Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Franklin, VA

  • Published 2023/03/29

Go to the head of Blackwater River, and you’ll find the quiet city of Franklin, Virginia.

It was initially incorporated as a town in 1876 before developing into a city in 1961.

The city of Franklin began as a transportation hub for the surrounding countryside.

It even served as a second transportation trade center after the construction of the Seaboard Railroad in 1837.

It’s also proud of its robust agricultural district, which is still around today.

Several historical sites add to Franklin’s simple yet enchanting environment.

Here are the best things to do in Franklin, VA:

Swing by the Elms

Exterior of the Elms

Sedleyretired, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Add the Elms to your long list of historical places to visit while exploring the streets of Franklin.

The Elms is one of the last houses in Franklin sporting Victorian architecture.

In 1897, the founder of the Union Camp Corporation, Paul D. Camp, built the house.

Today, it’s a symbol of industrial success.

Explore the grounds of the Elms and take a close look at Victorian trademarks like gables, a corner tower, an extended front porch, and intricate woodwork.

This establishment typically hosts philanthropic activities and special functions.

Ride a Boat at Blackwater River Boat Landing

Franklin is filled with amazing natural scenery.

If you want to spend a day admiring the view, you can swing by the Blackwater River Boat Landing.

With its calm and serene atmosphere, the Blackwater River Boat Landing is a great place for visitors to engage in fun outdoor activities.

You’ll see tree-lined wetlands from the banks creating an enchanting path along the waterways.

Hang around, and you might even see whitetail deer, waterfowl, raccoons, and squirrels stopping by.

Blackwater River is home to a healthy population of native fish, making it a great fishing spot.

Explore the Franklin Historic District

If there’s one place to learn about Franklin’s history and rich culture, it’s the Franklin Historic District.

Before downtown developed into a bustling area, it was once the birthplace of the Franklin Depot.

The depot is one of the city’s earliest railroad transportation centers.

Take your time walking down the streets and admire the infrastructures that embody classic Franklin through architecture.

In 1985, the National Register of Historic Places listed the Franklin Historic District in its record.

Today, you’ll see that the district is a booming commercial area.

You’ll remember its beginnings when it sold livestock and other products during the 1850s.

Find Great Deals at Franklin’s Market on Main

Grab the best deals when you swing by Franklin’s Market On Main.

Get your hands on various fresh produce, meat, seafood, baked goods, and more.

You can also buy locally made products you won’t find anywhere else.

Take your time exploring the stalls and stores to find what you like.

Afterward, scour the streets once more, and you’ll find a nice place to eat after spending a long day shopping.

Take a Photo by the Love Mural

Get your Instagram game going at the Love Mural on 2nd Avenue.

Adding the Love Mural in the historic Franklin only added to the city’s wonders, highlighting essential parts of the city.

Each letter in the mural represents iconic experiences and attractions in Franklin.

Check out the intricate details of each letter.

The first “L” features kayakers moving along the Blackwater River; “O” shows facets of the business district.

Then, “V” captures fishermen casting their lines at Barrett’s Landing, and “E” features visitors dancing by the river.

Indeed, the iconic mural is one sight to behold, so don’t leave Franklin without taking a bunch of photos of the mural.

Follow the Salty Southern Route

Virginia is home to various premium-quality pork and peanut products.

It would be a shame to pass up on the opportunity to explore the cities best known for producing these goods.

So, why not take the Salty Southern Route?

It’s a joint tourism effort among some of Virginia’s cities that lets you visit the state’s famed locations.

Get ready to embark on a journey you’ll never forget.

The trip begins in the town of Smithfield, which is home to Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer.

From there, you’ll pass by the city of Suffolk, which is home to global peanut producer Planter’s Peanuts.

While grabbing a bite of delectable samples, you’ll also pass by Surry, Sussex, and Southampton County.

Check Out the Village Fire Engine Exhibit

Learn more about Franklin’s fire and rescue history at the downtown Village Fire Engine Exhibit.

