Fall in Franklin: Your Family Fun Guide to Tennessee’s Best Autumn Town

It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful place to visit in autumn than Franklin, Tennessee. The air turns crisp, the skies deepen to a dazzling shade of blue, and the trees fairly explode with fall color. After a long, hot summer, fall is an ideal time to get outside and enjoy the season with your family – and Franklin offers plenty of opportunities to do just that! Here are a few of our favorite family-friendly fall activities.  

Fall’s cooler temperatures make it a perfect time to enjoy an outdoor theatrical production with your family. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. The Nashville Shakespeare Company will perform August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean September 15-16 at 6 p.m. and Shakespeare’s Cymbeline on September 17-18 at 6 p.m., both at Franklin’s Academy Park. Take lawn chairs, blankets, and a picnic dinner and savor one of these classic plays at sunset.

Did you know downtown Franklin is home to Middle Tennessee’s largest family fall festival? Franklin’s 37th annual PumpkinFest will take place October 29 this year, and more than 60,000 people are expected to attend! All along Main Street and its side avenues, you’ll find fall fun that includes autumn-themed food and drinks, kids activities, music, costume contests (for pets and humans!), and all kinds of arts and crafts. Tennessee is known for its fantastic fall festivals, and this is one you definitely don’t want to miss! 

One of our favorite ways to celebrate the fall season is with a visit to the Franklin Farmer’s Market, which you’ll find outside The Factory at Franklin on Saturday mornings. Tennessee’s mild temperatures mean a multitude of vegetables are still in season in the fall, including kale, winter squash, zucchini, rutabaga, and, of course, plenty of pumpkins! You can also shop for jewelry and crafts from Tennessee artisans, local meats and seafood, prepared foods, fall flowers, and more.   

Nolensville’s Morning Glory Orchard will celebrate its second annual Apple & All Things Fall Festival on October 8 with 50 craft vendors and gift makers, food trucks, face painting, pumpkins, mums, apple cider slushies, caramel apples, kettle corn, and more. The festival is dog-friendly, so this is a fun opportunity to include your pet in your family’s adventures!

Tennessee’s gorgeous hardwood trees turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and gold in the fall, and locals know the very best place to see them is on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Hop on the Parkway at the Natchez Trace Bridge in Franklin and take it as far as you’d like: There are plenty of interesting stops along the way to make the journey even more fun. When we want to make a day trip of it, we take the Parkway to the Merriwether Lewis monument in Hohenwald and make stops at waterfalls, overlooks, and more while on our drive there.

For Franklin families with small children, a visit to Gentry’s Farm in October is practically a requirement! Located just a few minutes from downtown, this century-old farm is open to the public on autumn weekends. It offers pumpkin picking, hayrides, a four-acre corn maze, cuddly farm animals, and lots more kid-friendly games and activities. Check the Gentry’s Farm website for details on dates and times. This is one fall activity your family won’t want to miss! 

One of my favorite ways to celebrate fall is with a ghost tour, and Franklin Walking Tours has two fantastic options. Offered each night at 7 p.m., the “Grim and Ghostly” Tour takes participants on a leisurely stroll past the historic district’s most haunted buildings while a guide tells tales of local ghosts and bygone crimes that offer plenty of thrills and chills. And for something truly special, mark your calendar for the “Tombstone Tales” event on October 29. On that night, a tour of Franklin’s historic cemeteries will be offered, complete with costumed actors on hand to tell hair-raising stories of the people who are buried there. Head to the Franklin Walking Tours website to book your reservation.

With its cozy shops, restaurants, and pastoral views, the charming village of Leiper’s Fork is a can’t-miss day trip any time of year, but if you really want to make it special this fall, visit Leiper’s Fork on the weekend of September 23-24. That’s when the Plein Air Painters of the Southeast will be on hand painting throughout the village and offering their framed masterpieces for sale. More than 30 renowned artists will be painting en plein air (that means outdoors!) during the weekend event, offering visitors a chance to see their artistry in action. Watch them at work, browse the shops, and top it all off with delicious pulled pork barbecue at Fox & Locke in the heart of the village. Sounds like a perfect day to me!  

Pack a picnic dinner and head to Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary in Brentwood on September 24 for Music in the Meadow, where you’ll hear the tunes of Thom Schuyler, J. Fred Knobloch, Tony Arata, and Kirk “Jelly Roll” Johnson as the sun sets over the South Ridge. Schuyler, Arata, and Knobloch have sold over 100 million records during their time as Nashville songwriters and originated the Bluebird Café in the Round shows, while Johnson has appeared on more than 100 Top Ten country releases as a top-notch harmonica player. As for the venue, Owl’s Hill is absolutely stunning. If you’ve never been, this concert is a perfect opportunity for you and your family to experience its pristine natural beauty for the first time. 

Thousands of Middle Tennessee families will head to Lucky Ladd Farms in Eagleville over the next few months for its popular fall events. Billed as an “Ag-venture Farm Fun Park,” Lucky Ladd is dedicated to creating a kid-friendly farm experience. Activities include a pumpkin patch, sunflower fields, a petting zoo, a corn maze, pony rides, and more. Check their website to find out when Lucky Ladd will be open to the public this fall.

As you and your family are out and about exploring all that Franklin has to offer this fall, be sure to follow along and tag us on socials @visitfranklin and #visitfranklintn for your chance to be featured on our feed. Happy fall, y’all!