First, a bit of geography. Franklin, Tennessee is located just south of Nashville, Tennessee in what locals call Middle Tennessee. Franklin itself is in Williamson County, while Nashville is in Davidson County. It’s about a 20 minute drive up I-65 to Nashville, so it’s very much part of the Nashville Metro area.
However, Franklin is not a “suburb” or bedroom community by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a self-contained town of about 75,000 people with a rich history in its own right. Founded in 1799 and named after Benjamin Franklin, it was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War. But you would never know it today.
Williamson County is a gorgeous, bucolic area with rolling green hills filled with wooded areas, ravines, creeks and even a river that runs right through downtown Franklin. To say the area is picturesque doesn’t do it justice. So for the uninitiated, I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you all the reasons we love Franklin, Tennessee and why we live here - in no particular order.
Visiting Franklin, Tennessee? Here's My Top 10 List.
1. Quintessential Americana Main Street.
The downtown area and specifically Main Street is like a Norman Rockwell painting of a downtown. It exudes Americana. The buildings, which date back to the early 1800’s, have been meticulously restored and maintained. It’s so well decorated and maintained that the closest thing I can think of is Disneyland’s Main Street. Not that it’s cartoonish, but it is just that well done.
I know lots of towns have a downtown area with a Main Street, historic buildings, town square, etc. And I’ve been to many of them - more than I can count. Somehow, this is different. There is a life and vibrancy to Franklin’s downtown that is hard to match.
I expected downtown to be empty during the week while people worked in Nashville. But that’s not the case. There is hustle & bustle on Main Street every day of the week and especially during the weekdays. Many people have local businesses, work in Franklin or nearby. It’s not just a place people walk around on weekends. It’s a destination in its own right.
While downtown certainly has an Americana vibe, it’s also incredibly eclectic and diverse. You’ll see 25-year-old musicians sporting man-buns, lawyers in suits, farmers, professors, makers, tourists from other countries and generally people of all stripes.
2. Festivals, Festivals, Festivals.
Because it’s such an awesome downtown, Franklin has no trouble getting people to visit. Even so, the town is known for its Festivals. There is a festival of some kind downtown almost every month of the year. Most of them have a stage with live music, and are usually family friendly. One festival that gets lots of press is their Christmas Festival, known as Dickens of a Christmas. It’s a re-creation of the Charles Dickens era that uses historic downtown Franklin’s Victorian architecture as the backdrop. Hundreds of musicians and characters fill the streets. It’s pretty unbelievable for a town of only 75,000. Punching above its weight for sure.
3. Farmer’s Market 52 Weeks/Year with Dancing Police Officer.
It’s not just downtown Franklin that’s cool, it’s the whole town. North of downtown is “The Factory”. The Factory is a historic building complex that used to make appliances. It’s an old building with original windows and its own water tower.
In many small towns in America, an old factory that closed down is a sad site and usually something to avoid. But in Franklin, it’s a destination. 52 weeks a year, it hosts a weekly Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. The market is mostly outside. It’s one of the best Farmer’s Markets I’ve ever been to. The vibe, selection and atmosphere is just plain cool. There’s always live music, warm doughnuts & coffee, and just about every kind of produce, meat and baked goods you could ask for.
Inside The Factory is a great mix of retail that includes anything from a butcher shop to a guitar shop and everything in between. The Factory also has its own theatre where you can see a play or music act. It’s a pretty amazing place all in all.
But if that wasn’t enough for you, it even comes with a dancing police officer. There is a police officer who is famous around here for his dance moves. He puts on headphones and dances while directing traffic in and out of the Farmer’s Market each Saturday. And he’s got moves. He does it to put a smile on people’s faces and it works. It’s just one more of those little things that make this town unique in my opinion.
4. Live Music is Everywhere.
Music is certainly a theme here as it should be. After all, Nashville is known as “Music City.” Before I first came here, I expected music to be sort of contained in a specific district of Nashville. It’s not. It spills out everywhere, all over Middle Tennessee. And Franklin is no exception. Justin Timberlake recently bought a property just outside of Franklin and many other famous and not-so-famous musicians call Franklin home.
Franklin is home to the annual Pilgrimage Music Festival. It’s a huge 2-day event that draws serious talent and 50,000-ish people. This year, Timberlake & Chris Stapleton performed among many others. It takes place on an old horse ranch right across from The Factory.
If you’re looking for something more low key, check out Kimbros Pickin Parlor near downtown Franklin. It feels like going to a buddy’s house – if that buddy had cool indie bands and craft brews on tap. It’s literally in a house. As you wander around the “house” you might find musicians jamming in one of the rooms. They do have an official stage too. It’s a unique place. It’s definitely a locals’ hangout.
You would have to try really hard to not see live music in Franklin. It’s everywhere. Go to the local deli to grab a turkey sandwich = live music. Stroll down Main Street = live music. Aspiring musicians are everywhere.