In this exhibit, you’ll see a lot of historical pieces that played an essential role in keeping Franklin’s citizens safe.

Look at Franklin’s 1935 fire truck and its current condition.

Despite sporting a worn-out appearance, the fire truck still has its former prestige in its bright red paint.

You’ll also see a restored 1938 fire truck and framed documents of ownership of the past trucks.

In one of the exhibits, Franklin’s 1875 water pump sits in the middle of the room, kept in pristine condition for everyone to see.

Play a Game of Ten-Pin at the Franklin Bowling Center

Go to the Franklin Bowling Center for some much-needed entertainment with ten-pin bowling.

Play regular or glow-in-the-dark bowling, or enjoy karaoke night at this premier entertainment center.

If you think you’ve got what it takes, join various tournaments and competitions.

Franklin Bowling Center also has 20 arcade games and a jukebox to help you have a fun night.

Of course, Franklin Bowling Center ensures that people of all ages can have a great time.

Kids are welcome to try bumper bowling for an extra hand.

Grab a Bite at Serve

Enjoy a plate of your favorite meals at Serve on North Main Street.

This restaurant and tap house is known for serving the best classic American dishes and Franklin’s widest beer selection.

Start your dining experience with a Cutchins Cobb or country Caesar salad.

Then, grab a plate of brined and hot-roasted chicken wings tossed in your favorite flavors.

Try flatbread best-sellers like the Main Street Maniac, Foghorn Flavor, Big Bad Wolf, and more.

Enjoy a bottle of ice-cold beer or a glass of red wine to cap off your lunch or dinner.

Explore the Outdoors at Nottoway River Boat Landing

Picturesque waterways surround Virginia.

The Nottoway River Boat Landing along Shady Brook Trail is one of the best places to catch those views.

This scenic river begins in Nottoway County and stretches through Southampton County.

It also has abundant fish species, making it a popular fishing spot for anglers.

The Nottoway River is not as developed as other waterways, adding more to its natural beauty.

On a good day, cast your lines and try to catch bluegills, large and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie, and more.

Celebrate at the Main Event

Franklin isn’t just a tourist spot when you’re out on vacation一it’s also a great place to host your events.

There’s no better place to celebrate milestones than the Main Event on Main Street.

Whether you’re hosting a wedding reception, birthday party, or corporate meetings, Main Event has got you covered.

The venue sports a 200-seating capacity for dinner events and can hold up to 600 persons for a cocktail party.

Don’t leave this place out when looking for a great place to make memories because it has everything you need.

Satisfy Your Cravings at Hardee’s

Don’t worry about scouring the neighboring cities to grab a bite of a juicy burger.

You can walk towards Mechanic Street and dine at Hardee’s, one of the best burger restaurants in the country.

Hardee’s has operated for over 60 years, serving millions of happy customers in over 1,800 branches across the US.

Satisfy your cravings with Hardee’s menu of 100% Angus beef burger creations.

Feed your happiness at Hardee’s by trying the made-from-scratch biscuits, a breakfast platter, hand-breaded chicken sandwiches, and hand-scooped ice cream shake.

Sip Fresh Brews at StoreHouse Coffee Shop

There’s no better way to relax than having a warm cup of coffee while reading a book.

You can do that at the StoreHouse Coffee Shop.

This downtown coffee shop serves a great selection of specialty teas, coffees, frappes, and fruit smoothies.

As you sip your drink, pair it with a plate of freshly baked goods.

Storehouse Coffee Shop also hosts community-wide events, where you can stop by and shop for crafts made by locals.

Have a Good Time at Applebee’s Grill+Bar

Nothing beats a cold glass of beer and a plate of good food after a long day.

After a day of exploring Franklin, stop by Applebee’s Grill+Bar on Armory Drive and have a good time.

