Welcome to Franklin, Tennessee, where you’ll find American history, good old-fashioned fun, and plenty of adventure waiting for you. This historic town, nestled in middle Tennessee, is just a short day trip from Nashville. Its city streets have seen everything from Civil War battles to celebrities, like Miley Cyrus and David Ramsey.
Franklin has grown into the scenic hub of Williamson County, well-known for its festivals, architecture, and devotion to its history. You’ll find plenty of things to do in Franklin, TN, whether you are walking down Main Street, exploring lush farmland, or losing yourself in the beauty of nature.
Here are 18 things to do in Franklin TN that you don’t want to miss!
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After a visit to Franklin’s downtown, you’ll understand why locals call it “America’s Favorite Main Street District!” This is the city’s beating heart, where locals and visitors come to eat, play, and stay.
Franklin has a reputation for maintaining its historical buildings, and the downtown district is full of them! In fact, downtown Franklin is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When you stroll down the quaint boulevards of downtown, you’ll fall in love with the many Victorian storefronts and period buildings framed by trees and flowers.
One such example of vibrant architecture is the Franklin Theatre, a beloved building that has offered concerts, movies, and more to the city since 1937. Check out the theatre’s offerings while you’re in town; their lineup is always changing and full of unique shows.
Downtown Franklin hosts many of the cultural events in the city. On the first Friday of every month, art galleries open their doors and display their galleries and wares for the Downtown Art Crawl. Near the end of April, the district hosts the Main Street Festival, where local vendors provide delicious food and beverages, live music, and other entertainment for everyone to enjoy.
There’s always something going on downtown, whether it’s a popup trunk show or a seasonal affair like the October Pumpkin Fest!
Of course, shopping and eating are another “must do” during your stroll downtown. Gray’s on Main has something of a cult following for their live music and Nashville Honey Hot Chicken Sandwich. Landmark Booksellers has a following, thanks to their unique and rare book collections and the 200-year-old building it occupies. (At one point, the building was visited by Sam Houston and Davy Crockett.)
Trust me — a walk through downtown is one of the best things to do in Franklin TN!
FRANKLIN ON FOOT
The city of Franklin has stood since 1799. Over the two centuries of its existence, the city has witnessed many turning points in history and developed a thriving culture all its own. On the Franklin On Foot walking tour, you’ll get to explore the rich story of Franklin with the help of expert guides.
The Franklin On Foot tours take guests deep into a variety of topics surrounding Franklin. For example, you can tour Franklin as it was during the Civil War, from which many of the buildings downtown still carry scars. Or, you can take a haunted tour of the city and meet the ghosts of Franklin’s past — like Confederate soldiers and departed socialites.
If you’re more interested in the warm and welcoming environment of Downtown Franklin today, there are tours for that too. The Franklin On Foot food tour takes guests to some of Franklin’s most beloved restaurants, while the Classic Franklin Tour gives you a taste of everything downtown offers.
BOWIE NATURE PARK
If you love diving into the wilderness, then take a short drive from Franklin to the equally charming town of Fairview, where the Bowie Nature Park resides. The park is one of Tennessee’s largest city-managed outdoor spaces, spanning over 700 acres of glittering lakes and verdant forests.
The Bowie Nature Park was gifted to the city by Dr. Evangeline Bowie, who had relentlessly built this park space from the ground up (literally)! Dr. Bowie began developing the park in the 1950s and it involved building terraces, digging lakes, and planting over 500,000 Loblolly Pine Trees.
Today, Bowie Nature Park is a lush space that offers the public an escape from city life. It rivals New York City’s Central Park in size, but this gem outshines Central Park thanks to the woodland creatures that call it home. (You won’t see a deer in Central Park, that’s for sure!)
Visitors to Bowie Nature Park can enjoy guided hikes from a naturalist, a morning jog beneath the pines, or even horseback riding. With 17 miles of trails, picnic spots, and youth-oriented outdoor classes, Bowie Nature Park has something for everyone.
LOTZ HOUSE MUSEUM
On November 29, 1864, the Civil War rocked the picturesque streets of Franklin. Twenty-five thousand Union soldiers fled to the city from Spring Hill, and used the land around the Lotz House to defend their company. Throughout the battle, the Lotz House became the heart of the battleground, facing some of the most extreme hand-to-hand combat of the Civil War.
