On-the-fringe Benefits: Exploring Beyond Nashville in Franklin and Leiper's Fork

Venture further afield for world-class art and savory eats in a setting that you can only find in the South.

Just outside metro Nashville via Interstate 65 lies Franklin and its neighborhood Leiper’s Fork. Lush, green and full of historic sites, Franklin has grown into a tech hub and home to some of the area’s most innovative businesses, from Nissan North America to a multinational video slot machine producer. The community of Leiper’s Fork maintains the bucolic character it’s known for, but also offers art, great food and live music.

Start at The Factory at Franklin, where on a Saturday, you can enjoy the Franklin Farmers Market with all-local produce, flowers, cheeses, crafts and gorgeous plants year-round, then splurge on doughnuts from both Ellie’s Old Fashioned Doughnuts at the Market and inside at Five Daughters Bakery. Buy your bacon at artisan Carnivore Meat Company inside the Factory—and visit original shops and galleries, too.

Next, venture into downtown and park in 4th Avenue South garage. Wander the broad sidewalks, checking out houses and shops dating back 150 years and more. Grab coffee at Merridee’s, pick up a book at Landmark Booksellers and purchase fine new threads at JONDIE, Gin-o, Emmaline, or—if you plan on a bit of hiking or biking—Bink’s Outfitters. Don’t forget a stop in at Yarrow Acres for gardening supplies, either. Distinctive and abundant shopping spreads down Main in front of you.

Carnton Plantation

If lunch and a cocktail are in order, slide on up to the bar at 55 South and grab a sandwich and such. It will get the energy up for hitting the 2nd Avenue Antiques District, followed by historic sites like the McLemore House African-American Museum, the Lotz House, or the Carter House and Carnton. Or, you can take a bracing hike around the Park at Harlinsdale Farm in the sunshine.

Mid-afternoon, enjoy a green-tinted, meandering drive on Highway 96 to Leiper’s Fork, where you can visit Noble Springs Dairy for fresh goat cheese and a kiss from the kids. Do a little art buying at the Copper Fox and Leiper’s Creek Gallery, and perhaps take in a musical performance at Green’s Grocery.

Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival, held each September at The Park at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin

Head back into Franklin—on the Southeast side of town this time—to taste the stouts and sours at Mantra Artisan Ales, the decidedly original concept brewery and taproom from Maneet Chauhan, Derrick Morse and Chad Frost.

At this point, you may want a little dinner. Try Puckett’s for live music and Tennessee-style home cooking, or for sophistication, Red Pony does everything well. In all but the worst weather, a nighttime or twilight stroll down Main Street is always enjoyable, and the shops just might still be open. Take in a live musical, play, or movie at the Franklin Theatre.

End your night with a cocktail at Cork and Cow or Gray’s on Main, before returning to your hotel with laden shopping bags, a full stomach and a true appreciation for the sheer beauty of this part of Middle Tennessee.

Puckett's Grocery in Leiper's Fork