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Scenic & Free

You are always welcome in Franklin, NC

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Scenic & Free

When you come to the Franklin NC area, you are in the foothills of some of the oldest mountains in the world.  The Blue Ridge Mountains and The Great Smoky Mountains rise up from the valleys of the Nantahala National Forest opening into two of the nation’s most visited National Parks.  We’ve put together a list of scenic & free things to do.

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Mountain Waters Scenic Byway

Mountain Waters Scenic Byway – take a drive over Wayah Road through the Nantahala Gorge. Side trips to Wayah Bald, Nantahala Lake, and numerous pull offs along the Nantahala River make for a full or half day trip. Return via Wayah Road or take US 74 to Dillsboro and back to Franklin.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Take a scenic drive on America’s most visited Parkway! Two points of entry give you many options for a full day or scenic overlooks, history, and adventure. Take the Balsam Gap entrance to Cherokee passing Water Rock Knob with view east and west, down to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the end of the BRP. Stop in the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and see how life was like in the early days of the park. Wait until dusk to see the elk that bed down in the wide-open field there at the edge of the center.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Take US 74/US 441 to the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and continue into the most visited National Park in the country. Historic Mingus Mill and Smokemont Baptist Church are on the eastern side of the drive. Head up Newfound Gap Road and explore the many scenic overlooks. Take the Dome Road to Clingman’s Dome where you can feel like you’re on top of the world. Continue up to Newfound Gap Overlook and straddle the North Carolina / Tennessee border where the two states meet. Continue west into the Tennessee part of the park or head back down into Cherokee and on back to Franklin..

The Moonshiner 28 Scenic Drive

Franklin is located at the crossroads of several great motorcycle rides in Western North Carolina. The Moonshiner 28 is one such ride, a 103-mile trail that begins at the Tail of the Dragon on US 129 at Deals Gap, and winds southeastward along NC 28 through Franklin and Highlands, NC. It continues southward on NC 28 into North Georgia and ends in Walhalla, SC. The Moonshiner 28 got its name from Moonshine runners traveling from South Carolina to Tennessee on the twists and turns of this back road to avoid the police. This is a great alternative to other more crowded routes, with sections every bit as twisty as the more popular routes. There are also great views and scenic attractions along the way, including three of Western North Carolina’s most popular waterfalls between Franklin and Highlands, NC – Cullasaja Falls, Dry Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls, as well as many other pull offs and scenic stops. Whether you’re on a motorcycle, in a car, or in the family van, you’re sure to enjoy the mountains and scenery that you’ll pass through.

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  • Adams Products – A Division of Oldcastle

    Address: 895 Hickory Knoll Rd
    Franklin
    NC
    28734
    Email: :
  • Ridgeline Homes

    Address: 21 Sanderstown Rd
    Franklin
    NC
    28734
    Email: :
  • Dnet Internet Services

    Address: 189 East Palmer Street
    Franklin
    NC
    28734
    Toll Free: (877) 601-3638
    Email: :
  • The Montgomery Company

    Address: 24 Yearling Way
    Franklin
    NC
    28734
    Email: :
  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Destination Marketing

    Address: 810 Acquoni Rd
    Cherokee
    NC
    28719
    Toll Free: 800-438-1601
    Email: :

Experience Like a Local

You are always welcome in Franklin, NC

Plan Your Visit

Experience Like a Local

A lot of folks visiting Franklin want to experience life like a local. Here’s a list of what locals like to do when the weekend comes and it’s time to play .

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Dinner and A Show

Franklin is home to the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts, a world class entertainment venue that brings in popular artists across many genres of music, Broadway Productions, and more. Dine at one of Franklin’s many fine restaurants beforehand and it’s a full evening of food and entertainment. You can purchase tickets to all of the shows at the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce & Welcome Center and grab a copy of our Visitors Guide for a list of local restaurants. If you’re visiting on a weekend, the weekly free concert series, Pickin’ on the Square happens every Saturday night from Memorial Day through Mid-October with live music, food vendors, and lots of visitors and locals enjoying a fun night with friends and family.

Festivals and Events

There’s always something happening on the weekends here in Franklin. Our Calendar of Events is a great place to find local festivals like Mountain High BBQ Festival & Car Show, Gem Shows, The Taste of Scotland Festival, Appalachian Heritage Festival,  Franklin Folk Festival, Westside Merchants Block Party, and more. You can almost always find a festival or fun event on our community calendar or come by the Chamber & Welcome Center at 98 Hyatt Road, Franklin NC  28734 and see what we have posted on our events board!

