Top 7 Attractions to See in Franklin, Tennessee
Blessed are the curious, for they will have adventures. The old quote rings true for anyone exploring a new community, but there are so many things to do in Franklin and Williamson County that it’s a (fun) challenge to figure out where best to start.
Fortunately, we’ve done the work for you! The results are in, and they are clear: as you’re making your “must-see” list, these are the ones you won’t want to miss.
Included are the National Register historic districts, shopping and dining destinations, scenic drives, and rural stops that make our community so unique. Of course, the journey is part of the adventure!
Read on for our Top Seven Attractions, based on what visitors are saying:
America’s Favorite Main Street
Since 1799, Main Street has been the center of life in downtown Franklin. Anchored by the Public Square and surrounded by 16 blocks of historic homes and buildings, today’s Main Street has been recognized around the world for its diverse offering of architecture, boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and more.
The Factory at Franklin
Past the Square and less than a mile down East Main Street is the old Dortch Stove Works building, built in 1929 to produce electric ovens as they became a part of mainstream American life.
The steam whistle that blew to signal the shift changes still could still be heard not too long ago, but in 1996, the shuttered building was rescued from demolition and restored by a local visionary.
Now, The Factory at Franklin is a destination for shopping and dining, artisans and art lessons, as well as the incredible Farmer’s Market each Saturday.
The Natchez Trace Parkway
What some consider to be the oldest highway in America passes right through Williamson County – the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway, following a pre-settlement path and critical trade route from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi, and the Mississippi River.
Head out Highway 96 West from downtown Franklin 10 miles and be rewarded with a stunning view of Birdsong Hollow and its double-arch bridge. Then you’ll know you’ve arrived at the Natchez Trace.
From there, you can access the bridge for a miles-long view of the rolling hills, check out the 72-acre Timberland Park and then twist and turn your way down the Trace to your next stop, just 15 minutes away.
If you’re looking for antiques and gifts, live music, a memorable meal or just another inviting place to stretch your legs, this little hamlet known as Leiper’s Fork will not disappoint.
It’s a snapshot of rural middle Tennessee and the tiny villages that dot the landscape. The collection of shops, restaurants, galleries, and, well, people to be found here is so fun and unique that it has attracted world-class talent… so don’t be surprised if you happen to see someone you know from stage or screen.
And like much of our state, these hills have seen a lot of moonshines made.
In 2016, Leiper’s Fork Distillery found a way to do it honestly and is open for tours and tastings. Their soaring copper pot still alone is worth a visit, but you’ll also learn about the Lincoln County process that defines Tennessee Whiskey, and have a chance to take home a bottle or two along with some one-of-a-kind mementos.
The Carter House and Carnton
November 30, 1864, is a day that shaped not only Franklin’s future but that of our nation. The Battle of Franklin and its 10,000 casualties helped end the Civil War, and the human stories of tragedy and triumph that happened right here in Franklin are powerful.
At the Carter House, you’ll get a real sense of the intensity of the battle waged all around the family that was hunkered in their basement. Tour the museum, the house, and the bullet-riddled outbuildings, and you’ll understand the significance of what happened here over 150 years ago.
Then take the time to visit Carnton, which served as a field hospital for months after the battle. The carefully preserved home and gardens are a snapshot in time, but the bloodstains on the wood floors and the graveyard full of unknown soldiers tell a sobering story.
You might not consider Franklin to be wine country, but Arrington Vineyards may just change your mind.
Acres of trellised grapevines are the backdrop for an incredible picnic experience, and you can purchase snacks and sample 18 award-winning blends from the winery before grabbing a table, a fire pit, or the perfect spot to lay out a blanket on the hillside.
You can even pre-order a gourmet basket, or bring your own food and drink to enjoy. On the weekends, live music adds another layer to the vibe.
It’s easy to see why these destinations are at the top of the list, and there’s so much more to see and do in Franklin and Williamson County. If discovery is the essence of travel, this is a great place to start. Chances are, you’ll find a whole lot more memorable experiences along the way.