10 Blissful Ways to Explore Franklin in Fall

Crisp air. The crunch of fallen leaves. Hot apple cider. Football games. Pumpkin spice everything. These are all signs that fall has officially arrived, and we are gearing up to make it the best one yet!  

With all the festivities and beautiful sights to see in Franklin, Tennessee, fall is the perfect time of year to appreciate what our town has to offer. Whether you’re visiting or exploring in your own backyard, Franklin has plenty of family-friendly activities to keep all ages happy.

Rather than hibernate, throw on your favorite flannel, wrap yourself up in a blanket scarf, and keep this list handy. After all, it’s fall, y’all!

Enjoy a Picnic at Morning Glory Orchard

When I was a kid, my family would go to an apple orchard every fall. I loved biting into an apple straight off the tree (after looking for wormholes, of course).

To me, apples and fall are intricately intertwined. From apple cake to apple cider to apple pie, no fall festivity feels complete without local apples to share. Enter: Morning Glory Orchard.

This family-owned orchard in Nolensville is a little slice of heaven. Run by the Wideman women—mother Christina and daughter Alyson—Morning Glory has fall apples in season in addition to pumpkins and mums.

While the orchard is not open for U-Pick so the trees stay healthy, they have several options for visitors to enjoy the orchard, including limited capacity tours every Saturday at 3 p.m.

Their Taste & Tour comes with samples of homemade ciders, honey, molasses, and apple butter for $10 per visitor ($7 for kids under 10). For a more intimate gathering, enjoy a two-hour picnic in the orchard at sunset through Oct. 31.

Morning Glory provides charcuteries with fresh fruit and cider slushies at one of six picnic tables between peach and apple trees. Reservations are required.

Grab a Gourmet Hot Chocolate at Kilwin’s

We know everyone is into “pumpkin spice this” and “pumpkin spice that,” but if you’re not into lattes or you’re just plain sick of the whole craze, head to Kilwin’s and order yourself a Gourmet Hot Chocolate.

Be prepared: The days of powdered chocolate mix and boiled water are over. Kilwin’s steams fresh milk and loads in tons of real shaved chocolate to create the smoothest, chocolatey-est cup of cocoa you’ll ever drink. This rich cup is perfect for any chilly day walking down Main Street.

While you’re there, make sure that you also pick up a Kilwin’s classic: a Granny Smith apple dipped in house-made caramel (and smothered in pecans, if you’re me). It’s the fall pick-me-up you’ll need later.

Get Lost in the Corn Maze at Gentry’s

Celebrating 30 years of serving families in Franklin, Gentry’s Farm is a local favorite. In fact, most would argue that it’s not quite fall until Gentry’s opens its doors.

In addition to all the pumpkins your heart could dream of, Gentry’s offers a wealth of kid-friendly activities: a four-acre cornfield maze, a barn maze, a tractor playground, a sorghum labyrinth, tire swings, a life-size spider web, a mini corn maze, and more!

This fall, the farm is running in a limited capacity, and tickets must be purchased/reserved in advance.

The ticket price is $8.25 plus tax for ages 2-65 (under 2 and over 65 are free). There are hand sanitizing stations located around the farm and masks must be worn (ages 13+) when social distancing is not possible.

Walk with Fellow History Lovers

Whether you’re a ghost hunter or just a history buff, fall is the ideal time for a walking tour around Franklin thanks to lowered humidity and bearable temps.

 Franklin on Foot has been hosting hundreds of visitors since 2003, with walking tours that suit all ages. Choose from a crime tour, ghost tour, Civil War tour, general history tour, kid-friendly tour, or even a food tour; there is truly something for everyone.

Expect side-splitting (or jaw-dropping) stories, a passionate and knowledgeable tour guide, and 90+ minutes of Franklin history told in a way you’ve never heard it before.

If you’re really looking for something spooky this fall, join a special Grave Matters cemetery tour only offered on Halloween weekend. Ghosts, goblins, and ghouls, oh my!

Take a Fall Hike at Bowie Nature Park

Any hiker will tell you: Autumn weather means that it’s time to bust out your boots, grab your trekking poles, and head for the trails.

In addition to picturesque scenery and plenty of Tennessee wildlife, Bowie Nature Park in Fairview offers 17 miles of trails across 722 acres for hikers of all skill levels. Visitors are welcome to walk, run, bicycle, horseback ride, or fish through various ecosystems in the park, including wetlands, grasslands, and forests. (Please note that some sections of the trail are only open to foot traffic and pets must always be leashed.)

