Food & Drink, Live Music, E-Biking, A Civil War Battlefield And One Awesome Winery
Do you have two days to visit Franklin TN, a quaint city south of Nashville? If so, then there’s enough to do to keep you happy and to encourage you to go back again.
This is a great things-to-do itinerary that involves food, live music at a place where Taylor Swift and other big-time stars often jump up on stage, cheap beers, a way-cool winery, e-bike riding along a stream and an important Civil War battlefield.
Now keep in mind that you are going to find some more activities on your own and are not likely to get to everything mentioned here in two days. That happened to me, but like any desirable destination, that just leaves room for a return visit.
So let’s go, folks!
Where To Eat In Franklin, TN – Top Food Suggestions
Downtown Franklin has several cool spots to get food and drinks. Like Franklin itself, they are all small and intimate. Just outside of downtown there are even more places, including breweries, distilleries and cool and funky joints that combine food with live music.
• Merridee’s is an historic bakery, restaurant and coffee shop. It was a primary reason the Travel Channel named Franklin one of the “Top 10 Places in the World for People with a Sweet Tooth.” Although during my visit, dozens of people were lined up on a sunny Saturday morning to eat breakfast at Ruby Sunshine across from the main square with the cannon. I’ll take that as an endorsement that this, too, is a good place for breakfast.
• Original Martin’s BBQ Joint in Nolensville is the original Martin’s BBQ Joint (now with locations in Nashville, Charleston, Virginia and others), and owner/chef Pat Martin has been in just about every food publication/show you can think of for his famed “whole hog” process. Is it any good? I ate there and can say “yes” but it can’t compare to Dreamland BBQ a few hours to the south in Tuscaloosa, AL. Then again, no BBQ place I have ever been to can compare to Dreamland, either.
Puckett’s of Leiper’s Fork is the original location of Puckett’s, now expanded into Franklin, Nashville, Columbia, and Chattanooga. It’s a grocery store, restaurant and music venue all in one. Thursday open mic nights are a place for new talent to be discovered or local talent to get on stage to perform. Several Grammy Award winners live in the Village and play regularly, and many of the big record labels will have scouts in the crowd.
Craft Breweries & Distilleries In Franklin, TN
• Owner Heath Clark at Visit H Clark Distillery literally re-wrote Tennessee law to make whiskey production legal across the majority of of the state 10 years ago. Tennessee has since gone from three distilleries to more than 40. His distillery is a great example of small batch. It makes bourbon, black & tan whiskey, and (really good) gin inside a former granary building from the Civil War. He’s also a lawyer by day and has the only law office inside a distillery in the state!
•Leiper’s Fork Distillery Tour & Tasting is a small-batch production facility that makes bourbon and Tennessee whiskey with an incredibly fun approach focusing on the farm still style production. The distillery sits on an old moonshine still site.
• Wheeler’s Raid is the newest distillery in the area, with a concentration on blended whiskies. It takes some of the best-sourced whiskies from across the country and blends them into its own unique custom blends. The distillery is also a music venue and depending on the day you can see top songwriters from the Franklin and Nashville areas performing on stage.
• Mill Creek Brewery & Taproom is near Martin’s BBQ and gets very popular among locals at about 5 o’clock. It’s a really cool place, a warehouse with a ping pong table in the back and a funky food truck inside. It is a big-time locals hangout. Its beer is distributed widely across Tennessee and in other Southern states.
Good Drinking Bars In Franklin, TN
• Oh Be Joyful (next door to Gray’s on Main) is a whiskey pub with more than 200 bourbon selections and pub fare. It’s sister restaurant is Gray’s on Main.
• Vintage Vine 100 the newest cocktail spot in town.
• Wine & Bourbon has a great rooftop bar in the Cool Springs area about 10 minutes from downtown.
Where To Hear Live Music In Franklin, TN
As one would expect there’s a lot of live music in this part of Tennessee. In fact, most of the top country music stars live on ranches in Franklin and occasionally they will jump on stage at one of the local venues.
Taylor Swift, for example, is somewhat of a regular at Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor – yes, that’s its real name! – a funky yet awesome converted old house that has small rooms, beers served out of old-fashioned coolers like you find in a liquor store and a large outdoor area. It also has a room with guitars hanging on the wall that you can pull down and play.
Another place that I went ato nd really liked is McCreary’s Irish Pub on Main Street. It has a Celtic band on Fridays and Saturday nights. I was not able to hear the band due to other commitments – hey, not even PubClub.com can be everywhere! – and that’s something that is definitely on my “when I go to Franklin again” to-do list.
Wine Tasing –And Wine Drinking! – At Arrington Vineyards
If you’re thinking “er, why would I go to a winery in Tennessee; this isn’t exactly Napa Valley” – then I understand. But once you pull into the driveway and see golf carts taking people to the tasting room then you’ll say – as did I – “hey this place is really cool!”
Arrington Vineyards is more of a picnic than a winery experience. You will see what I mean when you get there. As such, everyone in Franklin goes to Arrington on a regular basis.
It has a bit of a twist on the standard tasting. You can order a flight – but only one due to another one of those bizarre Tennessee liquor laws which I always fail to understand – or buy a full bottle. Or do both. Then you take that to a table or, if you have a blanket or brought a chair, find a spot on the lawn. There are food trucks and live, soft music that doesn’t drown out conversations even if you’re right next to the band.
Overall, it’s a very pleasant wine experience like none I have ever experienced. Even in Napa Valley. As far as the wines, the Cab aged in whiskey barrels is really good.
Tip 1: Grab a table when you see an empty one; they are in high demand. Or, ask to join someone who is at a table; chances are they will gladly welcome you and you will have instant new friends.
Tip 2: Walk down the trail past the food trucks to another large area. It’s also way easier to get a bottle of wine from that store than from the main one, which on busy nights has long lines.
Pedego E-Bikes In Franklin
If you’re like me then you love riding bicycles. It’s a great way to get around and figure out where you want to go later. Pedego Electric Bikes makes it easy with e-bikes for rent. You can pedal-assist your way along a scenic trail along a creek where you are likely to see people kayaking in Centennial Park and take a spin around town. Or get outside of the city. The company also gives tours, which is a great way to see the area at a pleasant pace.
Tip: Don’t use Waze’s suggestion for directions; type in the address. The app has the business’ previous location on Main Street and you’ll be as confused as me trying to find the place.
The Historic Civil War Battlefield & More Places To Visit
• The Battle of Franklin was fought on November 30, 1864, as part of the Franklin–Nashville Campaign. It was one of the worst disasters of the war for the Confederates. The Carter House is one of the most bullet-riddled buildings of the Civil War and across the street the Lotz House bears its own battle scars, including the charred indention in the hardwood floor where a cannonball flew through the roof. Tours are available at both locations.
• White’s Mercantile features all things southern and owned by Holly Williams, daughter of Hank Williams Jr.
• Franklin Theatre is a 1937 theater that was a classic movie house until its 2007 renovation. Now considered the top 300-seat music venue in the world, hosting top acts from all over the area.
• Landmark Booksellers is a classic southern bookstore and the basis for author Karen Kingsbury’s New York Times best-selling book (and Hallmark movie) The Bridge. Several big-name stars are regulars at this bookstore.