I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
July 6, 2020
Like most of you, after months of quarantine, we are so very tired of being cooped up in our house — At the same time, we’re being extremely cautious about traveling this summer. It’s hard to find a place right now that meets our standards of crowd size, cleanliness, and plain old fun, but we did come across a destination that’s absolutely perfect right now for weekend getaways or even a day trip with your family:
Nestled in the rolling green hills of Williamson County, this historic village has everything you need for a restful and socially distant couple of days away from home. You’ll find that time slows to a comfortable amble in Leiper’s Fork. Porch swings and friendly neighbors abound. And for now anyway, crowds are blessedly non-existent. Bring a good book, a good appetite, and some spending money because while Leiper’s Fork is small, its retail game is very, very strong. Here’s everything you need to know to have an amazing Leiper’s Fork experience.
Leiper’s Fork’s history dates back thousands of years to a time when Native American tribes like the Cherokee and Chickasaw lived off this verdant land. Four thousand-year-old Native American relics have been found in the area and the Natchez Trace, a centuries-old trail used first by Native Americans and then by European explorers and early American settlers, is just a few miles away from the village proper.
The land was settled by the Benton family in the early 1800s and originally called Benton Town and then Hillsboro before finally becoming Leiper’s Fork. It was a popular stop for travelers along the Natchez Trace, and by the early 1900s, the village included a railroad line, several shops and lumber mills, a blacksmith, a college, churches, and a bank.
In 1995, a group formed to preserve the village and keep its historic structures intact. Today, it’s a haven for artists, antique lovers, motorcyclists, road trippers, and anyone looking for an oasis of peace and rustic Southern charm, just a few minutes away from bustling Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee.
While many opt to experience Leiper’s Fork as a day trip, spending a few nights at one of the village’s rentable cottages is a fantastic way to truly relax and enjoy the Leiper’s Fork environment for a few days.
My family and I spent our getaway weekend at the Leiper’s Fork Inn, the largest of the Pot n Kettle cottage rentals owned by Leiperforkians Eric and Samantha Coghlan. This 3,000 square-foot historic home sleeps nine and is a fantastic option in ordinary times for an upscale bachelorette party or book club retreat. It has a large, fully-stocked kitchen, beautifully decorated bedrooms and common areas, screened-in porches, and a fire pit surrounded by Adirondack chairs outside.
I really loved this reading nook in one of the bedrooms, and so did my daughter! The kids initially weren’t sure they wanted to spend a weekend away from the comforts of home, but the moment they saw where they would be staying, they were 100% in. They absolutely loved our accommodations and didn’t want to leave.
Leiper’s Fork has a range of rental cottages depending on your needs and every single one looks amazing. In a time when eating in has never been more appealing, I really love vacationing in a place with a full-service kitchen! To see more rental options, check out Visit Franklin’s accommodations page and use the Leiper’s Fork search filter.
Foodies can rest easy — Although Leiper’s Fork is small, its restaurant scene is known throughout the region and plenty of visitors make the drive here just for the food.
Open since 1968, family-owned Country Boy is the oldest diner in Williamson County, serving up delicious country cooking that includes homemade desserts made by local baker, Ms. Debbie. Visitors rave about Country Boy’s breakfasts as well as its traditional Southern offerings like fried chicken, fried catfish, and fried okra. Clearly, they’ve discovered the secret that everything’s better with batter! Outdoor dining is available but the diner generally shuts its doors by 6 each day and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so be sure and check the hours before you visit.
Across Tennessee, Puckett’s restaurants have become a favorite with tourists and locals alike, but few know it all started 60 years ago with Puckett’s Grocery Store in Leiper’s Fork. In 1998, the grocery’s then-new owner decided to add a restaurant menu and a new Tennessee tradition was born. Today, Puckett’s of Leiper’s Fork is on the National Historic Registry and a popular place to order a fried bologna sandwich, kick back with a cold beer, and listen to live music. Puckett’s has a large outdoor patio, making it a perfect place to have a drink and enjoy the laid back Leiper’s Fork atmosphere.
