Gilmore Girls Road Trip Itineraries

3 Gilmore Girls road trip itineraries for Connecticut, Canada & California

Grab a book and your Luke’s travel mug… It’s time to hit the road!

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Gilmore Girls Road Trips

My first visit to the town that inspired Stars Hollow (and the entire show of Gilmore Girls!!!) in 2019 was supposed to be just a quick visit to see the tiny town and say we’d been.

But then I discovered there are four (plus!) towns to visit in Connecticut.

Then I found a perfect town in Canada that I thought looked exactly like Stars Hollow.

Then I found out they actually filmed the first episode of Gilmore Girls in Canada (whaaaaaaat?!?).

And then…

Then I found a whole list of filming locations in California, where the rest of the show was filmed.

Obviously the only response was to plan a Gilmore Girls road trip to all of the above locations.

So, here are 3 road trip itineraries:

So grab your coffee, your books, and your best Lorelai outfit, and let’s hit the road!

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Gilmore Girls Frequently Asked Questions

The original Luke’s Diner in Canada!

Before we officially begin planning our Gilmore Girls road trip, let’s just cover a few important frequently asked questions about Gilmore Girls:

What town inspired Stars Hollow?

The official answer to this question is Washington Depot, Connecticut. It is claimed that Amy Sherman-Palladino used pieces of multiple small towns around the area (like the gazebo in New Milford), but it was actually in Washington that the idea for the show was born. And though it is not everything that Stars Hollow has led us to believe in, it is the original inspiration.

She was also staying at the Mayflower Inn in Washington at the time, the inspiration behind the Independence Inn.

Where was Gilmore Girls filmed?

The first episode of Gilmore Girls was filmed in Unionville, Ontario.

After that, the show moved to the Warner Bros. Studio Lot, where the majority of the scenes were filmed. But it was also filmed on location at various places throughout California (Yes, California, not Connecticut. Thus the leaves on the trees in the middle of February…).

  • Side note: I’ve also read that some scenes from episode one were filmed in Collinsville, CT, but I can’t find any more information on that, and I personally don’t think Collinsville is worth visiting.

Where is the original Luke’s Diner?

The location used for Luke’s Diner in the pilot episode is Gratie Medical Spa on Main Street Unionville, Ontario.

Best Time of Year for a Gilmore Girls Road Trip

Fall in Connecticut.

You can take a Gilmore Girls road trip any time of year, but the best time of year is undoubtedly the fall.

This won’t matter as much for the California road trip, but especially for Connecticut and Ontario, fall is the best time of year for a road trip.

Visit Ontario (road trip #2) in early October for the best weather and fall foliage. Visit Connecticut (road trip #1) in late October for the best foliage.

Gilmore Girls Road Trip #1: Connecticut

Trip map courtesy of Wanderlog, a vacation planner app on iOS and Android

Connecticut is the origin of Gilmore Girls, and the perfect setting for a Gilmore Girls road trip. Every aspect of the show just drips with New England small town charm.

From Revolutionary War history to plenty of local antique shops, Connecticut embodies everything that is “Stars Hollow” about Stars Hollow (except maybe Kirk…).

There are four “main” Stars Hollow towns to visit in Connecticut:

It is said that these are the four main influences of Stars Hollow. However, you will find small town charm all over the state, so our road trip is not confined to just these four. Feel free to add on any cute small towns that you like (Mystic has one of my top 5 favorite donut shops!).

  • Psst: If you’re looking for places to eat (or more reasons to road trip) throughout Connecticut, check out the Connecticut Pizza Trail! Lorelai and Rory would definitely approve!

Downtown Litchfield

Frank Pepe Pizza in New Haven.

Day 1

Fly into Hartford, CT, and rent a car at the airport.

From Hartford, we will drive 40 minutes to New Haven, CT, our home for the next two nights.

If you live close enough to drive, then start today by driving to New Haven.

Have dinner at one of the places Lorelai and Rory probably “Lorelaied” on their first day at Yale!

