Just 30 miles south of Nashville is where you’ll find the village of Leiper’s Fork. Tucked gracefully alongside the Natchez Trace Parkway, this historic village captivates with a creative spirit all its own. Spend an afternoon, or better yet a full weekend, soaking up the bucolic countryside and all the charm this southern gem has to offer.
When the sun comes up, The Country Boy is where you’ll find locals catching up with friends across the room before settling down to piping hot coffee served in sturdy ceramic mugs, made-from-scratch biscuits, and other hearty fare. The restaurant opened its doors in 1968, and has been an integral part of life village life ever since.
Across the street, Puckett’s of Leiper’s Fork—another longtime staple in the community with roots stretching back to the 50s—serves up classic southern fare from breakfast to dinner. But what attracts folks even more than the stacks of pancakes, home-style meat-and-threes, and smoked meats is the live music played nightly. Whether you grab a seat at the bar or snuggle up around a fire pit out front, you never know who might find their way to the stage in this musician-filled hamlet.
If you’re already familiar with gas stations in the South that serve delicious food, or just want to get acquainted with the concept, make your way down to Leiper’s Fork Market. Fill-up your car, walk the wide-plank wood floors and shop for staples from shelves, then sit down at the lunch counter for a local beer from Mill Creek Brewing Co. along with a stacked club or burger hot off the grill. On your way out, swing by The RedByrd Coffee Shop. This tiny home on wheels pulls classic cappuccinos or more decadent drinks, a la a rose cardamom latte, that you can sip at one of the picnic benches in the field behind the market while the kids stretch their legs on the swings.
As night falls, 1892 Restaurant is where you’ll want to be. The historic house-turned restaurant feels steeped in time with its mismatched antique tables and spindle chairs, but the menu is anything but. Bag up your best bottle of wine (beer and mixers are available in the cooler) and settle in for a cozy evening with inspired fare that runs that gamut from a filet served with Brussels sprouts and topped with a sunny egg to spicy, ricotta-stuffed spaghetti squash, with plenty of other delicious dishes in between.
The main drag along Old Hillsboro Road is lined on both sides with an eclectic collection of shops and galleries. Make a day meandering along the sidewalk, tucking in and out of stores, each infused with the owners’ own personality and style. Record collectors will want to visit Finds in the Fork to peruse owner Karen Whitford’s carefully cultivated selection of vinyl, along with an assortment of instruments, clothing, jewelry, and accessories, all inspired by her love of rock and roll. Time it right, and you might catch an impromptu jam in the picking corner, too.
At Props Antiques, stop in to chat with pickers/owners Klint and Cindy Griffin; the couple moved to Leiper’s Fork 2014 and haven’t looked back since. They travel the country pickin’ treasures that range from primitive benches to architectural salvage pieces to vintage signs (and so much more). They also have an impressive collection of locally made goods and plenty of sweet treats and toys to satisfy the youngest shoppers. It’s easy to get lost in the welcoming space, where every piece has a story to tell and you’re quite likely to find the owners ready and willing to share it.
Whether your a painter yourself or just appreciate a fine piece of art, David Arms Gallery is sure to inspire either way. The gallery offers more than just a representation of Arms’ celebrated, symbol-infused acrylic paintings. Softly played classical music fills the 900-square foot restored barn, with spectacular views overlooking the valley beyond. Lifestyle pieces of Arms’ own design punctuate the room, creating a serene setting that feels straight out of a rustic village fairy tale.
If all that shopping leaves you tuckered out, The Spa at Leiper’s Fork will have you feeling refreshed in no time. Tailored treatments are enhanced by the spa’s own line of products created exclusively for guests, using a combination of cosmeceutical ingredients and innovative alchemy (Think: bourbon lavender sleep soak and cornflower rose hand salve.)
There are no hotels in Leiper’s Fork, which is actually a really great thing because it lets you live like a local. Critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Holly Williams (daughter of country legend Hank Williams Jr.) rents out an incredibly chic, restored 1892 cottage, Sweeney Cottage, within walking distance of all the action (including the third outpost of her swoon-worthy general store, White’s Mercantile, which has garnered praise from Travel and Leisure, goop, and Southern Living among many others). The tin-roofed beauty houses guests in understated luxury, keeping comfort and livability top of mind. Case in point: Two Gibson guitars are inside awaiting your musical touch, a Harry Barker bed is laid out for your pup, a deep claw tub welcomes you to sit and soak awhile, and a fire pit out back just beckons for a night beneath the stars toasting up s’mores. Or check out Pot N’ Kettle Cottages, where owners Eric and Samantha Coghlan have hand-selected every item in all four of their lovingly restored properties. Whether you choose the one-bedroom Coda Cottage, less than a mile from the village, The Leiper’s Fork Inn, comprised of 2, 100-year old historic homes that were restored and joined to create a stunning 3-acre property that sleeps up to 10, or something in between, rest assured you’ll have all the comforts of home and a unique vantage point for taking in this sweet Tennessee town in all its splendor.
Don’t miss the “Almost World Famous Christmas Parade,” Saturday, December 14 at 2 p.m. Thousands of people come out annually for this festive, quirky parade that goes from Southall Road through the heart of the village on Old Hillsboro Road. With floats, tractors, antique cars, pets, pigs and more—it’s a holiday tradition like no other, in high Leiper’s Fork style.