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By Tori Linville

 

A five star experience doesn’t mean a bad bed in a gross hotel and it doesn’t mean bad food. Even if you’re not on vacation, no one wants to deal with subpar experiences, regardless of the establishment. So wherever you’re going, whatever you’re doing – whether you’re a native or a visitor, we’ve hit up Trip Advisor in the area to help you have a top-rated time.

 

TUSCALOOSA

 

Top Hotel: Embassy Suites by Hilton

 

This Tuscaloosa hotel gets nothing but praise for its staff and amenities. One reviewer labels it a “southern gem,” while another says “Tuscaloosa got exactly what was desperately needed” while describing their stay.  Most visitors really enjoy the location of the Embassy Suites, as it’s next to plenty of restaurants and shopping opportunities. And if you don’t like it, be sure to say so on Trip Advisor – the general manager, Steven, makes sure to reply to most reviews and digs deeper into why a customer didn’t enjoy his or her stay.

 

Top Restaurant: The Ave Pub

 

Great burgers, great fish tacos, great drink selection. Trip Advisor has spoken and The Ave Pub is one of the best places to fill a stomach. One review by added, “I am glad that they offer healthier foods with real substance, such as their greens in their salad; it's not just your average iceburg lettuce.” From the service to the food presentation to the drink selection, people are raving about all the good things happening down at The Ave.

 

#2 Thing to Do: Paul W. Bryant Museum

 

Why the second? Because in a town like Tuscaloosa, the obvious first choice is Bryant-Denny Stadium. No need to explain. Since it’s off-season, the second choice is Paul W. Bryant Museum. Just down the street from the stadium, the museum is the perfect off-season stop to help all your Alabama football yearnings. As one reviewer said, “Bear will love to see you stop in and visit.”

 

BIRMINGHAM

 

Top Hotel: Hampton Inn & Suites Birmingham/280 East-Eagle Point

 

If you’re in the mood for some comfortable beds, clean rooms and some above-average complimentary breakfast (seriously, who isn’t?) then Trip Advisor says the Hampton Inn is for you. The location and hotel basics are a shoe-in at this place and the staff seems to be on top of their game. As one reviewer put it, a stay at this Birmingham hotel is “always a great stay.”

 

Top Restaurant: Highlands Bar and Grill

 

Trip Advisor has 834 restaurants listed for the Birmingham area and Highlands Bar and Grill lands at number one. Highlands offers a fine dining experience that can’t be missed. The menu changes frequently and the wine is not to be missed. It is a more high-end place though, which threw some reviewers off. That’s not to say you won’t be welcomed regardless – it’s still true to its Southern hospitality.

 

#1 Thing to Do: Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

 

The top-ranked thing to do in Birmingham lies with Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. Why? The Trip Advisor consensus is that there’s just so much to see, one trip is only the tip of the motorcycle iceberg. The museum boasts the largest collection of Lotus cars in the U.S. and as one reviewer said, “This is a one of a kind museum for everyone to see. You don't have to be interested in motorcycles or a 'gear head' to appreciate this spectacle.”

 

DESTIN

 

Top Hotel: Henderson Park Inn

 

Not only is it the number one hotel for Destin on Trip Advisor, Henderson Park Inn is also Destin’s 2015 Travelers’ Choice for the website. Number one thing to know? It has a no children policy – this is for the adults who need time away! The staff is more than accommodating and the beach location definitely doesn’t hurt. Dinner reservations are a must, but freebies abound in the form of water, candy bars and other treats. Take it from the guy who flew from New York City on a whim: “We were very impressed. It's got excellent location, a solid restaurant, friendly staff - everything we wanted for a getaway. Highly recommend. We will be back.”

 

#2 Restaurant: Buck’s Smokehouse

 

Since the top rated restaurant was Beach Walk at – you guessed it – Henderson Park Inn, we decided to switch the scenery and check up on the number two. Buck’s Smokehouse is home to some of Destin’s best barbeque. Though some reviewers were disappointed in comparing it to Texas barbeque, the brisket is still a crowd favorite. Add it to a clean atmosphere, friendly staff and an array of sauces that’ll have you coming back for more, it’s no wonder it’s dubbed the “best BBQ on the beach” by one reviewer.

 

#2 Thing to Do: Crystal Sands Beach

 

In a coastal town like Destin, obviously the main thing to do is to veg out on the beach and get some well-deserved sun. The number one beach was back to the Henderson Beach State Park, so we again saw what number two had to offer. Crystal Sands Beach stands on its own (not literally), with “sugary white sand” and “gorgeous blue water” that has reviewers handing out five stars all around. The best parts? It’s great for children, but not too crowded.

 

Article sponsored by Tuscaloosa Tourism Black Warrior and Tuscaloosa Tourism Veterans.

Find them on the web at: http://visittuscaloosa.com

 

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