Get the scoop first with our official blog about Franklin, NC!
Perhaps second only to Christmas (if it’s second at all), the Fourth of July is the best family holiday of the year—so of course, you want to go somewhere to have fun for the whole family, the whole day!
Franklin, North Carolina is the place to be for Independence Day, because we don’t miss an opportunity for everyone, from kids to great-grandparents, to have a great time. Let’s go through the schedule of events!
The Parade, Starring You!
Yep, you read that right! While you go most places to see a parade, we actually invite you to participate, no matter where you’re from! There’s no registration required; just deck out in red, white and blue and join up with the rest of the parade around 9:30. You’ll get to march with patriotic pride through Main Street and on to Entegra Bank—and then you’re ready to explore our downtown area once you’re finished around 10:30!
Little Mr. & Miss Firecracker Contest
If you have a little firecracker in your family, this is their time to shine (even more than usual, that is). The Little Mr. & Miss Firecracker Contest is for kids ages 3 to 6, and the winners will be selected based on how patriotic their costume is and how wittily they answer one question. No registration is required! Just meet us at the gazebo on Main Street at 10:30.
The Patriotic Pet Contest
We can’t leave out the pets! If your fur baby is sporting some red, white, and WOOF, we’d love to see them strut their stuff in our Patriotic Pet contest. We’ll start directly after the Little Mr. & Miss Firecracker Contest at the gazebo, so if you think you’re up to the cuteness of sassy kids and decked out pups, stick around for both! Again, no registration is required.
And don’t forget—we have plenty of other entertainment while the contests are in full swing! Check out the FREE Kids Zone with inflatables until noon and enjoy Free Watermelon & Popcorn (as long as it lasts, of course).
Lunch and Shopping Downtown
Once the main festivities are wrapped up at noon, the fun goes on! Our downtown merchants and restaurants will be open, so if all the festivities work up your appetite, there are plenty of options to choose from for lunch. After you’ve filled up, be sure to do some window shopping and stop in for a cozy small business experience no matter where you stop.
Pre-fireworks Party at Veteran’s Memorial Park
Following your Main Street excursions, hop back in the car and head over to the Macon County Veteran’s Memorial Park at 3:00 for some pre-fireworks fun! There will be food, games, a Kid’s Fun Land, entertainment, and a cornhole tournament to pass away the time until dark. Donations are accepted and appreciated at the gate!
This is it—the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Once the sun settles behind our beautiful blue-ridge mountains, the light show skyrockets into a breathtaking display over the baseball field in the Macon County Rec Park, fully visible from the Veteran’s Memorial Park. Break out your picnic blankets and lay back as the glittering explosions take your breath away.
Oh, and don’t forget: We provide free shuttle services from Franklin High School beginning at 5 pm until after the fireworks display, so if you can’t park near the rec center, you don’t have to miss out on the fun!
For more information on the day’s activities, feel free to contact our Chamber of Commerce at 828-524-3161. We can’t wait to see you and your family in Franklin for the Fourth of July!
Picture this: You’re in the beautiful Smoky Mountains for a long weekend, looking for something to do. The sun is out but not too warm, and you’d love to spend a couple hours outside, but you already have plans to go hiking and swimming over the next two or three days.
You see a brochure for gem mining, and maybe a part of you chuckles. Gem mining? Really? People still do that?
Here are five reasons we believe you’ll love it if you try it, too.
That’s right—whether you find tiny tumbling gemstones or a rare star ruby, your haul is yours to keep. Many of our mines have both native buckets (straight from the mines) or enriched ones (with gemstones added) as options, so you can choose between finding the gems they’ve hidden or trying your luck with untouched soil. It’s an all-natural treasure hunt!
A one-of-a-kind souvenir
As if the gemstones themselves weren’t cool enough, you can also have them mounted into necklace pendants, rings, and bracelets to wear your memories wherever you go. Some mines have a jeweler on site, but if yours doesn’t, we have several gem museums and jewelers in town for you to choose from.
A peaceful, relaxing atmosphere
Each mine around Franklin is nestled into the mountainside, just far enough from the road that you can easily drive to the site while still feeling wrapped up in the forest. Listen to the water as it rushes through the flume and over your sieve, pulling away dirt and rubble and unveiling the glittering gemstones beneath.
