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A gameday guide to navigating Tuscaloosa during Iron Bowl weekend

<p>Deshaun Davis (57) tackles Alabama's Damien Harris (34) in the second half. Auburn vs Alabama on Saturday, Nov. 26 in Tuscaloosa, AL.</p>

Deshaun Davis (57) tackles Alabama's Damien Harris (34) in the second half. Auburn vs Alabama on Saturday, Nov. 26 in Tuscaloosa, AL.

As one of the biggest rivalries in college football plays out this weekend in Tuscaloosa, Auburn’s traveling fan base may need some ideas for how to spend their weekend. Here are some things to expect as well as recommended restaurants, bars and activities from local Tuscaloosans.

Navigating campus and Tuscaloosa itself for game day can be a little different from Auburn.

“Their campus handles gameday traffic much better than we do. Tuscaloosa doesn’t cling to the delusion of being a tiny, southern town like Auburn does, so traffic is only mildly annoying. It makes parking pretty easy despite so many people going to the games,” said Grayson Callahan, sophomore in civil engineering.

Callahan was born and raised in Tuscaloosa, but now attends Auburn. Being from the Druid City, he warned of Tuscaloosa’s intense football culture. 

“Football is religion there. Football is God and Saban is a prophet. A somewhat close game causes public outcry,” Callahan said. “The Bama dude that poisoned the trees on Toomer’s was a local celebrity. People would stop and take pictures with him years afterward. It’s a dirtier town. Uglier. And a lot less friendly.”

Tuscaloosa’s large fan base and student population, however, does mean there are many restaurants, sports grills and bars to choose from. 

“Mugshots is the greatest burger place around,” Callahan said. “I would also recommend Heritage House. It’s a coffee shop, and usually packed on game days, but it’s a truly amazing place. I meet almost exclusively there with friends when I go home.”

Luke Jenkins, freshman in biomedical sciences, is also an Auburn student but Tuscaloosa resident. He recommends multiple restaurants and bars, including Buffalo’s cafe and Baumhower’s, which are sports grills. 

“Avenue Pub is a great small restaurant/bar in downtown Tuscaloosa, and there is a taco mama downtown too,” Jenkins said. “Houndstooth and Rounders are very popular gameday bars, and Buffalo Phil’s is a restaurant/bar on campus. It has great buffalo dip.” 

Brooke Romanchik, sophomore in economics at Alabama, also recommends Buffalo Phil’s. 

“It’s very bar foody, but it’s all very good. They’re especially known for their buffalo dip. It’s a great place to check out for Iron Bowl Weekend,” Romanchik said. 

Jenkin’s favorite restaurant however is Billy’s Sports Grill, which is in downtown Northport, just across the Black Warrior River from Tuscaloosa. 

“They even have a shuttle that will take fans to the game and pick them back up free,” Jenkins said. 

For other, non-football activities, both Callahan and Jenkins recommend the riverwalk. 

“The riverwalk is the single greatest thing in the city. It’s absolutely beautiful. Sometimes they’ll hold Shakespeare plays there, and you can see rowers rowing down the river,” Callahan said. 

Jenkins added that it has paved trails along the river, and picnic tables and gazebos along the path. 

“There’s also Bowlero, a new bowling alley/arcade that is right across from University Mall and Midtown Village,” Jenkins said. “There’s Civil Axe Throwing too.”

Finally, Jenkins recommends Midtown village for shopping. “There’s lots of really cool small businesses in downtown Tuscaloosa and downtown Northport. The shirt stop is a very famous store,” Jenkins said. “There is also the Paul W. Bryant Museum and other sports-related things on campus.”

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