Franklin’s greatest treasure is undoubtedly its historic Main Street. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this bustling thoroughfare runs through the heart of downtown. It expertly combines small-town Southern charm with sophisticated shopping and restaurants you’d expect to find in a much larger city.
There’s so much to explore on and around Main Street that we can’t possibly fit everything into one blog post! However, this list will get you off to a great start.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Before you start exploring the area, pick up a self-guided tour booklet from the downtown Visitor Center to learn about the stories behind Main Street’s historic buildings. Alternatively, you can download the Great American Main Street Digital Passport, and a self-guided walking tour will be delivered instantly to your phone via text and email.
Stay in the center of it all by booking a room at the luxurious Harpeth Hotel in the heart of the downtown area. Spend a few days here, and you won’t need a car- You can walk everywhere you want!
You’ll want to check Franklin Theatre’s schedule before your visit – Built in 1937, this beautiful Art Deco theater hosts about 500 performances a year, including new and classic movies, live music, dance, theater, and more.
See more of Main Street by renting electric bicycles from Pedego Franklin, located on Second Avenue in easy walking distance from Main Street. The electric assistance kicks in only when you need it, allowing you to explore more than you ever could on your own.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Slip into Franklin’s oldest church for a moment of reflection and a look at stained glass windows designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Built in 1837, the church was used as soldier barracks during the Civil War and still bears the scars. It’s one of the few churches in America whose doors remain unlocked 24/7.
Learn more about Franklin’s past on a walking tour with Franklin Walking Tours or Franklin on Foot. Both companies offer a range of tours for all tastes, including history tours, civil war tours, ghost tours, and more.
Avec Moi is a longtime Franklin favorite, offering home accessories as well as new and vintage gifts. Specialties include sterling silver jewelry, reading glasses, stemware, and scented candles.
This independent bookstore is located inside Franklin’s oldest commercial building and is not to be missed! Landmark Booksellers specializes in all things Southern, including treasured classics, hard-to-find first editions, signed books, rare hand-written documents, and an incredible vintage children’s section.
At Bink’s Outfitters, you’ll find everything you need for your next outdoor adventure, including products from Yeti, Vineyard Vines, Chacos, and more.
Franklin Visitor Center
Consider this your one-stop shop for Franklin souvenirs, t-shirts, Christmas ornaments, and books about Franklin’s rich local history.
Fork of the South General Store
Featuring products with Southern charm, Fork of the South offers clothing, jewelry, gifts, and more from Tennessee artisans and vendors, all at affordable prices.
Franklin Road Apparel Company
This Main Street staple is perfect for anyone who appreciates sophisticated, high-quality clothing with Southern flair. You’ll find brands like Red Wing Boots, Deus Ex Machina, French Connection, and Chaser at Franklin Road Apparel Company.
Hester & Cook
This one-of-a-kind boutique features iconic paper placemats and table runners, stationery, kitchen products, gifts, and more. Plus, Hester & Cook employees will mail any card you’ve purchased and filled out there – and postage is on them!
The Iron Gate
This home decor shop features a carefully curated selection of ‘found object’ furniture, and each piece has its own unique story. At The Iron Gate, you’ll also find premium candles, luxury bed linens, seasonal decorations, and more.
Billed as a general store for the modern-day tastemaker,’ White’s Mercantile is owned by Holly Williams and contains all her favorite items, many of which she’s found while playing music for her fans while on the road.
This longtime Franklin favorite stays busy and is a great dinner pick. At 55 South, expect upscale Southern comfort food like greens and cornbread and cheese grits as well as Louisiana dishes like fried boudin and jambalaya — and whatever you do, don’t leave without tasting the restaurant’s decadent garlic parmesan crab fries!
Gray’s on Main
You can’t go wrong with lunch at this pharmacy-turned-restaurant inside an 1876 Victorian-era building. The sandwiches and salads at Gray’s on Main are delicious, and the bacon-wrapped fig appetizer is unforgettable.
1799 Kitchen & Cocktails
Perfect for a big night out, 1799 Kitchen & Cocktails is the Harpeth Hotel’s signature restaurant and serves up prime steaks and chops, seasonal dishes, and more in an elegant environment.
Merridee’s Breadbasket is an extremely popular option just off Main Street on 4th Avenue for breakfast and lunch. Here, you can savor scratch-made pastries, cookies, pies, breads, homemade soups, sandwiches, and delicious salads.
Red Pony Restaurant
One of Franklin’s favorite restaurants, Red Pony, has an upscale, progressive menu that changes frequently depending on what’s in season and fresh. This is a great place to take a date the next time you’re on Main Street!
The Coffee House at Second & Bridge
Get your coffee fix at this delightful café inside a historic home on 2nd Street. In addition to delicious drinks, The Coffee House also serves sweet and savory crepes, salads, sandwiches, and wonderful baked goods.
JJ’s Wine Bar
If wine’s your thing, there’s an ideal spot on West Main Street to enjoy your passion: JJ’s Wine Bar. Sip on one of more than two dozen varietals in one of the delightful rooms of the gorgeous historic home where JJ’s is located, or enjoy a mellow Southern sunset on the wraparound porch outside.
O’ Be Joyful
Primarily a whiskey and bourbon bar, you’ll find O’ Be Joyful in one of Main Street’s stately historic buildings. It’s perfect for lunch with friends or after-dinner drinks, and you’ll definitely want to check out their inventive cocktail menu!
You’ll find lots of wine tastings and events at this cozy wine and whiskey shop inside one of downtown Franklin’s beautiful historic homes and cigars! Saint Goose has something for everyone, whether you have a limited budget or consider yourself a wine connoisseur searching for something truly special.