Franklin, Tennessee / Fit for a Heroine

Things to do in Franklin, Tennessee / Travel Guide Fit for a Heroine
a heroine’s travel guide to Franklin, Tennessee / by Kathryn Marr

Nashville is a city of dreamers, a refuge for those wanting to break away from the norm and forge their own path. Tucked away just a few miles south of downtown Nashville is the idyllic, storybook town of Franklin. It’s a historic getaway, founded in 1799, and named after founding father, Benjamin Franklin. Whether you’re a connoisseur of local food, a history buff, a nature lover, or a small business supporter, you’ll love getting lost in the beauty of Franklin!

Things to do in Franklin, Tennessee / Travel Guide Fit for a Heroine

Grab a latte and bagel sandwich at Frothy Monkey

Frothy Monkey, a favorite among locals, is the perfect place to start your day! Try their iconic white monkey mocha – a blend of white chocolate, banana, espresso, and milk that you can’t find anywhere else. And if you’d like a little something to eat, the Plain Jane is to die for. Get it on a freshly made everything bagel, and add locally produced Benton’s bacon for a gourmet kick. Make sure to keep an eye out for celebrities! Country music stars like Keith Urban are known to stop in frequently.

Take a Tour of The Carter House & Carnton Plantation

Be transported back to the last great battle of the Civil War – the Battle of Franklin! In 1864, the Federal army defeated the Confederates in what was considered the bloodiest battle in the Civil War. The plantation was frequented since by the likes of Andrew Jackson, and others who forged the future of America.

On your tour, you’ll explore the grounds and outbuildings of the historic site. Or, you can purchase specialty tours to learn even more about the interior of the homes, or the battlefields.

Things to do in Franklin, Tennessee / Travel Guide Fit for a Heroine

Grab Big Shake’s Hot Chicken and Fish to go and picnic at Pinkerton Park

Nashville hot chicken is a must, and the local hole-in-the-wall, Big Shake’s, is the best place to find it! The 3 jumbo tenders plate with coleslaw and French fries will make for an excellent picnic to take out to Pinkerton Park. Sprawl out on the grass, or enjoy your food at one of the covered picnic tables. Then, burn off some calories by hiking across the Harpeth River, and up to Fort Granger, a historical Civil War site.

Go shopping in downtown Franklin.

Little downtown Franklin will remind you of Once Upon a Time’s Storybrooke! Spend some time wandering down the streets and popping into all of the businesses.  You’ll find charming local décor and clothing, gardening tools, and handcrafted stationary. Definitely a must see in the little town!

Things to do in Franklin, Tennessee / Travel Guide Fit for a Heroine

Get your hands dirty at Noble Springs Dairy.

Feel like an 1800’s farmer at this local goat and dairy farm. Learn about the farm animals, tour the facilities, and get a hands-on view of cheese making. Then, you’ll have the opportunity to sample and purchase their artisanal cheeses, soaps, fudge, and yogurt.

Get dinner at Cork & Cow.

Start with their delicious butternut squash fritters (served with Parmesan, and a Garlic-sage Yogurt!), then move onto any of their top-cut wood grilled steaks. The locally-brewed Yazoo Gerst Ale is a great compliment to the steak, and if you’re feeling fancy, their crème brulee is to die for!

Things to do in Franklin, Tennessee / Travel Guide Fit for a Heroine

End the night with a movie at the historic Franklin Theatre.

You’ll be charmed and romanced by this restored theater from 1937. With all the benefits of modern technology, and the unmistakable memories of 1930’s moviegoers, it’s the perfect way to end a day in Franklin. If you didn’t partake in dessert after dinner (or if you have a sweet tooth!) delight in the local chocolates from the Showtime chocolate bar, right in the theater.

So have fun traveling back in time to the Civil War, or pretending you’re lost in a fairytale while wandering the streets of downtown Franklin. I promise that you’ll find the perfect getaway from everyday life! Happy wandering!

Things to do in Franklin, Tennessee / Travel Guide Fit for a HeroineKathryn Marr is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Blue Ivory Creative, a digital marketing company based out of Nashville, TN. A graphic and web designer, as well as social media manager, she brings a passion for entrepreneurship and creativity to the table. Kathryn loves helping people pursue their dreams and be successful doing what they love to do.

Is your hometown the perfect fit for a heroine? I’m always looking for fabulous locals to contribute to this Fit for a Heroine travel guide series. If you’re interested in writing for Heroine Training, read the guidelines and get in touch.

Columbus, Ohio / Fit for a Heroine

Columbus, Ohio / Fit for a Heroine

a heroine’s travel guide to Beijing, China’s Dongcheng District/ by Nikki Dee

Welcome to Columbus, Ohio, the state’s capital and self-described “heart of it all”. The state of Ohio even looks a bit like a heart, and if you could balance the state on its center, that center spot would be the city of Columbus! This city is the home of a few real-life heroines, including Olympic gold-medalist Simone Biles, blues singer Nancy Wilson, and artist Aminah Robinson.

