11 Small New England Towns That Would Look Great In Hallmark Movies
Quaint Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.
by Eric Hurwitz. Article created on 12/15/16
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I am a sucker for those Hallmark movies that portray small
town life. How about you?
You know, those idyllic places where local shops, restaurants and
so inviting and people are friendly, welcoming, and always
willing to go the extra mile to help out others. Often in Hallmark
movies, the whole town enthusiastically
shows up at tree lighting
ceremonies, community dances, pie contests and other special events.
The towns are usually picture-perfect, but sometimes Hallmark Movies
center on a small town with just "good bones" -- that is, a community
cute look that has seen its better days. In these films, the people
never lose faith and that actually makes those locations quite
attractive and the movie even more rewarding to watch.
Hallmark movies are usually spot-on when portraying small town life --
often in the form of a Christmas movie -- but these premier
presentations debut year-round with other seasonal themes. No matter
what the conflict, strangers quickly become friends and the dialogues
often touching -- thus, reflecting a simpler time and place that many
of us long for in our faster-paced world.
Do these type of towns actually exist in our New England? Well, to some
yes. While a nation divided on issues has often sadly, impeded our
ability to get along, the chance to visit or even live in a small New
gives us enough reminders of the wholesome, old-fashioned ways of
yesteryear when life seemed a little more kinder and innocent -- and we
were more accepting of each other.
While no community is perfect, here are a few New England towns that
seem unified, friendly,
wonderfully historic, and with a good dose of small town
Downtown Concord, Massachusetts.
Concord, a beautiful semi-rural town west of Boston, features a quaint,
walkable downtown with lots of interesting local shops and restaurants,
and a book load of history. It is, after all, a major contributor to
birthplace of our nation as the Revolutonary War started here. Famous
writers like Thoreau, Emerson and Hawthorne also called Concord their
home -- the perfect, thoughtful, reflective community to write whatever
came to their brilliant
minds. Today, Concord does look like something out of a Hallmark movie
with all those downtown businesses showcasing colorful storefronts and
competing signage that brighten up the area. It is a wealthy
but you won't see many of those "rich antagonists" seen in the Hallmark
movies that have no use for the down-to-earth, working class man or
woman that could never be good enough for their spoiled offspring.
"hello," they mean it, and seem, for the most part, very welcoming.
The beauty of the area makes Concord special, too, incuding Walden Pond, the Old
North Bridge, Monument Square (you can read about this beautiful
town common in Massachusetts
Town Greens) and the historic, leafy Concord's Colonial Inn.
Keene, New Hampshire
Keene, New Hampshire.
Keene features one of the widest main streets in America, a wonderful
town common with gazebo, and a truly nice downtown that has a higher
number of local stores and restaurants than most other New England
towns. Maybe that's because Keene is technically a city, but one look
appealing downtown has "small town" written all over it. From Lindy's
Diner to the Colonial Theater, Keene looks like a larger version of
Mayberry RFD with its old-time vibe (interestingly, juxtaposed with
liberal Keene State College) and people out and about walking the
delightful central district streets at any time of the day.
Stonington Borough, Connecticut
Stonington Borough, Connecticut.Photo source Wikipedia:
Tucked away by the coast in Stonington, this quaint little neighborhood
has a classic New England seaside community vibe with a 17th and 18th
century feel every step of the way through the narrow, tree-lined
streets. Stonington Borough is actually the oldest borough in
Connecticut, chartered in 1801.
The quiet, untouched village-like
setting features wonderful Greek Revival, Federal and Colonial
architecture, a beautiful, picturesque harbor, interesting little
shops, majestic old churches, great "neighborhood" restaurants and a
solitude that makes you feel like your miles away from everything. Late
in the day, the streets are virtually empty which allows residents and
visitors to feel totally at peace. It's just you, the fresh ocean air
and a few birds chirping. If you have visited more commercial New
England communities and were disappointed by the commercialism and
crowds, then Stonington Borough is the perfect New England getaway for
Northeast Harbor, Maine
Northeast Harbor, Maine.
Located close to the spectacular Acadia National Park, Northeast Harbor
seems like a hidden community when compared to lively Bar Harbor.
