This is not my typical blog post but I thought it would be fun to share anyway. In the interest of full disclosure for those die-hard lovers…I’m a Netflix fan. While I loved catching the occasional episode when it was on T.V., it wasn’t until Netflix ran the whole series that I was able to sit down and watch all the episodes in a row.
Quirky. Cozy. Fun. Charming. Sweet. Romantic.
There are hundreds of reasons why people love Gilmore Girls. For me, like many others, the initial appeal was the town, Stars Hollow. Living in a big, impersonal city, I just loved the warm, friendly atmosphere it embodied. The off-beat festivals. The informal town hall meetings…although Taylor would object to the word “informal”! The quirky residents. It is all so engaging.
Next it was the idea of creating your own family. So many programs focus on family as the all-important unit. Blood is thicker than water. Family is everything. Not all of us are close to our families. The idea that a family can be a group of unrelated people who genuinely care for one another really spoke to me.
So when Blushing hosted a very fun writer’s retreat in New Hampshire recently, I jumped at the chance to pop on down to Washington Depot, CT. The town that inspired Stars Hollow and Gilmore Girls.
Here is my trip!
Tip #1 – By all accounts, this sleepy little town is not enamored of its claim to fame. With the interest generated by the upcoming new episodes, that is only going to get worse. Your best bet is to keep your true purpose for visiting on the down low.
Okay – Let’s get this part over with it. There is no gazebo in the town center. I know. I know. Disappointing but almost every other cute, little town you pass on your way to Washington Depot will have a gazebo so you will still get your fill of that charming town staple.
Here is their Town Hall. A great deal more impressive than Ms. Patty’s School of Ballet but personally I prefer her cozy wood-paneled studio! Check out the awesome sports car which was parked right outside. Lorelai is that you?!😉
Speaking of Ms. Patty. Here is the closest counter-part to her studio.
This adorable grocery store is I believe a very good substitute for Doose’s Market.
I also swung by the Post Office right next store to mail a quick letter. I got a true Stars Hollow experience. The guy behind the counter was so friendly! During the time I was in there three separate residents came by and were all greeted by name. I know this is a small thing but when you live in a city where the Post Office is cold and impersonal, it made an impression.
I spent over an hour wandering the aisles of this adorable bookshop. Don’t you just love the name! While they do have souvenir t-shirts and hats, etc. that say Washington Depot…sadly none with the Gilmore Girls. Ah well…maybe one day!
Tip #2 – Washington Depot doesn’t really have many boutique shops so don’t plan on spending half the afternoon wandering from store to store. Personally, the bookshop was the only one which appealed to me.
No visit would be complete without a visit to “Luke’s Diner”! From what I could tell, this is the closest you will get. Be warned. This is a very nice place with a stellar culinary reputation of their own. In other words, don’t go in there calling it “Luke’s”, they won’t appreciate it!
This place is beyond adorable! It has a fairyland, rustic vibe. The food is fantastic. They have an amazing menu filled with fresh, local products. Everything from a basic sandwich to high-end creative dishes.
I decided to go with what I thought would be a Lorelai inspired meal. Pineapple soda and a big, juicy cheeseburger!
Tip #3 – Hidden Valley Eatery is actually a few miles outside of town. Basically when you get off the highway and see a sign that says Washington Depot to the left…you take a right. It’s totally worth it because there is nothing to compare restaurant-wise in town.
And now for the main event…the Inn that inspired it all. The Mayflower Hotel.
The grounds are stunning! The hotel is beautiful! And by the way, surrounded by what looked like laurel trees…laurel…Lorelai…laurel. Hmmm…
Tip #4 – The Mayflower Hotel is in the next town over, Washington, CT. They are both right next to one another and most maps just list Washington but it can lead to confusion for us fan girls. Also, it is up on an isolated hill on basically private grounds which means you will stick out like a sore thumb! I tried to stroll around and look like I belonged but to be honest, I didn’t linger!
Here are some photos of around the town. I even captured what I think is the town Christmas tree!
Final Tip – While it was great fun wandering around and experiencing this town, it really only took up about two and half hours and that included my lunch and close to an hour in the bookshop. Basically, I would plan an afternoon of it. I think if you set aside an entire “Gilmore Girls” weekend you will get bored. The good news is there are so many lovely country roads and other towns to explore in the area! The Mayflower Hotel is a bit pricey for most of us but I did notice a spa on the property so if you wanted to linger I can’t think of anything more Lorelai than a fun mani-pedi!