There’s nothing like taking time to really enjoy the moment, and gem mining is a perfect way to slow down and breathe in that fresh mountain air.
A taste of mountain history
Not only is gem mining relaxing—you’ll also have the opportunity to dip into Franklin’s history as a town. Franklin’s gem and mineral heritage can be traced back to 1870 when companies began mining corundum (which is second only to diamonds in hardness) in Macon County.
In 1895, the American Prospecting and Mining Company intended to find the source of the rubies and sapphires by digging experimental shafts and test holes while gem mining in NC. Other mining interests joined in, but the source for the gemstones was never located—and that’s why locals and visitors alike are still searching for the motherload of ruby and sapphire today!
And of course: Getting muddy!
Everyone needs to get muddy every once in a while! There’s a certain nostalgia to putting on an old set of clothes and beat-up tennis shoes, rolling up your sleeves, and digging into rich earth and red clay. Finding gems is just an added bonus!
If you’ve never gone gem mining before, give it a try! It sounds old-fashioned, but we guess that’s sort of the way we do things in Franklin, North Carolina—and you’ll never have so much fun! Check out the mines below to plan your gem mining adventure.
List of Mines near Franklin, NC
Museums and jewelers
Looking for a Smoky Mountain getaway that won’t break the bank? Franklin, North Carolina is the perfect spot for you. From Main Street shopping to hiking to chasing waterfalls, you’re sure to have a blast no matter how long you stay.
Here’s what to do in Franklin if you’re in town for a few days.
Day One: Experience Downtown Franklin and Gem Mining
Why not get a taste for the heart and soul of Franklin? Main Street is lined with shops; whether you love a cozy bookstore like Books Unlimited or need to gear up for the trails at Outdoor 76, you’ll find just what you need.
We have coffee shops and bakeries galore, and they’re all open for a bite as you roam up and down the sidewalks. Franklin is also home to three different museums, so stop in and get a deeper understanding of the town’s heritage!
For lunch, stop by Motor Company Grill for retro-style burgers and milkshakes, Frogtown Market for a fantastic catfish po boy, or the food truck by the Lazy Hiker for some cold beer and fantastic eats.
Once the afternoon hits, head out to do some gem mining! Gem mining in Franklin NC is great fun for the entire family. Be sure to wear old clothes so you’re not concerned with getting a little muddy—that’s half the fun!
If you’re lucky, you might find a rare star ruby or sapphire when gem mining in Franklin, and many of your gem finds can be crafted into jewelry for a one-of-a-kind souvenir!
For supper, change clothes and head back into town for Root + Barrel on Main Street, or check out Currahee Brewery for a beer by the river.
Day Two: Hit the Trails
Hiking is a favorite activity in Franklin, since we’re so close to some awesome trails! You’ll want to pack a picnic lunch for day two because there’s so much to see.
The Appalachian Trail is only 11 miles from Downtown Franklin, and we’ve had a love affair with the A.T. dating back to the 1940s. Franklin is about 110 miles north of the trail’s start point in Springer Mountain, GA, but you don’t have to hike that far—just follow the path to the nearest summit for breathtaking views!
The Bartram Trail is also accessible from Franklin. Walk in the steps of Philadelphian naturalist William Bartram, who traveled throughout the southeast from 1773 to 1777, by hopping on the trail near the Wayah Ranger Station.
If you want stunning views of the mountains without the strain of a long hike, Wayah Bald Lookout Tower is just what you’re looking for. The Appalachian and Bartram trails both pass by the tower for more adventurous hikers, so anyone can stop and enjoy the overlook and view of the valley below.
For dinner, head back into town for the best barbeque you’ve ever tasted at Fat Buddies or Willie’s. Both are sure to please!
Day Three: Waterfalls, Dinner and a Show
Who said chasing waterfalls was a bad idea? In Franklin, we have some spectacular sites to find roaring falls without the long hike (especially after a busy day two!).