That's a good thing for those looking to visit a more quiet place that
might have small-town, Hallmark movie written all over it that more any
other town we have visited in New England. The downtown -- located a
few minutes walk from the impossibly beautiful harbor -- features lots
of delights including the Docksider seafood shack for great Maine
lobster; the Colonel's Bakery for small town conversation and enough
burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, sweets and coffee to make
everyone happy; and the neighborhood Pine Street Market where everyone
seems to know each other in a setting that reminds one of the old-time
grocery store. I could walk the 200 yards or so of the downtown, back
and forth, all day! Everyone seems so humble, friendly and laid-back
here. And those water views remind me of a more modest version of
the appealing Cedar Cove (a
former Hallmark series) waterfront location. Northeast Harbor
offers the best of both worlds: a downtown with enough to do and an
isolated, still, scenic feel that forces one to relax.
Wickford Village, Rhode Island
Wickford Village harbor in Rhode Island.
Wickford Village is actually part of North Kingston, Rhode Island but
differs from the rest of the town with its well-defined central
district and a distinct sea captain's town-feel with picturesque
waterfront streets. No one I know in my New England town is all that
familiar with Wickford Village, which suggests it is an ideal hidden
New England community. The beautiful harbor views with boats and a
sense of serenity, the tree-lined streets with old homes from the 1700
and 1800s, stately churches, outdoor waterfront cafes (try the Beach
Rose for some delicious chowder and a lobster roll) and an unassuming
but wonderful mix of shops (remarkably, more than 50 owner-operated)
make Wickford Village a perfect place to spend a day or extended
vacation. Although Wickford Village's downtown is relatively small, the
shopping scene includes, clothing, books, jewelry, crafts, galleries,
gifts, as well as the Kayak Centre at 9 Phillips St. when in the mood
to navigate beautiful Wickford Village harbor. What's more, the
seasonal events are tremendous: the Christmas season when lights and
designs give Wickford Village the look of a cute, little toy village;
the Wickford Art Festival in July; and Daffodil Days in the spring.
Downtown Wicked Village, Rhode Island.
Downtown Montpelier, Vermont
. Photo By
GearedBull - Own work, CC BY 3.0,
Funny, Montpelier doesn't feel like a state capitol. Sure,
the state house dome and official-looking people walking around town.
On the other hand, Montpelier has small town appeal as the smallest
state capitol in the country with a population just under 8,000. It's a
great walking town situated in the mountains and with vitually every
small town delight you could ever want: book stores, ice cream places,
two independent movie theaters, a coffee shop, toy store, a farmers
market, a lively arts and culture scene, beautiful historic homes,
green spaces and
lots of community events. People love to stroll the downtown, and it's
easy to see why.
The Town Common in downtown Walpole, Massachusetts.
Walpole is known as "The Friendly Town," so that's a good
being included in this article. Incorporated in 1724, Walpole still
features many quaint downtown elements including a town common that
dates back to 1739 (including a beautiful stone bandstand and
a train station from 1883 and a former town hall building (now the
Walpole Police Station) dating back to 1881. The great thing about
Walpole is that within its quaint but bustling two blocks, you'll find
13 restaurants (eight of which are full service) and mom and pop stores
that sell gifts, collectibles, clothing, yarn, musical instruments,
quilts and refurbished furniture. There's also Betro's, an
independently-run pharmacy that has been around since the 1950s. The
number of community events is off the charts year-round and often
announced on a
large board at the town green. Right off Main Street in Common Street
with a lovely concentration of big, beautiful old historic homes with
front lawns. Clearly not a vacation community, this residential suburb
of Boston has held onto its quintessential New England feel, especially
in the downtown district. Outside of the center, though, you will find
some wonderful small town elements like the 350-acre Adams Farm
(perfect for a light hike), the
scenic Walpole Town Forest that hugs the Neposnet River, 89-acre Bird
Park with its rolling hills, stone bridges, ponds and paved walkways,
and Turner Pond that features supervised winter ice skating and a cozy
fireplaced lodge overlooking the pond. There, everyone gathers for hot
chocolate, coffee, snacks and sometimes dinners brought in to share by
Hanover, New Hampshire
Hanover, New Hampshire.
Bill Bryson, in his book, The Lost
Continent, wrote about Hanover as one of the best places to be
in the United States. Highly critical of many other United States
towns, Bryson felt differently about Hanover and became connected to
the unpretentious, genuine feel of the town. He, in fact, enjoyed
Hanover so much that he eventually moved there! It is easy to see why:
the downtown is quaint with an old-fashioned Main Street, a big town
common, and many mom and pop shops and restaurants with attractive
signage. Contiguous with leafy Dartmouth College (an Ivy League
college), the Hanover downtown district makes for a great walking town.