I moved to Columbus about a year ago, and in the time that I’ve lived here, I’ve grown to attached to a few favorite spots around the city. This tour will give you a diverse and magical look at a few different neighborhoods and some of the best experiences that Columbus has to offer.

Columbus, Ohio / Fit for a Heroine

Buckeye Donuts

We begin our tour on campus of THE Ohio State University, otherwise known as OSU, one of the largest and most well-known universities in the country. Students flock to OSU from all over the world, and the city wouldn’t be the same without it. Right across from the OSU School of Social Work sits a true staple of the city: the 24 hour diner-style donut shop, Buckeye Donuts. It’s been in business since 1969. Here, you can feast upon 32 different types of fresh-baked donuts and coffee, bagel sandwiches, hot tea, and even gyros. Buckeye Donuts is also a great place to people-watch, and you can check out all the flyers posted near the door to find a concert or art show to attend.

Columbus, Ohio / Fit for a Heroine

Park of Roses

Next we head to the Whetstone Park of Roses, located in the laid-back, somewhat bohemian neighborhood of Clintonville. A walk through the13-acre garden park with over 11,000 rose bushes will make you feel like you are in a fairy tale! This was one of the first places I visited in Columbus, and it made me begin to fall in love with the city.

Columbus, Ohio / Fit for a Heroine

Short North Arts District

Our next stop is the Short North Arts District, which has developed into a trendy little strip along High Street with some great restaurants, local shops, and street art. Be sure to check out this twist on “American Gothic” by artists Mike Altman and Steve Galgas, which is painted on the side of a historic building on the corner of High Street. Other notable stops are Rocket Fizz Candy & Soda Shop, local clothing and gift shop Tigertree, Flower Child Vintage, and Grandview Mercantile Company, which is a giant antique store loaded with beautiful treasures from the past.

Columbus, Ohio / Fit for a Heroine

Northstar

While you’re in the Short North, be sure to stop for a bite at Northstar Cafe. Northstar is a local favorite with delicious and good-for-you locally grown food that is always served with a smile. My favorites are the Village Salad and the Sweet Basil Burrito. You’ll feel three times healthier after all those breakfast donuts. Sit outside on the patio and watch the dogs and little birds go by.

The Book Loft

After a walk through the arts district, head downtown towards the German Village, a neighborhood named for its German immigrants in the 1800s. It has been part of Columbus since 1840 on the South End of the City and features original brick roads and beautiful architecture. The neighborhood offers guided tours, which I definitely recommend, but my favorite feature is the Book Loft, a new and used bookstore located in an old-fashioned house, filled with 32 rooms of books! It’s like a labyrinth of pages, and there is a garden outside the entrance where you can read your new novels. They have everything from historical nonfiction, to fantasy, and even comic books for my fellow geeky heroines. Knowledge is power!

Columbus, Ohio / Fit for a Heroine

Columbus Idea Foundry

Columbus is a really artistic and crafty place. The Columbus Idea Foundry, located in Franklinton, is a giant space dedicated to makers. Set in an old warehouse filled with power tools and artist studios, you can sign up for classes in subjects such as Jewelry Making, Leather Working, and even “Women’s Blacksmithing”! Or you can take an open tour, usually available twice a week. And right down the block, you can check out 400 West Rich, an art space with hundreds of artist studios and its very own gallery.

Curio at Harvest

We end our night at Curio cocktail bar. Despite being featured on many lists of great cocktail bars, this tiny space nestled next to Harvest Pizza in German Village remains quiet and relaxing. Choose from the fun menu of drinks, or ask the bartender to make you something special. Take a stroll through German Village at night, and you might even pass some musicians performing on the street.

Columbus, Ohio / Fit for a HeroineNikki Dee  is an ethical fashion designer from New York who currently lives in Columbus, Ohio. When she’s not sewing and designing, she likes to read comic books, ponder over Tarot cards, and hang out with her cat, Bombay.

> Xandra recommends: Ethical Style: Inspired by Leos and Gryffindors

Is your hometown the perfect fit for a heroine? I’m always looking for fabulous locals to contribute to this Fit for a Heroine travel guide series. If you’re interested in writing for Heroine Training, read the guidelines and get in touch.

Beijing, China’s Dongcheng District / Fit for a Heroine

Beijing, China's Dongcheng District / Fit for a Heroine

a heroine’s travel guide to Beijing, China’s Dongcheng District/ by Kassy Lee

Ah, Beijing, a city filled with old world charm, modern architecture, and taxi drivers spitting out the window as they drive you around. No matter how you slice it, living in Beijing is a constant adventure. Beijing is a city of contrasts and unexpected beauty that sparks visitors to take photographs and endlessly journal about the peculiar feeling of visiting a city at the crossroads of ancient splendor (the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven) and post-apocalyptic disaster (the terrible air pollution).

