If you’ve ever spent a fall Saturday inside a packed stadium, you know how hot Tuscaloosa can be. Temperatures begin to rise in early summer, and it’s not long before sunny days can reach triple digits. But don’t worry if melting isn’t your style – there are a number of lakes in and around the city that offer fun ways to beat the heat!
This 250-acre lake in Lurleen Lake State Park is a family favorite on hot summer days. The lake itself is large, deep, and equipped with multiple boat-launch areas and wide fishing piers so anglers can cast for largemouth bass, bream, crappie, and catfish. There’s also an on-site boat rental where you can rent paddleboats, canoes, kayaks and motorboats for some scenic joy-riding. If swimming is more your style, a large stretch of sandy beach and enclosed swimming area offer a great place to cool off safely. When your fingers start to prune, be sure to explore the park for even more fun in the sun – you’ll find 23 miles of multi-use trails, an interactive Nature Center, play and picnic areas, and more.
The largest lake in the area lies just five miles north of the city. Lake Tuscaloosa is a man-made reservoir that’s nearly 6,000 acres in size, offering 177 miles of shoreline, 40 billion gallons of water and several public boat ramps for endless lake-based adventure.
Although it was made to provide the area with ample drinking water, Lake Tuscaloosa is a popular place for outdoor recreation. Because the lake drains into the Black Warrior River basin, it has a thriving fish population and anglers can catch a nice mix of sport fish and non-game species. Swimming, tubing, and paddling are also popular activities, and there’s always something to explore among the lake’s scenic landscapes and shaded inlets.
It may have been designed as the “backup” to Lake Tuscaloosa, but Lake Nicol has some big charm of its own. It’s smaller and more secluded than other lakes in the area, but its scenic landscapes and private swimming holes make it a perfect place for swimming, canoeing, and paddleboarding. It’s also surrounded by miles of lush hiking trails and tall lakeside overlooks that offer panoramic views of the lake (but don’t be tempted to dive-off, as cliff-jumpers can face a $500 fine). All that dense lakeside forest is also great for birdwatching, and enthusiasts will find a large diversity of songbirds, waterfowl, waders, shorebirds, and migrant species.
Take a short drive down a dirt road just minutes from the U of A campus (and WestGate condos) to find Lake Harris, a hidden gem that features high cliffs, a sandy beach, two dams, a spillway that acts as a natural waterslide, and gorgeous hiking trails. The lake is open to the public from sunrise to sunset, and students have been flocking here for decades to swim, splash, and enjoy sunset picnics.
No matter which Tuscaloosa lake you’re looking for, you’ll find them all within driving distance of WestGate. Plus, when you’re done with fun in the sun you can return to relax in luxurious comfort just steps from the U of A Stadium! A summer stay at WestGate is truly the best of both worlds, so book your stay today!