This weekend my husband and I made our favorite two hour drive down to Tuscaloosa, Alabama (there will be an Auburn post coming soon, don’t worry). The reason: we had tickets to the Ole Miss Game. The truth is that it doesn’t take much to get us down there. It is a special place to us and so many others.
We did the game day thing Saturday. We got our favorite game day barbecue that is within walking distance of the stadium at Big Bad Wolves. They cater during the year and set up a stand on the strip during football weekends. Our favorite is the barbecue nachos.
Next, we headed over to the center of campus (the quad) for a little tailgating.
As you can see, game day is a crowded event and a whole post on its own. I’m sure every college school has some exciting traditions on game day. However, for my husband and I, a trip to Tuscaloosa is really all about nostalgia. We both spent a wonderful four years there. We met there and made some of our best friends. Oh yeah, we also got an education (I bet our parents would love for us to mention that part). For Charlie and I, Tuscaloosa will always be a place frozen in time. For many of you, I am sure your college town is the same way. We come back and things have changed (boy, have they). There are new dorms, new buildings, redesigned buildings, new roads, etc. Yet, we still walk around reminiscing about the “good ole days.” I remember when my grandparents would come to football games when I was in college, and my grandfather would talk about what things were like when he was in college. Well, we have officially become those people too.
The thing I love about Tuscaloosa, and any college town, is that every one who crosses its path has their own experiences and stories that forever stay with them. College was one of the best times of my life, and I love that Tuscaloosa will always feel like home, even though I only lived there for four years. The town leaves an impression on you, and I love any reason to visit. There are so many areas I love: downtown Northport, hole in the wall local joints like Nick’s In The Sticks (yes, it is really in the sticks), good barbecue like Dreamland and Archibald’s, Cypress Inn, The Black Warrior River, The Riverwalk and Capitol Park, the strip, and a little house near 15th Street I called home for two years.
So, after the game and all of Saturday’s festivities died down, Charlie and I walked around campus and downtown Sunday before leaving town to soak up a little bit of Tuscaloosa. Anyone who is in Tuscaloosa for an extended period of time knows that as exciting as game days are, the best times are the days you can take a nice quiet walk around the quad and the rest of campus.
A college recruiter once told my friend and I during our senior year of high school that a walk through the quad all the way to the Ferguson Student Center would sell you on coming to Alabama. He said it was the greatest walk in the world. At the time, we thought this was a cheesy line. Although still cheesy and a little exaggerated, this walk might now be the happiest walk in the world for me.
The quad is not only the center of campus, but a special place for Charlie and I because this is where we got engaged and took many special walks together. It is the original site of campus where many buildings were burned during the Civil War. There is a mound on the quad where one of the old dorms stood. Half of the quad is covered with trees and the other half is open grass. There is nothing like walking across the quad on a fall day.
After taking a short walk around campus, we headed to downtown Tuscaloosa, which has a life of its own. There are so many great shops and restaurants downtown. I don’t have enough room in this post to name them all, so here are some favorites.
DePalma’s is one of my favorite places to eat in Tuscaloosa. My dad took me there first for my birthday while visiting his freshman daughter. I later shared memories of eating there with friends, as well as my family after graduation. My best friend actually met her husband in this restaurant. My favorite dish: the Pasta DePalma, which has angel hair pasta tossed in a creamy sauce and your choice of meat topped with cheese. I also love their caesar salad. Don’t ask me why, but caesar salad is just better at DePalma’s! Side note: my uncle who is quite a food critic ate here on a game day weekend and even gave it his seal of approval. You will love it!
There are also a lot of restaurants and bars right by the river.
Downtown has expanded a great deal through the years, but the heart of downtown still has the same character I love.
Lastly, I have to give a shout out to Chuck’s Fish. My husband and I ate here the night we got engaged. It was a place we loved to go on special occasions. I personally like the stuffed shrimp. They also have a fresh catch that comes directly from their own market in Destin, Florida. The sushi is also delicious, and I have been told by a good friend and Tuscaloosa resident that some of the best sushi is not on the menu, such as the screaming o, red light district, and donkey roll.
Well, there just isn’t enough room to talk about all my Tuscaloosa favorites. Whether you have tons of memories like I do of Tuscaloosa, or you are looking for a new, quaint college town to visit, a weekend stroll in Tuscaloosa is always a treat.
Let me know what your favorite places in Tuscaloosa are. Also, where should we go next?