Driving Day Trips: Explore Beyond Franklin, TN

Leipers Fork in Williamson County, TN
Leipers Fork in Williamson County, TN

Only 20 miles south of downtown Nashville, a drive to Williamson County is well worth the trip. Rural landscapes, historic sites, great food, wine and music are among the many things found along two self-guided driving tours that wind their way through the county.

The Jack Trail

Named after a stop at the famed Jack Daniels Distillery, the Jack Trail leads visitors on a scenic excursion through the heart of Middle Tennessee. A variety of notable places and unique spots lie along the Williamson County leg of the tour.

Stop in College Grove and take a walk through an early 20th-century depository vault at Joy in the Mornings Antiques at the Bank. Another interesting trail site is College Grove Methodist Church, a historic 1888 Victorian-style structure that served as a backdrop for a number of music videos.

The last place you’d expect to see a European-style castle is in the small community of Triune. Castle Gwynn hosts the Tennessee Renaissance Festival each May, and you can take a first floor tour free with admission to the festival.   

Relax and have a glass of wine at Arrington Vineyards, a local winery founded in 2005 by country music star Kix Brooks. “Visiting Arrington Vineyards is more than just a place to purchase wine. It is an entire experience,” says Christel Foley, vice president of Arrington Vineyards. “We offer free wine tastings of our award-winning wines, gorgeous views of the rolling hills of Tennessee, free live jazz on weekends during Music in the Vines and a wonderful place to enjoy time with friends and family.”

Nolensville’s downtown Antiques District offers visitors a sampling of distinctive shops, like Three French Hens, Rose & Rustics and Vintage Junky. After you work up an appetite, enjoy some pulled pork or smoked chicken at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, also famous for their signature Redneck Taco.   

Nashville’s Trace Trail

Nashville’s Trace Trail got its name from the famous Natchez Trace, a wilderness road used by American Indians, settlers and even future U.S. presidents.  

“The Natchez Trace played an important role in helping establish a lot of what we now know as Southern culture,” says Tony Turnbow, president of Nashville’s Trace Trail. “That culture is reflected still in music, food and hospitality.” 

Today, Nashville’s Trace Trail features over 160 cultural tourist sites throughout Tennessee, including those located in Williamson County.

Park the car in Franklin and take a guided walking tour of downtown with Franklin on Foot, a local tour guide service that explores the city from a historical perspective. Other prominent sites along the trail include the Carter House and Carnton Plantation, an 1826 antebellum home converted to a hospital during one of the Civil War’s bloodiest conflicts, the Battle of Franklin.

Make sure not to bypass Leiper’s Fork, one of the oldest towns along the Natchez Trace. See some of the historic places around town, like the Thomas Hart Benton Site, or step in Leiper’s Creek Gallery to view a selection of works by local artists. If you’re hungry, pick up some groceries or enjoy a Southern-style meal at Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant. Puckett’s is also a wonderful place to relax, hear local bands and perhaps see a music icon take the stage.

Read more on planning a weekend trip in Franklin, TN.

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