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Collinsville: One of Connecticut’s Coolest Small Towns

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Collinsville CT: A Hip Town with an Old Vibe

One of CT’s Coolest Small Towns

A Bridge on the Farmington River Trail.In 2007, Collinsville, Connecticut, was voted one of the Top 10 Coolest Small Towns in America. It’s understandable if you didn’t know this, since this designation didn’t appear in National Geographic or The New York Times; it appeared in the September 2007 issue of Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine. However, this is not to say that Collinsville isn’t deserving of wider recognition, seeing as how it is, in fact, a pretty cool town.

Collinsville is actually part of the town of Canton—technically it’s a village. It’s located right on the Farmington River, and retains a lot of its historical character as a former center for The Collins Company Axe Factory, which used to manufacture various kinds of blades using a classic mill setup: water from the river turned turbines, which powered the machines in the old factory that is still standing today. The buildings, although not completely refurbished, have managed to not all fall into disrepair, and today hold various businesses, artists’ and dance studios, and residential apartments. Driving across the bridge into the center of town, you can see the waterfall that used to power the turbines, and if you walk down the Farmington River Trail, another bridge will lead you behind the old factory buildings with their broken windows and tiny network of stagnant canals. Very few places in Connecticut retain this old mill town feeling.

The Farmington River Trail is another part of what makes Collinsville unique. This 18-mile paved trail, intended for biking and walking, is part of a greenway which will eventually connect with other trails in Farmington and Simsbury to form a 26-mile loop. There are very few paved trails in Connecticut, and hardly any that run through towns. The Farmington River trail follows the path of the Farmington River, in some sections along the road, in others through forest, in others past houses, and goes right through the center of Collinsville.

The center of the town is a historic district, but still manages to be busy and to have actual things in it. That may sound like a weird complaint to make, but quite a few of the towns in Connecticut have centers that are either vastly sprawling and commercial or, more often, so tiny as to be almost nonexistent. Collinsville has luckily escaped this curse, and contains a variety of small businesses all concentrated within its downtown area. The Collinsville Canoe & Kayak Company sells and rents out boats and paddling equipment, and also gives lessons during the summer; the LaSalle Market & Deli has food as well as Open Mic Fridays; the Crown & Hammer Restaurant & Pub has a classic pub setting and live music; the Collinsville Baking Co. has, as you would expect, baked goods; there is a farmers market and various festivals throughout the year; and the new Art Deco-style venue Bridge Street, which features comedy acts and a lot of indie and folk music, is quickly becoming a big draw.

Collinsville: it may not be famous (or even well-known at all), but it remains a cool place.

Sarah Alender is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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