. The only way to complete your Tuscaloosa barbecue tour is with one of the town’s best-kept secrets: Big Bad Wolves BBQ Nachos. Served only on gamedays on the patio of The Strip’s Houndstooth Bar, they’re the real-deal Tuscaloosa experience.

(Big Bad Wolves/Facebook)

Get Dinner at Nick’s in the Sticks

A little off the beaten path, you’ll find Nick’s Original Filet House, known affectionately as Nick’s in the Sticks to most. Though it’s only five miles outside of town, the one-room, red cinderblock building really is in the middle of nowhere. In this unsuspecting building, you’ll find one best meals in town—for one of the best prices. For $11.50, you can get a small filet (wrapped in bacon and perfectly seasoned), a salad, and the choice of crisp, sweet onion rings, fries, or a baked potato. If you’re visiting with anyone of legal drinking age, the restaurant’s signature drink The Nicodemus is a must.

(Teresa Smith Robinson/Facebook)

Get Your Southern Food Fix at Rama Jama’s & City Café

Located just steps from Bryant-Denny Stadium, Rama Jama’s is known for its massive, stick-to-your-ribs Southern breakfasts featuring everything from buttery biscuits and gravy to creamy grits and center-cut ham. If you’re brave or feeling especially spirited, order the National Championship BLT. It stacks a slice of bacon for every National Championship the Tide has brought home. For the record, that’s 18 and counting. Find more Southern comfort at Northport establishment City Café, a near-century-old meat-and-three that’s best known for its late hours (open until 4 a.m.) and back-in-time prices.

(Rama Jama’s/Facebook)

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