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Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the namesake of the Tuscaloosa Destination, is located in west-central Alabama. The city serves as the seat of Tuscaloosa County and has a population of approximately 102,432 people. Tuscaloosa earned the nickname "the Druid City" due to its numerous water oaks planted since the 1840s. It was incorporated on December 13, 1819, and named after Chief Tuskaloosa, who was defeated by Hernando de Soto in the Battle of Mabila in 1540. Tuscaloosa served as the capital of Alabama until 1846.[1] The city offers a diverse range of attractions, including the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, the River Market, the Gateway Innovation and Discovery Center, the Government Plaza, the Riverwalk, Lake Tuscaloosa, the Children's Hands-On Museum, PARA, the Bama Theatre, and the Tuscaloosa Public Library system.[2] Lake Tuscaloosa and the Black Warrior River are two of the primary bodies of water in the region. The area varies from forested hills in the northeast to a low-lying, marshy plain in the southwest.[1] Tuscaloosa experiences a climate characterized by long, hot, and humid summers, short and cold winters, and partly cloudy and wet conditions year-round.[3] The history of the area involves the inhabitation of Native American tribes.[4] Tuscaloosa was also severely affected by what was described as a "violent" EF4 tornado during the 2011 Super Outbreak, causing significant destruction.[5]

What Tuscaloosa is known for

Located within the state of Alabama, the Tuscaloosa Destination encompasses land in the central part of the state. Cities within the region include Birmingham, Chelsea, Alexander City, Centreville, and Tuscaloosa, the latter of which is the destination's namesake. Tuscaloosa is located specifically in west-central Alabama and serves as the seat of Tuscaloosa County. Situated at the junction of the Gulf Coastal and Piedmont plains along the Black Warrior River, it has a population estimated at around 102,432 people as of 2022, making it the fifth-largest city in Alabama. Known initially as Tuskaloosa, the town earned the nickname "the Druid City" due to the numerous water oaks planted along its downtown streets since the 1840s. The city was incorporated on December 13, 1819, and was named after Chief Tuskaloosa, who led a Muskogean-speaking people. Chief Tuskaloosa was defeated by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in the Battle of Mabila in 1540. Tuscaloosa served as the capital of Alabama until 1846 when it was relocated to Montgomery.[1]

Tuscaloosa offers a range of attractions for visitors to participate in if desired. The Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, situated along the banks of the Black Warrior River, is reportedly the largest outdoor theater in West Alabama. Serving as a venue for arts and entertainment, the amphitheater hosts a number of concerts and events. The River Market, home to the Tuscaloosa Farmers Market, provides a space for locals and tourists to walk through, while also having the capability to host private events. The Gateway Innovation and Discovery Center serves as a hub for technological advancements, offering free access to laptops, tablets, and a digital library. Government Plaza, a five-acre park in downtown Tuscaloosa, hosts various festivals and events annually. Nature enthusiasts can explore the Riverwalk, which is a two-mile path that winds along the Black Warrior River and features shops, eateries, and a playground along the way. Lake Tuscaloosa, covering over nine square miles, offers opportunities for fishing, boating, and water activities.[2]

As previously mentioned, Birmingham, Alabama is another city located in the state's north-central region and serves as the seat of Jefferson County—the most populous county in Alabama. According to the 2021 census estimation, Birmingham had a population of 197,575 residents, making it the third-most populous city in the state, following Huntsville and Montgomery. The broader Birmingham metropolitan area—with a population of 1,115,289 people as of 2020—is the largest metropolitan area in Alabama and ranks the 50th-most populous in the United States. Birmingham connects the country's Deep South, Piedmont, and Appalachian regions.[7]

A particularly notable attraction in Birmingham is the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which is located in Mountain Brook near the Birmingham Zoo. In the zoo, visitors can find habitats that house elephants, giraffes, and lions, among other wildlife. Other attractions in this part of the region include McWane Science Center, Market at Pepper Place, Birmingham Museum of Art, Oak Mountain State Park, and Red Mountain Park.[6]


