When we first considered spending a romantic weekend in Franklin, Tennessee, all we knew was that it’s just outside of Nashville. There’s so much more than that. It’s a town rich in history and undoubtedly well to do today. Franklin is the county seat of Williamson County, the most affluent county in Tennessee, and home to Dave Ramsey (yes, that Dave Ramsey). We found it inviting, idyllic, and the perfect destination to spend a fall romantic getaway.
Below is our map this Fall in Franklin piece. We have put the places we talk about on the map, in the order that they appear. Map items are either bolded or linked in the text. If the map doesn’t load right away, you might want to refresh your browser 😉
Open Mic at Puckett’s of Leiper’s Fork
Do yourself a favor. Start your romantic weekend in Franklin on Thursday so you can catch the open mic at Puckett’s of Leiper’s Fork. Besides the occasional superstar looking for a night of fun, the lineup here could headline at almost any club across the country. I guess being 30-miles from Nashville has its advantages.
Each performer plays two songs to a packed house of local fans and a music scout or two in the audience. While the club energy might be off-putting to some social distancers, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Nothing beats an evening of good barbeque and great music. Word to the wise, show up at 6:00 for the best seats, a good parking spot, and listen to the early lineup.
Pot N’ Kettle Cottages
Leiper’s Fork is a charming but tiny village with only 650 Lieperforkians. However, you can still find a cute and unique place to stay – the Pot N’ Kettle Cottages. You’ll have a full kitchen and plenty of room while still being walking distance from the heart of the village. We loved it that they provided bikes and a fire pit. If we weren’t rocking out to the music at Puckett’s, we would have been roasting marshmallows over the fire for sure.
Exploring Leiper’s Fork
Leiper’s Fork doesn’t lose its charm when the sun rises. We started our day at The Country Boy Restaurant. Who’d of thought you could make a southern eggs benedict with savory country ham and fried green tomatoes? After a delicious breakfast, we headed out to Natchez Trace, a historic 444-mile driving trail from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi. We only drove up one exit to State Route 96, but it gave us time for a short hike in the woods at Timberland Park before returning to Leiper’s Fork for lunch.
We chose the 1892 Restaurant for lunch, and man-o-man, what a burger! New York cheddar cheese and fresh mushrooms were the ideal compliments to a savory, spicy patty. As our food digested, we wandered the shops of the main street. Leiper’s Fork is the perfect place for everything you wouldn’t get at Walmart. After a fine and pleasant afternoon of window shopping, we headed out to Leiper’s Fork Distillery for a tour. If you come expecting a Jack Daniels Tour, you might be disappointed. However, if you love good whiskey and great personalities, an afternoon with Pops as your tour guide and taste master will be just your thing.
Dining in Franklin
We finally made it into Franklin proper for dinner Friday night. The downtown is super walkable, and we could have picked any number of places, but we happened into 55 South, a flavor-forward American eatery. We would have been just fine with the spicy NOLA Cheesesteak and savory brisket tacos, but we went ahead and made a caloric splurge for the Garlic Parmesan Crab Fries, figuring we’d burn off the excess on the walking tour.
The next night, we visited perhaps Franklin’s best-known restaurant, the Red Pony, for their signature shrimp and grits. We’ve had (and love) a lot of shrimp and grits living in the south, but Red Pony’s were distinctively different with complex brown sauce instead of layers of cheese. The waiter talked us into dessert – Crème brûlée with candy cap mushrooms. Mushrooms for dessert, you ask? This extremely rare mushroom fits perfectly with notes of caramel. Of note, both 55 South and Red Pony had excellent COVID protocols, including a temperature check of every guest before seating.
Apart from dinner, we had breakfast at Biscuit Love and McGavock’s Coffee Bar & Provisions. Both were solid and delicious, but lunch at The Factory at Franklin stood out. Once a stove factory, it’s now a mixed-use space with restaurants, stores, and music venues. The tacos at Mojo Taco were legit, and we couldn’t pass up Jeni’s Ice Cream and Five Daughters Bakery.
Franklin on Foot Ghost Tour
As we mentioned earlier, we had to pay caloric penance for those parmesan crab fries. So we left 55 South and meandered down for our Franklin on Foot Ghost Tour. The weather and ambiance were perfect. It was a full-moon Halloween weekend, and there was just a hint of chill in the air. There was quite a crowd gathered in the Public Square for the Halloween edition of haunted Franklin.
