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Social distancing in the quiet countryside outside Franklin, Tennessee
By Tom Adkinson

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of travel stories spotlighting destinations and activities to consider in a time of coronavirus and to inspire safe outings elsewhere.)

Natchez Trace Parkway double arch bridge
Natchez Trace Parkway double arch bridge; image by Visit Franklin

FRANKLIN, Tennessee – While the historic, even quaint, main street of this small city south of Nashville usually is the big draw for visitors, it is the serenity of the surrounding countryside that is especially appealing during this year of close quarters and not much variety for so many Americans. It offers plenty of space for social distancing on slow-paced Sunday drives, even if it’s not Sunday.

williamson county horse farm
Williamson County horse farm; image by Tom Adkinson

Franklin (population of about 80,000) is the seat of Williamson County, a long-time rural retreat from the “big city” life of adjacent Nashville. How to handle growth is a constant topic in Williamson County, but rolling pastures, horse farms, little communities such as Leipers Fork and the scenic Harpeth River continue to provide the area’s bedrock appeal.

Even one of the county’s best-known attractions is low-key. That’s the northern terminus of the National Park Service’s Natchez Trace Parkway, a two-lane ribbon of backroad diversion that meanders 444 miles through Tennessee, Alabama and into Mississippi before ending in Natchez. Just 8.7 miles from the northern terminus is the oft-photographed Double Arch Bridge spanning Birdsong Hollow. Photographers are encouraged to find vantage points near road level and down in the hollow, where the entire 1,648-foot span is visible.

Trip Planning Resources: VisitFranklin, and TNVacation

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s new book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available at

Published November 27, 2020

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