Looking for a romantic night out? Leiper’s Fork has got you covered. 1892 is Leiper’s Fork’s upscale dining option, operating out of a beautiful historic home built in 1892. Right now, the restaurant is only offering outdoor dining, either on the front porch or in the charming side yard. Tables are spaced well apart and offer a romantic countryside ambience that my husband and I really enjoyed. We were thrilled with the presentation of each dish, several of which included edible flowers, and we’d go back in a heartbeat for 1892’s Bear Creek burger. Topped with white cheddar and caramelized onion, it was truly special.
Spending a few nights in a beautifully decorated cottage gives you a perfect excuse to dine in, and in that department, Williamson County definitely delivers.
Just 15 minutes from Leiper’s Fork, you’ll find Barbara’s Home Cooking tucked away in Franklin’s Grassland neighborhood. Don’t be fooled by its simple exterior — Inside, you’ll find some of the best heat-and-eat meals in Middle Tennessee. We stopped here on our way to Leiper’s Fork to pick up a dinner for the kids that included Barbara’s famous Poppyseed Chicken, potato salad, yeast rolls, fudge pie, and a tub of Barbara’s amazing chicken salad for later. Everything was fantastic and the kids were very pleased with their special meal in while Dennis and I had dinner down the road at 1892.
Farther from Leiper’s Fork but worth the drive if you want to stock your larder with amazing eats is The Puffy Muffin. This popular Brentwood restaurant has a thriving takeaway business and has long been our go-to when we want to impress guests without having to cook everything ourselves. Here, you’ll find all kinds of delicious, expertly prepared foods you can quickly heat up in the oven, from breakfast casseroles and breads to lasagna, chicken casseroles, soups, salads, pies, and cakes. And whatever you do, don’t miss the spinach artichoke dip. It’s the best I’ve ever tasted!
Franklin is also home to the year-round Franklin Farmer’s Market, and it’s definitely one of the best farmer’s markets in all of Tennessee. Here, you’ll find an abundance of local produce, meat, seafood, breads, cakes and pies, and more. We ventured out to the market Saturday morning during our Leiper’s Fork stay to find all the ingredients we needed for a locally-sourced homecooked meal that night. Our menu included cheeseburgers with local grass-fed beef for the kids, wild Alaska King Salmon fillets for us, Tennessee-grown broccoli and sauteed lion’s mane mushrooms, and roasted baby potatoes. It was all fantastic and far more flavorful and fresh than our usual supermarket fare.
By far, the best thing to do in Leiper’s Fork, be you man, woman or child, is SHOP. The village’s handful of shops are full of carefully-curated treasures like local arts and crafts, cool vintage and antique finds, unusual toys and games, and all around stuff you won’t find anywhere else. There are just enough shops to allow you to stop in all of them without feeling overwhelmed. My husband and I loved the shops here so much that we’ve decided to make it an annual early December tradition to spend a day here picking up one-of-a-kind gifts for friends and family members.
Our recent Leiper’s Fork weekend actually marked the first time I’ve shopped in a non-essential store since mid-March, and I can tell you now from experience that if you’re craving a little retail therapy in the time of pandemic, Leiper’s Fork is definitely the place to do it. We browsed on a Saturday at around 4pm and only encountered a few other shoppers the entire time we were there. Shopkeepers all wore masks and most had hand sanitizing stations outside their doors. We felt completely safe shopping in this environment.
As an added bonus, behind these stores you’ll find the best photo op in Leiper’s Fork. Here, there’s a lovely view of a field and several Adirondack chairs that make it a scene out of Southern Living. Bring your travel companions here during the golden hour for photos you’ll want to frame later.
Serenite Maison is my new favorite store in Tennessee. Housed in a turn of the century general store, it’s filled to the brim with gorgeous country French and Italian antique finds all artfully displayed by owner Alex Cirimelli. I would have bought every single thing in the store if I had the money, and I will definitely be back soon for more inspiration and acquisition!
