There’s nothing quite like New England in autumn. Falling leaves, hot coffee with a pumpkin spice bouquet, hayrides, scarves, peacoats, and long, meandering conversations about Paul Anka, Doris Day, and Christiane Amanpour. ’Tis the season for Gilmore Girls! But, let's be honest, every season is the season for Gilmore Girls. If you’re like me, you’ve enjoyed your fair share of GG binge-fests, complete with candy, pizza (and in my case copious amounts of alcohol), and glitter nail polish.
As much as I love Lorelai and Rory’s delicious banter and manic-pixie-dreamgirl-esque shenanigans, I’ve gotta say, my favorite character on the show, is the town. That quintessential rural New England town of Stars Hollow. I mean, who didn’t want to go to Stars Hollow High or hit up one of those adorable Town Hall Meetings? Well, unlike other fictional locales that are too good to be true (ahem, Rivendell), Stars Hollow is actually based on a very real place.
While showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino was staying at the The Mayflower Grace on vacation, she fell madly in love with Connecticut. For two days she drove through various towns and began conceiving the fictional Stars Hollow, a fairytale town, grounded in actual, real places.
Washington, Connecticut, United States
Welcome to Washington, Connecticut. Size: 38.7 square miles. Population: 3,578. This rural town in Litchfield County, Connecticut served as inspiration for the town of Stars Hollow. It’s where the Mayflower Grace Inn is located, and thus the starting point for the idea that would become Stars Hollow. As a side note, it was also used for filming parts of "Friday the 13th, Part 2," so that’s pretty rad.
Many of the houses were built before 1950, and reflect such historic architectural styles as Georgian, Greek Revival, Italianate and Shingle. There’s also loads of 19th century barns, mills and other buildings, which are also remarkably well-preserved.
Even the town’s government helped inspire an important feature of the show: “Washington has a traditional New England town meeting form of government, which operates under the Connecticut General Statutes. Town meetings serve as Washington's chief legislative body, and several specialized boards and commissions, run by volunteer residents, tend to municipal business.” They meet in an actual town hall, though, not a dance studio.
If you visit Washington (which we highly suggest, especially as a day or weekend trip from New York) you won't actually find any diners in town. You will, however, find Marty's Cafe. It's more of a fancy coffee shop than an old-school diner like Luke's from the show, but you'll get an amazing cup of coffee and the friendly small-town atmosphere that made Luke's so appealing!
If you want to take a page from Rory's book (pun intended) head to Hickory Stick Bookshop. It's the closest thing to Stars Hollow Books, and even though you won't find Rory sorting books here, it's still the perfect place to spend an afternoon browsing through.
Washington, however, is just one source (albeit a big source) of Stars Hollow inspiration. Other towns that contributed fairytale New England vibes include New Milford, Litchfield and Kent.
So, there you have it Gilmore Girls addicts. Go forth and proudly binge-drink coffee, crank up your Bangles CDs, consume unconscionable quantities of pie and for the love of god, banter your little hearts out!