There was a time when I believed that once my kids were teenagers, our family trips would be easier and more meaningful. As soon as they reached adolescence, I just knew they’d joyfully go to adult restaurants and shows and museums with us. They’d swim and ski and kayak without tears or temper tantrums. They’d ride in cars and planes and never once ask, “Are we there yet?” Most importantly, their maturing brains would finally recognize the extent of their parents’ extraordinary love and generosity.
Hilarious, isn’t it? After years of trial and error, my husband and I have learned the hard way that traveling with teens is a lesson in patience, compromise, and managing expectations. It’s hard to find activities that meet the discerning standards of the average teenager, but it can definitely be done in Franklin! Here are some of our family’s favorite Franklin activities and attractions that are teen tested and parent-approved.
History is Fun
Ghost tours are my secret weapon when traveling with teens since they allow me to sneak in a local history lesson without the kids even realizing it. Since Franklin is clearly crawling with ghosts, you owe it to your fam to schedule a ghost tour with Franklin on Foot.
I can promise you won’t be disappointed. Some of the best ghost stories I’ve ever heard happened in Franklin, so your guide will have plenty to talk about, and more than a few who’ve taken pictures of homes during the tour have later noticed shadowy figures standing in windows and doorways. *shiver*
Franklin’s historic house tours are a top attraction for visitors to the city. The Lotz House tour is a good option for teens since its story centers around the perspectives of children who were inside the house at the time of the Battle of Franklin. If you’re planning on visiting Carter House or Carnton, consider downloading some of these resources for students and reading these ‘hidden stories’ ahead of time to make the visits more interesting for your kids.
It can be tough to convince teens to pose for family pictures, so why not sweeten the deal by choosing a spot they can share with their friends on social media? Franklin and the surrounding area have several fantastic Instagram options. One of the most famous is the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge, a massive double-arch bridge crossing Hwy 96 that lures in thousands of young people every year with its promise of incredibly scenic photos like these 50 stunning views.
My new favorite spot for a photo opp can be found at Preservation Park in nearby Thompson’s Station. Follow the trail from the parking lot through a lovely meadow and you’ll soon find yourself climbing a Sound of Music-worthy hill that overlooks miles of countryside and makes for a very memorable picture.
And if you’re looking for a fun mural as a backdrop for your family photo, head to Riverside Franklin at 144 Bridge Street, where locals and tourists alike love to pose beneath the ‘We heart Franklin’ mural on the wall outside.
No matter where we travel, my teen daughter isn’t happy until we’ve found a cool local coffee shop. Two of her all-time favorites just happen to be in Franklin. The Coffee House at Second and Bridge in downtown Franklin is practically our second home.
The 1904 historic house has been transformed into a cozy gem of a cafe, and with several public rooms as well as a patio, and porch, there’s plenty of space for a much-needed coffee break.
Added bonus: Their crepes are amazing. Further afield in Franklin’s Grassland community, you’ll find The Good Cup. This popular local cafe is filled with comfy seating areas and a welcoming vibe that’ll make you want to kick back and stay awhile.
Traveling teens may occasionally get a little moody, but we’ve found a dessert break typically turns any frowns in our group upside down. You’ll find ice cream, chocolate candy, and the specialty, Mackinac Island fudge at Michigan-based Kilwin’s in downtown Franklin.
Locals rave about the authentic New Orleans snowballs at Tchoupitoulas Street Snoballs, located in the parking lot of Franklin Automotive Repair downtown.
In Franklin’s Berry Farms community, you’ll find Whit’s Frozen Custard, which some claim has the best frozen custard in Tennessee. Taste delicious Tiny Little Donuts that melt in your mouth, sold from an Airstream trailer on 328 Fifth Avenue North in downtown Franklin.
Located at 1334 W. Main Street, Paletas Tocumbo is a family-owned Mexican dessert bar featuring fresh fruit popsicles, ice cream, and more. And the Puffy Muffin in nearby Brentwood is legendary for its marvelous cookies, cakes, and baked goods. Can you tell we like dessert around here?
Looking for fun family activities your teens will love, too? Franklin has plenty of options. Rent electric-assisted bicycles from Pedego Franklin and head off on your own adventure or take a guided tour.
Face your fear of heights at the SOAR Adventure Tower, which features 110 different climbing elements for all ages and skill levels. Rent kayaks or canoes from Paddledog Adventures for a two-hour float down the Harpeth River.
Bowl in style at the upscale King’s Dining & Entertainment Franklin in Cool Springs. Get your virtual reality game on at Digital Worlds VR in Cool Springs, which has more than 80 virtual reality games for players to choose from.
Bring your own inner tubes for a float on the Harpeth River — Locals get in at the Williamson County Recreation Center and get out at Lynwood Park. Ride bikes on the Brentwood Trail System, which has miles of paved trails that wind through forests and neighborhoods and alongside rivers and creeks.
Or work on your rock climbing skills at The Crag indoor climbing center in Cool Springs.
Shop ‘Til You Drop
One of the best ways to keep teens happy is with a little retail therapy — Lucky for you, the most teen-friendly shopping mall in Middle Tennessee just happens to be located in Franklin.
CoolSprings Galleria has all your teens’ favorite shops like Forever 21, Foot Locker, Hot Topic, GameStop, and Hollister Co., as well as adult favorites like Pottery Barn, Vera Bradley, and White House Black Market.
Shopping in historic downtown Franklin is a must-do activity for anyone visiting the area. Here, you’ll find charming boutiques containing stylish clothing and jewelry, home decor, art and antiques, and more — There’s something downtown for every age, taste, and budget.