Reasons to visit America’s premier main street


Have you ever visited a town that looked like a small town? Franklin, Tennessee, is that kind of town. The charm and friendliness of small towns is abundant and is just the beginning of why you should visit Franklin and stroll their quintessential Main Street.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has awarded Franklin one of five “Great American Main Street” honors for his exceptional revitalization of downtown and Main Street. Franklin is included in the National Register of Historic Places.

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I was impressed with the atmosphere, shops, restaurants and friendly people in every place we stopped. organized my visit and the Harpeth Hotel provided free accommodation. All opinions are mine.

Cure shops on the streets of Franklin, Tennessee.
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The main street is within walking distance

The quintessential Main Street in downtown Franklin has been the center of the community since 1799. It is flat and walkable. Once your car is parked, you can enjoy walking the historic downtown area 16 blocks away.

Free parking

There is street parking and two free parking lots on Second Avenue (across from Catholic Church) and one on Fourth Avenue (across from Puckett Restaurant). You can park and enjoy your time downtown without worrying about getting a ticket.

Town Square on Main Street with central monument to Franklin's Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.
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City center

In the middle of the quintessential main street is the town square. It is an area that includes a memorial to Franklin’s Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. The memorial was erected on the 35th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin. The monument cost $ 2,700 and the money was raised over 17 years through sales of baked goods and bee quilts from the women of the Daughters of Confederation, Franklin Chapter.

The square also features four cannons from 1847, lights and flowering plants.

Victorian architecture

Franklin’s Great American Main Street features stunning architecture and history in buildings and churches. A must see is the old factory outlet which now houses the Landmark booksellers, which is one of the oldest buildings and one of the earliest examples of Greek Revival architecture. It was used as a field hospital after the Battle of Franklin during the Civil War.

This bookstore was the inspiration for Karen Kingsbury’s bestselling New York Times novel, The bridge. Hallmark also made a movie of the book of the same name.

The current Baskin Robbins was once a livery stable. The Maury Darby building in the square is a federal style building.

To learn more about Victorian culture in Tennessee, visit The Victorian Utopia Hidden In The Middle Of Tennessee.

Franklin is.  1799 banner on lamppost in Franklin, Tennessee.
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Digital passports

You can learn more about the epitome of Franklin’s Main Street by downloading one of their self-guided digital passport tours. There are several for Franklin and Williamson County. All are free and cover history, murals, coffee and more. If you do all of the tours for a passport or trail, you win a Visitor Center Prize.

The Great American Main Street Digital Passport helps you explore Franklin and learn local history as you walk past historic buildings, homes, and more. The Main Street digital passport covers 0.7 miles and is an easy walk with 33 stops.


You can also learn about historic downtown Franklin with a guided walking tour. Franklin on Foot Tours offers a variety of themed tours. Some examples are I Spy Downtown Franklin, Ghosts of the Battlefield at the Lotz House, Civil War in Franklin, and many more.

These visits are chargeable and reservations are required.

Main street in Franklin, Tennessee, packed with cars and visitors.
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Unique shops

Unique shops and boutiques are found all along Main Street. You’ll find everything from clothing and old-fashioned stores to housewares and stationery / card stores. T-shirts and other tourist goodies are on sale in many stores. You will also find art galleries, bookstores and even a spice shop.

Patriotic banners hang above the local store.
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Patriotic decor

In keeping with the small town atmosphere, many stores have patriotic outdoor decorations.

Franklin Theater at night with neon lights and a crowd forming for tickets.
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Franklin Theater

One of the highlights of Main Street is the iconic Franklin Theater from 1937. The Williamson County Heritage Foundation restored the theater to its former glory 10 years ago. As you can see in the photo, the Franklin Theater is lit up and open with movies and live shows for entertainment on Main Street.

When the theater first opened, it could accommodate 600 people on the ground floor, 130 on the balcony level, and was Franklin’s first air-conditioned building. Admission was only a quarter, and they’ve shown movies for 70 years.

The theater reopened as a versatile venue for music, movies and community events with an original marquee reproduced. Currently, the theater is only open on weekends due to COVID-19, and tours are on hiatus. Most events are advance ticket sales. It’s always a fun place to visit and take photos.

Great restaurants

Who doesn’t love a delicious meal when traveling. During our visit I was impressed with the many restaurants along the Main Street and its side streets. We tried several restaurants and had a delicious meal in each.

What impressed me was the fact that these were not fast food chains but independent restaurants owned by locals. A few on the main drag that you might enjoy are the McCreary Irish Pub and 55 South. Just off Main, check out Breadbasket Merridee and Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant.

To find the best beers, wines, and spirits in town, check out Drinking in Franklin, Tennessee.

Large ice cream with whipped cream and cherry on top served in a small cast iron skillet.
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Not only are there fantastic restaurants in Franklin, but there are also delicious sweet treats available.

There are several delicious ice cream stops along Main Street and restaurants that feature frozen treats, like the one in the above photo of Puckett’s that was featured on the Food Network.

This fried brownie sundae featured a fudge brownie made from scratch, deep fried and topped with vanilla ice cream, candied bacon, toasted pecans, chocolate and caramel syrups. It was an excellent dessert.

Many candy stores in and around Franklin are included in the Franklin Sweet Treats Trail.

A bowl of water sits on the ground outside the local store in support of a dog-friendly neighborhood.
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Suitable for dogs

Dogs are welcome at Franklin. Most businesses welcome pets into their establishments. You’ll know they’re welcome when you see the white dog bowls outside each business.

As of 2017, Franklin has been a Certified City in the PetCare Better Cities for Pets which aims to educate and inform about the possibilities of including pets to help build better and happier communities.

When I visited, those who were on the street had their pets on a leash with them. There were animals of all sizes, and the owners and animals seemed happy.

Live group of two people set up in the streets of Franklin, Tennessee.
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Live entertainment

There are a variety of places all over the city that offer live entertainment. Puckett’s offers free shows just a few feet from your table. Kimbro’s Pickin Lounge also has live entertainment and you will often find free street performances near the town square.

A visit to Franklin, Tennessee, and you’ll understand why this is America’s favorite quintessential main street.

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