With the summer often comes beach vacations and trips to the lake. But for those who don’t have the luxury of a brief escape, Franklin on Foot is offering several options to spice up the warm months without ever crossing the county line.

The local tour company provides dozens of walking and mobile options throughout Historic Downtown Franklin, all which blend education and entertainment and cater to a wide range of interests. Owner Margie Thessin says the popularity of her tours skyrockets during July and August, a trend she attributes to both the longer days and the influx of tourists during the summer months.

“People are looking for ways to beat the boredom, especially when it’s warm and stays light outside longer. They want mini-vacations,” she said. “Over the summer we not only sees the tourist numbers jump, but we also see more locals looking for excursions in downtown Franklin.

“It’s fun to see the energy in and around Main Street during this time.”

Thessin says her most sought-after seasonal tours include the food and bike tour options, both of which offer a side of Williamson County participants can’t find elsewhere. Each may be tailored to groups’ needs, allowing participants to work around their individual schedules.

Though the Southern-style food tour is offered every third Saturday, the owner says she can take groups (up to 20 people) on other days if reservations are made in advance. The country-cookin’-and-Cajun-cuisine whirlwind of a tour explores staples at six restaurants in downtown Franklin, and Thessin gives the heritage behind each dish, as well as interesting tidbits from local history.

“I bring photos of old Franklin, and people love seeing how the town has changed – and how it hasn’t,” Thessin said. “Main Street 100 years ago looks remarkably similar to today.”

Thessin says though she conceived the offering for tourists, it’s the locals who have really taken advantage. Because of the growing popularity, she has plans to implement a second food tour – one that will cater specifically to nearby residents.

The owner says she hopes to capitalize on the growing food scene in downtown Franklin, and establish an alternative culinary tour that showcases the newer eateries in the historic district.

“Visitors used to always ask me what my restaurant recommendations were in Franklin. Finally, I had the bright idea to just take them to those places myself,” she said. “The out-of-towners really enjoy the food tour, but it’s the locals who get a kick out of it. It often opens their eyes to a part of Franklin they haven’t seen before.

“The new food tour option we’re planning will be designed for locals specifically, with the term ‘staycation’ in mind!”

Franklin on Foot also provides small, guide-led bike groups throughout downtown Franklin, offering a unique glimpse of the rich heritage of Williamson County. Thessin begins the mobile option from the historic Handy Hardware shop on Columbia Avenue, and attendees choose from a Civil War and a Scenic Franklin tour. The outings allow participants to spend hours exploring both sides of the coin.

“I think the best part about these particular tours is that you don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy learning something new about Franklin,” Thessin says. “Most of the stories and experiences we are relaying aren’t run-of-the-mill knowledge. They’re really a form of entertainment that happens to educate you, too.”

Thessin said the Haunted Franklin tour, which begins each night at 8 p.m., remains the most popular tour throughout the year. The Classic Franklin and Civil War walking tours are also available, and offer a look into Franklin’s past and an introduction to some of its most important historical figures.

Franklin on Foot operates tours seven days a week. For more information on the different options and pricing, go to www.franklinonfoot.com. To book a tour, call Thessin at 615-400-3808.