Though summer in Franklin can be hot, visitors will find all kinds of both shaded and sunny options for a family lunch, an intimate gathering, time with girlfriends, or even a surprise picnic proposal in parks around the county.
Green spaces pepper a stunning Tennessee landscape with views over lakes, rolling hills, and expansive farmland. These picnic spots around town are a great place to start, paired with local restaurants that reach far beyond your classic checkered blanket spread.
The Park at Harlinsdale
You’ve never seen a park so suited for a picnic as the beautiful fields of The Park at Harlinsdale, a historic horse farm-turned-community space.
Covering 200 acres, visitors can lay out a blanket in one of several flat, open areas or bring chairs and set up with a view of the pond. The park is also very dog-friendly, with the four-acre K-9 Korral dog park within walking distance. Follow the 5K soft walking or running track, journey along the equestrian trail (rules here), or just take a few steps from the car to your picnic spot—there’s room for everyone.
Across the road from Harlinsdale is The Factory at Franklin, a hub of homegrown shops, restaurants, and galleries. You’ll find me at Mojo’s Tacos, which coincidentally makes for terrific handheld picnic food.
Place an order to go online and bring your Tex-Mex spread to the park. You’ll never go wrong with the Adobo Chicken, Baja Fish, or Hot Chicken Tacos. Plus, chips and guacamole make the perfect picnic snack.
There is arguably no spot more romantic in Williamson County than the stunning hills of Arrington Vineyards. At sunset, with golden hour setting on rows of grapevines, you’ll feel like you’re in heaven.
On the weekends, join dozens of locals picnicking out on the lawn—both on blankets and picnic tables—with glasses of Middle Tennessee’s finest vino. You may even be lucky enough to hear some live jazz or bluegrass (Saturdays and Sundays, April through October) as your picnic playlist.
No need to bring your own snacks with Simply Living Life on your side. When you order in advance from this Brentwood-based catering company, your perfectly curated picnic basket will be waiting upon your arrival—complete with wine glasses and tablecloth.
Try the Tuscan Picnic with bruschetta-topped grilled chicken, sun-dried tomato pasta, and plenty of fresh mozzarella. Or, if you don’t have time to order in advance, visit Simply Living Life in two locations on the vineyard’s property to pick up food on-site from their Cottage Menu, including charcuterie, brie, bruschetta, and flatbreads.
Bowie Nature Park
In the northwest corner of Williamson County sits Fairview, a quiet little town with a remarkable green space that every visitor should explore.
The land that holds Bowie Nature Park was graciously deeded to the city back in the 1990s by Dr. Evangeline Bowie, who dreamt of turning the 722-acre forest that she revitalized into a public space for the community. Now, with lakes and miles upon miles of trails, Bowie is one of our best-kept secrets—and a perfect spot for individuals and families to picnic.
You’ll find most of the locals at picnic tables around Lake Van, the scenic lake front-and-center that welcomes you into the park. There’s a half-mile trail around it, which means a lush post-lunch stroll if you’re up for it.
If you’d like a little walk into the woods before settling down, take the Stark Springs Trail to the Twin Lakes Loop and layout your spread next to Lake Anna—a more secluded spot among wildlife.
Complete your local Fairview picnic spread with lunch from Whiskey Fire Kitchen, a nearby food truck open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m.
While their legendary Brisket Bombs might not make it to the table (you’ll be too tempted to gobble them up in the car), their smoked pulled pork sandwiches and freshly-made sides take picnic food to the next level.
Sides like black bean and corn salad, potato salad (one of the best I’ve had), and coleslaw travel well and even come in pints and quarts. And, don’t forget dessert—you’ll want to save room for fruit cobbler.
What a pretty perfect pair! Pinkerton Park is one of Franklin’s most-used passive parks, with 34 acres to play, walk, exercise, and grill. In addition to its one-mile paved walking trail, guests can lay out a blanket and enjoy the sun or picnic on one of 14 tables around the park. Pinkerton has three pavilions on-site, with two available for rent.
But, why not leave the work to the professionals? Local event planner Jam Bagwanedee Stewart is the owner of Picnic Pop-Up—her “creative outlet” where she sets up stunning park-side picnics for all kinds of occasions.
“I’ve been doing events since I was a six-year-old kid helping to plan the arrival of my little sister,” Jam says. “The pandemic actually provided us with a unique opportunity. An outdoor picnic was a perfect way to safely spend time with close friends and family while still being socially distanced. Now, it’s really about togetherness—doing something really personal and bespoke.” A private picnic feels exclusive and intimate. “We work with our guests to curate something that is truly reflective of them, which is what makes it so special,” Jam shares. “No detail is overlooked.”
Picnic Pop-Up is based in Franklin and partners with local businesses—like WillCo Wine & Cheese—to bring the picnic magic to life. Picnics start at $215 with both packaged and custom options, and Pinkerton Park is one of their favorite spots to set up. Learn more here.
Jim Warren Park
For a sunny lunch al fresco, stop by Jim Warren Park, not far from downtown Franklin. This active park spans nearly 60 acres and features tons of amenities: pavilions, sports fields, playgrounds, tennis courts, a walking trail, a pond, a skatepark, and even an outdoor basketball court.
It’s an ideal spot to bring your family for a Saturday afternoon picnic. Layout your blanket on manicured green spaces or snag a picnic table.
Opt for classic picnic foods from beloved Merridee’s Breadbasket, where you can order online and schedule a pick-up time. The team at Merridee’s are masters of freshly baked bread (try the Egg Bread) and craft some of the best sweets around Main Street.
Pick up creamy southern Chicken Salad, Pimento Cheese, or Egg Salad Sandwiches along with must-have Lemon Bars or slices of pie. Polish off your picnic with Merridee’s famous Fruit Tea.