Discover the Top 10 Things to Do in Franklin NC: A Guide to Fun & Adventure

Seeking a memorable list of things to do in Franklin NC? From the great outdoors to cultural deep dives and family entertainment, Franklin is a treasure trove of experiences. This guide offers no fluff – just the essential activities that are bound to make your stay both thrilling and rewarding.

Exploring Historic Downtown Franklin

Downtown Franklin, with its rich historical appeal and charming ambiance, serves as your gateway to a memorable journey into the past. This unique heritage is reflected in the diverse retail shops that line the main street, offering everything from books at A Novel Escape to fashion at Blush, and artisan goods at The Bascom.

However, your downtown Franklin adventure wouldn’t be complete without savoring the town’s culinary delights. Whether you’re craving the nostalgia of the 1950s at the Motor Company Grill, the creekside charm of The Gazebo Creekside Cafe, the authentic flavors of El Charro Mexican Grill, or the convenience of a food truck, Franklin’s vibrant food scene has you covered.

Embracing the Great Outdoors

Once you’ve explored downtown Franklin, consider embracing the great outdoors. The Bartram Trail, nestled near Franklin, offers:

  • A moderate 4-mile hike
  • Panoramic views
  • Diverse forest flora
  • Charming waterfalls along the trail

The trail is best visited from February through December, with a gradual incline up the ridges, making it an exciting yet manageable adventure for all hiking enthusiasts.

Beyond hiking, the Nantahala National Forest in Western North Carolina invites you to immerse yourself in exhilarating activities like white water rafting, mountain climbing, and wildlife observation. It’s truly an outdoor lover’s paradise!

Little Tennessee River Greenway

The Little Tennessee River Greenway, located near the Appalachian Trail, is an ideal choice for those who seek a more relaxed outdoor experience. This scenic 5-mile trail, located in Franklin, meanders through diverse habitats such as wetlands, pastures, and upland woods, offering a feast for the senses.

The greenway is equipped with rest benches, picnic areas, and observation decks. Whether you’re a hiking or biking enthusiast, or simply looking for a laid-back walk, the well-maintained paved and unpaved sections make the trail accessible for all.

Gem Capital Adventures

Did you know that Franklin, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is internationally recognized as the ‘Gem Capital of the World?’ The Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine invites you to experience gem mining by purchasing buckets of gem dirt, adding a unique twist to your Franklin adventure.

However, the gem adventures extend beyond Cowee Mountain. Gem enthusiasts can also try their luck at Gold City Gem Mine and Cherokee Ruby Mine, promising a thrilling treasure hunt experience in the heart of Franklin.

Cultural Experiences

In addition to outdoor adventures, Franklin North Carolina also stands as a rich cultural hub. The Macon County Historical Museum is a treasure trove of local heritage, housing artifacts and educational resources that provide a deeper understanding of the region’s history.

The Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center serves as a beacon of the area’s artistic and cultural legacies. It is dedicated to:

  • Preserving the traditions of the Southern Appalachians and the Cherokee
  • Fostering a sense of community
  • Celebrating the vibrant cultural tapestry of Franklin

Live Music and Entertainment

Once you’ve spent the day exploring, relax and enjoy the rhythm of Franklin’s live music scene. The Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts is a hub of diverse live events, offering everything from concerts to comedy acts and tribute performances.

For a taste of local flair, head over to Pickin’ On The Square. This beloved local venue showcases the area’s culture and talent, offering a vibrant immersion into Franklin’s local music scene.

Family Fun at The Factory

If you’re in search of a family-friendly fun spot, The Factory is just the place. It offers:

  • Over 100 arcade games
  • A two-story high go-kart track
  • Laser tag
  • An indoor mini-golf course
  • A kids play area
  • Exciting bumper cars

It’s a paradise for kids and adults alike.

To ensure safety, The Factory imposes specific height requirements for each activity, allowing family members to have fun within secure limits. With a re-loadable Fun Card and set prices for certain activities, you can tailor your fun day based on your preferences and budget.

Taste the Local Flavors

Franklin isn’t limited to sights and activities; it’s a place to delight in unique flavors as well. The breweries in Franklin offer a unique taste of craft beer that will delight your palate.

The Currahee Brewing Company and Lazy Hiker Brewing Company are local favorites, each offering a diverse selection of craft beers that truly capture the essence of Franklin’s local flavors.

Discovering Native American History

The richness of Franklin’s history isn’t confined to its buildings and museums. The sacred Nikwasi Mound, a spiritual and cultural center for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, offers a deep dive into Native American history.

The mound’s significance is underscored by historical records, including those by Spanish explorer Juan Pardo in 1566, and its resilience against attacks during the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. Today, it stands as a historical landmark, symbolizing the enduring traditions of the Cherokee.

Scenic Waterfalls and Natural Wonders

The natural beauty of Franklin, marked by stunning waterfalls and natural wonders, is truly captivating. A visit to Cullasaja Falls is a must, where you can marvel at the impressive 250-foot cascade.

However, the wonders extend beyond that. From driving behind Bridal Veil Falls to walking behind the Dry Falls, and exploring hidden gems within the Nantahala National Forest, each waterfall offers a unique experience that will leave you in awe.

Exploring the Scottish Tartans Museum & Heritage Center

Franklin is also the home to a unique aspect of Scottish heritage. The Scottish Tartans Museum offers insights into the history of tartans and kilts, making it the only museum of its kind in the United States.

Whether you’re looking up your surname to discover your clan or district affiliations, buying unique Scottish gift items, or diving into the history re-enacted by the Breacan Clann, the Scottish Tartans Museum promises a unique cultural experience.


From historic downtown and outdoor adventures to cultural experiences, live entertainment, family fun, local flavors, and rich history, Franklin, NC, truly offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, a foodie, or just someone seeking a unique getaway, Franklin awaits to offer an adventure like no other. So why wait? Embark on your Franklin adventure today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Franklin NC have to offer?

Franklin, NC is known as the “Gem Capital of the World” and offers attractions such as the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum and the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts, among other gems and mineral related sites and activities.

Does Franklin NC have a downtown?

Yes, Franklin, NC has a charming historic downtown.

Is Franklin NC a good town to live in?

Yes, Franklin, NC is a great town to live in because it offers a safe environment, beautiful surroundings, and a variety of activities for families. Whether you’re into outdoor sports or looking for a peaceful mountain town, Franklin has a lot to offer.

What outdoor activities are available in Franklin, NC?

You can enjoy hiking on the Bartram Trail, go white water rafting in the Nantahala National Forest, and try gem mining at the Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine in Franklin, NC. So, there’s something for everyone to enjoy outdoors in Franklin!

What live music and entertainment options are there in Franklin?

You can enjoy live music and entertainment at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts or experience local talent at Pickin’ On The Square. Check them out for a great time!