Franklin is a bustling town just beyond the outskirts of Nashville, a destination in itself worthy of visiting any season of year. But the third weekend in September has started making it prime time to take a jaunt to Williamson County thanks to the addition of Pilgrimage Music Festival in 2015.
(Photo credit: Tyler Leaman)
(Credit: Jason Myers Photography)
In its second year, the two-day fest founded by Better than Ezra frontman Kevin Griffin is poised to become one of Middle Tennessee's premier festivals thanks to a roster that includes Grace Potter, Beck, Kacey Musgraves, the Brothers Osborne, Jason Isbell, Hall & Oates and many more, as well as support from festival sponsors across Tennessee like George Dickel and Sugarlands Shine. At the Kitchen and Sippin' stages, attendees can try some of the region's best cuisine—or see what food and merchant vendors light your fire over at the Bazaar.
No matter when you're visiting Franklin, you'll find plenty to do; below, we've fleshed out a handful of highlights the next time you're in need of a day trip out of the city.
Eat & Drink
Olive & Sinclair has long been one of Nashville's most beloved local candy brands, but now Scott Witherow has expanded his empire to include a Seersucker Candy Co. confectionary shop right on Main Street. On the outskirts of Franklin, you can sample chef Maneet Chauhan's line of creative brews like a Saffron IPA and the Japa Nitro milk stout at Mantra Artisan Ales.
At 55 South, Chef Jason McConnell gives Tennessee fare a dash of New Orleans flair with everything from green chile-bacon tater tots, tuna nachos and garlic crab fries to oysters, gumbo, po' boys and jambalaya. Across the street, Gray's on Main is a contemporary Southern eatery occupying a sprawling multi-level space in a late 1800s building with a focus on shareable plates and craft cocktails.
Come sundown, for a fine dining experience, Cork & Cow has a casual vibe while offering a creative cocktail menu in a whimsical steakhouse environment. Sister restaurant Red Pony offers elevated Southern cuisine in a formal, moodier setting.
Kids, young and old, will dig the newest in the Kings Bowl America franchise, a 25,000-square-foot location in the heart of Cool Springs Galleria. It's a restaurant, craft beer bar and bowling alley all rolled into one, with a Whiskey Room Live featuring regular entertainment to boot. Want the full VIP experience? Book the private room where you'll have your very own server, in addition to four lanes of glow-in-the-dark bowling access.
See & Hear
While Franklin has a plethora of Americana pursuits to enjoy, it's got its share of quirky attractions, too. In addition to being a traditional comic book store—Franklin's first—Fan Fest Comics is also home to all things Walking Dead, as well as the wildly popular Walker Stalker podcast, and a pair of conventions: Walker Stalker Con and Heroes & Villains Fan Fest.
At the Factory—a collection of restaurants, shops and entertainment venues houses in a complex of 1929 buildings belonging to the National Register of Historic Places—you never know what you might find, whether a Game of Thrones viewing party or a CMT Crossroads taping with the likes of Avett Brothers or Mumford & Sons.
Most weekends are a bustle in Williamson County even when Pilgrimage isn't in town. Next up, the annual Pumpkinfest on Oct. 29 celebrates all things fall with costume contests, arts and crafts, pumpkin carving, street food vendors and more. In November, StudioTenn will debut a brand new original play based on and aptly named The Battle of Franklin (Nov. 3 to 13 at the Factory).
And, of course, in December each year, locals and tourists alike don their Victorian best to come out for Dickens of a Christmas, an early 1900s-themed Christmas extravaganza that overtakes the entire town square.