9 Unexpected Things To Do In Franklin

When you feel like you’ve ‘been there, done that’ around Franklin, I assure you—there’s more to see. Though guests love frequenting some of the more popular spots— The Park at Harlinsdale FarmCarntonThe Factory at Franklin—there are all kinds of new and out-of-the-box experiences to try in Williamson County.

Take A Hot Air Balloon Ride

Take a trip over the beautiful Tennessee countryside in a hot air balloon! Middle Tennessee Hot Air Adventures takes guests up in massive balloons—around 120,000 cubic feet, in fact.

“That means roughly 120,000 basketballs can fit inside the envelope (fabric portion) of the balloon,” says pilot Logan Bedford. He enjoys seeing the look of “awe, hope, and inspiration” on passengers’ faces as they fly through the air together.

One of the team’s unique experiences is the Dawn Patrol flight, which takes off 45 minutes before sunrise when the sky is still dark. “We land shortly after sunrise,” Logan shares. “Being a second-generation pilot in Middle Tennessee, we have seen thousands of beautiful sunrises and sunsets, each flight having its own unique characteristics. I took my first flight when I was just one year old!” 

Try a shared hot air balloon flight, a private adventure with a champagne toast, or even an extreme adventure where the pilot flies up to a mile above land. As hot air ballooning relies on calm winds and beautiful weather, please keep in mind that flights are dependent on weather so that everyone flies safely. Plan your trip here.

Experience Fur Therapy With Alpacas

Have you ever had a chance to love on alpacas? At Mistletoe Farm in Franklin, Leanne and Tom Butchko raise these sweet, docile animals and offer “fur therapy”—alpaca encounters.

“We love seeing people smile after encounters with the alpacas,” Leanne says. “During a visit, we share alpaca stories and feed the animals leaves, which easily turns into alpaca selfies! Some alpacas are ‘dine and dash,’ and others will let you pet them with a little leaf bribe.”

Just like people, no two alpacas are alike, Leanne shares. “Each alpaca has its own personality. Some are more social than others. Because alpacas are herd animals, they need buddies. You can’t only have one alpaca, as they would die of loneliness!” 

In addition to encounters, Mistletoe Farm offers weaving, felting, and spinning classes. “There is no such thing as a wild alpaca as they have to be shorn annually because of the heat,” Leanne says. “Alpaca fiber is lighter and warmer than wool, flame retardant, and water-resistant.”

Private classes are available for guests to learn everything from natural dyeing to eco-printing to needle felting with alpaca wool. Learn more here.

Test Your Skills At A Barista Class

Grab the coffee lovers in your life and gather at Honest Coffee Roasters for a little java education! Located in the Factory at Franklin, Honest has a reputation for taking the quality and sourcing of their coffee beans seriously. Expand your palate (and impress your house guests) with a barista class: Coffee 101, Brewing 101, or Espresso and Milk 101.

In Coffee 101, students get down to the nitty-gritty of coffee’s history, anatomy, and impact on society. Plus, you’ll get to assess the quality of several different coffees. In Brewing 101, students learn how to improve and manipulate home brewing techniques for a consistently good cup of coffee when you just can’t make it into Honest Coffee Roasters.

 In Espresso and Milk 101, students “learn the intricacies of pulling the perfect espresso, from how to properly dose, distribute, and tamp to achieve a consistently delicious result,” shares Barista Brad Hendryx. Then, students take on the challenge of perfectly steamed milk and basic latte art. 

Upcoming classes:

August 13: Coffee 101 at 6:30-7:45 p.m.

August 13: Brewing 101 from 8-9:30 p.m.

August 27: Espresso and Milk 101 from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

September 18: Coffee 101 at 6:30-7:45 p.m.

September 18: Brewing 101 from 8-9:30 p.m.

September 25: Espresso and Milk 101 from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Learn more here.

Stay The Night At A Recording Studio

Whether you’re coming into Franklin on vacation or you’re a local looking for a unique staycation, you’ll want to plan to stay the night at an Airbnb unlike any other: Dark Horse Estate. This stunning property has played host to some of the biggest stars in music for nearly three decades—everyone from Taylor Swift to Keith Urban to Neil Diamond—as a prolific and active recording studio.