Dry Falls is anything but, and you can see the water from the road; park and hop out for a short walk behind the fall itself for an incredible photo op. There’s also Bridal Veil falls, which is quite literally right beside the road. No leaving the car necessary!
Once you’ve gotten your fill of the sights, head back down the mountain for lunch at Yonder for some locally-sourced, breakfast-style food. The Hungry Hiker burger is to die for!
After that, it’s time to kick it back until showtime at the Smoky Mountain Center for Performing Arts. There’s always something going on at the theatre, from classic country stars to Overlook Theatre Company productions.
For dinner, treat yourself to decadent Italian fare at Café Rel or Lucio’s. Whichever you choose, you’re in for a real treat!
That’s a wrap!
No matter what you do, we’re sure you’ll have an unforgettable time in Franklin, Nc. Our website has all the details on restaurants, activities, and lodging, so be sure to explore the site for more information!
What’s on your list for a 3-day trip to Franklin, North Carolina in the Smoky Mountains?
How I saw the total eclipse of the sun on my birthday in Franklin, North Carolina.
By Terry Rader, Freelance Writer
We felt blessed to get away and devote a couple of days to experience a natural phenomenon that occurred on Monday, August 21, 2017.
Three of us traveled west across North Carolina from our homes in Greensboro and Kernersville to Franklin with Chaco, Sara Neal’s beloved Jack Russell terrier. At the cabin, on Goodview Trail (that’s right), we met our gracious hosts Pamela and Alan Steinbeck. They got us settled in and made us feel right at home. We took time to play behind the beautiful Dry Falls Waterfall and to visit Highlands, NC on the day prior to the eclipse. The friendly officer we saw at Dry Falls said that they were prepared for a gridlock. I shared a story of my friends who were texting me from Yellowstone Park. They were advised to stock up on cash as the ATMs could run dry and that Costco had already run out of bottled water. We laughed as I recounted the truck hauling two ATM machines that passed us on the way there.
Once back at our cabin, we settled in and had a great dinner of homemade meatloaf, turnip greens and potatoes on a second story deck with a full clear view of nothing except sky. I told my friend, Cindy Edwards, that she did a great job of finding the cabin. We felt like we were suspended between heaven and earth. We certainly believed we had just about the best view and we were planning to stay put.
The next morning, Cindy and I headed out for a walk along the winding hills amongst the trees. We spoke of how excited we were for being in the path of the eclipse. Cindy had asked me to choose my preferred location for my birthday. I chose Western North Carolina over Charleston, South Carolina. I was born in the mountains many years ago, raised in the city and am now ready to return to where my heart is most happy.
We arrived back at the Cabin to a bounty of buttery scrambled eggs and leftover greens. We prepared a beautiful table to express our gratitude to a mystery unfolding before us. We were outside, just as hundreds of thousands of other people were, to witness the sun and the moon coming together in a spectacular union.
Through safe and special lenses under a clear, cloudless sky, we gasped in unison as the moon kissed the sun on the cheek. As they began to merge, I felt that as humans, we were only getting a glimpse of the full spectrum of what was actually happening. Standing on the two-story deck below the direct path of what was to be the total eclipse of the sun, it was hot, almost white-hot. As each minute ticked by, the air changed while we studied this mystical merging. I felt about as small as I have ever felt, yet more aware. At my leg, a large bee was buzzing and a little blue lizard whisked past my toes. All of nature began to take note. As the moon began to crescent the sun, we saw the dappling shadows on the driveway below as earth’s canvas turned into sacred geometry, projecting perfect patterns. The scene around us became even more surreal.
As the moon moved in and the sun gave way, powerless, surrendering to her encroaching peace, her offer to rest, nature began cheering them on! We stood in awe as the temperatures plummeted ten degrees cooler and Sara exclaimed that it felt like it does just before a storm. I agreed in recognizing those positive ions turning the air cool and moist. That was intriguing to me since lightning is attracted to a high concentration of positive ions. It made me wonder just what sort of electrical energy was being dispersed.
