Franklin, Tennessee, is one of the most charming towns I’ve ever visited. Just 20 miles south of Nashville, Franklin is filled with tons of my favorite things: excellent food, live music, beautiful architecture, and interesting history. If you also love these things, you should book a ticket to Franklin, like, right now. You’re going to love it!
Many of the best things to do in Franklin, TN, are suited for a laid-back trip. Because of its close distance, Franklin is the perfect day trip from Nashville, but if you’d really like to take your time and enjoy all that Franklin has to offer, I’d recommend spending a weekend in Franklin.
Before we jump into all the best things to do in Franklin, TN (and best places to eat, of course), let’s take a brief look at the history of Franklin.
History of Franklin, TN
Franklin was founded and incorporated in 1799, and yes, if you are wondering, the city was indeed named after Benjamin Franklin!
Franklin, TN, was the center of the state’s plantation economy prior to the Civil War. Popular crops included tobacco, hemp, cotton, and corn. It was also a popular place for raising livestock. Franklin was a wealthy, prosperous city—until the Civil War. The city was the site of the Battle of Franklin, fought on November 30th, 1864. Dozens of homes were converted into field hospitals, and after the war, the city’s population shrunk significantly.
It took decades for Franklin to “bounce back” after the Civil War. It wasn’t until the rapid growth of Nashville that Franklin, TN, became an attractive residential and business suburb. Now, Franklin, TN, is one of the quickest-growing cities in the United States!
When you visit Franklin, you’ll have the opportunity to see buildings, parks, and battlegrounds that have been preserved and placed on the National Register of Historic Places to tell the story of the city’s rich history.
10 Best Things to Do in Franklin, TN
1. Downtown Franklin
Walking around Downtown Franklin is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Franklin, TN! Franklin’s Main Street dates to 1799, when the city was founded, and it’s one of the cutest places to explore. Main Street is filled with charming boutiques, antique stores, local restaurants, art studios, and more.
If you love shopping, plan to spend a few hours popping in and out of the shops on Main Street in Downtown Franklin. Some of my favorite boutiques were Rooted from Yarrow Acres, Philanthropy, and Finnleys! The Franklin Antique Mall in Downtown Franklin is a popular spot if you’d like to browse for antiques in Franklin.
2. Franklin Farmers Market
The Franklin Farmers Market occurs every Saturday from 8 AM – 1 PM, right next to The Factory at Franklin. You can find fresh meats, dairy products, produce, berries, honey, eggs, jams, jellies, flowers, art, jewelry, and other goods at the market.
You can also order food from the food trucks, enjoy the live entertainment, and enjoy walking around at the market. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Franklin, TN, if you’re there over the weekend!
3. Battle of Franklin Museum (Carter House, Carnton & Rippa Villa)
As we mentioned earlier, Franklin, TN, is the perfect place to visit if you’d like to learn more about the Civil War. If you’d like to get the most “bang for your buck,” you have to visit the Battle of Franklin Museum during your weekend in Franklin.
The Battle of Franklin Musuem includes three historic homes—Carter House, Carnton, and Rippa Villa. Each home tells a unique story about the events of the Battle of Franklin, fought on November 30th, 1864. Just some backstory—the Battle of Franklin was one of the bloodiest battles fought in the western theater of the war, and it was one of the biggest debacles for the Confederate Army. They failed to prevent the Union Army from advancing to Nashville, which was the ultimate goal. You’ll learn more history while you’re here!
Depending on how much time you have during your weekend in Franklin, you can choose to tour just one home, or you can buy a ticket to tour all three! Admission to all three houses costs $40 a person, and admission to just one house (of your choice) is $18 per person. This does include a guided one-hour tour at each home. It’s worth the cost!
Personally, we toured the Carter House, and if you can only choose one house, I recommend this one. The Battle of Franklin took place in the backyard of the Carter House while the family hid in the basement, and you can still see the bullet holes through the walls. This property is actually the most battle-damaged building from the Civil War that is still standing.
If you have time, however, you should definitely pay a visit to Carnton and Rippa Villa too. Carnton became the largest temporary field hospital after the Battle of Franklin (apparently, you can still see the blood stains soaked on the porch). Rippa Villa was the site of the Battle of Spring Hill, which was the precursor to the Battle of Franklin.
4. Lotz House Museum
After touring the Carter House, cross the street to visit Lotz House. The Lotz House may not be included in the Battle of Franklin Museum, but the home’s history is interwoven with the Civil War. In fact, many members of the Lotz Family were next door at the Carter House, hiding in the basement, during the Battle of Franklin.