What airport to fly into for Hartford:

Bradley International Airport is the main airport in Hartford, CT.

  • You can also fly into JFK or LGA in New York, which will be just under a 2 hr. drive from New Haven.

  • You can also fly into BOS in Boston, which is an hour and a half drive to Hartford. Boston is one of my favorite cities to visit (plus, you can add a stop at Harvard)!

Where to stay in New Haven:

Tacos from a food truck on Long Wharf.

The Study at Yale hotel in downtown New Haven.

Day 2


Spend the morning exploring New Haven. Visit a coffee shop, a bookstore, or perhaps a coffee shop in a bookstore! Be sure to explore some of Yale’s famous libraries as well, including the Sterling Memorial Library and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Have lunch at one of the many great restaurants or cafes in New Haven, or at the Yale Commons Dining Hall (which looks like Hogwarts!).


Take the (free!) 1 pm tour of Yale to see parts of the school closed off to the public, learn fun facts, and touch the toe!

For the rest of the afternoon, you can explore some of Yale’s many art galleries or the famous Peabody Museum. You could also head over to nearby Orange, CT to explore the PEZ Visitor Center!

Have dinner at one of the restaurants you haven’t tried yet (or the same one again, if it was that good!), and if you want some evening entertainment, hit up a show put on by one of Yale’s theater groups, dance groups, or musical groups. Or just at one of the many theaters in town. There are so many options.

Where to eat:

Beinicki Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Yale University Campus

Day 3


You can choose to have breakfast in New Haven again, or wait till you get (just over an hour) to New Milford and eat at Theo’s Downtown Diner. Or you could make a quick stop at Dottie’s Diner in Woodbury (Stars Hollow’s rival town) to pick up some of the best donuts in Connecticut!

Then spend the morning exploring downtown New Milford, and take a seat in the iconic gazebo while you enjoy your coffee (or maybe a pumpkin latte!).

Have lunch (or breakfast!) (or both!) at Theo’s Downtown Diner in New Milford before driving 20 minutes to Kent. You could also have lunch in Kent at The Villager Restaurant, described by a local as “if Luke’s Diner and Al’s Pancake World had a baby.”


Walk around downtown Kent for a while. Stop in a local antique store, bookstore, or the pharmacy that looks like a giant red barn. If you’re lucky, the library might be having a book sale!

A little further up the road, check out Kent Falls State Park for a while (note: if you’re from out of state, you have to pay $10-$15 on your smart phone for parking at CT State Parks).

Have dinner at The Villager in Kent, or if you want to head back to New Milford, have dinner at Domino’s, which offers some seriously nice views of the town green, or another restaurant in downtown New Milford (Duke’s is recently closed, but The Cue is supposed to be opening a second location here soon).

After dinner, catch the evening show at the Bank Street Theater (note the opening times) in New Milford or drive around in search of all the pieces of the barn quilt trail.

Where to stay in New Milford:

Where to eat:

New Milford gazebo

Kent Library book sale

Day 4


Pack up the car and head 20 minutes up the road to the Mayflower Inn & Spa for breakfast. If it’s nice out, amble around their beautiful gardens for a while before heading into the bustling metropolis of Washington Depot (just kidding… it’s the tiniest of all!).

Browse around the bookstore, take a peek at the few other stores in town, maybe pop in the hardware store… Then be sure to stop in the super cute grocery store to pick up some snacks, or if the weather is good, some picnic food for lunch!

Take a walk to the Henry David Thoreau Footbridge in Hidden Valley Preserve and/or head to Mount Tom State Park for your picnic lunch, both just a few minutes from Washington (note: if you’re from out of state, you have to pay $10-$15 on your smart phone for parking at CT State Parks). If you’re not up for a picnic, have lunch at Marty’s Cafe in Washington.


We’ve made it to Litchfield, the last of the four towns and our home for the night. I personally think of the four, this is the least like Stars Hollow, but it is still a charming Revolutionary era town to visit.