Shop, Drink and Eat

Visit the Franklin Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning from 8 am to 12 noon on Palmer Street downtown is a great place to get ahold of locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as freshly baked goods, fresh cut meats, flowers and more. Grab some fresh goodies to take on a picnic or if you want to cook fresh, then the Farmer’s Market is your first stop. If you’re looking for someone else to do the cooking, be sure to grab a copy of our visitor guide to explore the many palate pleasing spots to eat like a local. Work up a hearty appetite as you embark on a shopping adventure that will take you all around the Franklin area. Let your mood set your destination, whether you’re out for some fun antiquing, or maybe you’re in the market for some fresh new clothing, art work, jewelry, or some outdoor active wear. Stop by one or both of our Craft Breweries, The Lazy Hiker Brewing Co. on the west end of Main Street and Currahee Brewing Co. on the east end of downtown Franklin. Many times, you can catch food trucks there cooking up some fresh eats along with entertainment on the weekends all year long.

Get Outside

Many folks in our local community like to get outside and get involved. So that means a lot more than just taking a hike or going for a bike ride. Many local organizations will have fund raising events or fun activities planned for kids and families too, to get together for a good cause. Whether it be a 5K Fun Run or a donation collection – there’s lots to get out and experience. Then of course, you HAVE to get on a trail or take a waterfall journey that will take you to places of natural beauty and wonder. If your  a hard core hiker or more of a walker, don’t worry, we’ve got your trail and information on it!.

Shop Local, Eat Local, LIVE Local

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  • The Factory

    Address: 1024 Georgia Rd
    Franklin
    NC
    28734
    Toll Free: (866) 482-2386
    Email: :
  • Carolina Builder Services, Inc

    Address: 2541 Bryson City Road
    Franklin
    NC
    28734
    Email: :
  • Adams Products – A Division of Oldcastle

    Address: 895 Hickory Knoll Rd
    Franklin
    NC
    28734
    Email: :
  • The Montgomery Company

    Address: 24 Yearling Way
    Franklin
    NC
    28734
    Email: :
  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Destination Marketing

    Address: 810 Acquoni Rd
    Cherokee
    NC
    28719
    Toll Free: 800-438-1601
    Email: :

7 Days of Excitement

You are always welcome in Franklin, NC

plan your visit

7 Days of Excitement

The Western North Carolina area has many treasures to share. Make the most of it with this quick guide.

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DAY 1: Mother Nature’s Rock Music

Start your day on US 64 East heading into the Cullasaja River Gorge of the Nantahala National Forest. This stretch of road between Franklin & Highlands is known as the “Waterfall Highway”. The Cullasaja River spills over the Lake Sequoyah Dam in Highlands as it cascades and drops nearly 2000 feet in elevation in the 9-mile gorge. As you approach Cullasaja Falls, you will be in one of the most exciting stretches of road, as you wind your way alongside the deepest part of the gorge. Your first stop is the pull off for Cullasaja Falls Roadside, You can see the upper falls as they cascade down over 200’ into the gorge below. Continue east stopping at Bust Your Butt Falls, a popular swimming hole, and then Dry Falls, a 60’ waterfall that you can walk down to and completely underneath! Don’t forget to visit Bridal Veil Falls where you can park your car or motorcycle and grab a keepsake photo to cherish for years to come. There are many great spots to pull off and enjoy a picnic lunch or to just enjoy the sounds of the river.

DAY 2: Experience the thrill of gem mining

Franklin is known historically as the “Gem Capitol of the World”, so what better place to take the family to try your hand at any of our nine active mines, sifting through the dirt and finding native gems and precious minerals such as, rubies, sapphires, garnets, quartz and more. Get your hands on a big bucket of dirt, a screen, and get sifting! It’s a good idea to wear old clothes and tennis shoes or boots and bring a plastic bag to put your muddy shoes in and an extra pair to wear in the car. Bring a picnic lunch, most mines provide a place to eat out of rain or sun, plan to spend the day! And you will need to bring the camera for those pictures to show friends you played in the mud in North Carolina and found beautiful gem stones.

