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Please select an itemTOWN

Accelerated by a combination of road improvements, car culture, and an abundant supply of beautiful homesites, Avon’s resident population has swelled by 30% to reach more than 18,000 over the past two decades. It also has the Valley’s highest income level and highest average home-sale price.

The junction of Rte. 44 with Rtes. 10/202 at Avon Mountain’s base, serves as the town’s entryway, graced by the still perfectly intact former Avon Old Farms Inn (c.1757). It was once a stagecoach stop on the Albany Turnpike (Rt. 44), which reaches New York State after 106 miles. Recently, however, the Inn has been reborn as The North House, a top quality eatery. Across the pike, the Avon Old Farms Hotel offers top-notch accommodations, a sophisticated setting for events and an upscale restaurant.

Apple Health and Physicians for Women’s Health share a part of the same intersection with the hotel. Just south, The Reggio Arts Magnet School occupies the site of the old Avon Cider Mill. Apple’s Foley-family imprint continues across the road with the Blue Fox Run golf course and a tastefully developed office complex that includes Saint Francis Care and other medical facilities.

Right next door, at the Pickin’ Patch, the Woodfords have for centuries cultivated the Valley’s most fertile acreage, producing a bountiful selection of field-fresh fruits, vegetables and nursery stock. Pick your own corn, tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, and pumpkins, or pick out a shrub, some herbs, annuals, or a Christmas tree.

The intersection of Routes 44 and 10 is also a good place to launch your canoe along the serene, six-mile stretch of family-friendly Farmington River flat water that heads toward Simsbury. Just ahead, is one of the Valley’s most consistently excellent restaurants, Max a Mia.

Moving toward the next major route junction, 44/202/10, a big old wooden rocking chair signals Avon Village Marketplace, a cluster of specialty shops and eateries housed in freestanding Colonial-era buildings. Just a bit west, the early industrial-era explosives companies Climax Fuse and Ensign Bickford have left a legacy of historic brownstone buildings that have since been recycled for an assortment of uses, including municipal government offices and the quaint Shops at Avon Green. It is also home to the Farmington Valley Arts Center, where you can take all kinds of classes and attend popular community events, such as the holiday Candlelight Opening in November.

Housed in an old Colonial next door is a local favorite, the First & Last Tavern, which has welcomed travelers for almost two centuries. Another old Colonial across the road – The Coffee Trade – is a landmark more for its amazing array of whole bean coffees than for the age of its building. Recently another coffee shop, Dom’s, has popped up across the road, which seems to be a twin of Coffee Trade until you step inside.

Turn south at this intersection (onto Old Farms Road) and a few miles ahead is the renowned Avon Old Farms School that features distinctive English-style buildings designed by Theodate Pope Riddle, who also designed her impressive family home in Farmington, now the Hill-Stead Museum.

North at the intersection, heading toward Simsbury, is the Marriott Residence Inn. Across the road is Hartford Hospital’s Avon Wellness Center, a combination fitness club and multi-specialty medical services facility. And just up ahead, The Residence at Brookside, an assisted living facility.

Next door at Riverdale Farms, a sprawling collection of restored dairy farm buildings today house a crop of outstanding restaurants and specialty shops. Mixed among these boutiques, Avon Clock & Lighting offers discriminating buyers a treasure trove of heirloom-quality clocks and distinctive light fixtures. In the same complex, Avon Plumbing & Heating has a large showroom with the latest styles and best brands in bath and kitchen fixtures. Its neighbor, Shear Artistry, is one of the Valley’s premier salons and day spas.

Go west on Route 44 for Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret, Ulta, Orvis, Eastern Mountain Sports, The Gap, Pier I, Walmart, and more chain operations as well as casual dining. Across the road is an independent grocer, the Fresh Market, that supplies many specialty items. In 2014, Hartford Hospital was added to the mix when they opened a walk-in primary and urgent-care center.

Most of Avon’s population increase has been absorbed into the comfortable neighborhoods with large wooded lots that fan out south of Route 44 in the Farmington River Valley lowlands, between Avon Mountain Ridge on the town’s eastern border and the West Avon Mountain highlands along the Canton line.

Along the southern boundary sits Fisher Meadows, the town’s major outdoor recreation area, a 233-acre soccer and baseball mecca with lots of wooded trails and the beautiful Spring Lake. On West Avon Road (Route 167), you’ll pass the First Company Governor’s Horse Guard. Thursday night drills with the horses are a popular roadside attraction.

In the same area, Avon High School opened in 1958 with only 500 students, then completed a major expansion in 1999. After a second expansion in 2008 and continued growth, the school now serves about 1,100 students. In stark contrast, the Miller Turkey Farm, just down the road, magically reduces its population every November.

Nearby on Route 167 stands the 1876 Thompson family Sunrise Farm, still in operation today, and one of the few vestiges remaining of Avon’s agricultural past.

Farther west, up Country Club Road and across Lovely Street, the West Avon Mountain area is the site of many of the Valley’s most magnificent new homes and proposed subdivisions with high price tags.

There is always debate in Avon about school budgets and how much more commercial development Rte. 44 can handle, but much of the noise about the schools has subsided now that capacity seems to have caught up with population growth. The bottom line is that Route 44 provides convenient access for commuters, new road improvements have made “the mountain” safer and the town’s businesses continue to offset residential property taxes while offering just about everything you need – from the frivolous to the staples. Hard to argue with that.

Photo by Lanny Nagler