What to Do With Only One Day in Franklin

You’ve heard the buzz and finally said, OK, I’ve got to check out this Franklin, Tennessee I keep seeing and hearing about so much.

The catch, though, you only have one day to spend here – so that begs the obvious question, what to do?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Regardless of what you are looking for in your 24 hours in Franklin, there is a good chance you’ll find a uniquely southern, and most definitely a distinctly Franklin take on it.

What are the most fun things to do in Franklin, Tennessee? Let’s run through three different options to give you an idea!

The Music Lover

Where to stay: Aptly named, Picker’s Cottage in Leiper’s Fork is the perfect spot for the aspiring songwriter to find a touch of inspiration.

Located in the heart of the uniquely quaint Village of Leiper’s Fork, you can draw on the same inspirations that have influenced some of the songs you’ve been singing along to on the radio for years.

Bring your guitar along and do a little pickin’ on the front porch, or warm up with a song around the firepit in the backyard.

If you don’t have a guitar but find yourself caught by the spirit, worry not, guitars are hanging around the cottage should you feel the need to scratch that new creative itch!

What to do: Grab a plate of BBQ and an ear full of enjoyment at Fox & Locke.

The food will have you considering the social acceptability of licking your plate in public, while you’ll be amazed by the talent that takes their stage nearly every night.

If you are in town on a Thursday, their open mic night is legendary! While in Leiper’s Fok, any music fan that appreciates classic instruments must spend some time in the Pickin’ Corner at Serenite Maison.

A 1944 D-28 Martin guitar, 1934 A-4 Gibson Mandolin, and an 1863 Everly Brothers guitar are just a few of the fantastic pieces hanging on the wall and calling your name. They are not for sale, but there for any and all to strum on and enjoy!

A day in Franklin for a music fan isn’t complete until you’ve made a stop at The Factory at Franklin. Peruse the vinyl at Luna Record Shop, and stick around for one of the many shows. Depending on the night you can see the taping of CMT’s Crossroads, Music City Pickers Live, Soul at the Factory, and more.

Now that you’ve gotten a taste of the music in Franklin to go ahead and start planning your return visit for September and the Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival.

Three days of family-friendly festival fun with the incredible music of all genres, local foods, and artisans on display, along with a setting unlike any other!

The History Buff

Where to stay: For a history buff that wants a taste of history at every turn, rest your head at the Hilton Garden Inn Brentwood. I know, I can hear you now.

“Really? History lovers at a modern flagship hotel?” Hear me out; the Hilton Garden Inn is constructed around the historic Mooreland Mansion, which was built in 1838 and during the Civil War was used by both armies as a field hospital.

The Hilton Garden Inn has taken great care to model itself in the spirit of the Mooreland Mansion with similar decor and accents while still providing the modern conveniences we’ve grown to expect as well.

During your stay, you can wander out the back door of the hotel and immediately onto the porch of the Mansion to take one of the many rocking chairs for a proper test sitting.

What to do: Any history buff’s visit to Franklin assuredly must begin with the Civil War sites preserved from November 30, 1864’s, Battle of Franklin.

Tours of Carnton, Carter House, and Lotz House will show you the incredible and sometimes hard to even fathom events of the battle, along with the aftermath, from the perspective of the three respective families that occupied the homes on that day.

Franklin isn’t just Civil War history, so be sure to take a stroll down Main Street and marvel at the buildings that have been preserved and are standing the test of time, and absorb the sobering history of The Fuller Story Project that details the experiences of black residents in the downtown square.

Highlights like the Franklin Theatre and Gray’s on Main are both perfect examples of buildings that have stood the test of time. Franklin Theatre was built in the 1930s and was the first air-conditioned building in town.

It underwent a massive renovation and re-opened in 2011 as what many consider the world’s best 300-seat music venue, and it also hosts live theater and comedy acts in addition to of course showing movies.

Gray’s on Main spent the better part of 70 years as the neighborhood drug store, but after closing was repurposed as a truly iconic restaurant and music venue.

With great care to preserve the drugstore past, you’ll find gems like actual prescriptions from its days as a drug store lining the walls, and great much of the original building’s interior is repurposed and used in the restaurant.

One of the most unsuspecting history finds in downtown Franklin is the Masonic Hall. You’ll find Masonic Halls across the country, but this one has two centuries’ worth of experience that includes being occupied by Union troops during the Battle of Franklin and the site of then-President Andrew Jackson’s meeting with the Chickasaw Indian Tribe following the passage of the Indian Removal Act.

This meeting resulted in the Treaty of Franklin which was the beginning of the processes that removed remaining American Indians from the Southeast.

It’s not all heavy history lessons though when you take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Masonic Hall, as you’ll also get to take a deep dive into the architecture of downtown Franklin’s tallest building as well.

For the history buff with a thirst; head to Leiper’s Fork Distillery. While the distillery is relatively new, the story behind it spans back generations to the early moonshine running days of the area.

As you take the tour and sample a few sips of the locally produced and bottled whiskey, you’ll learn the incredible role that moonshine and whiskey played in Franklin’s past.

The Foodie

Where to stay: Unpack your bags for the night at The Harpeth Hotel, and I guarantee you’ll be telling your friends about it for years to come. This luxurious retreat in the heart of downtown Franklin will impress with its amenities and unique nods to history throughout.

It is also home to both 1799 Kitchen & Cocktails and McGavock’s Coffee Bar & Provisions on site. At 1799 your tastebuds will be emersed in fine dining from chef Devin Walline, while you sit in a dining room with gentle nods to the whiskey culture of the area. Cocktails at 1799 match the atmosphere and will be one’s you’re telling friends about for years to come. Not to be outdone, McGavock’s Coffee Bar & Provisions provides a great stop in the morning for coffee with a 100-year legacy in Franklin.

What to do:

Save a little room after breakfast to swing by The Factory at Franklin and grab a doughnut from Five Daughters Bakery. I’ll leave it simply at 100 Layer Doughnut!

Head to Nolensville for lunch and pull up a chair at the original Martin’s BBQ Joint.

Famous for whole hog BBQ, when you place your order you’ll know it started slow-cooking over 24 hours before you got there and everything else on your plate was prepared fresh that day! After lunch head to Company Distillery to wash it all down.

Take the tour to let the aroma of the distillery hit your right in the nose, then stick around for samples of their newest bourbon, an original black and tan whiskey, and a gin that will convert the staunchest of gin detractors. (I can testify firsthand on the gin!)

For dinner head back to Main Street and pick any of the restaurants by chef Jason McConnell. Red Pony, 55 South, and Cork & Cow each offer a high-end flavor thanks to the creative touch of McConnell, who recently had the honor of cooking at the iconic James Beard House in New York.

If you still aren’t convinced, let Jason tell you himself the stories and feelings that go into each of his dishes.

To cap your night, head over to Gray’s on Main for one of their signature hand-crafted cocktails, and if you have room, their banana pudding is the perfect end to any day!

So what will be on your list of things to do with only one day in Franklin? Need help planning? Let us help.

Matt is the guy who is always ready to share a story with you.

With a passion for new experiences, taking the back roads, and seeing everything possible, Matt serves as Visit Franklin's Senior Director of Public Relations connecting the many unique stories in the Franklin community with great journalists and storytellers worldwide. When not pitching a story idea to travel writers, you’ll likely find him working as a photographer on the sidelines of college and professional sports events across the Southeast.