Beijing isn’t the city for the petticoated, Victorian heroine or blushing storybook lass. Although you can find moments of Western luxury like a moody maven in a Wong Kar Wai movie, Beijing is more of a place to feel uncomfortable with the devastation, the contradictions, and the resiliency of recent Chinese history.

I’ve taken many the overcrowded subway while reading books such as Big Breasts and Wide Hips by Mo Yan or Chronicle of a Blood Merchant by Yu Hua that give a peek into the tumultuous last century in Chinese history. Contemporary Chinese novels like these show women and families overcoming extreme hardship at the hands of history.

Much of the work is darkly sardonic. Perhaps we laugh at history to keep from crying. As for the modern Western heroine, Beijing is a place to contemplate and observe. There’s an incomprehensible magic in the air that’s only available to those that truly open their eyes to all that this vexing city has to offer.

This tour takes you through Beijing’s large inner Eastern district, Dongcheng, where you can sample this city’s different adventures.

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Say morning Prayer at Yonghegong Lama Temple

Yonghegong Lama Temple opens at 9 am on most days of the week, and it’s a perfect place to meditate along with local Chinese people and burn some offerings of incense to the Buddha. This ornate Tibetan Buddhist temple complex was built in 1694  and is full of rich history. I love to walk here on a brisk fall day as the leaves turn their brightest shade of golden yellow. It’s a great place to connect with the ancient culture of China that’s existed for centuries.

Beijing, China's Dongcheng District / Fit for a Heroine

Brunch at a 24 Hour Dim-Sum Restaurant

On a less spiritual note, right across the Second Ring Road from Yonghegong Lama Temple is the best freaking Dim Sum place in the world! Hyperbole aside, this place is so damn tasty. I’ve spent many a late night birthday party at this place – I’m talking like 1 in the morning, but you’re a civilized heroine, so you can go during brunch hours which is more traditional anyway. Cultivate your inner gourmet and sample dishes you may have never tried before. 

Cruise in a Duck Boat and Drink Plum Wine at HouHai

Alright, this is super cliché, but you’ll feel like a Qing Dynasty Empress: ride a rickshaw to HouHai, buy some plum wine, and ride in a boat shaped like a rubber ducky. HouHai is a beautiful-ish man-made lake near the center of Beijing, and riding a boat across it feels both strange and exhilarating.

Nearly all year, old Chinese men in speedos swim in the water, but I wouldn’t advise joining them unless you’re looking for new best friends and you want those best friends to be old Chinese men with Beijing accents. This lake has bridges that remind you of romantic, traditional Chinese architecture. Drink sweet plum wine as you cruise around and take in the sights.    

Beijing, China's Dongcheng District / Fit for a Heroine

Sunset Over the Forbidden City

If you do nothing else on this list, do this: hike to the top of Jingshan Park and watch the sunset over the Forbidden City. The ancient home to Ming Dynasty emperors, the Forbidden City is an iconic Beijing landmark. Skip the crowds walking around it, and watch from above as the sunset brings out the vibrant reds and yellows of the architecture. This view is full of romance, and on a clear day you can see all the way to the mountains on the outskirts of the city.   

Sip some Baijiu Infused with Dead Snakes

Time to drink! Walk through the hutongs alleyways flanked by traditional courtyard apartments to a small bar called Capital Spirits. Here you will find the traditional Chinese grain alcohol, Baijiu. It has a strong flavor, so get it mixed with something fruity. If you’re feeling extra brave, try baijiu infused with snakes. That’s right, there’s a batch of Baijiu always brewing with dead snakes. Supposedly, the snake-infusion helps strengthen your virility. All I know is that it’s pretty weird and uniquely Beijing.

Beijing, China's Dongcheng District / Fit for a Heroine

Wander around Gulou and Grab a Jianbing

The final step in your whirlwind tour is to wander around the hip Gulou area. Gulou is home to hipsters, artists, and hidden gems. Skip the overcrowded Nanluoguxiang Alley, and venture through the less crowded BaoChao and Beiluoguxiang Alleys. Here you sip in the sights of the traditional hutong neighborhoods: a mix of Chinese families and younger expats. Step into a bar or gallery for a taste of the cutting edge of young expat culture. Once you’ve finished wandering around, you can stop a jianbing food cart to try out these traditional, savory Chinese crepes. Order yours spicy and eat it on the go as you walk back to your AirBnB.

Beijing has a little bit of everything for the discerning heroine and a lot to experience for adventurous young women. The Dongcheng District is a great place to sample all that this simultaneously ancient and modern city has to offer.

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Beijing, China's Dongcheng District / Fit for a HeroineKassy is a poet currently living in Beijing. If you want to hear more from her including travel stories, personal growth, and poetry join her newsletter.

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Is your hometown the perfect fit for a heroine? I’m always looking for fabulous locals to contribute to this Fit for a Heroine travel guide series. If you’re interested in writing for Heroine Training, read the guidelines and get in touch.