Experience the beauty of fall in the mountains in Franklin, North Carolina

Watching the colorful leaves unfold in the mountains here is an experience like no other


Autumn is, arguably, the most-beautiful time of year, and few towns do the season justice like Franklin, North Carolina. Watching the colorful leaves unfold in the their mountains is an experience like no other. Plus, there’s much more about fall in Franklin that makes a getaway special.

Go gem mining in the capital

Grab an old set of clothes and get ready to dig when you visit gem mines in the Franklin area. Native rubies and sapphires have been mined for years in the historic Cowee Valley, earning Franklin the title of “Gem Capital of the World.” Watch the hills change color while you run your hands through the roots of the mountains at any of the ten local mines. You’ll learn about the process and its history while you comb through the earth for buried treasure—if you’re lucky, you might find a rare star ruby or sapphire. Most mines also have a gem specialist on hand to set your gems into one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry.

Gem mining

Photograph courtesy of Franklin, NC Tourism Development Authority

Witness the majesty of waterfalls

Sometimes you just want a breathtaking waterfall experience without the breathtakingly-long hike to get to it, and Dry Falls delivers just that. Park your car right off of Gorge Road, find yourself at the bottom of the winding steps, and feel the spray of the waterfall within a couple minutes. Plus, if you’re feeling particularly brave, you can peer over the guard rails to the creek far below (be careful), or follow the gravel walkway to stand behind the roaring falls themselves. A perfect spot for a romantic getaway, family outing, or leaf-looking, Dry Falls is sure to stick out in your mountain memories. And if the mood strikes you, check out more waterfalls nearby.

Dry Falls

Photograph courtesy of Franklin, NC Tourism Development Authority

Look out over the mountains

The stunning panoramic mountain views from Wayah Bald Lookout Tower are just the thing for any group, whether you’re looking for a short walk or a winding afternoon in the woods. Park near the summit and leg it the rest of the way, or join ranks with hikers from the Appalachian and Bartram trails. Both famous trails pass by the tower, making it a great place to soak up the view of the valley below with people from all walks of life.

Wayah Bald

Photograph courtesy of Franklin, NC Tourism Development Authority

Take a tour with friendly ghosts

Franklin is a lovely place, but watch out: there’s more out there than meets the eye in this sleepy little town. The Where Shadows Walk tour company has been providing spine-tingling tours for years with tour guides who are experts on the area and have plenty of stories to keep you glancing over your shoulder once the sun goes down. From family-friendly tours for the little ones to adult-only tours for the particularly brave, Franklin’s ghost tours are sure to haunt you for years to come.

Ghost tours

Photograph courtesy of Franklin, NC Tourism Development Authority

See the shows inside, too

Family entertainment is the key focus of the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts. Nurturing an appreciation of the arts is vital for any community, and this beautiful theater hosts shows from world-renowned artists and local talent alike. You’re invited to enjoy a good time and a warm welcome with the best live performances from across the county, the country, and beyond.

Performing arts

Photograph courtesy of Franklin, NC Tourism Development Authority

Toast to the season

There’s nothing like a cold craft beer to finish a day in the mountains, and Franklin takes pride in its two homegrown microbreweries. Lazy Hiker Brewing Company invites you to step off the busy street downtown, take a load off, kick your feet up by the fire pit under the stars, or settle inside the cozy taproom. Currahee Brewing Company boasts a sprawling patio and a stunning waterfront view of the Little Tennessee River. Both breweries are sure to help you settle into a relaxed, post-adventure evening with a tasty drink in hand.


Photograph courtesy of Franklin, NC Tourism Development Authority

Explore the historic downtown

The downtown area is the heart and soul of Franklin, and there’s something for everyone. Shop, try some local flavor at a restaurant, gear up for the outdoors, or meander around Main Street during one of the many events and festivals. Visit the gazebo for Pickin’ On the Square on Saturdays through mid-October to enjoy live country and bluegrass from bands in the area.

Downtown Franklin

Photograph courtesy of Franklin, NC Tourism Development Authority

Don’t miss PumpkinFest

Get ready to let the good times roll—literally—during Franklin’s 21st Annual PumpkinFest. This street festival and celebration of autumn is a mix of tradition, personal flair, and all things pumpkin, so mark your calendar for October 21. Bring your pumpkin or purchase one downtown, and sign up early for the World Famous Pumpkin Roll. Stick around for the costume parade and contest, and make sure you save room from all the fabulous food vendors for the Pumpkin Pie Eating Contest. There will be mountain arts, local crafts, and roving street performers all day.


Photograph courtesy of Franklin, NC Tourism Development Authority

Discover more of the fun things to do in Franklin, and plan your fall getaway today at DiscoverFranklinNC.com.

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