I’d describe Moo Country as Stevie Nicks’ closet if she were a cowgirl. I seriously can’t sum it up any better than that. You just have to see it for yourself because I’m willing to bet there’s nothing like it anywhere else on earth.
Creekside Trading Company is just filled with all good things — local arts and crafts, home decor, gifts, jewelry, clothing, and the best face mask I’ve seen yet (made by a local artist, no less)!
I mean… 😂
We found several gifts for loved ones at Creekside Trading Company, and for, um, myself.
Got kids? Let them choose their own reward for good behavior at Props Antiques. In addition to a whimsically curated selection of antiques, this shop has a toy and game (and candy!) section filled with unique souvenir options for kids of all ages.
The Pick-It Fence is filled with gift options, furniture, jewelry, and more. It was closed at the time we were shopping, but local Samantha Coghlan has convinced us we’ve got to stop in the next time we’re in town. “The owners of the shop have a fabulous eye for picking really unique pieces,” she told us. “I especially love their home goods. They have a great sense of humor and it shows in their picked items. Their tea towels always have the best sayings on them.”
If you’re planning on coming to Leiper’s Fork just for a day of shopping, it’s not a bad idea at all — But do call or check the shops’ websites before they come. Several are closed on certain days of the week and with all that’s going on, hours are a little wonky for all retailers right now.
Adults won’t want to leave Leiper’s Fork without a visit to the Leiper’s Fork Distillery. Here, you can take a tour to see how whiskey is made and taste some for yourself, and buy your own bottle in the distillery’s gift shop. Tours are still offered right now on a more limited basis because of COVID-19 restrictions, so check the distillery’s website before you come to get the latest information.
If you’re enjoying Leiper’s Fork as a couple or with your besties, consider booking treatments at The Spa at Leiper’s Fork. This day spa offers massages, facials, waxing, and manicures, as well as its own line of bath and body products. Our cottage was stocked with products from the spa and I can tell you that the Bourbon and Lavender body wash smelled absolutely divine.
Leiper’s Fork is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from one of the most scenic drives in the country, so you owe it to yourself to spend an hour or two driving down the Natchez Trace Parkway during your visit. Since we live right off the Trace, we’ve spent a LOT of time on it and have taken it as far as Tupelo. Check out my post for our favorite stops — Waterfalls, historic structures, hiking, and other points of interest are all within an hour’s drive of Leiper’s Fork. For a little exercise and a chance to commune with nature, hike one of the trails at Timberland Park, which is located on the Trace. It’s a 14-minute drive from Leiper’s Fork and we highly recommend the park’s Big East Fork Reserve Trail there. You can get a map of all the trails at the park’s Visitor Center.
The parkway is also popular with bikers because of its low traffic and lack of traffic lights, stop signs and commercial vehicles. Bring your own bike or rent an electric-assisted bicycle at Pedego in Franklin. It’s a great way to enjoy the beautiful protected land along the Trace!
Speaking of beautiful drives, one of the prettiest drives in the county will take you from Leiper’s Fork to the gorgeous Preservation Park in Thompson’s Station in under 20 minutes. This park is new to the area, so it’s not getting too many visitors yet — definitely a plus in my book. It has a few miles of trails through well-kept fields and forests and a showstopping hilltop panoramic view of rural farmland worthy of even the most discerning Instagram feed.
Historic downtown Franklin is a must-see for anyone visiting the Nashville area. It’s filled with charming historic structures, fabulous shopping, and great restaurants. One of my favorite outdoor options in Franklin is a walking tour with Franklin on Foot. The guides there are currently offering tours by reservation and I can tell you from experience they are fascinating. The tours are so comprehensive that locals often book them simply to learn more interesting stories about their own town! Call them at 615-400-3808 to set up a tour for your group.
Looking for more ideas on things to do in and around Leiper’s Fork? Check out the Visit Franklin website to see all Williamson County has to offer!
This post was written in partnership with Visit Franklin. All opinions and recommendations are my own.
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