Blog 66: Things to do in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

In February, we took an 8-hour road trip to Nashville to attend the Blissdom bloggers’ conference. We had plenty of time on the road to dream up fun new ideas for nwaMotherlode. At one point, Shannon said, “Wouldn’t it be great if you could get insider tips from someone who lives in the city you’d like to visit?”

And that’s how this new feature was born — Blog 66, where busy parents can get great travel tips before they visit cities across the U.S.

We asked lots of new Blissdom friends from all over the country if they’d help us kick off this new series. Our first resident tour guide (and fellow mom blogger) is Misty Matthews from Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Tips from insider Misty Matthews

Thanks so much to the ladies at nwaMotherlode for inviting me to guest post in their travel series. I met these ladies at Blissdom, and we almost immediately found that we had a similar background in journalism.

I live in Tuscaloosa, best known as the home of The University of Alabama. Football season is, by far, the best time to visit — just ask the 80,000+ fans who pour in every home-game weekend. There’s lots to see and do, even in the off-season, plus Birmingham is just a short 45-minute drive away.

When you’re in Tuscaloosa, you should definitely plan to eat at…

You definitely don’t want to miss out on the original Dreamland BBQ. This hole-in-the-wall T-town legend serves up the best ribs this side of the Mississippi, and just going there is an experience.

Another local favorite is City Cafe, particularly popular with students for its inexpensive meat-and-three meals. It’s only open on weekdays for breakfast and lunch, so plan accordingly.

For more upscale dining, Chuck’s Fish is a big hit, offering sushi and fresh seafood brought up from the Gulf of Mexico.

The best shopping can be found at…

Midtown Village, which offers a good combination of big-box stores and locally owned boutiques. If you are up for driving to Birmingham, The Summit provides a fun outdoor shopping experience with lots of great restaurants.

You do NOT want to miss seeing…

The University of Alabama campus. It’s full of history, plus if you are a football fan, you can take a picture in front of Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Another must-visit is Kentuck, a local arts organization that has a gallery in downtown Northport, Tuscaloosa’s sister city. Kentuck hosts its A La Carte series one Saturday each month, as well as Art Night the first Thursday of each month. If you are in town in October, you might even catch the Kentuck Festival of the Arts, a large, regional arts festival held annually.

Don’t worry about going to…

The Bama Belle riverboat. It’s really not that exciting. Another not-so-great attraction is the Paul Bryant Museum. Unless you are really into football history, it’s not really that interesting.

Be sure to take your kids to…

In Tuscaloosa, the Children’s Hands-On Museum. It’ll provide them hours of entertainment. In Birmingham, the McWane Center, which has a host of educational playthings for the kids.

For couples-only excursions, consider staying at…

Ross Bridge in Birmingham. It’s a Marriott resort that looks like a castle nestled on a golf course and also offers spa services.

The best time of year to visit Tuscaloosa is…

NCAA football season. Get tickets if you can!

The cool thing about Tuscaloosa is…

The great local eateries. There are even more than the ones I mentioned above, so you won’t go hungry while you are here!

Misty Mathews is a writer whose life goal is to sell a novel titled Telephone Book, consisting of telephone listings from around the United States and so well written that it’s actually interesting. She is a working mom and a PPD-surviving warrior ninja. You can find her on Twitter (@mistymathews) or writing regularly at