10 Things You Have to Experience This October

October is upon us! If we’re being 100 percent candid, I have to say that I was never too fond of autumn until I moved to Tennessee. While fall in other places can mean dreary, cold, and dark days, fall in Tennessee is my favorite of all the seasons.

Leaves turn golden, red, and orange, the air turns just crisp enough to warrant a blanket on the porch swing, Saturdays become football celebrations, and humidity takes a well-deserved leave. Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year to visit Franklin.

It’s warm enough that you can still enjoy tons of outdoor activities—plus, the picturesque backdrop of our quaint Main Street makes for some top-notch Instagram photos. Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy fall this October in Franklin.

Paint the Town Orange

With the absence of several favorite local events this season, the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County and the Downtown Franklin Association have decided to induct fall in style—painting the town orange!

This celebration of autumn will be happening for the whole month of October down our historic Main Street so families can avoid crowds while still partaking in fall festivities.

There will be plenty of fall photo opportunities, including the Heritage Foundation’s iconic Pumpkin Tree (a usual Pumpkinfest staple) and weekly themed activities, ending with a final weekend extravaganza on Oct. 31. Fall fun is right around the corner! Find the weekly theme breakdown here.

Visit Gentry’s Farm

I’m not going to lie: As soon as September 1 came around, I was already scouting out pumpkins. Every year, I look for my very own cornucopia of pumpkins to carve, mini pumpkins to decorate, and even pie pumpkins to cook up some fall goodies.

If you also fall into the pumpkin craze, head over to Gentry’s Farm for a pumpkin-palooza. You can pick your own pumpkins or buy pre-picked pumpkins, ranging from $1 to $12, based on size.

Please note that masks are required when social distancing is not possible. If you want to partake in the farm’s special fall activities—like a four-acre cornfield maze and sorghum labyrinth—make sure to reserve tickets ahead of time. The farm is celebrating 30 years of family fun, so it’s the perfect way to spend an October afternoon.

Take a Drive Along the Natchez Trace

One of the most popular times of year to travel the Natchez Trace Parkway is during autumn—and for a good reason! The fall foliage along this historic forest trail is just incredible, with sugar maples and white oak (among others) leading the way with October hues.

The Parkway runs 444 miles, all the way to Natchez, Mississippi. If you decide to ride the whole Trace, you may just stumble on a few cotton fields during harvest, too. To stretch your legs, stop off for a quick 1.3-mile hike at the Old Natchez Trace Garrison Creek Loop.

Warm Up Next to the Fire in Leiper’s Fork

In my mind, fall in Leiper’s Fork is about as close as you could get to dreamy Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls. The charming small village of Leiper’s Fork is always welcoming visitors from one season to the next with markets, unique shopping opportunities, and live entertainment, but fall is seriously magical.

Each shop offers a cozy fire pit where visitors can sit a spell and warm up. Several shops even offer free marshmallows for roasting. Relaxing next to the fire with friends is the perfect pause before the impending chaos of the holiday season. The ambiance is unlike any other.

Get your Fall Flavor Fix at the Farmers’ Market

I start dreaming about fall soups as soon as the thermometer dips below 65 degrees. What can I say? Soup and fall flavors are the perfect pairings, in my opinion. To get your fall flavor fix—including butternut squash, pumpkin, and sweet potato—spend your Saturday morning at The Franklin Farmers’ Market.

Vendors bring their best fall offerings to the tables so that you can shop locally, sustainably, and deliciously to your heart’s content. The market happens every Saturday year-round from 8 a.m. to noon at the Factory.

While you’re there, be sure to grab a doughnut from Ellie’s. They have a rotation of seasonal flavors, and market-goers quickly eat up all of their Pumpkin Cinnamon Sugar doughnuts.

Enjoy an Oktoberfest beer at Mill Creek Brewing Co.

