Small-town America may seem like a dream of years past. There’s no way that you could stumble across an idyllic, charming town with a slower pace of life, always-friendly locals, peaceful evenings around a firepit, and impromptu musical numbers by world-class musicians…right?
I tell nay-sayers to take a little trip over to Leiper’s Fork.
I first set foot in the historic village a decade ago and was immediately transported into an episode of the Andy Griffith Show. On my right, an old-timey police car welcomed me into town. On my left, an artisanal craft fair bustled. The main drag was dotted with easels—twenty thirty retirees painted nature scenes up and down Old Hillsboro Road.
Leiper’s Fork has changed a lot in the last ten years, but it has retained every bit of its eclectic charm. Those “Welcome Cars” are still there for photo ops, and every nook and cranny around town seems to be tucked with an antique to be discovered, a tune to hum along to, or a sip to be relished. If you need a few ideas on where to start, here are some of my favorite experiences in Leiper’s Fork that you won’t find anywhere else.
Get a photo along the historic Natchez Trace Bridge
Visit the double-arch bridge along the Natchez Trace Parkway (Milepost 438) for scenic views of patchwork Tennessee countryside you won’t capture anywhere else. It’s especially beautiful in the fall, where visitors can observe shades of gold, red, and orange speckling the foliage on nearby farms, fields, and forests. Pull off the Parkway to hike up Garrison Creek Loop Trail, a dog-friendly 1.3-mile loop (the northern trailhead for the Highland Rim section of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail) where you can ride horses, birdwatch, and enjoy solitude among stately trees.
Pick up coffee from The RedByrd
The RedByrd isn’t your typical, everyday coffee shop. They’re “serving up joy with a side of coffee,” their Instagram says—and that joy is handed out of a tiny house with a cheerful façade parked outside Leiper’s Fork Market. Owned by musicians Sadie Shaw-Brooks and Kyle Brooks, The RedByrd has been creating community, fostering creativity, and caffeinating the locals on the far side of Leiper’s Fork since 2018. Pick up one of their unique seasonal lattes, classic coffee drinks (featuring beans roasted in Middle Tennessee), and locally-sourced pastries to enjoy in the sun at one of their picnic tables.
Go antiquing at Props
If you love the vintage-chic decor around Leiper’s Fork, you’ll want to stop in at Props Antiques. Props is not your run-of-the-mill antiques mall—it’s an eclectic, curated collection of neon signs, artisan gifts, craft candies, and old-school collectibles. In addition to their spectacular taffy and hidden treasures, the shop frequently hosts community events, like Pickin’ weekends—antique and vintage shows with a side of food trucks. Props even has a seasonal showroom at the famous Round Top Antiques Show in Texas!
Take home a one-of-a-kind souvenir
Celebrate your visit to Leiper’s Fork with a souvenir you won’t find anywhere else—a turquoise squash blossom necklace, a silver pill box, a hand-pulled wire cuff, a 1970s abalone lighter sleeve, a 1940s-era ring, or stamped cocktail stirrers (the list goes on). You’ll find this thoughtful collection of unique items at the Tennessee Turquoise Company (follow the sign on the street out back) by musician Morgane Stapleton and her all-female team. Purchases support the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, an organization helping to end gender-based violence in Indigenous communities.
Grab dinner at Fox & Locke
Have you ever had warm, crackling pork rinds with hot chicken seasoning? Fox & Locke is one of the best restaurants in Middle Tennessee, and it’s located right in the heart of Leiper’s Fork. Named for the original Fox & Locke General Store founded in 1947, the popular spot (formerly Puckett’s Grocery) offers a menu full of Southern classics, from pimento cheese sandwiches to fried catfish to biscuits and gravy. But that’s not even the best part: Fox & Locke hosts live music throughout the week, with Open Mic Night on Thursdays. You never know who you’ll catch on stage—artists like Carrie Underwood have been known to pop in unannounced.
Step into the Pickin’ Corner
In the old town general store, experience a community gathering space unlike any other—a haven of texture, color, and antiques—known as Patina Home and Garden. Patina was founded by Brooke and Steve Giannetti, an interior designer and architect power couple who relocated to Leiper’s Fork and dreamed up a store that combined community, history, and nature. Patina Home and Garden also plays host to Leiper’s Fork’s iconic pickin’ corner, where musicians can sit on antique benches, and request to play legendary instruments hung up on the old Beadboard walls.
Experience a creekside wine-tasting
Picture this: You’re sipping on award-winning wines and listening to the peaceful sounds of a gurgling creek (with maybe a hint of live music on the weekends). Bring this scene to life with Wines in the Fork at Farmstead Roots, where two centuries of family farming come together to bring Leiper’s Fork sustainably harvested grapes and top-tier vino. Are you looking for something a little more exclusive? Try the unique Creek Dinner Series, where local chefs pair dishes with Farmstead wines at dusk.
Tour Leiper’s Fork Distillery
Venture into the history books of Leiper’s Fork—tales that connect back to Tennessee’s moonshine industry—with a visit to a beloved local distillery. Every bit of the process at Leiper’s Fork Distillery is homegrown, and guests can sample the team’s small-batch whiskey in a 200-year-old tasting room. Sign up for a tour to witness the distillery’s authentic, low-volume, low-impact production as they celebrate the heritage behind every spirit they make.
Visit a gas station-turned-art-gallery
Bring your kids and bring your dog, owner Lisa Fox says—a far cry from the rules of many other fine art galleries. Not in Leiper’s Fork! Smack-dab in the middle of the village, you’ll find Leiper’s Creek Gallery, formerly home to a gas station. Step into the gallery, and you’ll experience a warm welcome from all kinds of art, from sculptures and carvings to impressionism and still-life paintings. It’s a home away from home for all who enter. Added perk: The fire pit outside the gallery is often stocked with s’mores supplies inviting guests to sit and stay awhile.
…And then, stop into an actual gas station
Leiper’s Fork Market isn’t just any ol’ gas station. This special little corner of Leiper’s Fork is part of the fabric of the community and serves up much more than gas. Walk in, and you’ll be greeted by a chandelier hanging over a community dining table—your first clue that all is not what it seems. Stop by the lunch counter and browse their robust selection of local beers (and some classic gas station fare, too). It’ll be the friendliest fill-up you’ll ever experience.