This is a list of things to do in Franklin, TN.
We just returned from a week-long trip to Tennessee [we used our family road trip packing list to prepare] and had the absolute pleasure of stopping in Franklin, TN. I’d heard of Franklin, TN many years ago due to the historical significance of its location; many important Civil War events happened there and they’ve done an amazing job at conserving that history. However, in recent years, it has become more than just its past but it has developed a bright future too.
I had really high hopes for this newly bustling city and came armed with a list of things to do in Franklin, TN. I’m happy to say it did not disappoint!
We visited Franklin, TN amid the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we felt incredibly safe during all of our activities. Franklin and the surrounding communities in Williamson County, went above and beyond to follow safety protocols and guidelines. All of the places recommended here are either outside, distanced, have safety measures [like temperature checks, restricted admission, etc.], or all of the above. There is a safe way to travel during the pandemic and Franklin, TN has mastered it!
Here is a list of things to do in Franklin, TN!
[Thank you, Visit Franklin, for hosting us! All information and opinions presented are our own.]
How Long Should You Stay in Franklin, TN?
If you want to see all that Franklin, TN has to offer then plan to stay 2-4 days. Franklin, while quaint, is a lot bigger than you’d expect. Two days will allow you to see many of the city’s attractions but three will give you more time to explore without the time crunch. Four will allow you to deep dive into everything the city has to offer and provide ample time to explore all the things to do in Franklin, TN.
Things to Do in Franklin, TN
Explore Historic Downtown Franklin
Of all the things to do in Franklin, TN, exploring Downtown Franklin tops the list. It’s a 16 block area packed with wonderful restaurants, tons of local [and not so local] shops, and art galleries. It’s an entirely walkable area so I definitely recommend exploring on foot.
Some notable things to do in Franklin, TN while exploring downtown Franklin are:
Stop by the Franklin Visitors Center
The employees here are local experts and can provide information on just about anything in the area. It’s also located in an adorable shop with tons of Franklin, TN gear that you’ll want to check out.
Do the Midnight Sun Scavenger Hunt
Explore downtown in search of 10 statues of the legendary Tennessee Walking Horse Midnight Sun. He was sired and lived right in Franklin is now a bit of a local legend. Brochures for this family-friendly adventure can be picked up at the Franklin Visitors Center. Be sure to turn in the completed form at the visitor center for a special prize.
Check out the Franklin Theatre
The historical Franklin Theatre in downtown Franklin was built in 1937 and beautifully restored in 2007. It’s located right on Main St and can arguably be called the heart of the downtown area. It’s not just a landmark but a world-class performing arts venue.
Learn about the Fuller Story
The history in the city is undeniable and is laden throughout the things to do in Franklin, TN. The city does a wonderful job of portraying the narratives of all the parties including the enslaved and the US Colored Troops that fought in the Union army. In the public square, the Fuller Story Projects highlights some of the Black history events that took place in the town square via five markers in the square. They cover the Franklin Riot of 1867, the Reconstruction era, and more.
Step into a Hallmark Movie with a visit to Landmark Booksellers
Joel and Carroll Tomlin, the owners of Landmark Booksellers, are local celebrities in Franklin. The bookstore is described as a classic southern bookstore owned by classic southerners and filled with southern charm. They even had a book [and subsequently a Hallmark movie] called The Bridge based on their store.
Shop & Dine at The Factory at Franklin
We are suckers for local shopping so we had to add the Factory at Franklin to this list of things to do in Franklin, TN. We immediately fell in love with the place as soon as we walked through the doors. It was formerly a stove factory but has been converted into a lofty, industrial-style market with different shops, restaurants, and even performing spaces. Be sure to check out their calendar for special events and happenings.
Explore Civil War Location Carnton
It’s impossible to have a list of things to do in Franklin, TN, and not include its Civil War history. Carnton was the epicenter of the aftermath related to the infamous Battle of Franklin. The house, inhabited by a local family of four, served as the largest field hospital in the area for wounded Confederate soldiers after one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
Visitors can opt for a tour of the house [with bloodstains still present], walk the grounds of the property, and/or pursue the special exhibit in the main building. The park surrounding Carnton is beautiful as well and is the perfect spot for a bike ride or picnic.
Imbibe Yourself at Arrington Vineyards
Arrington Vineyards is another of my favorite things to do in Franklin, TN. The highlight, of course, is their wine. They offer a variety of whites, reds, sweets for a variety of palates. You can order a wine flight to taste the different kinds or you can order a mix to try some of each. We got the sweet sampler and loved it so much that we ended up taking two bottles home! The property has just over 5 acres of outdoor space including a really large green space, a country-style barn, and wooded picnic areas. Words don’t convey how amazing this place is! Check it out and let me know what you think of the frosé!
Embrace the Charm of Leiper’s Fork
Leiper’s Fork is more than just a small village near Franklin, TN. It’s a cultural hub in the heart of Williamson County with an undeniable southern charm. The small downtown area takes less than a minute to drive through [literally] but don’t let that dissuade you! Find a place to park and explore the area on foot. There are lots of hidden gems in the area, good food, and cute shops.
Explore the Natchez Trace Parkway
The Natchez Trace Parkway doesn’t just belong to Franklin but it has definitely earned its place on this list of things to do in Franklin, TN. It is a 444-mile scenic parkway that crosses through Mississippi, Alabama, and [of course] Tennessee. The area of the parkway in Franklin features a scenic overpass [NOTE: this is not a pedestrian bridge so please use caution if you decide to walk it], several scenic trails, and a scenic park under the bridge. Not sure I mentioned scenic enough so one more to drive it home: it’s incredibly scenic.
