Nearest City: Hartford, 15 miles
Named for the family that owned the local ax factory, Collinsville is beginning to show a different sort of edge. "It's been attracting more and more young people," says Scott Juhl, a college student who works summers at the Collinsville Baking Co. (41 Bridge St., 860/693-4050). "They've staged an outdoor drumming circle on Main Street." The town is on the Farmington River, and Collinsville Canoe & Kayak is the largest specialty canoe and kayak store in New England (41 Bridge St., 860/693-6977, cckstore.com). A rail trail also runs through town, and the depot is now a pub, the Crown & Hammer, where acoustic musicians come by to play (3 Depot St., 860/693-9199, crownandhammer.com, burger $8.50). At LaSalle Market & Deli, after orders get written up, they're flown by zip line across the restaurant (104 Main St., 860/693-8010, lasallemarket.com). Meanwhile, even more development is under way in Collinsville: The old ax factory is now being converted into riverside apartments and commercial lofts.