10 Coolest Small Towns, N.H.

By Melinda Page
August 6, 2007
courtesy Pamela Gleeson
A little bit hip and a little bit homey, these up-and-coming towns guarantee a fun detour on your next road trip. You'll be browsing the local real estate pages before you know it.

Peterborough, N.H.
Population: 5,883
Nearest City: Boston, 73 miles
Not too many small towns are home to two theater groups, or, for that matter, The MacDowell Colony, the country's oldest artists retreat. "There's a cool blend of artists and regular folks here, but there's no attitude," says Dave Chicane, a chef late of Cambridge, Mass., and now at Peterborough's Pearl Restaurant & Oyster Bar (1 Jaffrey Rd., 603/924-5225, scallops $18). In 2003, Dave Szehi saw the community spirit firsthand when neighbors helped him renovate and expand Harlow's Pub (3 School St., 603/924-6365, harlowspub.com). Nearby, gourmet market Twelve Pine, inside a refurbished railroad warehouse, makes its own gelato (11 School St., 603/924-6140, twelvepine.com). In the summer, there are music jams in the park, pickup dodgeball games, and movies that kids can watch while floating in the community pool. Outdoors lovers know Peterborough because Eastern Mountain Sports is headquartered here, and accordingly, every other car has a kayak on top. EMS's flagship store is at 1 Vose Farm Road. (603/924-7231, ems.com).

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10 Coolest Small Towns, Mo.

Parkville, Mo. Population: 4,059 Nearest City: Kansas City, Mo., 10 miles As Jennifer Stanton is telling how she ditched her corporate job in 2003 to open Wines by Jennifer in a circa-1903 house, the Park University clock tower chimes: "That's my mantra to remind me to slow down and enjoy life," she says (405 Main St., 816/505-9463, winesbyjennifer.com). On Wednesday's Diva Night at Jeff and Lynn Anderson's River Rock Reserve, ladies enjoy fun stuff like free neck massages with their River Bottom cocktails; by day, the space reverts to a café (6325 Lewis St., 816/505-3663, riverrockcoffee.com). "We're just 10 minutes from downtown Kansas City," says Jeff, "but I feel like any minute someone's going to ask me to help with a barn raising." Didier Combe, the proprietor of Café des Amis, thinks Parkville is like a village in his native France: "After the last dinner is served, we often sit on the deck with friends and guests" (112½ Main St., 816/587-6767, cafedesamiskc.com, rack of lamb $26). Over at The Power Plant Restaurant and Brewery, Angelo Gangai gives his beers historical monikers like Southbound Nut Brown, named after the trains that roll past (2 Main St., 816/746-5051, powerplantbrews.com). One caramely ale, Steamboat Stout, makes a dandy float when poured over vanilla gelato from The Sweet Guy (10 Main St., 816/505-2788, thesweetguy.com). At Bentley Guitar Studios, Mark Bentley has been teaching folks--and now their kids--guitar for nearly a decade (122 S. Main St., 816/746-9772, bentleyguitars.com). The Saturday jam sessions here have become so popular, they've taken over the sidewalk.