Top 10 Hip & Historic Places to Visit in Franklin

Gray's on Main Street Downtown Franklin TN

It’s no secret that Franklin, Tennessee, is rich with history. With its picturesque Main Street interspersed with rolling farmlands, everything from the retail to the rural landmarks combine to make Franklin a destination unlike any other.

Franklin’s past has been not only beautifully preserved, but its businesses (and business owners) of today have cultivated a city that’s genuinely cool. 

On your next visit, be sure to stop by these 10 hip and historic destinations in Franklin. 

Fox & Locke

Jason Isbell and Gary Nichols at Fox & Locke (courtesy of Meghan Aileen)

Both an iconic music venue and mouth watering Southern restaurant, Fox & Locke has been a Leiper’s Fork mainstay since 1955. While it operated under a different name for years, the venue returned to its roots in 2022, reintroducing the original name by founders Jack Fox and Martin Locke. 

While any visit to Fox & Locke is sure to be a memorable one, the Thursday open mic nights are extra special, with tickets often selling out weeks in advance. Anyone is welcome to take the stage, and in a town full of promising up-and-comers and some of music’s biggest legends, you never know who might show up.

Onyx & Alabaster

The Franklin square is the focal point for the charming downtown footprint, and tucked in its northern corner is a business truly embodying the words hip and historic. Part interior design studio, part home store and part coffee shop, Onyx & Alabaster is an ultra-chic business aimed at inspiring creativity and cultivating a beautiful aesthetic. 

Whether interested in hiring a designer or browsing its storefront, a visit to the onsite coffee lounge is a must. Without knowing historic Franklin is right outside its doors, you may feel like you’ve stepped into a French café or a New York bistro thanks to its moody, intimate interior. We also love the patio seating, the perfect place to perch with a good book, a laptop and a to-do list, or to spend a morning delighting in all the sights of a bustling Franklin. 

City Farmhouse

City Farmhouse Franklin TN

If anyone knows how to make vintage and antique finds on trend, it’s the husband and wife team behind City Farmhouse. Kim and David Leggett have had a hand in the interior and lighting design behind some of the area’s best restaurants, including Puckett’s Grocery and Scout’s Pub. The pair now offer their carefully curated antique finds in a storefront on Franklin’s historic 3rd Avenue. 

Stepping inside City Farmhouse will make you a believer in rustic design, offering a warm, homestead feel to even the most modern interiors. Whether you purchase a piece from the store or stroll through for future inspiration, City Farmhouse is a must-visit for a dose of historic charm. 

Gray’s on Main

Gray's on Main Neon Sign Franklin TN

Arguably the most photo-worthy storefront in historic Franklin, Gray’s on Main is a standout thanks to the still-shining neon sign from when the building served as a neighborhood pharmacy for nearly a century. On the inside, expect to find beautifully preserved interiors, intimate seating and a lively bar that breathes new life into the Victorian building. 

Gray's on Main Downtown Franklin | Lovely Franklin

The elevated food and beverage menu brings Gray’s into the present with chef-driven dishes and delicious craft cocktails that will keep guests coming back for another century (and beyond). Check out our expanded profile on Gray’s!

Triple Crown Bakery

Delight your sweet tooth inside a charming cottage just off Main Street, where pastry chef Alena Vaughn’s creations have become a beloved staple since opening in 2016. The historic building inspires the traditions that take place within its walls – from dainty tea services to time-honored recipes. 

The bakery embodies all the beloved flavors and stylings of a French pâtisserie, and we can assure you a stop at Triple Crown Bakery will make your Franklin visit très chic. Read all about its expanded history here

Kelly Harwood and Gallery 202

Kelly Harwood | Midnight Sun | Gallery 202
Artist Kelly Harwood and his painting of Midnight Sun at The Harpeth Hotel

The Harpeth Hotel may be a luxurious newcomer to the city of Franklin, but one focal point is the stunning art piece hanging in its gorgeous library: a portrait of the legendary racehorse and Franklin icon, Midnight Sun. The man behind the piece is just as iconic, however, bringing his talent for both creating and curating art to Franklin’s Gallery 202.

Kelly Harwood | Clouston Hall | Gallery 202
Gallery 202 at Clouston Hall

Housed within Clouston Hall, a home built in 1821, the gallery places a spotlight on local, regional and national artists through paintings, antiques, glass, sculptures, jewelry and pottery. Get to know more about Kelly and Gallery 202 here

Franklin Road Apparel

Franklin Road Apparel Ken Thwaits Lovely Franklin
Ken Thwaits, owner of Franklin Road Apparel

Men, listen up: locals and visitors alike can leave historic Franklin with a revamped wardrobe thanks to Franklin Road Apparel. Arguably the coolest men’s clothing store around, Franklin Road Apparel is owned by racing legend Ken Thwaits and is housed within a former firehouse. 

Nods to its former history of fast cars and firetrucks can be found throughout the store, between stacks of high quality jeans and racks of designer clothing. Learn more about Ken and the inspiration behind Franklin Road Apparel here

Landmark Booksellers

Joel and Carol Tomlin, owners of Landmark Booksellers

The history of Landmark Booksellers speaks for itself: it’s the oldest building still standing in downtown Franklin. Formerly known as the Old Factory Store, Landmark Booksellers is a quintessential stop during any visit to Franklin, gaining national notoriety as the inspiration behind Karen Kingsbury’s romance novel, The Bridge. 

Landmark Booksellers The Bridge Karen Kingsbury | Lovely Franklin

The book can, of course, be purchased within the store, but the story can also be enjoyed on the screen in the Hallmark Channel adaptation. We think that’s pretty cool. 

Hester & Cook

You can spend an entire day (or more) wandering the shops that line Main Street, but one in particular has a hometown story that started in Nashville and found a historic home in downtown Franklin. Hester & Cook started with a husband and wife teaming to create whimsical products, evolving into a storefront offering unique handmade chandeliers and homewares. 

Now, the shop is most famous for its paper products for creating beautiful tablescapes, growing in popularity beyond its original storefronts in Nashville down to neighboring Franklin. Learn more here!

White’s Mercantile

Holly Williams White's Mercantile
Holly Williams, owner of White’s Mercantile

While White’s Mercantile is a Main Street staple thanks to its gorgeous wares, its story alone makes it rich in history and ultra hip. For starters, the building was formerly owned by Mike Wolfe (of American Pickers fame), a national treasure committed to preservation and storytelling. White’s Mercantile itself is owned by Holly Williams, granddaughter of Hank Williams and daughter of Hank Williams, Jr. 
A stroll through the building is a stroll not only through a historic Franklin storefront, but one in company of some of country music and TV’s most beloved stars. Learn more here.

We’ve just scratched the surface. Please come visit Franklin and discover the most hip and historic town in Tennessee! Many thanks to Trenton Lee Photography and his stunning photos.

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