Live music at Gray’s on Main in Franklin. Photograph courtesy of Visit Franklin.

This destination has recently emerged as a creative hub, with musicians strumming on street corners and small-batch distillers concocting original riffs on Tennessee whiskey. It’s also a hideaway for celebrities and musicians who want to escape the bustle of neighbouring Nashville—only 30 minutes away. Spend a few days exploring Franklin’s homegrown mix of historic attractions, innovative eateries and quirky shops, all served with a side of Southern hospitality.

Unique souvenirs at White’s Mercantile. Photograph courtesy of White’s Mercantile.

Day 1

Morning: Stop by Ruby Sunshine for a hearty Southern breakfast of grits, fried green tomatoes and buttermilk biscuits before ducking into the boutiques lining charming Main Street. There are more than 1,000 signed titles from authors such as John Steinbeck and Mark Twain inside Landmark Booksellers, while White’s Mercantile is bursting with unique souvenirs.

Afternoon: Downtown was the site of the 1864 Battle of Franklin, one of the deadliest of the American Civil War. Sign up for a tour with the Carter House State Historic Site to learn more about this period in history and to tour the battlefields. After, head to Lotz House, another Civil War museum featuring historical artifacts.

Gray’s on Main. Photography courtesy of Visit Franklin.

Evening: Dine on elevated, Southern comfort food at Gray’s on Main. Come for the fried pimento cheeseballs, but stay for the live music that takes place every Thursday to Sunday night. Finish with a nightcap at O’ Be Joyful—this whisky bar has one of the largest selections in town.

Day 2

Morning: Drive about 20 minutes outside of town to explore the charming village of Leiper’s Fork. On your way, pop into Leiper’s Fork Distillery for a guided tour and tasting of its Tennessee whiskey, bourbon and rye.

Afternoon: For lunch, head to Puckett’s. This popular spot oozes Southern charm—Grammy-Award winners play on its tiny stage, while patrons chow down on brisket, fried okra and turnip greens. Afterward, check out the shops and galleries lining the village’s main street, before indulging in a relaxing and invigorating treatment at The Spa at Leiper’s Fork.

Evening: On your way back to Franklin, take a 10-minute detour to snag an incredible sunset shot from the double-arched Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge. Cap off your night with a performance at Franklin Theatre, a historic movie house that often hosts live entertainment.

Historic downtown Franklin. Photograph by Matthew Maxey, courtesy of Visit Franklin.

Day 3

Morning: Explore The Factory, a former stove manufacturing facility that has been transformed into a shopping area with boutiques, entertainment venues and buzzy eateries. Munch on a croissant-style doughnut from Five Daughters Bakery while snagging local souvenirs such as whisky-scented candles at Made in TN.

Afternoon: For more Civil War history, take a guided tour of Carnton, a 19th century house that served as a Confederate field hospital during the war. Later, head 30 minutes east for a tasting at Arrington Vineyards. The state has a surprisingly robust wine scene, with upward of 70 wineries. Arrington produces a variety of styles, including fruit and sparkling wines, and varietals such as Syrah and Riesling.

Live music at Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor. Photograph courtesy of Visit Franklin.

Evening: End your day back in Franklin listening to live music, sipping draft beer and indulging in classic pub fare at The Legendary Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor. This former residence morphs into an epic house party, with all ages converging on the dance floor.

Where to Stay

Hilton Franklin Cool Springs

Located in the business park area of the city, this hotel makes for a comfortable stay thanks to its heated outdoor pool and firepit. Guest rooms sport floor-to-ceiling windows, large desks and refrigerators.

The Harpeth

The Harpeth Hotel. Photograph courtesy of Visit Franklin.

Opened late last year, this luxury property is the only hotel located in downtown Franklin. A grand staircase, library-lobby combination and courtyard flanked with fountains make it feel like you’re staying in a Southerner’s home.

[This story appears in the March 2020 edition of WestJet Magazine.]