It’s hard to put your finger on what makes fall in Franklin, Tennessee an other-worldly experience. It might be that the temperatures give way from summer’s brutal heat to provide us with a small reprieve—a sigh of relief. It might be the vast stretch of changing leaves up on the Natchez Trace, with bits of gold, orange, red, and yellow beckoning you to stop and stay a while. Or, it might be the warm welcome of America’s favorite small town with cozy decor and all the fall fixings you could hope for.
You only need a few days to get a taste of the magic—though it takes months to fully immerse yourself in the wide variety of fall fun that Williamson County offers. If you’re coming for a visit and you have two days or a weekend to spare, here’s an abbreviated way to capture the best of what our town has to offer.
First things first, you’ll want to book a stay at The Harpeth Hotel. Not only is it wildly convenient to your downtown adventures—the hotel does a great job of celebrating the seasons with beautiful lobby decor. Plus, the on-site coffee shop, McGavock’s Coffee Bar & Provisions, goes all out with seasonal drinks (like a Toasted Marshmallow Mocha or a Candy Corn Latte).
Now that you’re well-rested…
Start at Merridee’s
Any self-respecting local will recommend Merridee’s Breadbasket as a top-tier breakfast option. They have a rotating selection of quiches, pastries, and specials (even gluten-free options) and are conveniently located in the heart of downtown Franklin. You’ll definitely want to take a sticky bun to go.
Visit the Farmers’ Market
The Franklin Farmers Market is open on Saturday mornings next to The Factory at Franklin. Come fall, the market fills with shapely pumpkins, colorful squash varieties, lush mums, myriad root vegetables, and Tennessee-made artisan goods that happen to double as souvenirs. The market has even held a November Pardoning of the Turkey! Stop by for a look at some of our region’s best produce, jams, breads, art, and more.
Take a drive to Gentry’s Farm
A short drive outside of downtown will take you to Gentry’s Farm, a seventh-generation working farm located across from Westhaven. This farm celebrates fall with bells and whistles each year, providing visitors (tickets must be purchased in advance) with access to several mazes, tractor rides, putt-putt golf, a log cabin, outdoor games, autumnal treats, and pumpkins of every size. It’s incredibly kid-friendly—several activities are geared specifically toward young fall lovers—with an array of farm animals to walk around and visit.
Take a photo along the Natchez Trace
Head out a little farther west past Gentry’s Farm on Highway 96 and you’ll come to the intersection of the Natchez Trace Parkway, our stretch of the 444-mile road that leads from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN. Up on the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of Tennessee’s finest fall displays—leaves of all colors and farms laid out like a patchwork quilt.
Spend an evening in Leiper’s Fork
Just off of the Natchez Trace Parkway is one of the South’s finest little small “towns”— it’s a village, really. Leiper’s Fork has garnered steady acclaim through the years for its oh-so-charming celebrations of all things fall, from seasonal lattes at The Redbyrd to s’mores around the campfire in front of Leiper’s Creek Gallery. Grab dinner at Fox & Locke to see some live music and enjoy a helping of the best cobbler you’ve ever had (well, at least top three!). Leiper’s Fork is a quaint, peaceful place to wander around. Peruse artful gifts at David Arms Gallery, pick up hand-crafted jewelry at Tennessee Turquoise Company, and even plan a night in a charming restored inn through Pot ‘N Kettle Cottages. You’ll never find friendlier locals.
Grab breakfast at The Coffee House at Second & Bridge
Rise and shine! While there are a handful of spectacular breakfast spots in Franklin—Biscuit Love, Frothy Monkey, and Ruby Sunshine, to name a few—you’ll never miss at The Coffee House at Second & Bridge. Located in a restored home at the corner of Second & Bridge, there is ample seating both indoors and outdoors for you to enjoy all-day brunch or a variety of sweet and savory crepes.
Pick up a pastry at Triple Crown Bakery
We’d be remiss not to recommend snagging a little treat for later while you’re so close to Triple Crown, one of Franklin’s best bakeries. They have a colorful case full of scones, cookies, macarons, pop-tarts, muffins, and more that pair deliciously with a cup of tea and their granny-chic decor. (Note that Triple Crown is closed on Mondays.)
Head toward the apples at Morning Glory Orchard
Fall is all about pumpkins and apples, right? You had your shot at pumpkins at Gentry’s Farm, so now we’re paying some well-deserved love to Morning Glory Orchard, a 10-acre farm down in Nolensville. Morning Glory is the place to celebrate Tennessee apple season with freshly picked fruit, apple cider slushies, hard cider, preserves, butter, and more! You can purchase a self-guided tour through the grounds and bring a picnic lunch to sit among the trees. (Note: The farm does not allow U-Pick and the grounds are closed from Sept. 1-Oct. 14 to accommodate field trips.) Each year, Morning Glory hosts an apple extravaganza with other local businesses—aptly titled the Tennessee Apple And All Things Fall Festival—so if you’re fortunate enough to line up your 48 hours in Franklin with this celebration, you won’t want to miss it.
Sip on a cocktail at Skylight Bar
Step into the new Grand Hall in The Factory at Franklin and grab a stool at The Skylight Bar. The bar opened in summer 2023 and offers a curated list of tasty cocktails on top of rotating drafts, wines, and non-alcoholic sips. Try the Monks Jam (gin, chartreuse, lime, mint, and handmade blueberry jam) or a refreshing mocktail like Marilyn’s Garden (thyme-honey syrup, lime juice, and muddled strawberry). Plus, if you visit between 4 and 6 p.m. from Monday through Friday, you’ll score $3 off for happy hour.
Experience hand-made pasta at Culaccino
When this specialty Italian restaurant opened in downtown Franklin, it generated quite the buzz—we all wanted to get our hands on the whipped ricotta. Owned by executive chef Frank Pullara and inspired by his childhood, Culaccino offers a wide menu with something for every diner, all made with peak-season local ingredients. Try wood-fired pizza with dough fermented for 72 hours, classic meatballs, seafood risotto, and lip-smacking tiramisu. It’s a little slice of Italy with an outdoor patio, bar, and fire pit that lends itself to a slow-paced dinner worth savoring.
Save room for dessert
After dinner, take a walk around downtown Franklin to soak in the fall sunset and peruse shopfronts that always reflect the changing seasons. If you happen to still have a little room, stop at Sweethaven for a bit of award-winning soft-serve ice cream and frozen yogurt in rotating seasonal flavors like Cinnamon, Pumpkin Spice, Bourbon Pecan Pie, and Caramel Apple Pie. They have dairy-free options, as well!
It’s also worth noting that there are a few extra-special fall weekends to plan around:
- September 23 & 24—Check out Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival. In 2023, this beloved celebration of Americana features The Lumineers, The Black Crowes, The Head & The Heart, and Zach Bryan.
- October 28—You’ve hit the gourd jackpot. Pumpkinfest is one of the best celebrations of the season in Middle Tennessee, with local artisan vendors, treats, music, costume contests, and, you guessed it, pumpkins galore.
- November 4—Snag tickets for the 22nd Annual Wine Down Main Street. This evening event takes place along historic Main Street where guests visit 30+ shops to try wines from around the world paired with bites from local restaurants.
Where will your fall adventure in Franklin take you?
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.