The Hottest Ways to Stay Cool this Summer in Franklin, Tennessee

Pools, popsicles, and parking yourself in front of the air conditioning vent (and vowing not to budge until October) are certainly options for staying cool this summer. But why not try out one of Franklin’s more creative choices instead?

You’ll experience something new and have a blast (of chilly air) at the same time. So, wipe the popsicle juice off your hands and start scrolling—you’ve got shady oases and sweet drinks to discover.

Urban Sips + Sweets

When you read “The Factory at Franklin,” you might think, “Work? I’ve been bamboozled. This is supposed to be an article about chilling out.” Or maybe you don’t think words like “bamboozled.” Both are completely understandable. However, this factory isn’t so much a factory anymore as it is the funky home to summer-friendly hangout spots like Urban Sips + Sweets.

Start your visit in front of its sugary menu and order a soda doctored to your likings—such as a bright and fruity Sweetie Pie (Sprite, peach, raspberry, and cream) or something smooth like The Big Gent (Diet Coke, coconut, lime, and cream).

Once you have your icy concoction in hand, sink into its deep leather couch. From here, you can soak up the upbeat country music pumping from a speaker in the corner; the excited shuffling of people of all ages stepping up to place their order; and the sight of its window coverings quivering in the breeze from the air conditioner, a warm wind whipping branches outside.

Craft Coffee Trail

If you prefer the richness of a coffee bean to the carbonation of a gourmet soda, it’s time to hit the trail. No, we’re not telling you to take a hike—especially not in this heat. We’re pointing you in the direction of the Craft Coffee Trail. Featuring 12 local coffee shops, this digital passport will guide you from iced coffee to cold brew (and it might just feature a coupon code or two).  

Sure, many of these shops are staples, but that doesn’t mean their menus aren’t fresh. The RedByrd Coffee Shop’s Summer Spritzer Menu is topped by a Cold Brew Pomegranate, and Frothy Monkey’s Spring + Summer Seasonal Drinks menu includes the Cherry-O (a brew branded Shirley Temple-esque). And we couldn’t write a summer article without mentioning the year-round beach vibes found at Coffee and Coconuts, where patrons can sip on both a coffee and freshly cracked coconut water.

Paddle Dog

It is possible to cool off outdoors—although it might require you to tumble off a paddleboard and into Westhaven Lake. But hey, that’s half the fun. Newly opened Paddle Dog offers you the opportunity to rent kayaks, canoes, and, yes, stand-up paddleboards.

It’s also possible that when you think of a lake, you think of scary stories told at summer camp. If so, Paddle Dog has good news: They’ve got guided Harpeth River Trips on the docket too. (After all, what campfire story revolves around a river?) And while we’d venture a guess that their reasoning for hosting both has absolutely nothing to do with lake-monster-related fears and everything to do with the beauty of the Harpeth River, you’ll have fun no matter which activity you choose to partake in.  

The Harpeth River

Hanging out along the Harpeth doesn’t necessarily require movement. In fact, there’s a serene spot within the boundaries of The Park at Harlinsdale Farm where you can claim a patch of shade and stick your feet in the coursing water for as long as you’d like. Clamber down a short stretch of stairs tucked among the trees at the back of the park to access it.

But wait—before you spend an afternoon on the banks, swing by Landmark Booksellers. There you can select a new release (or an old favorite) to read riverside. Once you’ve claimed your spot on the stone shore, you’ll see people fishing, wading in with their four-legged friends, or simply stopping by on their stroll around the bucolic property.  

The Franklin Theatre

Sunburnt? Find reprieve (and a soda) under the dimmed lights inside The Franklin Theatre. Whether you’re into musicals, classic movies, musicians, or comedy, there’s something on its summer schedule for you.

Say you’re feeling nostalgic in addition to creative when adding the theatre to your itinerary. Snagging tickets to “Back to the Future,” presented by The Movie Gang, will appease you. The inventive event will be held on July 3 and feature trivia pre-showing and a themed dance post-showing. Eighties outfits are encouraged—and since you’ll be indoors, leg warmers are an option.

Spark: An Art Studio and AR Workshop

Let’s get literal with our creativity and spend some blissful hours indoors at Spark: An Art Studio. Once you’ve arrived in this cheerful Brentwood-based shop, grab a canvas or a slab of wood and fill clear cups with colorful mosaic tiles and bits of glass to coat it with. Soon you’ll have a handmade, textured piece of art to commemorate your trip.

No need to stop there—keep on crafting at AR Workshop Franklin. Dedicated to DIY, AR Workshop offers a myriad of projects to tackle, including pet beds, bottle openers, pillows, porch signs, and more. Plus, AR is offering a Summer Camp series for kids. By the time you’re putting the finishing touches on your creation, you’ll be ready to brave the heat once again, customized décor in hand (or over your shoulder if you created a canvas bag carry-on for your flight home).  

But before you board a plane or buckle up and hit the road, peruse our Ultimate Summer Bucket List, which features even more activities sure to keep sweat to a minimum, like Sticks and Stones Axe Co. and Franklin Fly Fishing Co. We promise, not all of them end with Co., although that would have been cool.

And if you’re looking for classic ideas that’ll help you beat the heat, check out The Sweetest Spots for Ice Cream Around Franklin—popsicles included!