The Real Life Stars Hollow: Washington Depot, CT

This is a detailed article specifically about Washington Depot, Connecticut.

Check out the full article:

The Mayflower Inn in Washington Depot, CT is where Amy Sherman-Palladino was staying when she thought up the show Gilmore Girls.

I eagerly visited the small town in Connecticut looking for those Star Hollow vibes and discovered an unfortunate truth… Stars Hollow is a fictional place…

However, there are a lot of almost Stars Hollow-like towns in Connecticut, and all over! I am constantly in search of the best towns like Stars Hollow. This article is an excerpt from my larger Connecticut article, specifically about how Washington Depot is like Stars Hollow.

How is Washington Depot, CT like Stars Hollow:

Hickory Stick Bookshop

The cute bookshop in Washington Depot, Connecticut. And me in my “Gilmore Girls” outfit. No, I’m not a dork!

The Hickory Stick Bookshop is a cute little bookstore in Washington Depot. They were definitely playing up the “Gilmore Girls” fan card, with “Rory Reads” plaques and lists of “Rory Reads,” so you can decide to read all the books that Rory did and buy them in the bookshop!

You could also buy both copies of the unofficial Gilmore Girls cookbooks (both of which I own and love!).

It was a really nice bookstore. But, as far as trying to pretend you’re in Stars Hollow… this one just didn’t have the right feel.

It didn’t feel like a small town business selling used copies of classics to the local bookworm who comes in every day. Everything was too new and “put together” for my taste. It just seemed too fancy and not…local.

So as far as how is it like Stars Hollow, I would have to say it’s not what I was looking for.

Marty’s Cafe

I was under the impression that Marty’s Cafe was the Luke’s of Washington. Marty’s was a really nice cafe. The food was delicious, and it definitely felt like a cute coffee shop where I could hang out all day writing blog posts on my laptop.

Which, unfortunately, makes it pretty much the opposite of Luke’s (he really hates those laptops!). Much like the bookshop, it just didn’t feel at all like Stars Hollow to me.

If you’re looking for fresh food and coffee in a cute hipster-y setting, this is a great place. But if you’re looking for Luke’s… it’s definitely not. And since this is pretty much the only cafe in downtown Washington Depot… it doesn’t put Washington high on my list of Stars Hollow towns.

The Pantry

I thought The Pantry could be reminiscent of Weston’s in Stars Hollow. It is a bakery/café, and also a kitchen supply store.

I didn’t eat anything here, but I did browse around all the fun kitchen supplies they have for sale. While not as cutesy as I imagine Weston’s to be, it was a really cute store, and would be a nice place to have lunch (or make a list of chores for the handyman while you share a piece of red velvet cake with someone).

Washington Food Market

I actually was really excited about shopping at the Washington Food Market (is that weird…?)!

It really is just like what I would imagine Doose’s Market to be (albeit without Taylor or Dean). Washington does seem more isolated than the other towns, so people really do come here to do their grocery shopping.

My only issue with it (and Lorelei would concur), is that the only Pop Tarts they had were unfrosted blueberry. Boxes and boxes of UNfrosted blueberry!!

Town Green

(& White Steeple Church)

Washington Depot does have a town green (even with a cute church!). But, since it isn’t actually in the middle of town… it’s 10 minutes down the road… I don’t think that this can really count.

This is where you will find the church, a cute new café, and the historical museum. But again, it’s not in the main section of town! How can a town green not be in the middle of the town??

The Po Café

The Po Cafe is new since I first visited in 2019. Unfortunately they were closed during my entire visit in 2021. They are however ranked in the top 5 coffee shops with a view in New England.

I would love to drink a pumpkin latte with a view of the white steepled church and town green. The view from this coffee shop really bumps up its Stars Hollow points, even if the rest of the town is ten minutes down the road.

They do have some reviews that say the service is bad, and not warm and welcoming like a small town café should be… But at least everyone does agree that their food is delicious.

Gunn Historical Museum

(not named for Sean Gunn, fyi)

I didn’t visit the Gunn Historical Museum, but it does look very much like the Stars Hollow History Museum (though perhaps more historically accurate).

I’ll be honest, I don’t find much interest in visiting local history museums. BUT, if you do want the full Stars Hollow experience, I think going to the local museum is a perfect activity. Albeit with a coffee in hand (and maybe some Founder’s Day punch) to make the experience more “authentic.”

If you’re lucky, you might even get to see a reenactment! Or visit around Halloween to take their tour of the cemetery.

Henry David Thoreau Footbridge

Since I discovered Washington Depot has a footbridge, I again bumped up their Stars Hollow points! Although, it’s not exactly in town, but Washington is the closest, so I’ll give them the credit for it.

Hopefully you won’t find any menacing swans lurking nearby, but if you want to visit a little footbridge (and maybe meet up with some angsty teenage boy…), head over to the Henry David Thoreau Bridge in the Hidden Valley Preserve.

The bridge is even cooler because Rory would totally appreciate the Thoreau quotations inscribed along the railings.

This is also a great place to do some easy hiking in the woods.

Nearby Prep Schools

Not exactly the place you would go to visit on vacation, but it does lend itself to the Gilmore Girls vibe when you see students in uniform. Pretty much all the towns have prep schools nearby, but Washington has a prep school, and their local elementary school, right in the town, so it actually feels like part of town life.

The Mayflower Inn

This is the inn where it all started. As it is in Washington Depot, they get credit for this piece of Stars Hollow,

The Mayflower Inn is where the idea of Gilmore Girls was first hatched! Amy Sherman-Palladino was staying here when she was inspired to create the show, and the Independence Inn that Lorelei runs is based on this one.

The inn is a beautiful country-side retreat, which features several dining rooms and a spa. The original building was a school for young boys until it was converted to an inn in 1920. It has gone through several owners and renovations since then.

  • See absolutely gorgeous photos of the inn (so you can visit without actually visiting!).

However, if you are traveling on a “Lorelei budget” (as opposed to an “Emily budget”), it may be a bit much to try to visit. Rooms run from about $800-$1000 a night.

You could visit The Garden Room (for $150 3-course meal), or The Tap Room (for an affordable meal), and pretend you’re eating some of Sookie’s creations.

  • Learn more about dining (or book a table).

I was planning on visiting The Tap Room for lunch, but in all my planning, I did not book my table far enough ahead of time (…and honestly, I wasn’t too sad about not paying $24 for a burger).

  • You can read a review of a Gilmore fan’s experience, although take note that this article is from 2014.

See where they filmed episode 1 of Gilmore Girls in Canada:

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