Indulge in affordable lunch specials or have dinner with your friends and family in this Franklin favorite.

Everything from steaks and ribs to pasta and burgers at Applebee’s will satisfy your tastebuds.

Do a Self-Guided Tour at Barrett’s Landing Park

There are a lot of things to do at Barrett’s Landing Park, making this one of the best day trip activities you can do near the heart of Franklin.

What makes it unique is the amount of reading information present here that talks about Franklin’s history.

This lets you do an outdoor learning adventure while experiencing the scenic charm of Barrett’s Landing Park.

Right by the Blackwater River, this is a great place to just take in the views and appreciate the simplicity of Franklin.

Access Barrett’s Landing Park along its namesake street on the eastern part of the city.

Chow Down at Don Pancho’s Cantina

Don Pancho’s Cantina is a Mexican restaurant that is one of the go-to places for locals for a celebratory feast.

This is because it’s known to have excellent service and even better food, featuring all the Mexican classics served in great portions.

Some of their signatures here are their burritos and fajitas, but you can bet everything will taste well in this restaurant.

Try their salsas and chips also if you want something lighter—they also have classic margaritas here that makes them a great evening hangout spot.

Don Pancho’s Cantina is located along Armory Drive.

Satisfy Your Cravings at Three Guys Italian

If Italian food is more of your mood, Three Guys Italian is a no-brainer to visit.

Specializing in pizza and pasta, Three Guys Italian is a haven for Italian cuisine lovers who are looking for a great deal.

They even have gluten-free pizza here, along with vegetarian options and various desserts.

The ambiance and service are phenomenal, making this one of the most highly rated restaurants in Franklin as well.

Three Guys Italian is located along the bustling areas of Commerce Park Road.

Take the Kids to Armory Drive Recreation Park

If you have some downtime in Franklin and you’re traveling with kids, Armory Drive Recreation Park is a great place to consider adding to your itinerary.

It’s a sizable park that features various sports and recreational amenities, making this a great all-rounder in terms of satisfying every member of the family.

The park has a nice playground that can get busy during weekends and late afternoons, perfect for kids to make new friends.

Lots of softball, football, and tennis courts are found here as well.

If you’re lucky, Armory Drive Recreation Park is a common site for events and fairs, so keep your eyes peeled for those.

You can access Armory Drive Recreation Park along Armory Drive.

Try the Exquisite Wine Selection of Cork Tap Taste Tasting Room

Cork Tap Taste Tasting Room is relatively new in Franklin, but it’s already soaring in terms of popularity among the locals of Virginia.

Their robust wine selection is what makes them famous, especially because they have free wine tasting events weekly.

However, Cork Tap Taste Tasting Room is also getting traction as an all-around restaurant that serves stellar food as well.

They have interesting culinary creations, inspired from Korean flavors that are translated into varying fusions with other cultures.

Try their beef bulgogi tacos and “Bibimbap Sammy”—if you’re feeling adventurous, ask them what wine pairs well with those as well.

Besides those, the restaurant is also known for their peanuts which you can enjoy with chocolate.

Located along North Main Street, give this trendy restaurant a visit if you’re all about culinary creativity.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Stop by the Peanut Patch

Stop by the world’s best peanut shop known as the Peanut Patch.

It’s in Courtland, Virginia, 11 minutes away from Franklin.

Virginia makes the best peanut products in the country; it’s safe to say that The Peanut Patch will prove this claim.

Shop for specialty food and souvenirs, or buy some for yourself to munch on as you travel back home.

You’ll also find Feridies Peanuts at the Peanut Patch, one of Virginia’s best-selling peanut brands.

Besides peanut products, you can also find jewelry, home accessories, wooden crafts, and more.

Final Thoughts

Franklin is one of the best places to visit for a quiet and relaxing environment.

The city can make you feel like you’re at home, even if you’re hundreds of miles away.

So, book your trip to Franklin, VA today, and see the adventure that lies ahead!

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