5. First Friday Art Scene.
Okay, this one probably doesn’t need its own heading, but it’s a great example of the vibe in this town, so I wanted to include it. The first Friday evening of every month is an Art Walk. But not just any art walk, one that comes with free booze. That’s right, you can walk around and check out many of the historic art galleries and buildings while sipping on free cocktails & wine. We know some people that moved here that said this fact alone sealed the deal for them!
Even if you’re not into art, it gives you a sense of this town. There is always something going on. There is a real zest for life here.
6. The People: Southern. Northern. Big City. Small Town. Musicians. Families. Friendly.
In case you hadn’t guessed, the best word is eclectic. The people here are incredibly friendly and hospitable. I’ve moved several times and never felt so welcomed. It’s just a great mix of southern hospitality and people from all over the country doing interesting things.
One of the comments we got from family & friends is that we would have a hard time fitting in here since we’re not originally from the South. But the opposite is true. We feel more at home here than anywhere else we’ve lived. I credit that to the people of this town. It’s just a really unique place.
The public schools in Franklin and Williamson County are consistently rated the best in the state of Tennessee. So you will definitely find a lot of young families like ours here.
Is this town perfect for everyone? No. But for a surprisingly large & diverse group of people, it’s the goldilocks town – just right. Nashville in general is sort of the “it” town right now and people are flocking here in droves.
7. Economics: Jobs & Taxes.
As a business owner, I haven’t been “traditionally” employed for a very long time so I’m not the best one to ask about jobs. But I can tell you that the economy here is humming right along. People are moving here for jobs all the time. It is one of the top areas for healthcare employment, and many large companies are located here. Of course, the music industry employs a lot of people. Unemployment is not an issue here.
Businesses also seem to thrive. Most commercial buildings are occupied and it’s rare to see any vacancies. It can even be a challenge to buy a house because so many people are moving here.
Tennessee: No State Income Tax
One of the big advantages to living in Tennessee is that there is no state income tax. So if you’re moving from a high tax sate like California, you essentially get a 10% raise just for moving here. And the overall cost of living is very reasonable. Though, housing prices have creeped up a bit due to demand. Even so, property taxes remain low.
8. The Weather: 4 Normal Seasons.
I’ve lived all over. I grew up in the Midwest, where winters are cold. Really, really, cold – and windy. Summers in the Midwest are hot and humid. Spring and fall in the Midwest can disappear if you blink too fast. I’ve also lived in the desert and know what “hot” is. So for me, the weather here is ideal.
You get 4 real seasons. They’re pretty mild and almost never too extreme in any direction. The only one that draws some complaints are the hot/humid summers. For me, it’s no worse than the summers I was used to growing up in the Midwest. Maybe a degree or two warmer, but not much. Certainly nothing that prevents you from going about your normal daily life. Evenings are usually pleasant, even in the middle of summer.
It’s really green here. Rolling green hills and trees everywhere. To achieve that, you’ll definitely get some rain. Maybe a dusting or two of snow in the winter, though not blizzard territory. In general, it’s a good mix of weather.
9. The Food.
You’ll certainly find traditional southern fare here: biscuits, BBQ, shrimp & grits, hot chicken (a Nashville specialty), oh and did I mention biscuits? I probably put on 10 lbs. in the first couple months. But there is every other kind of food imaginable here too. And not just in Nashville, I mean in Franklin. You won’t go without I promise!
And if restaurants aren’t your thing, you can always find what you need at the Farmer’s Market and chef it up at home.
10. Cool Town, But Not Too Cool.
As you’ve probably figured out, I love Franklin. I think it’s a really cool town with a unique vibe. But it’s not too cool for school. People aren’t stuck up here. It doesn’t take itself too seriously or shun certain types of people. If you are moving to Franklin and have no previous connection to the town, you’ll feel welcome. Over half of the people here aren’t from here, and often not even from this region. So I think there’s something for almost everyone here.
One Thing I Don’t Like About Franklin, Tennessee
Okay, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering what I don’t like. Well, believe it or not, it’s the traffic. Because of #1-10 above, Franklin attracts a lot of people and traffic is a natural byproduct of that. They’re going to have to widen some of the roads, and that work is already underway so I’m sure it will improve.
One of the running jokes among people that live here is to ask whether you shut the door behind you. Everyone that I’ve met here absolutely loves it and they want to “shut the door” after they move here so that the town doesn’t grow too much and lose its “Franklin-ness”. I suppose that’s a valid concern. But I’m confident that this town will adapt and thrive even as more people move here.
But to be on the safe side, please forget everything I told you in #1-10 above and do not move here whatever you do. You’ll hate it, trust me….
Some of the pictures above are from VisitFranklin, a great site to check out for everything Franklin, Tennessee.