Where You Lead, I Will Follow


Gilmore Girls: a widely popular show that originally ran from 2000 to 2007, reaching around 5 million views per episode during its time on the WB channel. The premise of the series is simple: in its most basic terms, it is the story of a young single mom Lorelai (Lauren Graham), and her teenage daughter Rory’s (Alexis Bledel) adventures as they navigate their relationships and careers. But, what many argue makes the show special is the unique setting of Stars Hollow and those who live in it.

The fictional town of Stars Hollow is theoretically located in Connecticut, seemingly near Hartford, CT, where Lorelai’s parents live. However, what many fans may not know is that Stars Hollow is actually based on a real town that writer Amy Sherman-Palladino visited while on a road trip. This town is Washington, CT.

Palladino’s journey began by checking into the Mayflower Inn & Spa with her husband Daniel. This inn is directly mirrored in Stars Hollow’s Independence Inn, where Lorelai works as a manager at the start of the show. The Inn has an important role in Gilmore Girls as it is where we are introduced to two of the most iconic show regulars: Michel Gerard (Yanic Truesdale) and Sookie St. James (Melissa McCarthy). The Mayflower in Washington has a similar effect; being the most popular hotel in town, it is the place where most avid fans check into when trying to live the Stars Hollow fantasy.

One of the regular Stars Hollow hangouts we see on Gilmore Girls is Luke’s Diner, owned by Lorelai’s main love interest: Luke Danes. This is a place where breakfast is had every morning during Rory’s high school years and where all defining conversations seem to happen. Luke’s is, unfortunately, one of the only facets of Stars Hollow that is not identically reflected in Washington, however, the closest you’ll get is Marty’s, a small café frequented by locals for breakfast and dinner and of course, for coffee —a Gilmore staple. 

Another key location comes in the form of the town Gazebo. In Stars Hollow, this is located at the center of town and is where many a wedding, romantic moment, and troubadour performance occurred. In Washington, this is seen as Washington Green, which is almost identical to what’s seen on screen. And of course, how can we talk about Gilmore Girls without mentioning Chilton? Chilton is the prep school that makes Rory leave Stars Hollow High where her best friend Lane Kim (Keiko Agena) and love interests Dean Forester (Jared Padelecki) and Jess Mariano (Milo Ventimiglia) attend. This is seen in the series’ second episode, aptly titled “The Lorelais’ First Day at Chilton”. The school is mirrored in Washington’s The Gunnery, a college preparatory school that is both a Boarding and Day school. Everything from the architecture (minus Chilton’s creepy gargoyles – unfortunately) to trees in the outside of each school is spot-on and is bound to remind any fan of Lorelai’s pink shirt and cowboy boots.

Finally, some more parallels are found between these twin cities are Doose’s and Washington Food Market, the Town Hall (aka Miss Patty’s School of Ballet) and Bryan Memorial Town Hall and of course, Stars Hollow Books and the Hickory Stick Bookshop, conveniently located by Marty’s.

As many Graded students find themselves in New England eventually (either for college tours or actually attending college), why not plan a visit to the closest thing to a real-life Stars Hollow (you know… for those days where you’re out on the road, feeling lonely, and so cold)? It’s a dream come true for any avid fan! As Jess Mariano once said: “Well geez, Ms. Gilmore, why would anyone not want to be in Stars Hollow? That just sounds plumb crazy.”


Sources: Wikipedia, Road Trippers, Explore Washington CT