Who doesn’t love a freebie, especially in Western North Carolina, where Appalachian adventures abound? If you’re looking for fun things to do in our lovely valley that go easy on your wallet, check out these five attractions that are absolutely free!
Note: Some of these items are unavailable during COVID-19—however, we’re staying strong and are hopeful to bring it all back as soon as we can!
Pickin’ on the Square
Nothing says mountain life like an outdoor bluegrass open mic on a warm summer night, and that’s exactly what you’ll get with our Pickin’ on the Square nights on Saturdays from late May to mid-October. Held downtown at the gazebo on Main Street, this casual but lively event is sure to get your feet tapping. Bring a chair and takeout from one of our Main Street restaurants for a perfectly Franklin experience!
Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum
Franklin isn’t called the gem capital of the world for no reason, but don’t take our word for it! Head over to the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum for the fascinating story of how rubies and sapphires were first discovered in our valley—plus, learn how gem mining works, head out from there to try your hand at the mines yourself, or purchase a piece of Franklin treasure there at the museum itself.
Macon County Historical Society and Museum (Suggested Donations)
Franklin is the county seat of Macon County, and while you may assume it’s a small area given our cozy, small-town feel, Macon County takes up a sprawling 520 square miles and has an incredible history. For a taste of all the stories our beautiful county has to tell, stop in at the Macon County Historical Society and Museum downtown. Donations are suggested, but you’ll find the museum well worth any donation you make!
The Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center
If you want a true blast from the past, you absolutely must visit the Cowee School. This beautiful piece of Franklin history is now home to Appalachian arts, crafts, and lessons for all sorts of local traditions. Whether you want to learn contra dancing, hear a bagpiper up close, or browse the antique toy museum, you’ll have plenty to explore at the old school building.
Wherever you end up on your mountain adventures, we’re delighted to have you! Check out more information in our Explore section if you’re interested in lodging or more opportunities to see the Franklin side of life!