Check out the (free) Tapping Reeve Law School and read love letters to Aaron Burr’s sister, explore the thriving downtown, have a snack (or that picnic lunch) on the ginormous town green, or head out to Thorncrest Farms for some delicious (but expensive!) chocolate.

Have dinner at The Village Restaurant (not to be confused with the Villager!) in downtown Litchfield.

Where to stay in Litchfield:

Henry David Thoreau footbridge

Tapping Reeve Law School

Day 5


Have a light breakfast in Litchfield before heading out. Drive half an hour to Luke’s Donut Shop for second breakfast (their donuts aren’t the best, BUT they ARE Luke’s, and they are CHEAP!).

Drive another half hour from Luke’s back to Hartford, where we will spend our last day.

Visit Old Wethersfield, a small town suburb of Hartford with plenty of Stars Hollow Charm. Have lunch at one of the many local restaurants in the village.


The rest of the afternoon is free to explore Hartford. Visit the Mark Twain House (where Palladino was visiting when she invented Gilmore Girls!), the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, or one of the other museums in the city, take a cruise down the river, explore Elizabeth Park Conservancy, or visit the Connecticut State Capitol.

Where to stay in Hartford:

Luke’s Donut Shop (and my Luke’s mug!) in Avon.


Main Street Old Wethersfield, CT

Day 6

Fly home (or drive home) from Hartford.

Or extend your Gilmore Girls road trip to Boston, NYC, or Cape Cod!

  • Aaaannd… if you do extend your road trip to the Cape Cod area… you have to check out my cousin’s escape room, Upside Down Escape Games. Because seriously. It’s the best escape room I’ve ever been to!

Further Reading:

Check out this article for more information on visiting the Gilmore Girls towns in Connecticut, including when to go, more places to stay, and other things to do nearby.

Gilmore Girls Road Trip #2: Ontario, Canada

Map thanks to Wanderlog, a trip planner app on iOS and Android

Our second Gilmore Girls road trip will take us through Ontario, Canada. There is not as much Stars Hollow to see here as in Connecticut, but I promise, it does not disappoint!

I have been to a lot of cute small towns, but none of them quite encompass that Stars Hollow magic like Unionville, Ontario. It literally is Stars Hollow (No, really. They filmed episode one here).

Unionville is my favorite Stars Hollow town I have ever been to. It was definitely worth the six hour drive there and back in one day (because why pay for hotels when you can just coffee, coffee, coffee?).

Even better, it’s not far from Niagara Falls, and another Stars Hollow wannabe: Niagara on the Lake.

Niagara Falls

Old Niagara Bookshop, Niagara on the Lake

Day 1

Fly into Toronto Pearson International Airport and rent a car at the airport (or, if you’re able, drive to Toronto).

Drive about half an hour from Toronto to Markham. You could also stay in Toronto and day trip to Unionville tomorrow (see more about Toronto under “Day 5”).

Where to stay in Markham:

Where to eat:

Day 2


It is time for your first view of Unionville! Unionville is a magical place, that will instantly transport you to Stars Hollow.

First stop: coffee, coffee, coffee. Get some coffee, and head over to the picture perfect gazebo to enjoy it. Take some time to just relax and drink in the slow-moving charm of small town life.

And now it’s time to explore. There is so much to see and do up and down Main Street Unionville!

Have lunch at one of the many restaurants available on Main Street.

  • Note: You cannot park on Main Street, but you can drive down it. There is parking available behind most of the shops on Main Street, or in front of the Unionville Train Station.

  • Note: There are public bathrooms available on the outside of the Crosby Community Centre.


Explore more Unionville (it’s just one street… how long can it take?)!

Paint some ceramics at Crock A Doodle, visit an art gallery, check out one of the spas (the original Luke’s is now a spa), go shopping, walk around and take pictures of the beautiful houses so you’re hungry enough to buy pie, ice cream, and candy.

Once we have completely exhausted everything that Unionville has to offer, head back to the hotel to relax and unwind. If you’re still in need of some activities to burn off all your energy (coffee, coffee, coffee!), there is plenty around Markham to do.

