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.”
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.”
“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
“Washington Depot is nothing like Stars Hollow; it is a weekend haven for New Yorkers.”
– Edward Herrmann, actor who plays Richard on Gilmore Girls
Where’s “Luke’s Diner?”
Amy-Sherman Palladino mentioned visiting a diner in her interview for The A.V. Club: “I went to a diner, and people kept getting up to get their own coffee. No one was there to be waited on. It seemed like a fun environment to put [the characters] in.” For starters, while most towns will have a square or main street with several businesses, the “village” of Washington Depot is tiny – almost non-existent – and mainly consists of a grocery store and pharmacy. Where is this elusive diner Amy-Sherman Palladino speaks of in Washington, CT? It’s more likely she was referring to a diner in a more charming nearby town, like Kent, CT.
We saw a “Dean” stocking groceries!
After feeling a bit underwhelmed by the town depot, we decided to go inside the local grocery store, Washington Food Market. We bought a couple of sodas – or as Dean would say, “pop” – and that’s when we spotted a boy who couldn’t be any older than 16, stocking drinks at the refrigerated section of the market. After stalking the aisles looking for a Taylor Doose, we paid for our drinks and left. Sadly, that was the highlight of our Gilmore Girls/Stars Hollow scavenger hunt in the Depot.
An extravagent version of “The Independence Inn”
After prowling around town (which took all of 10 minutes) we drove to The Mayflower Grace for lunch – the inn that Amy-Sherman Palladino says inspired The Independence Inn. It’s a beautiful establishment, and judging from the exterior and the fact that it also has a restaurant, I could definitely see Lorelai and Sookie working there. However, the similarities stop there. When I think of The Independence Inn, I picture a warm, friendly, and homey yet elegant environment. The Mayflower Grace Inn – with its absolutely gorgeous and lavish interiors – somehow felt cold, stuffy and pretentious. Don’t get me wrong, the staff was very nice and professional, but I could tell even they wanted to loosen their collars a little bit. Foodwise, lunch at The Tap Room was okay – the bread on my lobster roll tasted stale, but the actual filling was really delicious. Same goes for the $24 angus burger.
WWTBFCD aka What would The Barefoot Contessa do?
Other Similarities to Stars Hollow
- Cute local grocery store, Washington Food Market – similar to Doose’s market.
- Town festivals & events, such as “Holiday at the Depot” during Christmastime…though we weren’t able to attend, it looked like a small, yet charming town event.
- Inns – The Mayflower Grace, while a bit fancier compared to The Independence and Dragonfly Inn, appears to offer a luxurious New England Inn experience.
Major Differences from Stars Hollow
- No gazebo.
- No town green or square.
- Lack of cute shops, restaurants and other businesses in the Depot area.
- Sleepy town, not many locals milling around the Depot running their errands and such.
About my quest – see my video footage of The Mayflower Grace and other towns that look like Stars Hollow!
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!