Become Enriched at the McLemore House
The McLemore House is the oldest remaining home in Franklin that was owned by an African American. In fact, the house is located in Franklin’s Hard Bargain neighborhood, a middle-class neighborhood founded for and by formerly enslaved people. They offer porch talks and house tours to help spread the rich history of Black people in Franklin, TN. If you’re looking to add even more Black history to your things to do in Franklin, TN, check out their African American Heritage Tour.
Search for Murals and Street Art
You guys know we love street art [we included it in our list of 18 Fun Things To Do In Houston with Kids after all]. This list of things to do in Franklin, TN was no exception! The city is relatively new in the mural game but the ones they have are amazing.
Walls for Women Mural
Technically, the Walls for Women mural is located in Nolensville, TN but it is only a short drive from downtown Franklin. This colorful mural was painted as a tribute to the 19th Amendment that granted women [not including women of color] the right to vote. It’s titled “This Girl Can” and is located at 305 Sheldon Valley Dr in Nolensville, TN.
Welcome to Franklin Mural
We didn’t get a chance to visit this one but heard awesome things about it. The mural is an homage to the very city of Franklin with each letter highlighting the different things that make the city special. You can find it at 509 Hillsboro Road in Franklin, TN.
Dine at Some of the Finest Restaurants in the Country
I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten as good as I ate while in Franklin, TN. Trust me on this, my friends, you’ll want to add the city’s restaurants to your list of things to do in Franklin, TN.
[132 3rd Ave S.]
It is probably easily guessed from the name but Biscuit Love loves biscuits. And it is a good thing too because they make excellent ones! They serve up a variety of biscuit centered dishes for breakfast [or brunch]. Our favorite was the East Nasty: a buttermilk biscuit topped with a piece of fried chicken, a slice of cheddar, and sausage gravy. We also had the Lily [french toast made with biscuits], the Sweater Weather Oatmeal [fruit topped oatmeal with candied pecans], and the bonuts [donuts made out of – you guessed it – biscuits]. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with anything on their menu.
Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant
[120 4th Ave S.]
Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant in Franklin, TN is truly one of a kind. Their specialty is comfort foods and we indeed felt comforted after our breakfast there. We had The Southern [fried chicken served with eggs, home fries, a biscuit, and gravy], the smoked brisket hash [brisket served in a skillet with onions, green peppers, home fries, two eggs, and BBQ sauce], and pancakes. If their breakfast was any indication, all their meals are divine.
[403 Main St.]
“Some of the best food in the South can be found along the stretch of Interstate 55 that runs all the way from Memphis to New Orleans: that’s 55 South.” This restaurant came highly recommended as one of the things to do while in Franklin, TN and I’m so glad we got a chance to visit. Try the Dirty Bird [BBQ chicken, fried egg, coleslaw, and their secret sauce] or the Double Burger [hamburger with caramelized onions and cheese].
[230 Franklin Rd. #11Y]
When Texans visit a city, of course, they’re going to seek out tacos. Luckily, we stumbled across Mojo’s Tacos in the Factory at Franklin. They are fairly new to Franklin but they’re already making a huge impact. I would recommend specific tacos but between our family of four, we tried most things on the menu and all of them were good. A special nod goes to their nachos [seriously, what do they put in their cheese? It’s life changing] and their “mommy drinks” [aka strawberry margaritas] are great too.
[405 Main St.]
Freshmade candies and chocolates right in the heart of downtown Franklin, TN. Do I need to say more? While at Kilwins, we got caramel apples, sampled some fudge, and even got hot chocolates. It was a hit with the kids and with us too!
Five Daughters Bakery
[230 Franklin #11J]
Five Daughters Bakery in Factory at Franklin is famous for its 100 layer donut but all of their other treats are amazing too. I had an “orange quinnamon” that I’m currently craving as I type. If you aren’t sure what you’d like to try, get their minis and try them all. They often sell out of their popular items early so try to visit earlier in the day.
[125 5th Ave S.]
I had the best coffee of my life at Frothy Monkey in Franklin, TN. If you’re looking for a good “cuppa joe”, this is the place. Try one of their signature drinks like the Havana Latte and thank me later. They also offer nice, healthy options for breakfast and brunch.
The Coffee House at Second and Bridge
[144 2nd Ave N]
From their cute decor to the adorable red porch swing, we immediately fell in love with the Coffee House at Second and Bridge. It is an actual house and it’s actually at the intersection of Second and Bridge. But the charm doesn’t stop there. Their drinks are yummy and, in addition to their food items, they also sell local products like honey and home decor.
Indulge in Some Franklin, TN Shopping
It isn’t a trip to Franklin, TN if you don’t indulge in a little Franklin, TN shopping. The city is laden with local businesses stocked with items you won’t find anywhere else. Check out the shops in historic downtown Franklin like White’s Mercantile [it’s owned by the daughter of Hank Williams, Jr.] and Tin Cottage. There are awesome shops in Leiper’s Fork and in Factory at Franklin as well.
Check Out the Homes in Franklin, TN
Franklin, TN has some of the nicest homes I’ve ever seen. They’ve got everything from quaint ranch style homes to megamansions. Some are set on smaller lots and some are on tons of rolling greens. I tried to convince Phil that we should purchase a vacation home there but we’d have to hit the lotto first. The beauty of the land there is only matched by its accompanying price tag. But if the price is out of reach, that shouldn’t stop you from window shopping. Drive through Leiper’s Fork, down Natchez Trace Parkway, or take the drive out to Nolensville, TN and enjoy window shopping!
Places to Stay in Franklin?
You can’t go wrong in any neighborhood in Franklin, TN. However, if you’d like to stay close to the action and fully experience the charm of the city, I highly recommend staying in downtown Franklin. There are plenty of home, cottage, or room rentals available on Airbnb.
If hotels are more your speed, the recently opened Harpeth Hotel in downtown Franklin, TN has rave reviews.