And after dinner, you can check out a show at the Flato Markham Theater.

Where to eat:

Cute street names in Unionville

Pod Coffee in Unionville

Day 3


After breakfast, drive 1 hr. 45 min. to our next stop, Niagara on the Lake. This is known to most as the prettiest town in Canada. To me it’s known as Stars Hollow on steroids.

There is SO much to do here.Where do we even start??

How about we start at Queen’s Royal Park, with its amazing view of the Niagara River/Lake Ontario and Old Fort Niagara across the water. It’s peaceful, there’s a gazebo to chill in, and it will probably be less crowded in the morning than in the afternoon. This is also a good place to start because they have free public bathrooms!

After relaxing at the park, walk on over to Queen Street and find somewhere delicious smelling to eat lunch.

  • Note: There is ample parking all around Niagara on the Lake. You can park at the park, or on one of the side streets, and easily walk everywhere. Parking is paid, and there are meters where you can pay with cash or card (US or Canadian money). Or we can probably park at our hotel for the night, and walk to everywhere from there.


Explore absolutely everywhere NOTL has to offer. Ride in the horse & carriages, visit the Apothecary, shop for Christmas ornaments, eat ice cream, taste test olive oil (seriously), visit a winery, or check out the historic Fort George.

And that’s just the beginning. Don’t forget to make a stop at the local book store and candy shoppe.

After dinner, catch a show at the Shaw Theatre.

Where to stay in Niagara on the Lake:

Gazebo at Queen’s Royal Park

Candy shop in NOTL

Day 4


After a delicious breakfast at our inn, we’re off to somewhere that has nothing to do with Gilmore Girls, but is a world famous natural wonder: Niagara Falls.

It’s about a half hour drive to get from NOTL to Niagara Falls, Ontario.

You can visit Niagara Falls anytime of year, but some attractions will not be open all year long.

Have lunch at one of the restaurants with a bird’s eye view of the falls!


If the season is right, try the Hornblower (the Canadian version of the Maid of the Mist), or walk out next to the falls on Journey Behind the Falls (open all year). If an adrenaline rush is your thing, try a jet boat tour or ziplining over the falls! Or splurge on a helicopter ride above Niagara Falls.

You can walk across the Rainbow Bridge to the American side of the falls, so you get a chance to experience both sides. Be sure to stick around after dark to see the falls lit up.

  • More Info: Read about everything you need to know for visiting (both sides!) of Niagara Falls.

Where to stay in Niagara Falls:

Where to eat:

  • Skylon Tower Restaurant (expensive)

  • One of your favorite chain restaurants at the Tower Hotel

    • Side note: I was hoping to go to the IHOP here—some of my favorite, reasonably priced food, with a good view! However, after reading all the reviews, I’ve decided against it, as apparently, even though it is IHOP, it is priced for the view. In otherwords, outrageously high…

  • Montana’s BBQ

  • Tim Hortons. Because you can’t come to Canada and not go to Tim Hortons.

  • Other Clifton Hill restaurants

The Hornblower boat ride

The Horsehoe Falls

Day 5


There is nothing particularly Gilmore Girls related in Toronto, but if you’re going to be in the most exciting city in Canada, you can’t just not explore it! Plus, the Gilmore Girls would love the big city shopping.

Just for fun, stop to see the painted houses at Grimsby Beach on your way back to Toronto from Niagara Falls and take some selfies with the painted ladies.

And then there is just so much to see and do in Toronto!


One of the most popular things to do in Toronto is to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame, in honor of Canada’s national sport, but I don’t think either Lorelai or Rory would be particularly interested in this attraction (Dean would though!).

Something the Gilmore Girls would definitely love, is to pretend they are royalty at Toronto’s castle on a hill: Casa Loma (you can even do an escape room in the castle!!).

They would also appreciate a trip to the Museum of Illusions or a viewing of Little Canada (who wouldn’t?).

