ALABAMA

Crimson: Alabama's Favorite Fall Color

Take a drive along Alabama's longest highway, Interstate 65, during fall and you'll see the Heart of Dixie awash in an array of brilliant shades. Nestled among the many copses of pines are dazzling oaks, loaded with local football fans' favorite color - crimson! Tuscaloosa's own, the Alabama Crimson Tide, has plenty of reasons to welcome the arrival of fall. Autumn in Alabama means football and a return to the field of glory for undoubtedly the nation's most followed college team.

So what makes the Crimson Tide so special? By the end of the 2011 football season, the Tide boasted 814 victories, held 14 national championships and 33 bowl wins. From September to November (and sometimes beyond) you'll find the state decorated in crimson, white and Coach Bear Bryant's trademark hounds tooth.

Even if you don't hold season tickets you'll find a pilgrimage to Tuscaloosa a pleasant escape. Take a fall football trip and get to know champion Coach Nick Saban and his team a little better.

First stop - the Paul W. Bryant Museum located at 300 Paul W. Bryant Drive in Tuscaloosa. Admission is only $2 for adults and $1 for seniors and children over 6. Little ones get in free. Learn cool facts about MVP Billy Neighbors; review the 1978, 99-yard drive against Nebraska in Coach Bryant's own words. Visit the legendary coach's life-size statue at Legion Field.

You must take a tour of Bryant-Denny Stadium next. The University of Alabama's Athletic Department knows the stadium is near and dear to the hearts of Tide fans. For $5, visitors may walk down Donor Hall, hang out in the Stadium Club, peek into the Home Locker Room, stand on the 50-yard line and take a seat in the press box. However, don't visit on Fridays. This is game day and the Stadium will be bustling with fans, staff and players.

Finish your Crimson experience with traditional, fall football foods. There's bound to be excited tailgaters in parking lots surrounding the stadium, even days before a big game. However, you should not pass up a chance to dine at Nick's in the Sticks, a prime time steakhouse, a spot given some great reviews by steak lovers. Nick's is located at 4018 Culver Road and is open daily. Call Nick's for complete hours of operations and a list of daily specials at 205-758-9316. Stay close to the stadium by dining off University Boulevard. There is no limit for choice, but if you are in the mood for Mediterranean stop at Hooligan's for the best gyro in Tuscaloosa. Drive a little further down University Boulevard and you will find Little Italy, an inexpensive place to enjoy a slice pizza before the game or a shopping excursion. You can contact Little Italy at 205-345-4354 for their hours of operation and directions.

Alabama loves the Crimson Tide and Tuscaloosa invites you to come see what Tide fever is all about.

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