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College Destination Survival Guide: Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The Alabama Crimson Tide have dominated College Football for almost two decades. They are a blue blood and their gameday atmosphere matches the aura surrounding their program. I was lucky enough to check out their latest night game against LSU last weekend. 


If you have to travel to Tuscaloosa by air, I strongly suggest flying into Atlanta and driving for three hours with a rental car. The Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is extremely cheap and was $300 less than Birmingham’s, which is an hour from Alabama’s campus. However, if money is no issue, flying into Birmingham may be more convenient.


If you are looking for breakfast I received 3 recommendations. First Rama Jama’s is located near Bryant Denny Stadium and is known for breakfast foods, burgers, and milkshakes. If you are going to go to this little spot, make sure it’s not on gameday. The place gets overcrowded and the food is not close to its best.

The Waysider might be the most iconic breakfast spot in Alabama. Stories have been told of legendary football coach “Bear” Bryant waiting outside the establishment before it even opened. From the outside, it looks like a small home, but it’s a museum of the Crimson Tide on the inside complete with a table dedicated to “Bear” displaying where he sat. 

If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, I suggest Babes Donuts Co. Their baked goods are incredible, and breakfast sandwiches are underrated. This place is a bit “newer”, but should be included in your trips to Tuscaloosa.

If you are going to dinner, I can only recommend one place you have to visit, and that is Dreamland BBQ. It’s not much to look at (all the best places usually aren’t), but it gives you great southern BBQ for a fair price. I’d recommend the pork sandwich but also make sure you get an order of their sausage link. They may be the best links I’ve had in my life. This is the original Dreamland and is a must for any first-time visitor to Tuscaloosa. 


If you are in your 20s and are looking for spots the “youths” hang out then you want to go to University Boulevard. Go to Gallettes for a  “Yellow Hammer”, The Houndstooth for a sports bar, or Rounders if you are into more of a club scene.

I enjoy having a beverage with live music so I ended up at Rhythm and Brews. Besides for the $20 cover (seemed to be the standard downtown) it was great. Two acts from 8-2am. A country singer, and then an old 80s band, emphasis on the old. It was a good mix of college and alumni and wasn’t a nightmare to get drinks. 


Find a way to tailgate at the Quad. It’s the only real tailgate spot and it isn’t even close. If you have to park somewhere I found the letter lots (A-D) were fine. It’s a mile from the stadium but free shuttles all day. The walk is all sidewalk, and really isn’t that bad.


The first thing that needs to be discussed is Bryant-Denny Stadium. It’s absolutely gorgeous, truly a cathedral of College Football, make sure to walk by the “Walk of Champions” before you enter to see the statues of all the immortalized Crimson Tide coaches.

The production in the stadium is the best the sport has to offer. LED lights flashing, hype videos on the jumbotron, music blaring, it gives that “big game energy”. 

When the Tide runs out of the tunnel you could feel the electricity through the stadium, this carried over to Bama’s first defensive series. The place can get loud, especially with the overhangs on the sideline upper decks. It keeps the noise in. As a nitpick, during the second and third quarter the crowd was significantly quieter when the game was tied. It was almost like there was a nervous energy with a tight game. That changed and the juice returned when the Crimson Tide took the lead halfway through the fourth quarter. The place feels different when they are on top.

The highlight of the evening was the playing of “Dixieland Delight” by Alabama. I’ve heard a lot of fan participation in stadium songs, but nothing compares to this. It is one of the coolest traditions I’ve seen in person. Videos don’t do it justice. 

Tuscaloosa, Alabama is a bucket list College Football destination. It may be a little too “corporate” but that comes with the territory when you’ve been the best program in almost two decades. Everything you could possibly want for a big game atmosphere surrounds the stadium. It epitomizes College Football in the South.

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