If you’re looking for some family-friendly activities with your kids in Tennessee, look no further than the quaint town of Franklin. Located just 17 miles south of Nashville, Franklin is a small town city that oozes classic Americana and Southern charm. Rich with civil war history and country music legends, Franklin also boasts many activities for kids and ticks a lot of boxes for the Tennessee-bound family traveler.I was recently invited by Visit Franklin to experience this town first hand. Over my four day visit, I discovered many surprises. Firstly, there was a certain charm that permeated the air there. It was as if we’d travelled back in time to simpler days, stepping into the scene of a Norman Rockwell painting of traditional family values and small town comradery. It’s a place where the pace is leisurely, the locals friendly, the whiskey free-flowing and the deserts sinfully delicious.
Driving down scenic back country roads that wind their way past dream homes on acres of rolling green farms, I quickly understood why so many of Nashville’s rich and famous end up residing in these parts (Chris Stapleton, Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, just to name a few). There is so much charm and beauty in this unassuming and understated area. Unlike Beverly Hills, Franklin is a paparazzi-free zone and the locals seem to pride themselves on protecting the privacy of their celebrity residents.
I quickly found myself at ease in the breezy familiarity of the folks who’ve made Franklin their home. The infectious southern drawl took hold of me and y’all, inadvertently crept into my vocabulary. You know it’s a good sign that you like a place, when you start talking like the locals and browsing on Zillow for real estate. With excellent schools in this district, beautiful homes, reasonable real estate prices (considering you can get a fixer upper in Venice for 1.2 million and a six bedroom in Williamson county), Franklin was a place I could actually picture myself living. After all, if it’s good enough for JT, it’s probably good enough for me. This is a long way of saying…I loved it!
For families traveling to Franklin, the city has activities that both parents and kids alike can enjoy: from the kid-friendly wineries, to the locally guided bike tours, civil war history to adventure parks, there is something for everyone. Here are some of the best things to do with kids in Franklin, Tennessee:
Picnic at a Kid-Friendly Wineries:
With their sprawling lawns and family-friendly entertainment, many wineries in the Williamson County countryside are actually great spots to bring the kids. When with your kids, it’s totally appropriate to take some time to explore the Masters & Makers Trail, a network of breweries, distilleries and wineries that wind through the region. One such family-friendly brewery near Franklin is Mantra Artisan Ales It’s a super kid friendly place with kids running around (the owners’ kids included), games, free yoga activities and food trucks. While mom and dad try the Belgian Style golden ale flavored with peach and vanilla, kids can order a flight of juice options.
Get Your Adrenaline Pumping:
SOAR Adventure Tower in Franklin, Tennessee. Photo courtesy Visit Franklin.
If you have an adrenaline junkie in your family, visit SOAR Adventure Tower for an afternoon of heart pounding fun. The tower features four levels of difficulty for kids aged 3-12. There are ropes courses, rappels and over a hundred different elements designed to challenge your little America Ninja warrior wannabe. Beyond the obstacles, there is also an 18-hole mini golf course on property. Budget tip: If you go to the Franklin Visitor Center off the Main Street and pick up a brochure for SOAR, you can save $5 off per person.
Tour Franklin By Bike:
Pedego Bike Tours. Photo credit: Julia Dimon
Another one of best things to do with kids in Franklin, Tennessee is to go biking. You and your family can experience a leisurely bike ride to some of Franklin’s most historic sites. Pedego offers electric bike rentals and guided tours. They have some of the coolest bikes, from bright pink and purple cruisers to two-seaters and unassuming cowboy hat style helmets as well. For little ones who can’t quite ride yet, Pedego also rents a variety of baby seats and kid trailers, making their biking adventures an accessible activity for the whole family. If you choose to go on a tour, one of their most popular is the “Leiper’s Fork Tour: For the Adventure Seekers.” It’s a three-hour adventure that covers 30 miles round trip, across some of the most scenic back roads. The best part is that you’re on a pedal assist electric bike, so it’s not especially strenuous. Renting an electric bike is a fun way to experience the area, while staying active. Gotta work off all that deep-fried delicious Southern cuisine somehow, right?
Eat The World’s Best Donuts:
Photo credit: Julia Dimon
Speaking of delicious…. Five Daughters Bakery is a local, family-owned business that makes THE BEST DONUTS I’ve ever eaten. Needed to put that in caps, because they are no joke. It takes four days to make their signature 100 Layer Doughnut and it’s absolutely amazing. Sure it’s probably one million calories but I can honestly say it’s worth it. Plus, they use all organic, locally sourced, always non-GMO and grass fed ingredients so that made me feel a bit better, as I swallowed it whole with unapologetic enthusiasm. There is a sort of fandom around Five Daughters Bakery and their website even has a live stream donut cam perfect for those who want to select their flavor before they arrive.