Bowie Nature Park is perfect for families because there is so much to see and learn. Kids can play on the Treehouse Playground, geocache around the property, learn about conservation in Joann’s Outdoor Classroom, or even explore historic memorials in Mangrum Cemetery.

Snag Some Seasonal Doughnuts

Ellie’s Old Fashioned Doughnuts never disappoint, and, just in time for fall, they’re baking up fresh batches of their limited-edition pumpkin doughnuts (who’s drooling?).

Flavors rotate every week, with options like The Big Apple, Maple Glazed Original, and seasonal Pumpkin (glazed, chocolate-covered, or with cinnamon sugar) thrown into the mix. Find their weekly offerings on Instagram here. 

Ellie’s food truck can be found at the Franklin Farmers’ Market every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at the Factory. Pumpkin doughnuts sell out quickly, so don’t delay!

Find Your New Favorite Sweater

Did someone say sweater weather? If you’re hoping to add a new cozy knit to your closet this season, the boutiques on and around Main Street in downtown Franklin have you covered from sleeve to turtleneck.

Find trends from ribbed detailing to ruffles to matching sets to crops to cardigans to sustainable fashion at stores like Gin-OJondiePhilanthropyPoshFinnleysFranklin Road—the list goes on. Stay warm and shop local!

Sit a Spell in Leiper’s Fork

With fall comes it means cozying up around the campfire with good company. It’s a southern tradition! This autumn, you can take your porch sittin’ to the next level in quaint Leiper’s Fork.

When you’re through perusing this charming village’s antique stores, art galleries, and shops—block off a whole afternoon, because there is plenty to see—take a break at one of the fire pits outside. This experience is a community gathering, relaxation, and good old-fashioned fun rolled up into one.

Some shops even offer s’mores supplies for guests to enjoy around the crackling fire. My favorite way to partake in the Leiper’s Fork fire pits is to grab some pulled pork and a slice of chess pie from Puckett’s Leiper’s Fork in a to-go container with a cold drink for a socially-distanced dinner with friends that feels anything but distant.

Catch the Weekend Game

With the first gusts of chilly fall air comes the promise of football. It’s a way of life in Tennessee, whether you’re putting on your UT jersey and yelling, “GBO!” or donning a Titans ball cap.

From high school football on Friday nights to SEC on Saturday and NFL on Sunday, it’s scientifically proven that football is only made better with friends and a cold drink.

When you’re feeling a little stir crazy, catch the game at a local bar! Try the Draft Room at Kings in Cool Springs, where 15-foot TVs and a rotating selection of beer from Tennessee breweries means you can watch every college game at once with a cold one in hand.

Or, cheer on T-Rac and the crew at nearby Brewhouse South, where you can enjoy a Bushwacker—an alcoholic chocolate milkshake—or your favorite local brew while you catch the game on one of many, many TVs. After all, fall weekends are made for football.

Drive Through Colorful Fall Foliage

People flock to Middle Tennessee to take in the gorgeous views of our famed fall foliage.

A drive down the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway is a perfect illustration of just how beautiful fall can truly be—and why Travel + Leisure named Franklin one of the “Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the United States.” Enjoy this historic tree-lined parkway from the comfort of your car.

The maple, oak, hickory, and other hardwood trees are usually in peak fall color of reds, yellows, and light oranges from mid-October through early November. If you’d like to get a closer look at the brilliance of the Natchez Trace, pull off at milepost 427.6 to explore the Garrison Creek Trailhead.

And, in case you haven’t quite gotten your fall fix, here’s a bonus activity:

Check Out the Fall City Farmhouse Pop-Up Fair

Express your love for fall in every nook and cranny in your home! The annual City Farmhouse home-goods extravaganza is back this fall with a pop-up fair from Oct. 15-17.

This cozy autumn market brings visitors from all over to appreciate antiques and housewares fit for your dream farmhouse with 25 curated vendors.

This year, the fair will also celebrate the release of owner Kim Leggett’s new book Home Stories with an all-day book signingTo help with social distancing, tickets will be sold in three-hour time blocks and must be reserved in advance. The pop-up fair will be inside Liberty Hall inside the Factory at Franklin, and masks are required.

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Abbi Wilt

Abbi is an adopted Tennessean who has fallen in love with the South—especially its people, warmth, and incomparable food. When she’s not telling stories or experimenting with family recipes, Abbi loves to explore new places with her husband Zach and dog Groot.