Of the historic homes of Franklin, the Lotz House Museum is rumored to have the most ghostly residents. Between the Battle of Franklin and its stint as a Civil War hospital, the house has impressively remained standing through it all. Today, the Lotz House Museum offers tours of the surrounding battlefield and the museum itself.
Tours at the Lotz House Museum come in a variety of forms. The Walking Battlefield Tour, where you’ll find bullet holes still marring the house and its grounds, is a popular choice. Additionally, the museum offers a Women’s History Tour and ghost tour of the grounds for spooky fun.
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NOBLE SPRINGS DAIRY
Get your fill of the farm life at Noble Springs Dairy! This working dairy farm offers tours to the public, so you can learn about the world of dairy farming.
Tours at the dairy spotlight the adorable goats that call Noble Springs home. You’ll also visit with other farm animals, but the stars of the show are the baby goats. Visitors can choose to take a baby goats tour, on which they get to cuddle with the hoofed cuties.
While on the tour, you’ll also get to learn about how Noble Springs Dairy produces its products. You can even see how cheese is made! You can shop their freshly made product at the end of the tours, so maybe pack some crackers to enjoy with the cheese.
FRANKLIN FARMERS MARKET
Tennessee is prime farming and gardening country, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Franklin Farmers Market is top-notch. Held in the downtown district’s favorite entertainment venue, The Factory At Franklin, the market provides a place for local vendors to display and sell their products.
Unlike many farmer’s markets, Franklin’s runs throughout most Saturdays of the year, with seasonal offerings even in the winter. You’ll find everything from freshly baked pies to ripe tomatoes for sale. The products sold at the market vary through the seasons, but everything is locally made and grown!
THE FACTORY AT FRANKLIN
If you have to pick one location to explore in Franklin that has food, entertainment, and shopping, The Factory at Franklin is it. Back in the day, the venue was a stove factory. Today, it’s a conglomerate of concert stages, two retail markets, and eight restaurants located in the heart of Downtown Franklin!
Now, if you want my advice, I recommend checking The Factory’s website before heading over. The venue often hosts live events at their Mockingbird Theater, and they are always a treat! Otherwise, spend some time exploring their markets, where jewelry, art, clothing, and more call your name.
After shopping ‘til you drop, check out one of The Factory At Franklin restaurants. Honest Coffee Roasters has an excellent brew, there are tacos at Mojo’s, and of course, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams has the best sundae around.
Okay, when a sweets shop has “boutique” in its name, you know it will be good. At Sugar Drop Cafe and Desserts Boutique, chic and sweet come together in delicious treats.
Sugar Drop has been satisfying the area’s sweet tooth for over 50 years! Its current owner, Brooke O’Dell, has designed cakes for Ringo Star and Graceland. Divine cakes, brownies, and cookies line the shelves of her shop, ready for you to enjoy.
If you’re an aspiring cake artist, Brooke even offers classes ranging from cookie decorating to cake frosting – and yeah, you get to eat your artwork afterward!
You probably associate BBQ and hot chicken with Tennessee, but did you know it’s prime wine country, too? At Arrington Vineyards, you can get your taste of Tennessee wines against the backdrop of rolling hills and towering trees.
Arrington Vineyards are a short drive from Franklin and perfect for a day trip. The vineyards offer tastings, wine flights, and tours of the grounds for wine lovers to enjoy. Additionally, Arrington Vineyards host food trucks on Fridays and live music on the weekends.
THE NATCHEZ TRACE PARKWAY
For thousands of years, the Indigenous people of what would become Tennessee, traveled along a game trail path that we now call the Natchez Trace Parkway. The parkway spans over 444 miles from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi.
Over time, the game trail evolved into a deep, well-defined path, thanks to the tribes who used it. When Tennessee became part of the U.S., the trail became a major highway for immigrants traveling from the east to Mississippi.
You could bicycle from Franklin to Mississippi if you wanted to, but that’s a pretty long haul for even a seasoned bicyclist. Instead, I recommend checking out Birdsong Hollow and the Double Arch Bridge, also known as the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge, located in Franklin’s parkway portion. The Double Arch Bridge of Natchez Trace Parkway spans 1,648 feet and provides a route for vehicles to cross Birdsong Hollow. The scenic overlook of the bridge offers panoramic views of the surrounding valley.