Spanning 70.3 square miles, about 10.1 of Tuscaloosa's total area is comprised of lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water. Lake Tuscaloosa, situated entirely within the city limits, and the Black Warrior River are the primary bodies of water in the area. Tuscaloosa is approximately 60 miles southwest of Birmingham, another city in the destination. The city is located on the fall line of the Black Warrior River, around 193 miles upstream from the river's confluence with the Tombigbee River at Demopolis. Tuscaloosa's geography and surroundings are relatively diverse, with forested hills dominating the northeast and a low-lying, marshy plain in the southwestern region. This variation is attributed to its positioning at the boundary between the Appalachian Highland and the Gulf Coastal Plain.[1]

Various types of wildlife and plants can be found within the destination. Specific types of fauna include the common watersnake, green anole, southern toad, gray ratsnake, Mediterranean house gecko, and the southern devil scorpion. As for insects, the Asian lady beetle, mottled snout, horned passalus beetle, and the two-lined spittlebug, inhabit the destination.[8]

Tuscaloosa experiences a climate characterized by long, hot, and humid summers, short and cold winters, and partly cloudy and wet conditions throughout the year. The average temperature in Tuscaloosa varies from 36°F to 91°F, with fairly rare instances of temperatures falling below 22°F or exceeding 97°F. For warm-weather activities, it is reported that the "best times of year to visit Tuscaloosa" are typically from late April to early June and from early September to mid-October. During the hot season, which lasts around four months from May to September, temperatures often exceed 84°F, peaking in July with an average high of 91°F. Conversely, the cool season spans approximately 2.8 months from November to February, with average highs below 62°F. January is generally the coldest month, with an average low of 36°F and a high of 56°F.[3] 


The Tuscaloosa Destination has a relatively diverse history that dates back to the time of Native American tribes. In Tuscaloosa—the namesake of the destination—the Native Americans reportedly came to the area due to the "Fall Line" of the Black Warrior River. The river shoals at Tuscaloosa made it a crossing point and attracted the attention of white settlers after the War of 1812. In 1819, the town of Tuscaloosa was incorporated, one day before Alabama became a state, and it served as the state capital from 1826 to 1846. The establishment of the University of Alabama in 1831 further contributed to the town's growth. However, after the capital moved to Montgomery, the population declined during that time.[4]

During the Civil War, Tuscaloosa County contributed to the Confederate army, but the city also experienced hardships, including burning the university campus by a Federal raiding party. The construction of locks and dams on the Black Warrior River in the 1890s provided a cost-effective transportation link to the Gulf seaport of Mobile, stimulating economic growth in mining and metallurgical industries. Throughout the 20th century, the presence of The University of Alabama and multinational manufacturing plants, such as Michelin Tires, JVC America, and Chrysler-Mercedes, aided in Tuscaloosa's contribution to the global economy.[4]

Tuscaloosa is often regarded as a center for industry, commerce, healthcare, and education in West Alabama. It is the principal city of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area, encompassing Tuscaloosa, Hale, and Pickens counties. The city has several prominent educational institutions, including the University of Alabama, Stillman College, and Shelton State Community College. While Tuscaloosa gained attention for the establishment of a Mercedes-Benz assembly plant in Tuscaloosa County in 1993, the University of Alabama remains a significant economic and cultural force, contributing to the city's college-town atmosphere. Notably, the Alabama Crimson Tide football team has won the College Football National Championship in multiple seasons, and since then, the city has adopted the nickname "The City of Champions." [1]

On April 27, 2011, a threatening EF4 multiple-vortex tornado caused significant destruction in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama, as well as neighboring communities and rural areas between the two cities. This tornado was part of the 2011 Super Outbreak, which was reported to be the largest tornado outbreak in the history of the United States, producing 360 tornadoes. The tornado that impacted Tuscaloosa and Birmingham was particularly devastating and ranks among the costliest tornadoes on record. It had a maximum path width of 1.5 miles as it passed through Tuscaloosa and again when it crossed I-65 north of Birmingham. The tornado was estimated to have reached winds of 190 mph shortly after passing through Tuscaloosa. It then moved on to affect parts of Birmingham with high-end EF4 intensity before eventually dissipating. This event marked the third tornado to strike the city of Tuscaloosa in the past decade and the second to occur within two weeks.[5]