Looking for ways to have summer fun without destroying your budget in the process? There are many fun, free things to do in Franklin each summer, whether you’re looking for family-friendly adventures or a romantic outdoor date idea. Here are some of our favorite free Franklin activities that every age can enjoy.
Watch a Movie in the Park.
Each Friday night at Pinkerton Park, from June 9 to July 21, you can enjoy a free outdoor movie. Take chairs, a blanket, and your picnic dinner, or buy concession items in the park. Movies start at 8 p.m., or sunset, whichever comes first, and include Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1, Moana, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Emperor’s New Groove, and Shrek. Take a ride down the Natchez Trace Parkway.The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile-long linear park that runs from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi. One of our favorite free summer activities is to hop on the Parkway at Hwy. 96 in Franklin and take it for a beautiful hour-long drive to Fall Hollow at mile marker 391.9. You’ll find a parking area and a paved walk to a platform overlooking a sizable waterfall. Once you’ve taken in the view, continue down the short, steep dirt path into the woods, where you’ll find several more waterfalls, including one that’s perfect for children to play in. It’s one of our favorite ways to cool off when it’s hot outside.
Take a digital tour of downtown Franklin
One of the most innovative ways to tour Franklin is with a free Digital Passport, which you can download through our Visit Franklin website. Digital Passports include Historic Homes of Hincheyville, Haunts & Headstones, Great American Main Street, and more. You’ll learn fascinating details about the area’s history and get your steps in as well! Once you’ve completed the tour and checked in at the stops, head to the Visitor Center in downtown Franklin and receive a special prize! And if you prefer a non-digital tour, you can also pick up a free and very detailed self-guided tour pamphlet at the Visitor Center as well.
Take a guided hike at Timberland Park.
Just off the Natchez Trace Parkway near the Natchez Trace Bridge in Franklin, you’ll find Timberland Park, a beautiful wooded park with several miles of trails and a nature center featuring lots of ranger-led programs. You’ll find lots to do here in the summertime, including plenty of guided hikes, free programs, and activities on everything from butterflies to Native Americans to owls. Check out their events page on Facebook and reserve your spots on one of their upcoming free hikes or activities.
Schedule a day at the playground.
The Franklin area’s very best playgrounds can be found at Pinkerton Park and Crockett Park. At Pinkerton Park, you’ll find two well-stocked playgrounds, restrooms, picnic tables, and grills. And Brentwood’s Crockett Park has a large, shaded playground with castle architecture, plenty of slides, tire swings, rubberized paths, and picnic tables.
Listen to live local music at Pickin’ in the Park.
Now in its 11th season, Spring Hill Pickin’ in the Park is a monthly outdoor family-friendly concert event featuring local musicians and songwriters from the Spring Hill community. Held on scheduled Saturdays at 5:30 at Harvey Park, families can bring blankets, chairs and picnic dinners or buy their meals from the food truck on site. This year’s dates: June 3, July 8, August 5, September 9, and October 7.
Keep cool at the Brentwood Library.
Your children will love exploring the massive children’s room at the John P. Holt Brentwood Library. It’s filled with plenty of nooks, crannies, and surprises that will keep your kids busy, and you don’t have to be a member to visit, so it’s perfect for the picture book set. Outside, you’ll find shady, paved paths in a parklike environment—perfect for a picnic and burning off some extra energy. Be sure and stop by on Saturday, June 3, between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. for the library’s Summer Reading Kickoff, when there’ll be carnival-style games, food trucks, and fun activities for families.
Savor the many lakes and ponds at Bowie Nature Park.
This gigantic nature park in the heart of Fairview has 17 miles of nature trails that wind around several lakes, ponds and over a lovely creek your kids will love playing in. Since Bowie Nature Park is mostly flat, it’s one of my favorite places for a family walk. A nature center and a new playground add to the fun. Be sure and take a picture of the map at the trailhead before you head out for a hike, and bring bug spray—lots of water makes for a mosquito-friendly environment!
Ride bikes on the Brentwood trail system.
You’ll find one of Middle Tennessee’s best-paved bike trail systems in the heart of Brentwood, where eight different trails range in length from one to eight miles roundtrip, and most of the trails are connected. Since most of the trails are shaded, they’re perfect for summer rides, especially if you start at the Brentwood Library and ride alongside the Little Harpeth Creek, where you can stop for a little splash time. The trail also runs past the Williamson County Recreation Center, the YMCA, and several parks and rec fields, so you’ll find plenty of parking lots and bathrooms along the way.
Get away from it all at Preservation Park.
Located in nearby Thompson’s Station, Preservation Park is just a few minutes from downtown Franklin, but you’ll feel like you’re worlds away in this park that was once a Civil War battlefield. Take the trail from the parking lot across a meadow and up to the top of a large, grassy hill with panoramic views of the Williamson County countryside, then head down into a forest before loping around the hill to return to where you started. This hike is truly one to remember and highly Instagrammable.
Let your kids bowl free at Franklin Family Entertainment Center.
The Franklin Family Entertainment Center gets high marks from locals for cleanliness, affordability, and friendly staff. It also has a program allowing kids to bowl one game free per day from April 15 to August 31, with no strings attached! Head to the center’s website and complete a form to enroll your kids.
Take your children to Kids Day at Pinkerton Park.
Pinkerton Park will host two Kids Days in July and August – Summer Science Fever is Monday, June 26, from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. and includes a science show with real scientists and an experiment afterward that lets kids make their own chilly sweet treat. Kids Water Day will be Wednesday, August 2, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Kids can enjoy water relays, water balloons, sprinklers, beach balls, and popsicles.
Sign your little techies up for Apple’s free summer camp.
One of my son’s favorite free summer activities, when he was younger, happens each year at Franklin’s CoolSprings Galleria: Apple summer camp! Every summer, Apple stores across the country offer three days of 90-minute day camp sessions for kids and families, free of charge. Themes change yearly, but your child will always learn a cool new computer or iPad skill. Last summer, families learned to make their own comic books on an iPad. Sign up here to receive an email when registration opens, and when it does, be quick to register your kids for one of the sessions – Spots go fast!
Take the City of Franklin’s Free Audio Cellphone Tour.Want to learn even more about Franklin? The City of Franklin offers a free self-guided cell phone tour of 15 historical sites throughout the city, including The Park at Harlinsdale Farm, historic battle sites, Winstead Hill, the McLemore House, and the Hard Bargain Neighborhood. Just call the number when you get to the site and choose which point of interest you want to hear more about. You can learn more about the audio tour here.