Also along Franklin’s portion of the Natchez Trail Parkway is Timberline Park. This tranquil nook rests on 72 acres of forest that provides optimal hiking and wildlife watching opportunities. Timberline Park becomes a cascade of gold and orange leaves in the fall, offering amazing fall coloring you don’t want to miss!
Discover the cutest village in Tennessee with a visit to Leiper’s Fork! Locals call this a “come as you are” place, full of Southern hospitality and charm. Visitors enjoy wandering the tiny town for its gorgeous scenery of the Natchez Trace Parkway, antique shops and homey restaurants, and the historical buildings of its Main Street.
Leiper’s Fork offers plenty of entertainment for its guests to enjoy. At Leiper’s Fork Distillery, you can sample small-batch locally made whiskies, from heady bourbons to fiery eyes, while listening to live music. Over at the David Arms Gallery, locally made artwork will dazzle your eyes – you may just head home with a unique painting or sculpture in your possession!
SOAR ADVENTURE TOWER
Grab the kids and get ready for some fun because Soar Adventure Tower has plenty! Here, four levels of interactive climbing offer exciting challenges and hours of entertainment for the whole family.
Soar Adventure Tower looks like an obstacle course out of an adventure film, complete with musically themed ropes and a level for every skill set. The ground level works great for younger kids, while the higher levels get more challenging as you go. If climbing isn’t your thing, Soar Adventure Tower also has an 18-hole miniature golf course!
Alpacas are the friendliest farm creature you’ll ever meet. At Mistletoe Farm, you can get up close and personal to these fluffy animals from May through June. And when I say up close and personal, I mean it!
Guests to Mistletoe Farm get a personal “meet and greet” session with the alpacas that live there. You’ll pet and cuddle the sweet animals during your visit before touring the studio, where the alpaca fur gets turned into hand-woven blankets, scarves, and other products. It’s an ideal experience for animal lovers of all ages!
Across the street from the Lotz House Museum is the Carter House, where Franklin residents took shelter during the Battle of Franklin. The small brick house may look unassuming, but it saved two families from the fallout of the battle.
Carter House now operates as a museum with several touring options for the public. The Classic House Tour at Carter House takes guests around the house and its grounds, detailing the history of the building as you go. For a more in-depth tour, guests can take a specialty tour focusing on slavery, the battlefield, or the reconstruction of the Union.
Of all the historic sites in Franklin, Carnton Plantation may be the most famous. The antebellum mansion rises near the grounds of the Battle of Franklin. Once, it was a grand home of Randal McGavock, former Nashville mayor and plantation owner. The house played host to President Andrew Jackson and other famous Americans, but its role changed when the Civil War broke out.
After the Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864, Carnton became the largest field hospital for wounded soldiers in the area. Thousands of soldiers were treated at Carnton, and their ghosts are rumored to haunt the house to this day.
Carnton offers several tours for guests visiting the plantation. Specialty tours explore the lives of enslaved people on the plantation, the battlefield outside the plantation, and dive deeper into the story of the plantation.
Initially built in the 1830s, Clouston Hall is a remarkable example of neoclassical architecture in the south. It stands in Downtown Franklin, and is rumored to be one of the city’s most haunted buildings. So, why is Clouston Hall haunted? It was yet another of the hospitals treating soldiers wounded at the Battle of Franklin.
Art and history collide at Clouston Hall. Today, the hall is home to Gallery 202 displays locally made artwork against the backdrop of cannonball scarred walls and other wounds from the Civil War. You may just see a ghost or two while admiring the artwork at Gallery 202!
PILGRIMAGE MUSIC FESTIVAL
In September, Franklin comes alive to the sounds of music from every genre at the Pilgrimage Music Festival. The festival sprang up from the efforts of musician Kevin Griffin, who found inspiration for the festival during a morning run at The Park at Harlinsdale.
Today, the Pilgrimage Music Festival has six stages showcasing local music from rock, jazz, bluegrass, country, and more. The grounds of Harlinsdale become a paradise of food trucks, artisans, and outdoor fun. The festival is a family-friendly affair, with the Lil Pilgrim stage offering kid-focused activities like puppet shows and theater alongside musical performances.
WINSTEAD HILL PARK
Winstead Hill Park in Franklin is a 61-acre historic battle site that now offers visitors peace and relaxation.
At this park, you’ll find a walking trail through the woods, plenty of open green space, a Civil War monument, and more. This park is located just minutes from downtown Franklin, and makes for a great stop.
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