Guilford, CT vs. Stars Hollow

A supersized version of Stars Hollow

Guilford reminded me of a supersized version of Stars Hollow, minus the quintessential gazebo. The town green is HUGE and seems to span a few blocks, so while it’s not as intimate and cozy like the center of Stars Hollow, I like that the heart of town is fully enclosed by quaint shops and buildings on all four sides, like a real town square. Unlike the “exposed” town green in New Milford and Litchfield, the old world charm of Guilford felt isolated from the rest of the modern world.

Was Lorelai running errands that day?

Dance Studio in Guilford, CT

Dance Studio in Guilford, CT

After milling around the shops and picking up some aromatic gifts at the Spice & Tea Exchange (adorable shop), I decided to shoot some video around the town square. Guess what type of car kept on popping up in all of my shots? An orange JEEP! Could it be that after much coaxing from Luke, Lorelai finally upgraded her ride after all? All joking aside, it was nice to see local residents shopping and running errands in town, instead of having to drive to the big box stores elsewhere. Aside from the businesses mentioned in my list below (“Other Similarities to Stars Hollow”), we found a small dance studio behind one of the buildings. Unfortunately, Miss Patty was nowhere to be seen.

Other Similarities to Stars Hollow

  1. Charming, walkable town square that is enclosed and feels isolated from the hustle and bustle of the modern world.
  2. Hardware store – Page Hardware – similar to Luke’s (converted) Diner, however, they actually sell tools.
  3. Small grocery store – Guilford Food Center – that is similar to Doose’s Market. This store was also featured in the 2012 movie, Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones.
  4. Local dance studio, Limelight, similar to Miss Patty’s.
  5. Town Hall – where you would expect Taylor Doose to conduct town meetings.
  6. Quaint church on the green – St. George Church

Washington Depot, CT vs. Stars Hollow

The actual town that inspired the Gilmore Girls

Washington, CT (aka Washington Depot, CT) is cited to be the main inspiration for Stars Hollow, so naturally, I had to check it out. Amy-Sherman Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls, talks about the genesis of Stars Hollow in an interview for The A.V. Club: “I went on vacation to Connecticut, because I wanted to see Mark Twain’s house. I stayed at an inn, and it was very charming, in a tiny town, and everybody seemed to know each other, and there was a pumpkin patch across the street.”

“I went on vacation to Connecticut, because I wanted to see Mark Twain’s house. I stayed at an inn, and it was very charming, in a tiny town, and everybody seemed to know each other, and there was a pumpkin patch across the street.”

– Amy-Sherman Palladino, creator of Gilmore Girls

Local Pharmacy, Washington Depot, CT

Local Pharmacy, Washington Depot, CT

So, according to Amy-Sherman Palladino, Washington seems like the perfect place to find Stars Hollow, right? Wrong! After doing some research on forums, I learned from other travelers and local residents that Washington Depot is nothing like Stars Hollow. And after visiting the town myself, I wonder if Amy-Sherman Palladino was actually referring to the general surrounding area of Litchfield County, and perhaps Washington was the only town name she could remember because she was staying there, at the Mayflower Inn. At any rate, I can now confirm to all Gilmore Girls fans and future travelers – if you seek to find a town like Stars Hollow, you will not find it in Washington, CT. According to The Gilmore Girls Companion book, New England resident, Edward Herrmann (Richard on Gilmore Girls) says: “Washington Depot is nothing like Stars Hollow; it is a weekend haven for New Yorkers.”

Kent, CT vs. Stars Hollow

“Everything’s magical when it snows…”

Kent, Connecticut was our first stop on the road to finding Stars Hollow. The funny thing is, a lot of the CT residents that we met on the trip (i.e. rental car agents, innkeepers, etc.) were surprised that we were visiting Connecticut all the way from California…for VACATION! It was raining when we arrived in mid-December, and the rental car agents were apologetic about it, but we didn’t care, we were hoping it would turn into snow! And just like magic…it snowed overnight and we woke up to a winter wonderland the next day. Check out my video to see some of the magical snowing shots of rural Connecticut!

We met a “Luke” and he made us breakfast!

We stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast on Main Street called the Starbuck Inn, owned and ran by a single gentleman named Peter Starbuck. Peter looks more like a rugged lumberjack or fisherman than an innkeeper – more of a “man’s man,” if you will – and although he didn’t wear a backwards cap, I could definitely see him feeling right at home in a flannel plaid shirt. Not only that, but he cooked us the best damn breakfast we had on the trip! He was also very knowledgable about the happenings in town. His demeanor reminded me of Luke Danes so much, I half-expected him to start complaining about Taylor Doose! We were the only ones staying at the Starbuck Inn that night, so we had the place to ourselves and ate breakfast with a lovely view of the back gardens by the window. There’s a shot in my video of the snow-covered landscape – it was the view outside one of our windows at the Starbuck Inn.

Lane Kim served us dinner at Kingsley Tavern!

Inside Kingsley Tavern in Kent, CT

Inside Kingsley Tavern in Kent, CT

Okay, so, this may be a bit of a stretch, but I noticed that the demographics of Connecticut (at least the small towns we visited) did not seem as racially diverse as the melting pot of the San Francisco Bay Area in California. No biggie…as an Asian myself, I didn’t feel out of place at all. And the major cities of Connecticut, such as Hartford, look to be very diverse much like most metropolitan areas. However, I did geek out and have a Gilmore Girls moment during dinner at Kingsley Tavern, when I saw that our server was Asian and looked like a “Lane Kim” without glasses! She was quick, friendly and efficient…and strangely enough, she looked like she would have good taste in music. See, I told you it was a bit of a stretch, but when you’re on a quest to find Stars Hollow, little details like this are victories.

Lorelai & Rory inside Luke's Diner

Lorelai & Rory inside Luke’s Diner

The restaurant itself was also a pleasant surprise. We ate there on a whim the night we arrived (after a long drive from the Hartford airport), and didn’t expect to have such a delicious, farm-to-table culinary experience! And if you look at my photos and video footage of the exterior, the twinkling lights and window setting very much reminds of the shot of Lorelai and Rory sitting inside Luke’s Diner, in the Gilmore Girls opening credits sequence and series finale episode. To see more of this restaurant, check out my video footage.

VIDEO: The Search for Stars Hollow

See more of “Stars Hollow” in my video below!

I’ve been obsessed with the quirky town of Stars Hollow for years now, and did some research online to see which towns resembled it the most. I scoured blogs, articles and forums, taking notes from real Connecticut residents and other Gilmore Girls fans, who were also on a similar quest. Then, I narrowed down a comprehensive list of the top towns to visit on my journey to finding a real-life version of Stars Hollow. See the video of my journey below!