And of course, lots of shopping and coffee (and brunch)! You can even get a homemade pop tart at Bake Shoppe!

There are a lot more things to do in Toronto, so be sure to explore the city and try all the fun things you want to do (even if Rory and Lorelai wouldn’t). You could even extend your trip another day or two to explore more!

Where to stay in Toronto:

CN Tower view from Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Blueberry pancakes from Mildred’s Temple Kitchen.

Day 6

Fly home (or drive home) from Toronto. Maybe squeeze in another brunch (or coffee) before you go.

Further Reading:

Check out this article for more information on visiting the Gilmore Girls towns in Canada.

Gilmore Girls Road Trip #3: California

I have not been to California yet (someday…). So I have no pretty pictures or personal experience to share. But I have a perfect Gilmore Girls road trip itinerary planned out just for you to steal (and for me to live vicariously through you)!

Day 1

Fly into Los Angeles International Airport.

Pick up a rental car at the airport.

Or not…

Because driving in LA is… Well, it’s driving in LA.

That being said, having a car is going to be the easiest way to get around to everywhere in the LA area we are going to visit, and is essential if we want to add on a trip to the small Stars Hollow-esque village of Arryo Grande.

But we do have several options for transportation. We can get to most places by public transportation, or we can get an uber (I don’t know why I keep saying “we,” like we’re going together or something…!)

Anyway, here are the LA transportation options:

  • Rental car

  • Airport shuttles/bus/taxi/public transporation

  • Uber/Lyft/rideshare service

What I would do personally is use public transportation or Uber in LA, and then pick up a rental car at the end of my time in the city, to get to other places in California.

You could also get a rental car, so you have it if you need it, but use the public transportation instead if the place is easy to get to.

Here are two articles with advice about getting around LA:

Now that we have our car (or have decided to get a shuttle), head to the hotel, which will be our home base for most of the trip. Then just relax, hang out at the pool or go out and explore all the fun things to do near the hotel.

Where to stay in LA:

Where to eat:

Where you eat in LA will depend on where you choose to stay. I’m just going to leave you with this guide of where to eat and drink in LA.

Additionally, here is a guide to visiting Los Angeles written by locals, including where to stay, things to do, how to get around and more.

Day 2


First stop on our California Gilmore Girls road trip: The Warner Bros. Studio Tour! This is the studio where Gilmore Girls was actually filmed! If you ever wanted to visit the real life Stars Hollow, this is it. The actual Luke’s. And the actual gazebo.

This is still a working studio, so in addition to seeing iconic sets from your favorite shows, you might see a crew working on an actual film set. The tour is partly guided, and partly at your own pace.

You can find lots of reviews of the tours out there, but here is a review by a Gilmore Girls fan. Plan to spend around 3 hours here. Then get lunch at the Central Perk Cafe on set!


Spend the afternoon in Griffith Park, just a few minutes from the studio tour, and also the filming location of “Haden’s Nut House” in Gilmore Girls season 2 (if you don’t remember it, don’t worry. I didn’t either. Apparently it’s a stop on Lorelai and Rory’s spontaneous road trip to Harvard).

I was picturing Griffith Park as a small green space with a playground, some benches, and picnic tables. But this is LA. So I guess they don’t do small.

Griffith Park is one of the largest parks in the US, and is also home to the LA Zoo, the Hollywood sign, Griffith observatory, a Greek style amphitheater, and so much more! You will have no problem filling up the afternoon here.

For dinner, pack a picnic and watch the sun set in the park, or head over to the Burbank Town Center mall, often frequented by Lorelai and Rory during the show. You too can create a take-out smorgasbord from every fast food joint in the food court!

Where to eat:

Day 3


Today starts off with a visit to Yale. Also known as… the University of Southern California. Obviously.

Outdoor scenes from Yale on the show were mostly shot at USC (bonus: USC also stood in for Harvard in Legally Blonde. So you can hit up Yale AND Harvard at the same time!).

