Do you find yourself regularly reading commemorative markers? Pouring over articles about the history of the next stop on your itinerary? Asking an artist-in-residence if the rumors of the ghost in their gallery are true? (Maybe that one’s just me.)
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be eligible to book a tour of Franklin. Just kidding, everyone’s eligible—but you will definitely enjoy your experience.
It’s time to find out what those knowledgeable guides are saying from their place at the front of the crowd. Follow us as we walk you through 10 tours (and tour companies) you’re sure to love.
Step out on your first excursion with Franklin on Foot. Branding itself Franklin’s original walking tours, this company has something to pique every interest. Curious visitors can follow their stomachs through downtown on its Food Tour. Or, they can feel a lurch in their stomach during its spectacular (and spectral) Haunted Franklin Tour. I took this tour with my sister shortly after moving to Tennessee, and yes, it was the catalyst to the aforementioned ghost-in-the-gallery conversation months later—but you’ll have to take the tour to find out more! Franklin on Foot also guides kid-focused field trips intended to teach little ones about our city’s history.
Stride into your next walking tour with the confidence that you’re about to have a unique experience. Franklin Walking Tours offers a myriad of fascinating tour topics to choose from, including a Psychic Walk, Tombstone Tales, and Franklin’s Fierce Females. The latter lays out the history of local women who were settlers, spies, a suffragette, and more. Two-hour private Tours are also available, boasting customizable itineraries.
Pedal (or coast) through town on one of Pedego Franklin Electric Bike tours. Perfect for those who like to cover a lot of ground, these guided rides focus on history and scenery. Architecture buffs will enjoy the Historic Homes Tour, small-town fanatics will be thrilled by its three-hour Leiper’s Fork ride, and nature-lovers will have plenty of stunning views to soak in on The Natchez Trace Tour. If you’re a cyclist with your own agenda (that was more ominous than it needed to be), you’ll want to check out Pedego’s electric bike rental options.
Trek around town to three of our city’s most historic homes with the purchase of a Tennessee Campaign Ticket from the Battle of Franklin Trust. This combo includes the classic house tours at Carnton and Carter House in Franklin and Rippavilla in Spring Hill. Each tour is 60 minutes, and history enthusiasts can either make a day of it or spread their visits out, peppering time to explore the grounds and the cities that surround them into their experiences.
Make your way back over to the Battle of Franklin Trust’s website because they have another set of tours you’ll want to go on. Their specialty tours offer visitors the chance to learn more about the people who were enslaved on the Carnton, Carter House, and Rippavilla properties (Slavery & the Enslaved Tour); extend their time in the houses (Extended Tour), or venture out onto the battlefields (Spring Hill to Franklin Battlefield Tour). A Reconstruction & the Aftermath of War tour is also on the docket at the Franklin homes.
Stroll around downtown Franklin to find elements of the “Fuller Story.” These include five markers and a bronze statue, placed in the town square in recent years to highlight and honor African Americans’ experience before, during, and after the Civil War, as explained by the Battle of Franklin Trust and here. And keep an eye out once you’ve finished your self-guided exploration, as the Battle of Franklin Trust will soon be hosting guided extended “Fuller Story” tours.
Amble out to the countryside for the Leiper’s Fork Distillery Tour, but be sure to wear your closed-toe shoes, as you’ll be walking through the distillery’s Still House, right among the action. In addition to getting a firsthand look at what goes into making small-batch whiskey, you’ll also look back in time to the early years of distilling in the area. And (if you’re 21-plus), you’ll be able to indulge in a tasting during this 45-minute tour.
Ride along on the Dinner & Distilleries Tour if your entire group wants to take part in the Leiper’s Fork Distillery Tour and tasting. (The Dinner & Distilleries Tour comes with a built-in designated driver). It elevates the stand-alone trip, adding a second distillery, dinnertime, and black car service to chauffeur you around. After its first stop in Leiper’s Fork, the five-hour journey continues into Thompson’s Station. Here, you’ll pay a visit to Company Distilling at Thompson’s Station (formerly H Clark Distillery). Then, you’ll dine at Circa before being driven home. Of course, tour-goers must be of legal drinking age.
March over to the Visitor Center in downtown Franklin to proudly show off the checks on your Masters & Makers digital passport. Not only will you have the right to brag that you’ve been to some of the best breweries and distilleries in the area (plus a winery), but you’ll also get a free t-shirt. What could be better than that? Be sure to download this interactive passport early on in your trip so you can line up your designated drivers and safely enjoy each locale.
Guide yourself confidently with a little help from the rest of our collection of free Digital Passports. Looking for the best cup of joe? The Craft Coffee Trail will help you find it. Want to spice up your photo albums? The Murals of Williamson County are the perfect backdrop. Sweet tooth kicking in every night of your trip? Stock your hotel room by following The Sweet Treats Trail. Got a feeling you’re going to want to know even more about Franklin’s ghosts? (Yep, it always comes back around to ghosts when I’m writing the article.) Sign up for Haunts & Headstones. And there’s more where those came from.
Don’t forget to stop by and see us at the Visitor Center once you’ve completed your adventure (or adventures!) so we can give you your prize.
You better go ahead and practice pointing while walking backward. Before you know it, you’ll be the one guiding your friends around town, wowing them with all the Franklin facts you’ve learned.