Located 21 miles south of Nashville, Franklin is a real gem of a town for foodies, history buffs and music lovers. The highlight is the 16-block National Register district with wonderful architecture. Here you can explore the large number of boutiques, antique stores, restaurants, cafes and bars. In addition, the area has a number of attractions from vineyards, distilleries, music venues, historic homes and civil war battlefields.
Founded in 1799 and named in honor of Ben Franklin, the town contains many American artifacts, from Civil War bullet holes in the side of an outbuilding at the Carter House to a red brick factory with a tall, skinny chimney that produced Magic Chef stoves until 1959 that has now been converted into The Factory at Franklin.
I was glad that I made the effort to stop and wander through downtown. The 16-block historic downtown and three small residential districts that surround it won National Register of Historic Places status in 1975. My recommendations include:
Puckett’s Grocery: This is a fun spot with a country store atmosphere in the heart of downtown that features classic Southern food, a full bar and live music. 120 4th Ave. South.
Gray’s on Main: This is a popular restaurant, featuring Southern cooking. Plus there is a music hall and bar. Check out their website for the upcoming performance schedule. 332 Main.
Franklin Mercantile Deli: At 100 4th Ave. N, they feature breakfast, coffee and sandwiches in a fun country atmosphere.
Merridee’s Breadbasket: A fun bakery, cafe since 1984 at 110 4th Ave. South. It is a great spot for breakfast and lunch. They also have a beer garden and live music.
Other recommended spots by EaterNashville.com and other sources like the NY Times, include the Red Pony Restaurant, Cork & Cow for steaks and burgers, the Frothy Monkey for coffee and Barbara’s Home Cookin’.
With 13 local bakeries and sweet shops, you might enjoy exploring the Sweet Treats Trail while in town.
There is also a number of breweries, wineries and distilleries to visit in the area. These include Company Distilling in nearby Thompson’s Station that makes their Tennessee Bourbon, Black & Tan Whiskey, Tennessee Dry Gin, and New Whiskey. To the east is Mill Creek Brewing in Nolensville, TN. They have a taproom where you can try their lager, IPAs, ales, stouts and hard seltzers.
Leiper’s Fork Distillery, southwest of Franklin, is also worth a visit to take a tour and taste one of their small batch whiskeys which include their Old Natchez Trace White Whiskey, Colonel Hunter’s Select Barrel Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey, Colonel Hunter’s Single Barrel Tennessee Bourbon and Leiper’s Fork Tennessee Whiskey Bottled in Bond. Their tasting room is located in a cabin built in the early 1820s.
I also saw that nearby is the Arrington Vineyards in Arrington, TN. Here you can taste and buy a number of their wines from sparkling wines, red and whites to rosés and sweet wines. They have several tasting options along with music and special events.
For shopping make sure to visit:
White’s Mercantile, 345 Main St.: This is a beautiful store of home accessories and design. They describe themselves as a “general store for the modern-day tastemaker.”
The Iron Gate: Located at 338 Main St., this is a lovely store featuring furniture, accessories, lighting and antiques.
Rare Prints Gallery, 420 Main St.: I really enjoyed looking at their large selection of fine antique prints including: architecture, botanical, history, maps, people, sea life, vintage, wild life and poster art.
I learned in a recent virtual tour that worth a visit are the Franklin Antique Mall at 251 2nd Ave. and the The Factory at Franklin. Located in the former stove factory mentioned above this is a large venue featuring fairs, festivals, concerts, theatre and film screens. The newly opened Mockingbird Theater serves beer, wine, spirits, and food and features special events and productions, with an emphasis on live music. There are shops and galleries with unique home decor, to artisan goods and art classes. You can also find restaurants as well as coffee and ice cream shops. It also is the headquarters of the guide book publisher Lonely Planet. I look forward to exploring it on my next trip.
For other things to do, there are the:
Franklin Rodeo: You might enjoy the popular Franklin Rodeo, held annually for three nights in May.
Franklin Theatre: From 1937, this popular venue features concerts by such entertainers like Pure Prairie League, Lee Greenwood and Gary Puckett & The Union Gap. They also feature movies, dance and live theater productions. 419 Main St.
Also for music is The Ledgendary Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor. This is a music venue in The District, at 214 S. Margin St., that is located in a former hardware store and Vistorian cottage. Opened in 2005, some of the talent that has graced its stage include Leon Russell, Vince Gill, John Prine, Wynonna Judd, Lilly Hiatt, Cowboy Jack Clement and Emmylou Harris.
Very popular at the end of September each year is the Pilgrimage Music & Fultural Festival featuring many bands, food trucks and other vendors, a beer hall and local makers and artisans.
I also learned that opening in 2021 is the First Bank Amphitheater, a music venue, located south of town in the rocks of a former limestone quarry.
To stay in downtown, The Harpeth Hotel, Franklin’s first luxury hotel, opened in December 2019. It has 119 beautifully decorated rooms, the 1799 Kitchen & Cocktails for the hotel restaurant plus a coffee bar, McGavock’s Coffee Bar & Provisions. 130 2nd Ave. N.
Opening in 2022 is the luxury Southall on a 325-acre farm that will feature an inn, spa and dining options. 1994 Carters Creek Pike.
The Battle of Franklin was one of the last great battles of the American Civil War. You can visit two historic sites Carnton and Carter House near downtown Franklin.