Day 3: Take a hike, literally

Known for our great outdoor recreation, the Franklin area has hundreds of miles of trails to explore. From the world famous Appalachian Trail, to the Little Tennessee River Greenway, there’s a place for each and every level of hiker. Explore the historic trail named after the famous adventure author, The (William) Bartram Trail. The roughly 100-mile-long trail stretches from Georgia to Cheoah Bald in western North Carolina. Take a drive up to mile high Wayah Bald Tower, where the paved path leads you to a 360-degree view of the Nantahala, Blue Ridge, and Smoky Mountains. Walk, run, or bike the nearly 5 miles of the Little Tennessee River Greenway that is in the heart of downtown Franklin. Numerous access points allow you easy access and the ability to enjoy nature without leaving town. It’s also a great way to end the day, walking along the Little Tennessee River as the sun goes down. Other trails to Pickens Nose, Albert Mountain, and Wesser Bald will keep you hiking for days.

Day 4: Explore Franklin’s History

The Franklin area is rich in its history and our area museums tell the stories both personally and visually. Start the day off at Ruby City Gem Museum where you can see rare gems, ivory carvings, artifacts and more. Don’t miss the “World’s Largest Sapphire” weighing in at 385 lbs. and the 162-carat ruby! Head over to the Scottish Tartans Museum, the only museum of its kind in the United States. See the displays of Scottish Tartans, as you walk through displays of culture, dress, migration, and military. Next, head to the Macon County Historical Museum to learn about the history of Macon County. The museum is located in the J.R. Pendergrass building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an excellent example of an early twentieth century retail store design. From there, make your way to the Franklin Gem & Mineral Museum in Franklin’s old jail. There, you will find thousands of specimens on display, including those found right here in Macon County and around the world. Next, hop in your car and head over to Wilderness Taxidermy on Highlands Road. Their state of the art wildlife museum is home to a collection of animals from throughout the world. Finish up the day with a scenic drive out to Cowee Valley to the historic Cowee School. Built in 1943 on the site of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, the Cowee School served thousands of students until it was closed as a school in 2012.

Day 5: Lake Nantahala

Time to pack a cooler and your favorite watercraft and head over to Nantahala Lake. West of Franklin, through Wayah Gap, lies one of the most pristine lakes in the region. Nantahala Lakes shores are over 80% undeveloped National Forest land, you’ll have a lot of peace and quiet as you make your way around the 40 miles of shoreline. Don’t have a boat, kayak, or watercraft? Lakes End Marina can set you up and get you out on the water. They offer all types and sizes of watercraft from paddle boards to pontoon boats. Nantahala also offers some of the best waters for fly fishing in the region. The Nantahala River is known for it’s world class rapids as well, where you can test your skills navigating the white water. Finish the day on the back porch of Lakes End Grill as you watch the sunset over the Nantahala Mountains.

Day 6: Eat, Drink, & Shop

Make your way to Currahee Brewing Co. on Lakeside Drive and sample the latest tastes from their taps. After enjoying some craft beer along the Little Tennessee River bank, make your way up Main Street to sample some of Franklin’s most delicious eateries. Lunch or dinner, the fine fare selections are numerous. Once you’ve had your fill of good eats, you can walk off some of that food as you browse the many specialty shops along Main Street. Locally made arts & crafts fill up The Gilded Willow and specialty shops like Blackberry Market Boutique & Gifts offer a personal touch to your shopping experience. Need a cup of coffee or frozen yogurt? Head over to Main Street Coffee for some delicious treats. Further down Main Street you’ll see the Lazy Hiker Brewing Co, Franklin’s first craft brewery. If you’re there during one of their weekend shows, bring a lawn chair and enjoy great music, family atmosphere, and large selection of their flavorful beers. Head to Town Square on Saturdays from Memorial Day to Fall for the free Pickin’ On The Square weekly concerts.

Day 7: Mix & Match

You’ve been here a week, you’ve seen and done so many things, but you’ve surely had to pass up on some of the activities, trails, sights, stores, and views that you’ve encountered along the way. Today is the day to mix it up and get in that hike, eat at that restaurant, buy those gifts for friends, and treat yourself to one last day of fun!

Shop Local, Eat Local, LIVE Local

Support Local Business

Featured

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  • Lakehaven on Lake Nantahala

    Address: 178 Alpine Shores Lane
    Topton
    NC
    28781
    Email: :
  • The Factory

    Address: 1024 Georgia Rd
    Franklin
    NC
    28734
    Toll Free: (866) 482-2386
    Email: :
  • The Montgomery Company

    Address: 24 Yearling Way
    Franklin
    NC
    28734
    Email: :
  • Adams Products – A Division of Oldcastle

    Address: 895 Hickory Knoll Rd
    Franklin
    NC
    28734
    Email: :
  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Destination Marketing

    Address: 810 Acquoni Rd
    Cherokee
    NC
    28719
    Toll Free: 800-438-1601
    Email: :