Within close proximity to the Green Mountains of Vermont and the
Sunapee and White Mountains regions of New Hampshire, Hanover might
just be the nicest town in the area! Hanover is a fabulous walking
town. It would be hard to find a better small-town downtown to stroll.
Also, the downtown features some nice, low-cost, welcoming small town
restaurants like Lou’s and Everything But Anchovies, as well as
interesting retail stores like the great Dartmouth Book Store.
Located far away in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom (pretty close to
Canada), Lyndonville is a pleasant little village in Lyndon that
doesn't have the sparkle and shine of other towns mentioned in this
post, but often comes across as friendlier and more close-knit.
While the downtown does have a decent amount of stores and a few
restaurants (try first, though, the great Lyndonville Diner, just
outside the central district), it's really the refreshing mountain air,
the honest, hard-working folk and the feeling of a simpler time and
place that helps make Lyndonville a town that would look great in a
Hallmark movie. Near skiing and hiking destinations and places to go
maple sugaring -- along with some of the most beautiful rural
countryside in all of New England -- Lyndonville is a little village
surrounded by the big mountains, which all adds up to a most inviting
place to visit, or even lay down some roots. The people aren't rich
here, but have a wealth of dignity and love for their neighbors and
hometown. You can see that walking the downtown.
Revitalized Montgomery Ward building now houses several thriving
Once nearly a ghost town 25 years ago, Putnam -- situated on the
Quinnebaug River -- has reinvented itself as an antiques and foodie
destination but not in an obnoxious and touristy way. No matter how
many visitors come here, Putnam will always seems like a small town at
heart. It's easily walkable and appealing: the Antiques Marketplace
features 20,000 sq. ft of antiques shopping with more than 100
independent dealers offering up to 300 spaces of virtually every
category of antiques. Jeremiah's Antiques & Shoppes (26 Front St.,
860) 963-2671) serves as another major antique shopping destination
with an impressive collection of antiques for all budgets. The
restaurant scene is quite remarkable for a town of this size, and
includes traditional and American fusion cuisines, as well as sushi,
Asian, Italian and deli-style, a brew pub and a few coffee houses. Many
buildings have been revitalied, including the former Montgomery Ward
store that now houses several mom and pop businesses.
"We are not your cookie cutter town," said Chris Coderre, business
coordinator for the Putnam Business Association. "We have kept the
quaint New England downtown vibe, but it isn't just vintage. We have
galleries, theater and many restaurants. Our motto is 'Vintage feel,
Shelburne Falls and Buckland, Massachusetts
Walking the Bridge of Flowers from Shelburne Falls into
All walks of life seem to peacefully co-exist in sleepy
and Buckland, located in Shelburne at the foothills of the Berkshire of
Western Massachusetts. While the small downtown in Shelburne Falls is
quite appealing with the Foxtown Diner and Baker Pharmacy (featuring an
ice cream and soda fountain), it
is two attractions that add a wonderful bonus to the appeal of this
historic area: The Bridge of Flowers and Glacial Potholes. The
one-of-a-kind Bridge of Flowers is a must-see New England travel
attraction as this former trolley bridge features 400 ft. of more than
500 varieties of flowers, shrubs and vines! The best times to see the
Bridge of Flowers: the spring when flowers bloom, summer when
everything seems to be in bloom, and in the fall when the surrounding
foliage lends an added depth to an already beautiful location.
The Bridge of Flowers continues to grow from donations and the work of
local volunteers, with colorful displays from approximately April to
October. Additionally, you’ll find many things to do on the other side
of the bridge in Buckland, including McCusker’s natural food coop, the
West End Pub with lunch, dinner and great water views, and Mo’s Fudge
Factors with great fudge and Bart’s homemade ice cream.
The Ancient Glacial Potholes Geological Wonder at the end of Deerfield
St., in Shelburne Falls, where, according to a local sign, potholes
were “ground out of granite during high water of the glacial age.
By whirlpool action of water and gyrating stones of varied sizes. Some
of the grinding millstones may still be seen in the smaller potholes.
Over 50 such exist in this confined area known in Indian Days as
“Salmon Falls.” These potholes vary in size from 6 inches to 39 feet in
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