Located just a short drive from Nashville, Franklin is a charming town well-known for its historic Civil War sites, vibrant music scene, and a downtown area dotted with antique stores, galleries, and eateries. It’s a lively place where travelers will find everything from prominent entertainment venues and historical properties such as the Carter House and Carnton Plantation to world-class festivals and local distilleries. Franklin is also home to prestigious universities, picturesque parks, and dozens of cute museums. To make the most out of your stay, here is a list of the best things to do in Franklin, TN.
1. Carnton Plantation
A visit to the Carnton House will be a real delight for all you history buffs interested in Civil War battles. Many people don’t know this; by the battle at Franklin was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. I mean, you can still see the remains of bloodstains on the front porch. Dating back to the 19th century, the Carnton house used to be a federal style residence of Nashville mayor Randal McGavock. Nowadays, guided tours of the Carnton Plantation are available and last for about an hour.
2. Carter House
Looking for indoor things to do in Franklin, TN? Visit the amazing Carter House, once owned by an entrepreneur called Fountain Branch Carter who lived here together with his wife and their 12 children. Carter started a small growing operation which over the years developed into a successful business with 288 acres of land. Unfortunately, his farm and the house ended up being at the center of the famous Battle of Franklin. Today, the house is open daily for guided tours.
3. SOAR Adventure Tower
One of Franklin’s most famous landmarks, the SOAR Adventure Tower is a rather unique structure and a perfect place for the entire family. With four levels and about 110 climbing elements, this fabulous adventure tower is suitable for both small kids and adults. Each level has several obstacles that you need to overcome. For example, smaller kids can hang around at the base of the tower, as the games and obstacles are easy. However, level three is quite challenging and requires exceptional coordination and strength.
4. Lotz House Museum
Johann Albert Lotz was a woodworker from Germany who moved to Franklin, Tennessee in the 19th century. His master carpentry and woodcarving skills allowed him to turn his home into one of the most beautiful buildings in Franklin. Unfortunately, this house was also in the epicenter of the Battle of Franklin and was nearly destroyed during the night of the battle. Join a guided tour of the Lotz House Museum and see some of Albert’s most prized creations including magnificent period furniture and decorations. You will also have a chance to see artifacts from the battle including weapons and bullets.
5. The Park at Harlinsdale Farm
If you wish to spend some quality time outdoors, make sure to visit the magnificent Park at Harlinsdale Farm. This 200-acre park dates back to the 1930s and is one of the most significant historic farms in the region. Although parts of the park are still under development, visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking and picnicking. Some of the amenities at the park include a 3-acre pond, restroom facilities, rolling farmlands, and a 4-acre dog park. Keep in mind that Park at Harlinsdale Farm is closed every day from night to dawn.
6. Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge
Looking for a cool place in Franklin to snap some awesome pics? Visit the famous Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge, a picturesque double arch bridge which is located in Williamson County. For best views of the bridge, we recommend paying a visit to 2 different locations. Head out north of the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge where you will find a small parking area that offers spectacular views of both the bridge and the valley below. The other option is to go down to Tennessee Highway 96. At the bottom of the hill, expect to find a parking area that also offers amazing views of the bridge.
7. Pinkerton Park
A 34-acre municipal park located on Murfreesboro Road close to downtown Franklin, Pinkerton Park is one of the town’s most popular parks. Whether you wish to go on a hike via a mile-long paved pedestrian track, chill at the park’s pavilions where you will find picnic tables and grills, or cross the Sue Douglas Berry Memorial pedestrian bridge which connects the park with the downtown area, there are many ways to entertain yourself at this lovely park.
8. Leiper’s Fork Distillery
For a nice day trip from Franking, make your way to the tiny village of Leiper in Williamstown County. With a population of about 700 people, this peaceful place is home to art galleries, antique shops, theaters. and local restaurants. However, the biggest attraction in the village is the Leiper’s Fork Distillery. This family-owned distillery produces small batches of whiskey and offers guided tours that include everything from learning about the history and heritage of Tennessee whiskey to sampling whiskey in the tasting room.
9. Crockett Park
Brentwood’s largest park, Crockett Park is a 164-acres park where travelers will find nature trails, community playgrounds, and paved bikeways. If you wish to play some sports, you’ll be happy to hear that Crockett Park features baseball and softball fields, tennis courts, and a gold course. Whether you wish to bike, jog, or explore the park on rollerblades, a visit to Crockett is a real delight for nature lovers.
10. Downtown Franklin
A mix of modern and historical charm, Downtown Franklin is home to many antique shops, chic boutiques, art galleries, and book stores. This 16-block National Register district also boasts many performance venues, as well as award-winning dining establishments. Interested in shopping in Franklin, TN? Pay a visit to Magpies, a boutique shop for girls. You can also watch a movie at the iconic Franklin Theater. For gifts and homewares, check out the cute Cottage store.
11. McGavock Confederate Cemetery
Established in the 19th century as a private cemetery, McGavock Confederate Cemetery is a resting place for around 1,500 soldiers who died during the Battle of Franklin. Although the soldiers were first buried right at the battleground, they were reinterred at the McGavock Confederate Cemetery in 1866. Keep in mind that this cemetery is open to visiting during daylight hours.
12. The Factory at Franklin
A collection of offices, eateries, and stores, the Factory at Franklin, TN, was originally built in 1929. It’s a great place to see a number of historic venues ranging from the Heritage Room and Little Theater, to Jamison Theater, and Liberty Hall. It is also worth mentioning that the Factory houses many famous companies over the years including Jamison Bedding Company and Dortch Stove Works.
13. Franklin Farmers Market
To mingle with the locals and shop for groceries, visit the lovely Franklin Farmers Market. Here, you will find produce and goods from over 80 local farmers. Aside from fruit and veggies, vendors offer meats, farm-fresh produce, and a variety of baked goods. If you wish to score some reasonably priced pottery, furniture, or jewelry, you will also find all of these things available for sale at this fabulous market. Franklin Farmers Market organizes special events throughout the year and is open to the public every Saturday.
14. Middle Tennessee Hot Air Adventures
Looking for another unique thing to do in Franklin TN? How about enjoying the beauty of Franklin and its surrounding areas from a truly unique perspective? Located just outside of Nashville, Middle Tennessee Hot Air Adventures is a local company that offers balloon tours. Admire the beauty of the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee and places like Franklin and Nashville from above. It is worth mentioning that the flying season runs from April to November. Availability in winter is limited and visitors are advised to book the trips well in advance.