There is plenty to see and do here. Check out the library and the bookstore, explore the art installations, catch a sports game (not a very Gilmore thing to do…), see a show, or head over to Exposition Park across the street.

Exposition Park is home to the science center and a bunch of other museums. Because remember that “park” in LA means amphitheaters, museums, and world famous tourist attractions.

Have lunch (and do some shopping) in the USC Village. Because clearly what every college student needs is to live in an outlet mall…


After USC, we’ll head over to Greystone Mansion for the filming location of another school: Chilton.

Unfortunately, the inside of the mansion is only open for special events, but you can visit the park outside of the mansion for free (free parking too!). Grab a book from the Rory reading list and curl up somewhere in view of the imposing “Chilton” (maybe find yourself a nice “study tree”) for a relaxing afternoon away from the madness of LA.

Tonight we have an optional night out on the town at the Ebell Theater. The Ebell is where the debutante ball episode of Gilmore Girls was filmed. Much like the Greystone Mansion, the Ebell isn’t actually open to the public. You can, however, attend a show in the theater, which is a pretty fun alternative.

If you do plan to attend a show, you will have to plan your vacation around the date of the show, as there are only a few every month. Check out their event calendar for upcoming show dates (If they don’t have a show on, you can always go to the famous Disney Concert Hall instead).

Where to eat:

Day 4


As if touring the Warner Bros. studios wasn’t enough, today we are going to visit a whole park that once belonged to a film studio! Malibu Creek State Park was once owned by 20th Century Fox, and used as a backdrop for countless films and TV shows, including MASH, and… Gilmore Girls!

Well, the Gilmore Girls revival, that is.

This is the park where Lorelei goes to do “Wild.” If you’re not a hiker, fear not. There are a variety of hikes for people of every skill level, from easy to strenuous.

There is also kayaking, horseback riding, rock climbing, and more. If you would like to go on a guided hike of the park and learn more of its Hollywood history, these are offered some weekends at 10 am. Check their website for specific dates.


This is potentially the part of the trip I am most looking forward to: The Venice Beach Boardwalk. Also known as the place Jess spent hours browsing a bookstore in a black leather jacket on a hot Californian summer day. Oh Jess…

Relax on the beach, explore the boardwalk (maybe find some inferno hot dogs), and if you’re lucky, spot a film crew at work.

Stay for dinner and watch the sun set on the beach. Does life get any better?

Where to eat:

Day 5


We will definitely need a car for this day, because we are going to take a 3 hr. road trip up the coast to explore Arroyo Grande Village. The village is part of the larger city of Arroyo Grande, though the city itself is still pretty small (then again, everything is small compared to LA).

This charming little village is just like Stars Hollow: swinging footbridge, gazebo, antique shops, tons of festivals, and…wait for it… free-roaming chickens!


Spend the afternoon exploring the many unique historical museums, visit a winery, go zip lining, or just grab a coffee and chill in the gazebo.

Stay at The Agrarian Hotel, right in the heart of Arroyo Grande Village. There are tons of local restaurants to choose from in the village for lunch, dinner, and dessert. Or, if you’re looking for a little inspiration, here are 13 foods to try in the San Luis Obispo County.

Where to stay in Arroyo Grande:

Where to eat:

Day 6

From here, there is so much more to explore! You could keep driving north, and head to Yosemite National Park or San Francisco. Or you could head back to LA to visit Disneyland (or one of the million other things to do there!). Or just relax at the beach.

Either way, you’ve hit up all the best Gilmore Girls spots, so you’re now free to chase after other fandom locations, or head to LAX and catch a flight back home.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London (because I haven’t been to LA)

Disney’s Magic Kingdom castle in Orlando (because I haven’t been to LA)

You are now equipped with three different Gilmore Girls road trip itineraries for your next vacation(s)!

Have you been to any of these places? Let us know what you thought in the comments below!

Have any other suggestions of Gilmore Girls places to visit? Be sure to share those too in the comments below.

Planning a Gilmore Girls road trip?

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