In full recognition of my bias, downtown Franklin is one of the most perfect towns in the United States. I’ve been proud to call this town home for 25+ years (the plus is so I don’t have to give away my age… I’ve lived here my whole life!). While businesses, bars, bakeries, and more have come and gone throughout my lifetime, Franklin’s southern hospitality, storybook streets, and small-town charm have not wavered.
Franklin has been there for me through all walks of life. I spent my childhood waving at decorated floats from the windows of my grandmother’s jewelry store during the annual Christmas parade. My awkward teenage years were highlighted by friends dressed to the nines in the latest Wet Seal fashion to celebrate my birthday at the Mellow Mushroom on the square. On weekends during college, I’d proudly stroll the streets with my new friends in tow, stopping to show them all my favorite shops. Then, when I was my dad’s caretaker as he battled a terminal illness, downtown Franklin became my escape, my ultimate source of comfort. I hold all of these memories close, with the utmost fondness and respect.
Now, my adult years bring an even different appreciation. As I’m now able to enjoy a craft cocktail from a picturesque bar, have a date night at a renowned restaurant, or splurge on a purchase at my favorite boutique, my days of window shopping and enjoying Franklin from arm’s length are no more. With that, I feel confident in the following itinerary for your perfect day in the perfect town.
9:00 a.m. | But first, coffee.
Housed in a gorgeous, reimagined Franklin home, The Coffee House at Second & Bridge truly takes you back in time – a time when a hot cup of coffee, a good conversation, or quality alone time was all you needed to right the wrongs of the world. I spent countless hours journaling and writing that dang novel (I’ll finish it someday) in between my dad’s appointments, and it’s a spot I now visit when I’m feeling incredibly happy, overwhelmingly sad, and anything in between.
Grab a coffee, a crepe, and a spot on the old porch swing to begin your perfect day in Franklin.
10:00 a.m. | Then, shopping.
Take your time strolling the sidewalks of Main Street, stopping inside all the charming shops along the way. Visit The Registry to find that perfect gift for yourself, your mom, or your favorite bride-to-be. Stop in Tin Cottage for southern-inspired knick-knacks and merchandise. Grab a soft serve (with all the toppings) from Sweet CeCe’s.
And of course, you can’t miss my family’s store, Walton’s Jewelry. Before visiting, read more about my Maw Maw’s incredible story.
12:00 p.m. | Lunch time!
If you’re a fan of scratch-made Southern cooking, look no further! Merridee’s Breadbasket is a storied bakery and restaurant with some of the best food in town. Grab a chicken salad sandwich, a cup of homemade soup, and, of course, a big glass of fruit tea.
1:00 p.m. | Choose Your Own Adventure
Spend the afternoon at your leisure, by catching a matinee at the iconic Franklin Theatre, dusting off your credit card for another round of Main Street shopping, or venturing outside of the downtown area altogether. If you’re a history buff, visit Carter House and Carnton. Up for a picturesque hike? Head to Harlinsdale Farm. If you’re looking for a good fright, a tour of the Lotz House is a must. Clouds rolling in? Visit The Factory at Franklin.
4:00 p.m. | Happy Hour(s)
After all of that adventuring, you’ve earned yourself a cocktail. JJ’s Wine Bar, also located in a reimagined old home, offers a robust cocktail menu with the option to pre-pay a membership card for access to their WINE VENDING MACHINES. Need I say more? On sunny days, JJ’s outside seating puts you right in the Franklin charm. When it’s cold or cloudy, the thoughtfully-decorated interior will have you feeling cozy while you get boozy.
5:30 p.m. | Dinner!
What do you want for dinner? Upscale: Red Pony. Special Occasion: Cork & Cow. Live Music: Puckett’s Restaurant. Craft Cocktails: O’ Be Joyful. Casual but lively: 55 South. Ballin’ on a Budget: Mellow Mushroom.
7:00 p.m. | Dancing!
There is, ultimately, one true bar option in the downtown Franklin area, and it will not disappoint. Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor, also housed in a reimagined old house (do you see a theme here?) is your one-stop shop for after-dinner drinks, dancing, and porch sittin’.
9:00 p.m. | Stay a while
Not ready to head home? I understand. Luckily, downtown Franklin recently became home to the upscale boutique hotel, The Harpeth Hotel. Complete with 119 gorgeous guest rooms, an on-site coffee shop, restaurant, bar, library, and the dreamiest courtyard, The Harpeth is the perfect way to end the perfect day in the perfect town.
I’m planning my next Franklin day already – hope to see you there!