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Wanderlust- December 2015 - Santa Fe
Girlfriend's Weekend Getaway: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
By Jill Dutton
Tuscaloosa is a perfect destination for a girlfriends’ weekend getaway. From a centrally-located train depot, to a walkable college town filled with museums, a river walk with a farmers’ market, farm-to-table eateries, quirky, unique shops, and even a microbrewery, you’ll find a weekend filled with food, arts, history, and entertainment.
Amtrak’s Crescent train runs from New Orleans to New York, with a multitude of stops at quaint southern cities, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, one of them. Whether traveling from northern or southern destinations, the Crescent train arrives in Tuscaloosa at approximately 1 p.m., allowing plenty of time to get a fun weekend started. The train depot is just a five-minute taxi ride from downtown Tuscaloosa and the Home2Suites by Hilton, so drop the bags at your luxurious (yet efficient) room, freshen up, and get ready to explore.
Check-in at Home2Suites by Hilton. Within walking distance of downtown dining, entertainment and businesses, the hotel features an indoor saline swimming pool, modern fitness center with personal TVs and MP3 player docks, and spacious, modern suites with full kitchens. There’s free breakfast each morning, as well.
Explore Downtown T-Town by foot. Just a few blocks from the hotel, stop for refreshments at Cravings, a specialty grocery, wine bar, and beer garden. Then head off to explore unique shops like The Makers Market, with all local hand-crafted items.
Just down the street is the Grand Hall Art Gallery. The gallery, located upstairs inside the Federal Building, features 16 stunning murals created by artist, Caleb O’Connor. It’s a stunning depiction of Tuscaloosa history that you won’t want to miss.
After an afternoon walking downtown Tuscaloosa, you’ll be ready for dinner and the best view of the sunset in T-town at the Cypress Inn, located on the river.
It’ll be a full day of exploring, so enjoy a hearty southern breakfast at The Waysider: Southern breakfast at its finest.
Head to the Farmers’ Market at the Tuscaloosa River Market, then take a chance to savor the local flavor, sights and sounds on the Tuscaloosa River Walk.
Visit the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art where you’ll explore one of the largest and greatest collections of American Art.
Head to Archibald’s BBQ for lunch. Voted #6 on the “Best BBQ in the US” list by USA Today, and #3 on Southern Livings “South’s Top 50 Barbecue Joints,” is located in a small building with just a handful of barstools and tables, but it’s worth a visit to taste this southern, tangy BBQ.
Explore the University of Alabama campus, where history abounds. From Civil War to Civil Rights, there are some interesting historical sites, and of course the Museum of Natural History–where the only meteorite ever known to strike a human is housed; plus the Bryant Museum where the history of the Crimson Tide is told.
Blaze the short trail of 15 minutes from downtown to Moundville Archaeological Park to transport yourself back in history. This must-see on any trip to the area will open your mind to a whole new Native American experience.
After so much exploring, quench your thirst with a refreshing afternoon beer at the Black Warrior Brewing Company, then return “home” to your hotel room to freshen up and get ready for a night on the town.
Stop for a wine tasting at Carpe Vino, then step over to Epiphany Cafe—New American Farm-to-Fork Cuisine—for appetizers.
After sampling a couple appetizers, walk just a few blocks over to The Side by Side for dinner. James Beard award winning Chef, Chris Hastings, created this concept located inside the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Tuscaloosa. His eclectic approach at combining the freshest local ingredients, a Southern flair and a unique dining experience make for a winning combination.
Visit the Temerson Square Entertainment District and burn off some calories dancing. Tuscaloosa is, after all, a funky little college town where live music can be found every night of the week.
Enjoy a hearty brunch at Five Bar restaurant before jumping back on the train.
For addresses and websites of locations listed, read the complete article at www.jilldutton.wordpress.com.
Jill Dutton is publisher of Evolving Magazine. Follow her story, Wanderlust: One Woman’s Journey of the USA by Rail, at www.jilldutton.wordpress.com.