You can take tons of unique tours at Lotz House, from cellar tours to battlefield tours to ghost tours. However, the general one-hour guided tour that focuses on the Lotz family and their experiences is one of the best things to do in Franklin, TN, and is a great way to get acquainted with the home and its unique history. Since the Battle of Franklin took place just across the street, you will also be able to see some of the collateral battle damage to the home.
If you want to learn about more Civil War history during your time in Franklin, consider taking this Civil War History Tour: The Battle of Franklin—one of the best things to do in Franklin, TN. It includes admission to the Carter House, Lotz House, and Carnton Plantation and has an excellent rating!
5. Leiper’s Fork
Leiper’s Fork is the perfect miniature day from Franklin, making it of the best things to do in Franklin, TN, for a weekend trip! Just a 20-minute drive from Franklin, Leiper’s Fork is a small, southern town filled with country estates, horse farms, art galleries, and antique shops.
It’s rumored many country stars, like Keith Urban & Nicole Kidman, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, and Brad Paisley, live here, so you may see a celebrity or two while you’re walking around this adorable town. In fact, can actually take a Nashville: Home of the Stars Narrated Bus Tour to see where Taylor Swift, Kid Rock, and other celebrities live! Leiper’s Fork has tons of great restaurants, like Country Boy and Fox & Lock. You can also tour Leiper’s Fork Distillery to learn how “Tennessee Whiskey” is made—and, of course, enjoy a tasting while you’re there!
Tip: If you love bourbon, spend a few days adventuring on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail after checking off these best things to do in Franklin, TN!
6. The Factory at Franklin
Do you love shopping, good food, and historic buildings? If so, you’ll love The Factory at Franklin—one of the best things to do in Franklin, TN.
The Factory at Franklin was an actual stove factory back in the 1920s, then became an appliance outlet, and then a bedding warehouse. The Factory at Franklin didn’t really take off until it became the premier retail, commercial, and entertainment space it is today! It was, however, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997 to commemorate its rich and storied industrial history.
When you visit The Factory at Franklin today, you’ll be greeted by boutiques, galleries, studios, concert halls, cafes, offices, and more. I highly recommend checking out Made in Tennessee for souvenir shopping, The Find for thrifting and vintage clothing, and Fork of the South for décor, clothing, and treats created by 85+ local businesses! While at The Factory at Franklin, you should try to catch a show at the Boiler Room Theater, The Little Brick Theater, or Mockingbird Theater & Bar.
7. Natchez Trace Parkway
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a historic spot you must visit during your trip to Franklin, TN. This parkway “traces” the journey of early travelers, including Native Americans, settlers, and soldiers, from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee.
The Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge is just a ten-mile drive from Downtown Franklin, and it features gorgeous views of a lush valley. The views are especially spectacular when the leaves are changing in the fall. You can drive across the bridge or stretch your legs at the nearby Timberland Park for a hike. You may see raccoons, deer, foxes, or even wild turkeys while you’re there.
8. Franklin Theatre
When you’re walking around in Downtown Franklin, chances are, you’ll probably see Franklin Theatre. This historic theater opened in 1937 and was one of the best things to do in Franklin, TN, until it closed its doors in 2007. However, in 2011, the theater was renovated and reopened, and now hosts movies, events, and live concerts in the 300-seat auditorium!
You can book tickets to movies (both current and classic!) as well as music performances from artists of all genres, including country, bluegrass, and more. If you’re looking for a fun night “out on the town” during your weekend in Franklin, the Franklin Theatre is a must!
9. Noble Springs Dairy
If you’re looking for family-friendly things to do in Franklin, TN, look no further than Noble Springs Dairy. This family-owned goat dairy makes fresh products, like cheese, yogurt, milk, and fudge from goat milk, that you can purchase to bring home with you.
For just $12 per person, you can embark on a guided education time to learn about the goats and other animals, pet the goats, and cuddle the baby goats. Check the farm’s calendar before your visit to ensure they are offering tours during your weekend in Franklin, TN.
10. Arrington Vineyards
Arrington Vineyards is one of the most popular vineyards in Tennessee, located a short 13-mile drive from Franklin, TN. Arrington Vineyards is known as “Nashville’s Wine Country” and is beloved for its gorgeous vineyards, five tasting rooms, and shaded picnic areas.
Wine-tasting flights are available daily for $14 per guest, with no reservations needed. You can choose from a Red Flight, White Flight, Semi-Sweet Flight, Sweet Flight, or Mixed Flight. They also have other tasting experiences you can book online.
