I arrived in Nashville Friday night and my friend picked me up and took me to her apartment in Smyrna. Smyrna, is well, not the coolest place around. Apparently, 20 years ago there was nothing here; now it is a suburban sprawl of chain restaurants, big stores, and non-descript apartment complexes. Not my favorite landscape! However, we ended up having a great weekend and saw some really pretty parts of Tennessee.
Saturday morning we decided to check out Franklin, a small town south of Smyrna. The guidebook calls it one of the prettiest little towns in the South, and they were right. It has lots and lots of beautiful old houses, the oldest one we saw was built in 1810. The town has luckily been able to resist “development” and suburban sprawl and is a real gem. We parked by the railroad depot and enjoyed a walk along the river and the recreational grounds/civil war battle field before walking towards town. We took lots of pictures of beautiful houses and my friend enjoyed immensely to be walking around; Smyrna does not lend itself to peaceful strolls.
(The signage through town, however, leaves a little to be desired – we kept getting on the wrong way and it felt like drove through town about ten times!)
After trawling the streets that surround the town center, we had lunch at NN Grocery and Restaurant. I rarely eat hamburgers but I ordered a bacon cheeseburger and it was yummy! It was also the perfect size, not too big.
We checked out the pleasant Main Street before heading back to the car. We wanted to see the Carter House, a farm house that was damaged during the Battle of Franklin in 1864. The farm houses, along with the kitchen house, the office, and a couple of other buildings, are left intact and serve as a museum. Unfortunately, there is little open land around the farm, which makes it a little hard to imagine what it was like back then. But we enjoyed the tour and especially appreciated the fact that even though we arrived after the last tour had started, the guide spent time with us afterwards so that we could see everything and learn the story of the Carter family. There are hundreds of bullet holes in the buildings and while the Carter House serves as a monument to the Civil War, it also gives a good picture of what life on a smaller (non-plantation) farm was like.
According to Moon Handbook, another highly recommended stop in this part of Tennessee (the Heartland), is a tiny village called Leiper’s Fork. We decided to give it a try – and this is where our problems with the signs started. I am too embarrassed to say how long it took us to get to this little place, but suffice to say, it took a loooong time. (Oh, what the heck: first we tried to find 246, which would take us to 46, which goes through Leiper’s Fork. After riding around Franklin for a while with no success, we decided that 31 looked like a good bet. By the time we got to Hartford, we realized it was probably wrong – and yes, it was. So we went all the way back to Franklin trying to find 96. Then we got on 96 – but the wrong way… So back to Franklin we went! We finally got on 96 West, and miraculously found 46, which did take us to Leiper’s Fork. Turns out, it is TINY. Like a few houses on each side of a road (the miraculous 46.) Some antique stores. One or two eating establishments. Yes, cute, but not worth all that driving!
(We later found out that much of Leiper’s Fork’s charm lays in the concerts and events that take place during the summer, the friendliness of the people, and the beautiful surroundings, which will stay beautiful – much of the land is in land trust, which prohibits development.)
After this we drove to Nashville and had dinner in Hillsboro Village, the hip and/or yuppie part of the city. We ate at Bosco’s – great pasta, not so great pizza. After dinner we headed downtown to check out Second Avenue but didn’t end up going in anywhere (I know, embarrassing!) We were just too tired from our adventurous day! I happily climbed in to my bed of sofa cushions and crashed shortly after 11pm.