Cookeville, TN

Cookeville, Tennessee – Broad Street

Main Streets 2017: Tennessee

It’s surrounded by a paradise for outdoor lovers — the hills and mountains near Cookeville draw hikers, riders, mountain bikers, climbers, and even cave spelunkers from around the world. But Broad Street in Cookeville, a vibrant small city of 30,000 in central Tennessee, has its own attractions.

Take the arts. Cookeville has several galleries and studios you can visit, and East Broad Street is home to the Cookeville Performing Arts Center. Owned by the city, the 456-seat theater hosts Backstage at CPAC, its annual series of contemporary plays, plus plays and musicals on the Main Stage, the productions of the Cookeville Children’s Theatre, and an array of special events.

Just behind the arts center is the Dogwood Performance Pavilion. Canopied by Dogwood Park’s shade trees, the pavilion is home to the award-winning Shakespeare in the Park series, Third Thursday in the Park concerts, movies and concerts by the Bryan Symphony Orchestra.

Coordinated by community members and representatives of Cookeville’s Tennessee Technical University, the Bryan Symphony has its headquarters on Broad. It also performs classical and pop programs on the university campus and mounts concerts, classes and special learning activities for young people.

Next, museums. Broad Street has two: the Cookeville History Museum, whose exhibits spotlight the history of this community; and the Cookeville Depot Museum, in the heart of the city’s Historic WestSide district. Inside a 1909-built former railroad station, the Depot Museum houses artifacts of the Tennessee Central Railroad and a scale model of the town’s 1995-era WestSide. On display in the museum’s parklike grounds are a 1913 Baldwin steam engine, a 1920’s-era red caboose, and two train cars.

Then, there are the eateries. Cookeville has more than 100 restaurants, from a donut shop that’s been called the state’s finest to world-class restaurants. You’ll find that variety right on West Broad, where you can get barbecue, Japanese noodles and sushi, Mexican, New Orleans dishes, Southern comfort food — even gourmet cupcakes.

Even with so much great food, Cookeville calls itself one of America’s fittest cities, and it’s home to four-time “Fittest Man on Earth” Rich Froning. Several of its numerous fitness centers are right on Broad. So if you live here, you’ll be able to earn that barbecue, and relax later at that play or symphony.

It’s a good place to be.

All photos courtesy of Visit Cookeville

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Franklin, Tennessee – Main Street

Main Streets 2016: Tennessee

Franklin, Tennessee proclaims itself “America’s Favorite Main Street.” While other towns might also claim the title, Franklin has the awards to bolster its case: “Best Small Town in Tennessee,” “America’s Most Romantic Main Street,” “One of America’s Greatest Antique Destinations,” and a “Great American Main Street” honor from 1995, the first year that award was presented by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Any visit to Franklin starts with its beautifully preserved architecture and vintage brick sidewalks. The 16-block downtown district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features antique stores, boutiques, art galleries — even hardware stores. This is a collection of Victorian buildings that invite visitors and residents alike to linger and enjoy a meal, a festival or a stroll.

It’s a suburb of Nashville, yet Franklin, whose population has grown more than fivefold since 1980, more than holds its own as a place to live and do business. Local is the watchword on Main Street, which is populated by a variety of locally owned shops and businesses. This is where Franklin comes to gather and celebrate, where a culture of community prevails throughout the year.

Every fourth Friday finds townspeople coming out for Franklin Arts Scene. April brings the Main Street Festival, a two-day weekend of arts, crafts, kids’ events and food. And for more than 30 years of the community’s much-loved Dickens of a Christmas celebration, Main Street has been the place to go for sugar plums, roasted chestnuts and all manner of old English holiday fare.

This is also a place of historical significance. The Civil War’s Battle of Franklin, which left nearly 10,000 casualties here in November 1864, was a significant defeat for the South’s Army of Tennessee. The battle’s legacy is preserved locally by the Battle of Franklin Trust, which manages two local sites that witnessed the battle: the Carter House and Carnton Plantation. And in the downtown square, a marble statue of a Confederate soldier standing on a granite base commemorates Franklin’s namesake battle.

Main Street Festival photo courtesy of

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