The Best Family Activities in Franklin, Tennessee

by | Oct 8, 2021 | Destinations, Family Adventures, South East, USA

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Just a few minutes from Nashville is its quieter cousin, Franklin, Tennessee. Franklin is perfect for families seeking a mellow Tennessee getaway. Whether it’s kid-friendly festivals, an educational (or spooky!) walking tour, or the tastiest donuts, there’s fun for the whole family in Franklin. The town of Franklin is charming and historic, offering vintage character with modern amenities. 



Pinterest image for The Best Family Activities in Franklin, TN. History Meets Fun Just Outside of Nashville.


Find a Festival

Some of the best things for families in Franklin are the special events and festivals hosted in and around the town. Our family’s favorite annual event is the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival, which draws national and local musicians to an old horse farm every fall. The festival stretches across acres of fields and is great for people of all ages — children under 10 can attend for free with their families, and there’s a special stage featuring music and activities just for kids. (Don’t miss the pirate band!)


Franklin’s town square plays host to several annual festivals, including the Main Street Festival, which offers unique vendors and stages with live music. Each October, PumpkinFest brings costume contests and kids’ activities to the square. And be sure not to miss Dickens of a Christmas, when revelers in Victorian costumes take to the streets in the town’s historic district for tons of festive fun.


An audience at the outdoor Pilgrimage Music Festival in Franklin, TN during the fall. One of the best family activities in Franklin, Tennessee.

Pilgrimage Festival is family-friendly, with concerts and activities just for little ones during the day (and they can rock out to your favorite bands at night). Photo by Christy Nicholson.

Visit a Farm

Part of Franklin’s charm is its rural vibe, and one of my favorite children’s activities is visiting the local farms. Gentry’s Farm is a working farm that has stayed in the same family for decades. Each fall, they open up their land for families to visit their pumpkin patch, meet their farm animals, wind through the corn maze, and enjoy fall fun and treats.


Noble Springs Dairy is one of the best places for families to visit. The dairy farm is known for its artisan goat cheese and soap, but local moms know it as a fantastic place to take little ones. For a $10 ticket price, you’ll get an educational tour of the farm, learn about the cheese-making process, and still have plenty of time to pet baby goats. 


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Two kids navigate a corn maze at Gentry's Farm in Franklin, TN. It's a great fall activity in Franklin and one of the best family activities in Franklin, Tennessee.

The corn maze at Gentry’s Farm offers just the right amount of adventure for kiddos. Photo by Christy Nicholson.


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Explore the Town Center

Downtown Franklin has lots to offer, including a lovely, old theatre at the very center of town. The Franklin Theatre frequently hosts concerts and shows independent films, but it also offers family events like movie sing-alongs and magic shows. Be sure to check the event schedule during your visit.

A mile or two from the town square you’ll find The Factory at Franklin, a former stove factory now home to shops and restaurants. Enjoy an afternoon painting at Third Coast Clay, then head to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams or Five Daughters Bakery for a sweet treat. Do a family-friendly date night with a play or concert in one of the Factory’s theaters. Or if you are early risers, visit bright and early on a Saturday morning for the Franklin Farmers Market with its selection of local businesses, crafts vendors, and food trucks. (Be sure to try Ellie’s Old Fashioned Donuts. They even have vegan options!)


Supplies for painting pottery at The Factory in Franklin. The best family activities in Franklin, Tennessee.

At the Factory at Franklin, you can paint your own clay, enjoy gourmet ice cream, shop for antiques, or catch a show. Photo by Christy Nicholson.


Seek Out History

Franklin was the site of a bloody Civil War battle, and the city still bears the scars. The Carter House was right in the middle of the battle, and during tours visitors can see the bullet holes that still riddle the exterior of the house. Carnton Plantation was used as a hospital during the battle and offers tours of the home with its blood-stained floors (the tour is best for older kids due to graphic details).


Franklin on Foot offers walking tours of the city’s most historic sites as well as food tours. For fall visitors wanting a spooky experience, they also have tours focused on ghost sightings and true crime. On weekends in October, the historic Lotz House offers a ghost tour based around its role in the Battle of Franklin.


While in downtown Franklin, don’t miss the new historical markers in the area. The square has long been home to a monument to Confederate soldiers (the statue is nicknamed “Chip” due to a missing chunk in his hat). However, the city recently added “Fuller Story” markers detailing essential elements of the area’s Black history. The city also offers a self-guided African-American Heritage Driving Tour.


Bullets in a wall of the Carter House in Franklin. The best family activities in Franklin, Tennessee, best fall activities in Franklin.

The Carter House still bears the marks of the Battle of Franklin. Bullet holes are visible in many of the walls. Photo by Christy Nicholson.


Go Further Afield

Arrington Vineyards is a few minutes south of Franklin, set in rolling hills with plenty of space for picnics and fun. It’s a beautiful setting for a date night, but you can also bring the kiddos along. (There aren’t any activities specifically for kids, but they can enjoy a picnic or listen to music under the stars.)

Just west of Franklin, you’ll find the unincorporated village of Leiper’s Fork. This small community of artists and farmers will be more interesting to the grown-ups on your trip, although older kids may get a kick out of the antique shops and old-timey stores. While you’re there, tour the Leiper’s Fork Distillery — the entire family can take the tour, although only adults can sample the products. (Also, locals know that quite a few celebrities live just outside of Leiper’s Fork. But no, I can’t tell you who. It’s against the Nashville rules.)


Outdoor Activities

If you need adventure, try kayaking down the peaceful Harpeth River with River Queen Voyages. Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary is a beautiful place to hike and enjoy a forest setting, and the park offers educational events with their resident owls throughout the year. If you’re looking for fall colors, drive through the Natchez Trace Parkway to see Tennessee’s beauty at its peak. Hike along short trails to discover Jackson Falls or Fall Hollow Falls. 


Two kids hike near the Natchez Trace. The best family activities in Franklin, Tennessee, best fall activities in Franklin.

Head out on the Natchez Trace Parkway to find hiking spots and waterfalls. Photo by Christy Nicholson.


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When You Go



Getting There

Visitors to Franklin, TN, will fly into the Nashville Airport (BNA) and need to take a 30-minute car or taxi ride to the area. Once you are in the city, Franklin offers a transit service with $1 shuttles that travel between their most popular tourist and business districts. While downtown Franklin is walkable, I recommend renting a car if you want to explore historical sites, the Natchez Trace Parkway, Leiper’s Fork, or Arrington Vineyards. 

Our favorite way to start our research for flights is with Expedia.


Where to Stay In Franklin

The Harpeth Hotel offers a boutique experience in Franklin’s historic downtown and is within walking distance of shopping and historic sites. If a cottage is more your style, rent a cozy home and relax in Leiper’s Fork. The Cool Springs area is home to multiple hotel chains, including Holiday Inn and Hampton Inn, with plenty of fast food and casual restaurants nearby.


Where to Eat

Grays on Main is an old pharmacy transformed into a trendy restaurant. Puckett’s is a local favorite known for down-home cooking and live music. Meridee’s Breadbasket has lighter fare like sandwiches and salads, plus ridiculously good desserts and breakfast that is not to be missed. 




Christy Nicholson is a writer, editor, and recovering perfectionist from Nashville, Tennessee. When not traveling with family, she enjoys cozy days at home reading, gardening, making music, and wrangling two awesome kids. Christy writes at about travel and sustainable living.