When you can’t be at Oktoberfest, the next best thing is a trip to Mill Creek Brewing Co. in Nolensville. Their seasonal Oktoberfest beer is a smooth German lager brewed with the highest quality German malts and hops. It’s fermented with a traditional yeast and then matured at a low temperature for two months.

This Mill Creek special is beloved for its rich, toasty flavor, the fragrance of Noble Hops, and a crisp finish. For the full experience, visit their Taproom to pair your cold draft with bar staples like burgers, hot chicken, and wings.

It’s a great spot to go and watch college ball on Saturday and NFL on Sunday. Mill Creek has an open patio in addition to their taproom and field for guests to socially distance and enjoy that refreshing October air.

Go for a Fall Color Hike at Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary

The step-up from driving through fall foliage is a guided hike with experts, and October is the month to go! Every Saturday from Oct. 3 through Oct. 31, veteran trail guides and volunteer naturalists Denis Lovell and Richard Hitt take hikers through Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary in Brentwood to watch fall unfurl in all its glory.

Owl’s Hill is a private nature reserve celebrating over 60 years of protecting ecosystems in Middle Tennessee, and fall is one of the prettiest times to appreciate the work they do. Be sure to bring your binoculars and camera, as there is plenty of wildlife to observe along the trail.

You could spot anything from deer, to owls, to rabbits, to turkeys! Fall Color Hikes are only open to adults and spots must be reserved in advance for $12/hiker. Social distancing will be enforced. Visitors should bring masks to wear when unable to socially distance from other hikers or staff.

Catch a Drive-In Movie with The Field at Franklin

October is my favorite month for one very specific reason: Halloween. Come October 1, you will find me with a little ghost on my door, a carved pumpkin, a comprehensive costume plan, and Hocus Pocus cued on the TV.

To take movie night to the next level, join the fun at the drive-in! The Field at Franklin shows movies every weekend through Christmas, but they have something especially exciting planned for the spookiest holiday of the year. Costumes are welcome! Stay tuned for more details on their website. This socially distant activity is the perfect way to enjoy unique entertainment in the safety of your own car.

Guests pay by the carload, so cram in as many little ghosts and ghouls as you have seats and reserve your ticket online here. One great thing about the Field at Franklin is that they want everyone to be able to experience the joy of drive-in movies, so, while $35 is the suggested vehicle price, guests can pay what they’re able.

Picnic at Arrington Vineyards

Nestled in the beautiful rolling hills of Arrington, Tennessee, Arrington Vineyards provides a stunning backdrop for everything from a casual socially distanced date to a wine tasting with friends.

Every Saturday and Sunday, guests can enjoy elevated tasting options (reservations required) at the vineyard with seasonal fall pairings, or simply enjoy free live music while picnicking on the grounds. Plus, October is the last month of the season to enjoy Food Truck Fridays at Arrington, so now is the time to visit!

You can find their weekly schedule on Instagram. A tip: The vineyard is currently limiting guest capacity, and has had to turn visitors away until more picnicking spaces are available.

Arrive early to save your spot! Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday, and 12-8 p.m on Sunday.

Go on a Ghost Tour of Franklin

With a town steeped in so much history, it’s no wonder that things can get a little spooky now and then. To hear some fantastic stories—and maybe even spot an apparition or two—sign up for a ghost tour with Franklin on Foot. Owner Margie, a passionate history buff, and her team have been telling stories to visitors since 2003.

While they offer several historical tour options, October is the perfect time for a little something paranormal. Try the Haunted Franklin evening tour, which covers six blocks. Guests can expect four to five stops at several prominent Franklin structures paired with 90+ minutes of the best storytelling you’ve heard in a long while.

You may spot the lingerings of a woman smoking in the front room, a failed businessman, Confederate soldiers, a Civil War spy, and more—you never know who will be out and about. Cost is $20 for adults, $10 for teens, and $5 for kids. October tours begin at 7 p.m. Reservations must be made in advance.

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.