If you want to continue eating your way through Franklin’s donuts scene, check out Biscuit Love, a local hot spot known for its decadent Southern brunches. Be sure to order a “Bonut,” the bi-product of a biscuit and donut having a baby. These tasty sugary morsels are then topped with lemon mascarpone served over blueberry compote.
Bonuts at Biscuit Love. Photo credit: Julia Dimon
Local Kids Shops in Franklin:
A little on browsing the kids section at White’s Mercantile. Photo credit: Julia Dimon
While there are many trendy boutiques along Main Street just for mom, there are a few cool shops that offer gear for the whole family. White’s Mercantile is a highly curated shop owned by Holly Williams the daughter of country music legend Hank Williams, Jr. The shop is filled with all of Holly’s favorite things she’s found while touring across the country, selling everything from jeans, shoes, jewelry, fragrance and kids toys with a retro Classic Americana feel. Awesome spot!
Tin Cottage is a cute shop along Franklin’s Main St, that is perfect for baby shower gifts. Photo credit: Julia Dimon.
If you have a little girl who loves sparkles, ponies, tutus and rainbows (um…I’m in my late 30s and I still like those things!), a must visit is shop called Magpies, stocked beautiful kids apparel. Tin Cottage is another great spot for those who love to entertain and they have a great baby section as well, perfect for decorating the nursery.
DIY Darth Vader:
Paint your own pottery spot in Franklin. Photo credit: Julia Dimon.
Feel like painting a purple T-Rex serving platter or brain piggy bank? Push the limits of your imagination at Third Coast Clay, a paint your own pottery spot located inside The Factory. The Factory is a cool converted warehouse space with a variety of boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants (Five Daughters Bakery is also located there). Grabbing a bite before committing to your art work and make a day out of it. Third Coast Clay is a great family-friendly activity for kids and adults of all ages. This place goes far beyond the traditional World’s Best Grandpa mug, offering unique and creative products. At $7 per person (including all supplies) plus the cost of pottery (typically under $20) it’s an affordable activity that is perfect for a rainy day. Third Coast Clay will glaze your art, let it dry and ship it to your home for free. This is especially helpful for those travelers who are only in Franklin for a short time and can’t wait the full seven days before it’s dry. Best part is that Third Coast Clay si BYOB! Because art is always better when paired with a fine glass of Rosé!
Paint your own pottery spot in Franklin. Photo credit: Julia Dimon.
Get Musical In Leiper’s Fork:
Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant in Franklin, Tennessee. Photo courtesy Visit Franklin.
Part vintage country store, part BBQ and burger joint, part live music venue, Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant is an iconic spot in the Franklin area. They are famous for their pulled pork sandwiches, Southern cooking and Thursday open mic nights, where newbie talent can sing on the stage to potentially get discovered. It has an eclectic feel with mismatched chairs, music history paraphernalia on the walls and is a great place to listen to some live music. On busy days, life spills out onto the steps of Puckett’s. There are outdoor firepits with the ingredients for Smore’s, so kids can sit fire-side and roast themselves a snack.
Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant in Franklin, Tennessee is an iconic part of the Americana Music Triangle. Photo credit: Julia Dimon
Continue the music tour of Leiper’s Fork at Serenite Maison (see photo below), a beautiful antique store that also offers a sort of instrument petting zoo. Surprisingly, this unassuming antique store has one of the best things to do with kids in Franklin, Tennessee. Here, kids can play a variety of string instruments while you shop for textiles, jewelry and curios. Great to foster that love of a music at an early age.
Jam out with the kids at Serenite Maison in Franklin, Tennessee. Photo credit: Julia Dimon
On your way out, make your mark in the community by charting your child’s height on the front door of the antique shop (see photo below). It’s a fun local tradition to mark the kiddo’s growth during every trip to Leiper’s Fork.
Check out the front door! Kids are growing tall at Serenite Maison in Franklin, Tennessee. Photo credit: Julia Dimon
Bowl Like King:
Take the kids bowling at King’s Bowl in Franklin, Tennessee. Photo credit: Julia Dimon
Kings Bowl is not your average bowling alley. It’s an upscale spot with great food, craft beer, a kids menu, gargantuan sized deserts and private rooms for special events. They have an impressive wall of fame from former patrons who’ve bowled a game or two, everyone from Tom Brady to aging members of N’Sync and everyone in between. It’s also a sports bar with some of the largest screens I have ever seen, so if you’re a Titans fan, this is the perfect spot to cheer on the local football team. Kings is family-friendly up until 10pm, so slip on those bowling shoes and get your bowl on!