When it comes to family travel, every parent knows that if the kids aren’t happy, nobody’s happy! Fortunately, that’s not a concern in Franklin – From outdoor adventures to unique toy stores and unforgettable sweet treats, we have plenty to keep your littles happy, engaged, and thoroughly entertained. Here are some of our favorite things to do in Franklin with young kids.
SOAR Adventure Tower
SOAR Adventure Tower is a massive, four-level climbing tower that both children and adults adore, but it’s great for smaller kids as well. The ground level has a section built especially for children ages 4-7, with 19 different climbing elements and a fun 18-hole mini golf course the whole family can enjoy.
If you dream of kayaking or canoeing with your kids when they’re a little older, Paddle Dog is the perfect way to prepare them while they’re still young. Rent kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards by the hour and teach the kids how to use them on Westhaven’s serene and not-too-large lake.
The Franklin Theatre
Whether it’s a classic movie, a concert, or a play, the historic Franklin Theatre always has something going on, and a number of its movies and shows are suitable for small children. Currently, upcoming live events include a Beatles cover band just for kids, a live dog show called Puppy Pals, and family-friendly films like The Princess Bride. Tickets are always very reasonable, so check the schedule and see what fits the bill for your crew!
Nolensville Toy Shop
Remember how you felt as a child walking into a truly magnificent toy shop? Your kids can have the same experience in downtown Nolensville at the Nolensville Toy Shop, where a lovely historic home is chock full of every toy and game you can imagine. Afterward, head next door to Itty Bitty Donuts for tiny made-to-order donuts drizzled with chocolate that are out of this world.
If you’re looking for the best playground in town, Pinkerton Park is the place to go. Take the stroller on the paved walking trail or head straight to Tinkerbell playground, which boasts tire mazes, cool hiding spots, a sandpit, and much more. The park also has restrooms, picnic tables, and grills, making it a perfect place for a family gathering.
For a truly unforgettable experience, book a visit with the alpacas at Mistletoe Farm! You can reserve a half-hour session with up to five people and an hour-long session for up to ten people. All you need is a camera, your fam, and maybe a few extra friends. You’re ready to capture adorable visual memories among some of the cutest, cuddliest animals you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting.
Surprise your kid with a visit to Sugar Drop, and I guarantee they’ll be thrilled. Sugar Drop’s Dream Shakes look like they came straight out of a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They’re loaded with candy, baked goods, and ice cream and so big that you can easily split one between two or even three people. Sugar Drop also serves up delicious cakes, cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and ice cream, so prepare to take goodies with you when you leave!
Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary
This privately owned nature preserve and owl sanctuary is open to the public Monday through Saturday and has lots of family-friendly programs throughout the year, as well as a number of rescued and rehabilitated owls that your children will love seeing up close. Check the Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary website before you visit to see when family programs are happening and reserve a spot or to reserve day passes if you just want to hike the trails.
The Monkey’s Treehouse
Your smallest children are sure to adore The Monkey’s Treehouse. This well-curated indoor playground includes a multi-roomed treehouse, a miniature town village, car and train tables, doll houses, a baby nursery, a puppet theater, and an art studio. If you’ve got a baby in tow, you’ll appreciate their closed-off section for ages two and under, with soft blocks and other baby-appropriate toys.
Bowie Nature Park
With 17 miles of mostly-flat trails winding around multiple lakes and ponds, Bowie Nature Park was made for family hikes. When you visit, make sure to take a picture of the map at the start of the trail so that you don’t get turned around as you follow the trails through the woods. Bowie also has a nature center and a recently renovated playground that the kids will love. This is one of my family’s favorite places in Middle Tennessee for a walk.
Natchez Trace Parkway
The Natchez Trace Parkway is one of America’s most beautiful scenic roads, and it runs right through Franklin! For a fun family day trip, get on the Parkway in Franklin and drive to mile marker 391.9, where you’ll see a sign for Fall Hollow. Park in the parking area, and you’ll find a paved walk to a platform overlooking a large waterfall. Once you’ve taken in the view, keep going down the short dirt path down into the woods, and you’ll encounter several more waterfalls, including one that’s perfect for small children to play in. It’s a great way to cool off on a hot day!
I’ve found kids are a lot more likely to eat their fruits and vegetables if they get to pick them out themselves at a farmers market. Fortunately, Franklin has some of the best. You’ll find the Franklin Farmers Market at The Factory on Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. It has dozens of vendors selling everything from local produce, meats, and freshly baked breads to arts and crafts. I’m also a fan of the Nolensville Farmers Market, located at 7248 Nolensville Road, on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. (Afterward, take the kids to the wonderful Nolensville Toy Shop if they’ve behaved!)
Digital Passport Scavenger Hunts
Visit Franklin offers free, self-guided digital passport tours that are fun to complete as a family. Sign up for the free passports, explore Franklin and Williamson County, then pick up your prize for completing the tour at the Visitor Center in downtown Franklin. Kids will especially love the Murals of Williamson County and the Sweet Treats Trail.
For a meal your kids will love, head to Hwy 55 in either Nolensville or Spring Hill for burgers, fries, and onion rings in a classic diner environment, as well as shakes, floats, concretes, and splits for dessert. Best of all, the kids meals come in cardboard 1950s convertibles—it’s the little things, am I right?