The sky is gray, the air is biting, and you’re sure you just caught a whiff of impending snow. It’s the time of year when we’re all extra grateful for our earmuffs, mittens, and the puffs of warm air emanating from the stores we’re hurrying past while Christmas shopping.
But hold on a second. Why hustle your way through the holiday season when you could slow down and spend some time warming up in Franklin’s coziest spaces instead? We’ve rounded up six of our favorite places to defrost our noses—whether it’s via the steam from a mug of hot chocolate or the heat of a roaring fire.
Aptly, Awaken Tennessee is where we’ll start our day. From the second you step beyond the sleep-centered shop’s display of woven baskets filled with bedtime accouterments, you’ll be wrapped up in warm tones. First, you’ll want to explore the half to the right, which features mattresses piled with pillows and bordered by shelves of fuzzy stuffed animals.
Then you can drift with the soft Christian music back into the other half of the shop, where you’ll find a “Let’s Stay in Bed” sign and a circular, multi-tiered array of amber-jarred candles in scents like Cardamom Vanilla and Peppermint Cocoa. Among the brick and wood paneling, you’ll be able to peruse wire containers holding woolen dryer balls, rows of waffled robes in neutral colors, and racks of soft loungewear that customers (namely me) can’t help but run their hands over.
Who’s to say what makes this store so inviting? Maybe it’s the cheerful shopkeeper encouraging those wandering through to abide by the “Play Me” note posted on the piano in the back. Perhaps it’s the fact that pendant lights, spindly chandeliers, and Christmas trees solely light the space. Or maybe, it’s the wares themselves.
Now that you’ve got everything you need for a restful night’s sleep, bring some of that comfort to your couch with a chunky cable knit blanket and a set of knit throw pillows. At this rate, you’ll return from your trip to Franklin ready to snuggle deeper into your well-worn cushions than ever before—especially since you’ll have crafted these plush items yourself at AR Workshop.
The DIY studio supplies everything you need to hand knit so you can spend a fun afternoon trying something new. Considering you’re a cozy connoisseur, you may already have more blankets than you’ll ever need. (We weren’t sure that was possible, but if it’s the case), AR Workshop also offers Pick Any Project timeslots where you can paint a platter for Santa’s cookies, a menorah advent, or a unity tray.
We bet the thought of curling up on your couch has you dreaming of a new novel. And if the stately sign boasting “Old, Out-of-Print, Rare & Some New Books” doesn’t draw you between the towering columns of Landmark Booksellers to buy one, maybe the yellow lamplight spilling out of the wreath-clad doorway and the glimpse of floor-to-ceiling shelves will.
Inside, pipe smoke mingles with the slightly musty smell of reread books and the fresh ink of those waiting to be cracked open. Grab a title from a stack on the coffee table and sink into one of three leather sofas. Or settle into the plump, book-patterned armchair nestled into a nook alongside the staircase and take in your surroundings.
After a while, you’ll want to make your way farther into the deep shop. Back here, you’ll find yourself losing track of time. On a recent cool November evening, the tick of a pendulum wall clock, the shuffle of feet on the wine-colored rugs, and the slow flipping of pages were the only sounds breaking into the still air. So, suffice it to say, by the time you’ve picked out your next read, you might have forgotten about the weather—and you’ll need a hot drink and an excuse to sit somewhere, open to chapter one, and stay for a while.
That’s where 1819 Coffee comes into play. As soon as you round the corner into the small alleyway that runs between its greenhouse-esque space and its manor, you’ll be hit with the unmistakable scent of coffee. Step inside the dimly lit, windowed room, and it’ll amplify, along with the classic sounds of a coffeeshop: baristas bonding with customers over the newest signature drinks (World’s Best Cup of Eggnog, Praline Pecan Latte, and Peppermint Mocha), the whir and hiss of the espresso machine, and breathy music playing over it all.
While midday is marked by work-from-homers tapping contentedly on their laptops, the evening brings friends hugging and chatting, people decompressing over pastries, and a friendly delivery man leaving with a cup of joe in hand. The room’s low light, dark-painted windowpanes, a plethora of rich green plants, and brick floor invite this intimate feel.
Tuck yourself at a window-side table next to a flickering, plastic taper candle and a Christmas tree that’s covered in gift requests from those in need. Or opt for one of the bright, airy rooms inside the manor, where the coziness instead comes from the quiet; the well-loved, indented leather chairs circled up around a grand, though not lit, fireplace; and the aromatic evergreen that’s draped over its mantle.
The blueberry muffin you chowed down on when you first arrived at 1819 in Thompson’s Station will feel like it was consumed hours ago (and by someone else) by the time you stick a napkin between the pages and shut your book. That means you’re ready for a plate of pasta. And that’s when you’ll want to drive to Zolo’s Italian Restaurant. Located just off Main Street in downtown Franklin, this corner eatery announces itself with larger-than-life paintings of wine bottles on its red exterior as you approach.
Its dark ceiling and floor manage to bring a comfortable feel to the spacious single room that makes up its interior. Tables covered in checkered cloths and wooden chairs are scattered throughout, an open kitchen lines the back wall, and a handful of small booths border the windows looking out beyond its awning, which is draped in patio lights. Order a plate of Baked Five Cheese Tortellini, served with a hunk of garlic bread, to indulge in a fragrant dish made with silky marinara and noodles that have some heft. As the diners around you swirl their spaghetti in the air and you sip a glass of wine, you’ll be glad you went with the comfort food option.
Once you’ve had your fill, the fireplace at your Airbnb will be calling. Rent the Historic Chester Cabin (originally built in 1807!) in Fairview to come home to a private tree-lined property; a rocking-chair-filled front porch; wood paneling from floor to ceiling; a dedicated chess table; antique, high-backed beds; and, yes, a stone fireplace.
Now that you’ve explored virtually, it’s finally time to trade your slippers for a pair of boots and head out into the cold. But don’t worry, with these places on your itinerary, you’ll be cozy again before you know it.