For decades, Franklin has been known as the “Gem capital of the World”, which has been a duly earned title, hosting numerous precious gem and mineral mines, fine jewelry stores, as well as a host of some of the best gem shows in the region each year. However, over the last few years, Franklin has started to map out new titles, honors and is quickly becoming one of the most popular spots in Western North Carolina to not only vacation, but to put down permanent stakes and raise a family. But if you’re looking for a place to spend a weekend, a week, or even longer, then you’re definitely going to want to keep reading.

REASON 5 – GEM MINING

Visitors come from all over to pan for precious gems

Visitors come from all over to pan for precious gems

As we mentioned in the opening, Franklin has been known as the Gem Capital of the World for decades. With numerous gem mines located throughout the area, you could fill an entire week visiting them and getting a taste of the fever of sifting and searching to find “the big one” in their buckets of mined soil. The Gem and Mineral Society is located in downtown, just down from Town Square, and is open to the public, where you can see of the history of gem mining in the area, as well as the many different precious minerals that come from our area. For a list of area gem mines, you can click this link here: Franklin Area Gem Mining

REASON 4 – MOUNTAIN HIGH BBQ & MUSIC FESTIVAL

Teams from all over the country come to compete for awards and cash prizes

Teams from all over the country come to compete for awards and cash prizes

For the last seven years, the second weekend in August has become known for the Mountain High BBQ Competition, Car Show, and Music Festival. Sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, teams from all over the country come to Franklin in hopes of earning the title of Grand Champion. During the two day competition, there is musical entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and plenty of vendors to keep you coming back for more. Along with all of that, there is also a Car Show/Competition that has grown each year into an amazing show of antique muscle, roasters, and cars from just about every generation. This year’s Mountain High BBQ Festival and Car Show is August Friday August 12th and Saturday August 13th. You can find more information here 8th Annual Mountain High BBQ Competition & Car Show.

REASON 3 – DINING AND ENTERTAINMENT

SMCFPA

The Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts is host to world class performances year round

Whether you’re a fan of Country Music, Contemporary Christian, Musicals or Drama, the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts is the jewel of Franklin and Western North Carolina, hosting some of the most popular and award winning performers and shows in the area. Along with the center, there has been a revival of the downtown dining and entertainment nightlife, with the openings of two highly anticipated businesses. The Lazy Hiker Brewing Company and The Bowery, a fine dining experience, have helped add to the already existing dining and entertainment hot spots that have brought a new energy to downtown Franklin. For a complete listing of where to eat, follow the link here Where To Eat.

REASON 2 – LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Franklin is in the center of it all

Franklin is in the center of it all

 

Centrally located between some of the biggest cities in the southeast, travel to Franklin from the cities of Atlanta, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Charlotte and Greenville can be accomplished in less than four hours, that being Charlotte at an estimated 3.5 hour drive. Ideally, a flight to any larger city would rate better on a fare, but for a closer landing spot, Asheville is becoming a very active hub and the airport there is closest at just under an hour and a half. Once you’ve arrived, you’re within an hours drive to many of the Southeasts finest and most sought after trips. Head north and slightly west and you’re entering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where you could spend weeks exploring the many pull offs, long range views, historic structures and natural habitat. You could also make a run north from there, and hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway and make your way up to the scenic Waterrock Knob parking area for a very unique opportunity to see the sun rise and set from the exact same spot, if you were to stay all day, you could literally see a full day of sun travel overhead and it set to the east behind you. Travel a little further north to Balsam Gap and disembark from The Blue Ridge Parkway, and return to Franklin via Hwy 74/23 through Sylva to Exit 81 for Atlanta, Franklin and Dillsboro. From there, its a short 15-20 minutes back to Franklin. I’ve created a link here, so you can map your destination at any time by clicking here: Google Maps.

NUMBER 1 REASON TO VISIT FRANKLIN….. OUTDOOR ADVENTURE

Kayaking the Cullasaja River Gorge

Kayaking the Cullasaja River Gorge

It’s always special to win awards for all the efforts that go into putting together a great mix of programs and opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, running, kayaking and other outdoor sports such as golf, fishing, bicycle riding, horse backing, and more. We are a Certified Appalachian Trail Community, providing shuttles to and from designated locations, as well as any support any of the many through hikers may need while in our area. The Appalachian Trail passes through Franklin in the western part of the county and also crosses the Bartram Trail at the Wayah Bald Lookout Tower. All the information you’ll need can be found at the link here: Hiking in Franklin. If you’re a waterfall aficionado, you have come to the right spot. The Franklin and surrounding areas have some of the most famous waterfalls in the region. As you’ll see below

Descending the natural erosion trails to the base of Cullasaja Falls 200' waterfall is no easy task

Descending the natural erosion trails to the base of the 200′ Cullasaja Falls is no easy task and if your not an experienced climber, please do not attempt!

Cullasaja Falls, Bust Your Butt Falls, Yellow Jacket Falls, Ranger Falls, Dry Falls and Bridal Veil Falls all along Highway 64 East out of Franklin, you’re bound to find a spot of your own along the Cullasaja River where you can catch the sounds of the birds chirping along with the “original rock music”, it’s a sound you wish you could bottle up and take home with you. The peace is calming and you feel like a kid again! For a complete list of Franklin area waterfalls, please click here: Franklin Area Waterfalls.

AND LASTLY – YOU! 

Without you, and your friends or family, we would still have our own reasons to be here, but one of the best reasons for you to visit Franklin, NC this year, is YOU! Come in, kick back and relax. Take in a round of Golf, while the ladies have a spa day at one of the many local spas. Take a peaceful walk down Main Street on a Saturday evening in the Summer – Fall and you’ll have the sounds of Pickin’ on the Square to serenade you. Bring a chair or just grab a seat on the side walk. It’s free and it’s for all. Make your way back to The Lazy Hiker for a pint of their finest brew or go in the other direction and maybe stop at the Bowery for a night cap.

Most of all, I hope this helps better illustrate why Franklin, NC was voted Top Small Town 2015 by voters of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine‘s Top Town Contest back in the Fall of 2015. We’re honored to have been awarded such a fantastic award and we hope you’ll come and see what Franklin and the area surrounding us all about!