We love ghost tours as a fun way to learn about a town’s history. The impetus for most Franklin’s haunts seemed to be the Battle of Franklin, the most horrific battle of the Civil War that I didn’t know about. Most people know about the bloodshed of Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. The Battle of Franklin was much more deadly. The Confederates charged over twice the distance, outmanned, outgunned, and into properly fortified positions instead of the improvised line at Cemetery Ridge. The result was total carnage. More than 6,000 of the 10,000 Confederate Soldiers in the battle perished that day. Forty-four homes throughout Franklin treated the survivors in makeshift field hospitals.
Apart from the antebellum homes turned field hospitals, we saw Hiram Hall, the Masonic Lodge in Franklin that, at one time, was the tallest building west of the Appalachians. Did we see any ghosts? Maybe. There was one home where the tapestries appeared to move without any breeze outside, and we all believe a door opened as we were watching.
Hotels in Franklin
We stayed at the Harpeth Hotel for our night in Franklin, part of Hilton’s Curio Collection. The hotel is located in the heart of Franklin with large, clean, and modern rooms. We love the Hilton Clean Stay program, which features an enhanced set of cleaning protocols. There’s something special about breaking the clean seal to your hotel room that just makes you feel good.
Morning Ride by the Harpeth River
Franklin has enough biking to make us want to come back. Signs in the Harpeth Hotel lobby advertised a group ride to Leiper’s Fork. Nearby Brentwood has built up an impressive paved trail network, and you’re just around the corner from Natchez Trace and a multi-day bike tour. There are even new mountain bike parks in Leiper’s Fork and Franklin. However, today was a leisurely ride on the 2-mile Franklin Greenway that runs between Bicentennial Park and Judge Fulton Greer Park.
We took our bikes off the car when the valet parked it for the evening. Our bikes were waiting and ready to ride in the bag check. It’s a very short and quiet ride from the hotel down to the start of the trail. If you’re a mural fan, there’s a beautiful, brand new Welcome to Franklin Mural at the Urgent Team building across the road from Bicentennial Park. Otherwise, it’s just riding and relaxing along the greenway. There are a high road and low road through the parks so that you can form a loop of sorts for your ride. Of note, downtown Franklin is small enough, with a round-a-bout and a 5-point intersection, so we preferred to explore the downtown on foot rather than by bike.
Scenic Drives Near Franklin
For the afternoon, we took a tasting tour through the Williamson County countryside. We stopped for suds at Curio Brewing Co. and Mill Creek Brewing Co, enjoyed BBQ at Original Martin’s BBQ Joint (of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives fame). There was even tasting at Company Distilling, which was interesting because Mr. Heath Clark’s day job is an attorney who was instrumental in getting the Tennessee craft distillery bill passed which help create the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. Ironically, they don’t use the Lincoln County Process (charcoal mellowing), so they don’t actually make Tennessee Whiskey. They do make a delightful black and tan and some mighty fine gin along with their Tennessee Bourbon.
The stop that stole the show was Arrington Vineyards. When we saw police and parking attendants directing traffic, we assumed we happened on to a special event. However, it was just a typical Saturday night. There were two separate venues for wine tasting. The Lodge featured hillside dining with amazing sunset views and live jazz music, while the Barn had live bluegrass.
Much like the musical selection, the wine flights catered to a wide range of tastes. Besides a white and red flight, they offered a sweet wine flight and chocolate signature paring. I am not afraid to say that we were drinking sweet wine and listening to bluegrass – lol.
Public service announcement… If you’re out by Arrington Vineyards, you should make an appointment and visit Mistletoe Farms Alpacas. They are so cute that we made a dedicated post about alpacas, but do yourself a favor and check them out.
Wrapping Up Fall in Franklin
We loved our fall trip to Franklin, Tennessee. In many ways, it reminded us of visiting Hamilton County, Indiana, a wonderful town on the outskirts of a capital city. Even though you’re near Nashville, there’s enough to do (and eat!) that you’ll never need to go into town.
I loved seeing the fall colors of Tennessee and I could see us going back to Franklin to check out the spa scene, try more biking, and see some of those amazing festivals once life returns to normal. I can also say, without a doubt, that we’ll be back at Puckett’s listening to live music. Despite our best efforts, there are still more amazing restaurants waiting that we haven’t even stepped foot in. Catch you on the flip side Franklin!
Disclosure: A big thank you to Visit Franklin Tennessee for hosting us and setting up a fantastic itinerary! For more Franklin Tennessee inspiration check out their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.
As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.
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