They are open Monday – Thursday from 11 AM – 8 PM, Friday from 11 AM – 9 PM, Saturday from 11 AM to 8 PM, and Sunday from 12 PM – 8 PM. You can enjoy live music on the weekends from April through November, and “Food Truck Fridays” from May through October.
Where to Eat in Franklin, TN
If you only have one day in Franklin, TN, here’s where I recommend eating each meal:
Biscuit Love (Breakfast)
Biscuit Love is a staple while you’re in Tennessee—they have a few locations in Nashville, and one right in the heart of Franklin. Their location in Franklin is adorable—it’s located in an old house, and it just fits the charming vibe of Franklin perfectly!
Biscuit Love serves southern-style biscuits, like the “East Nasty,” a buttermilk biscuit with fried chicken, cheese, and sausage gravy, and “Princess,” a buttermilk biscuit topped with hot chicken, pickles, mustard, and honey. However, you must try the “Bonuts”—biscuit dough “donuts” served with lemon mascarpone and blueberry compote. If you have a sweet tooth, like me, they will be sure to satisfy you.
Mojo’s Tacos (Lunch)
As an Arizona native, I’m kind of a snob when it comes to Mexican food anywhere besides the Southwest. However, my sister-in-law recommended Mojo’s Tacos to me, and let me tell you—she did not steer me wrong. This place is amazing!
Located in The Factory at Franklin, Mojo’s Tacos serves tacos (duh), as well as starters, like chips & queso and salads. The Jalapeño Cesar Salad was terrific (would recommend!), and out of the tacos I tried, “The Puffy” was my favorite. Just a word of warning—if you feel like $5 per taco is a little much, these tacos are much bigger than typical street tacos. Two tacos, plus half of a salad, were perfect for me!
Puckett’s Restaurant & Grocery (Dinner)
Puckett’s Restaurant & Grocery is a Tennessee staple dating back to the 1950s. You can’t visit Franklin without coming here! Although Puckett’s Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I highly recommend coming for dinner to enjoy some good ‘ole fashioned southern cooking and hospitality.
You can try classic southern starters, like Pimento Cheese Bites or Fried Pickles, and for your meal, try the Nashville Hot Chicken. It’s one of my favorite places to get hot chicken! End your meal with the “Cobbler of the Day”—whatever it is, I guarantee it’s good!
Where to Stay in Franklin, TN
- The Harpeth, Curio Collection by Hilton—If you’re looking for somewhere beautiful and romantic to stay in the heart of charming Downtown Franklin, this hotel is the ideal option for you. It’s within a short drive or walk from many of the best things to do in Franklin, TN, and the furnishings are gorgeous.
- Tru by Hilton Franklin—If you’re looking for somewhere clean, affordable, and fun to stay in, consider this popular hotel chain. This hotel, just miles away from the popular things to do in Franklin, TN, features a billiards table and complimentary breakfast.
- Aloft Nashville Franklin—This contemporary hotel is located a few miles out of the city and a short drive from the best things to do in Franklin. However, it features great amenities, like an indoor pool, a trendy restaurant, and free parking, at an affordable price.
FAQs: Best Things to Do in Franklin, TN
How do I spend a day in Franklin, TN?
There are tons of ways to spend a jam-packed day in Franklin, TN! I would recommend starting off the day with breakfast at Biscuit Love, spending the morning exploring Downtown Franklin, touring either Carter House or Carnton to learn more about the Battle of Franklin and the Civil War, grabbing lunch and doing some shopping at The Factory at Franklin, spending the afternoon either in Leiper’s Fork or at Arrington Vineyards, and heading back into town for dinner at Puckett’s Restaurant & Grocery before returning to Nashville, Tennessee!
Is Franklin, Tennessee, worth visiting?
Yes, Franklin, Tennessee, is absolutely worth visiting. It’s a great way to escape from the fast-paced culture in Nashville, and it allows you to get a taste of the rural countryside in Tennessee. You’ll especially love visiting Franklin if you love boutique shopping, southern food, local music, war history, and charming architecture.
How far apart are Franklin and Nashville, TN?
Franklin is only a 22-mile drive from Nashville, so depending on the traffic, it takes between 20–30 minutes to get to Franklin from Nashville.
Fall in Love with Franklin with These Best Things to Do in Franklin, TN
What do you think—would you love Franklin, Tennessee, as much as I did? If so, let me know which of these fun things to do in Franklin, TN, would be at the top of your list!
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