We smiled as we heard the night sounds begin with the evening bird songs and cicada, all singing in harmony. One by one, the solar lights along the driveway blinked on and lit up in the middle of the day-less day. We blinked to refocus our vision as the crisp shadows of the trees and plants below us gave way to a black curtain of soft, lineless separation being drawn. Everything began to fuse and just as it all went pitch black, the dogs in the surrounding homes began to howl in an eerie unison. I could imagine them in my mind’s eye, kneeling, as if in downward dog yoga poses all over the hillside.
I stood in awe as the joy shifted to sadness deep in the core of my soul. It felt as if the dogs were pleading for the sun to return. In this deep darkness, Cindy exclaimed: “Look! What are those lights?” Down below us amongst the ferns and plants along the driveway, there were lights flickering, lights that were not reflected from anything. There were no streetlights and we had turned all of the cabin lights off. They were twinkling off and on in various patterns and shapes, unlike fireflies. Someone said they thought it must be the fairies. Of course, we may never know for certain, but we did all agree that it was magnificently magical to behold.
With smiles on our faces, wonder in our eyes, and childlike hearts, we experienced a mysterious dance of nature in the darkness that blanketed our deck and everything around us. I literally felt my body shift and sway as some sort of electromagnetic wave rushed through me from head to toe. For just a moment, I felt as if I were disconnected from the earth and from my physical form and at the same time, fused into something huge. I felt joined with nature and all life around me. As I gazed up through my safety glasses and saw the total eclipse of the sun, I felt warm wet tears flow down my face. As the sadness began to wash over me, I felt the full absence of the sun and envisioned a dark planet in countless miles of galaxies – a barren disc with no water, no trees, no plants, no animals, no people and my heart felt like it was squeezed tight. I was barely breathing as I felt myself melt into the darkness and all that was black. At that instant, the crowd in the field on the other side of the trees began to cheer and yell a victory cry as if someone had scored the winning touchdown! Children were squealing and men were hooting and women were giggling and talking. We all laughed and for a moment we felt zero separation between each other and the world around us. For just a sliver of time, we were all as one. We were all focused on something breathtakingly beautiful and mesmerizing, fragile and powerful and the joy that emanated from each of us washed over me and through me in waves. As my mind remained blank, and my body motionless, I felt a sense of peace in my heart of feeling fully human and so grateful to be alive.
That is truly the best birthday present I have ever received and as the sun responded proudly to our encore, the moon gave way to the ring of solar fire. The show was a grand success and the crowds applauded her as she took a bow and gradually exited the stage for the sun to return front and center.
We giggled and laughed like children on a playground as we watched the crescent shadows dance upon the ground and the soft shadows return to crisp edges as each solar light along the driveway blinked off. I felt myself breathe a sigh of relief as the sun returned.
While the crowds drove away, we relaxed and stayed put for our last night on Goodview Trail. We had stopped and bought some firewood from a man who used to clean out smokestacks, quite an amazing storyteller and I am sorry I did not get his name. We lit up the cloudy night with a fire and shared our experiences of the eclipse.
The next morning, we packed up and headed into the town of Franklin in search of a newspaper with a photo of the eclipse. We walked inside an interesting store with super friendly folks that directed us to The Macon County News, just a couple doors down, where we could help ourselves to a free newspaper. We went inside and met the owner and editor, Betsey Gooder. She took time out of her busy schedules for a gracious visit and in connecting us to a photographer, Eric Haggart. He had taken some amazing photos with his telescope and was happy to share a digital one with us, trusting us not to spread it around as he planned to sell the images professionally. Talk about true Southern hospitality! I promised Betsey I would send her a story and she recommended Motor Co. Grill diner with a dog-friendly patio. What an amazing diner, with a fun black and white checkered floor, gumball machines as tall as me and other icons, we felt like we were on a Happy Days set. The staff was super-friendly and Chaco was given a bowl of fresh water while the three of us enjoyed tilapia, burgers and fries. We were happy to find a gluten-free menu as well.
Next time, we plan to allow time for a visit to Café Rel. Cindy has eaten there several times and raved about the food and how surprised she was to find a five star restaurant tucked in with a gas station. We left Franklin that day full of good food, appreciation of new friends and lifelong memories of the eclipse. We will absolutely be back.
Our friends at Backroad Planet recently made a trip to visit Franklin – read about their trip!