You have several options of spots to stay on this gorgeous estate, though the 3,500-square-foot luxury Cottage is the crown jewel. You’ll find a nine-foot concert grand piano, a cathedral ceiling, stone archways, and even a historic fireplace in this three-bed, two-and-a-half-bath home.

Enjoy a spacious kitchen and even a screened-in workout room overlooking 10 acres of serene Tennessee countryside. Stroll the grounds, hike along the Harpeth River, tour the recording studio, or escape reality under the picturesque gazebo. Book it here.

Catch A Matinee At The Franklin Theatre

Join local theatre-goers as we flock back to Franklin’s iconic 1937 landmark, restored to her former glory in the early 2010s by the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County. The Franklin Theatre is again aglow with films and live shows to entertain and charm everyone on Main Street.

Set aside an afternoon for a matinee with fresh popcorn that the entire family can enjoy. The Franklin Theatre shows a mix of new favorites and older classics, like Forrest Gump (1994) and Singin’ In The Rain (1952). You’ll get the full velvet-curtain experience for less than a traditional movie ticket price. Or, reserve tickets for date night and catch a Franklin Theatre live show, from musical ensembles to comedy specials to Act Too Players, a local youth theatre company.

Looking for something a bit more exclusive? You can even rent out the theatre for movie premieres, live music events, and family occasions. Support the arts in Williamson County and grab your tickets today.

Cuddle Baby Goats & Enjoy A Cheese Board

In 2009, Justyne and Dustin Noble took their hobby of raising dairy goats—something they’ve both been at since elementary school—and turned it into Noble Springs Dairy, a farm and creamery in rural Franklin.

“We met showing dairy goats many years ago,” Dustin says. “Justyne grew up in Kansas, and raised/showed dairy goats as a 4-H project. My family actually had dairy goats in Williamson Co. when my brother and I were infants; we were allergic to cow’s milk.” 

The couple now brings guests to the farm for a very unique experience. “Our tours and Baby Goats & Cheese Board events are a unique opportunity for people to interact with the animals on the farm,” Dustin shares. “Attendants get the chance to consume the cheeses we make right here on the farm they were made on. It’s a full-circle agricultural experience.”

Admission for the Baby Goat experience is $10 per person, and cheese boards can be added on for $25. And, trust me—you won’t want to skip the cheese. “Our plain chèvre, which is the base for most of our offerings, won first place in a national competition,” Dustin says. Bring a few friends and enjoy a day out on the farm with some adorable little creatures. Learn more.

Try Your Hand At Fly Fishing

You may have spent a day floating the river or kayaking around a lake, but have you ever tried fly fishing? Franklin Fly Fishing Co. takes guests on guided fly fishing adventures on the nearby Harpeth River, which houses fish like smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass, and even Rainbow Trout.

Owner Bo Morrissey invites fishermen and women of all levels to participate, even those who have never held a fly rod. After all—it’s hard to beat a sunny day on the river with friends!

Choose from several different adventure options. You can go on a full-blown fly fishing excursion on their Stealthcraft Hooligan drift boat (a double-oar, three-seater boat), you can take a one-on-one lesson, you can try a wading trip, or you can even cruise just for pleasure down the Harpeth through the heart of Franklin. Half-day and full-day fishing options are available. Find out more.

Take A Free, Self-Guided Walking Tour

Get in those 10,000 steps with a self-guided walking tour around Franklin using Visit Franklin’s free Digital Passports. Try the Historic Homes of Hincheyville passport (digitally, operated through your mobile phone) to see some of Williamson County’s prettiest historic homes.

Here’s a tip: Hincheyville is especially popular around Halloween and the winter holidays for its seasonal decorations. Take the walking tour at your own leisure to learn some new fun facts about Old Franklin, including architectural styles. Once you’ve completed the tour, step on back to the Visitor’s Center to claim a prize.

Grab Lunch From A Ghost Kitchen

If you’re looking for a unique picnicking option, try food from a ghost kitchen—trendy restaurant concepts operating out of local Franklin kitchens. Order online for delivery or pick-up and grab some exclusive menu items you won’t find at sit-down spots: Kool-Aid pickles from Burger Dandy (pick up from American Taphouse), a bacon mac-and-cheese burger from Guy Fieri’s Flavortown in Cool Springs, an All-American BBQ Feast from Famous Dave’s (pick up from Granite City) or a YouTube-famous Mr. Beast Burger (pick up from Buca di Beppo).

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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.