Gilmore Girls follows the life of a mother and daughter as she navigates high school and then college. The show became extremely popular for its warm, feel-good vibe, loveable characters, and comedic writing. Airing for seven years from 2000 to 2007, Gilmore Girls captivated audiences for seven seasons. The show even won an Emmy in 2004, and a follow-up miniseries came out in 2016. One aspect of Gilmore Girls that was so beloved by fans was the town of “Stars Hollow.” This small, fictional Connecticut town was its own character in the show, and the setting for most of the iconic moments throughout the series. Many fans of Gilmore Girls want to visit Stars Hollow and relive the series but are disappointed to find out that it does not exist. Keep reading to learn about where Gilmore Girls was filmed, and how the iconic Stars Hollow was created.
What Inspired Stars Hollow?
While the setting of Gilmore Girls is a fictional town, it was inspired by real places. The show’s creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, credits her trip through western Connecticut for the idea to make Gilmore Girls. She reports staying at a local inn in Washington, Connecticut, and then getting breakfast at a diner nearby. This experience directly inspired two of the show’s most memorable locations: the Dragonfly Inn and Luke’s Diner. Sherman-Palladino then built the world of Gilmore Girls around these two spots, determined to capture the small-town warmth she had experienced. While Gilmore Girls was not filmed in Washington, it was consistently referred to when building the sets for the show.
Where Was Gilmore Girls Filmed?
The show may be set in Connecticut, but it was filmed in a very different location. The pilot episode, or first episode, of the show, was actually shot in Unionville, Canada. Unionville captured the same small-town vibe that Sherman-Palladino fell in love with in Connecticut, making it the perfect place to film. Many fans of the show still visit Unionville to this day in order to see the iconic landmarks of Stars Hollow. While the town was a great location for the pilot episode, the rest of the show was filmed in a different location.
The majority of the seven seasons of Gilmore Girls were filmed across the country from Connecticut. The Waner Brothers studio lot in Burbank, California was transformed into the town of Stars Hollow. Outdoor scenes in the bustling town square were filmed on the backlot “Midwest Street.” Production designers constructed facades of the iconic shops and eateries in Stars Hollow and placed a Gazebo in the center of the set. Hundreds of extras were hired for each episode to make the set feel like a bustling small town.
How California Became Connecticut
You may be wondering how they shot scenes set in fall and winter in the heart of sunny California. To create the illusion of changing seasons, the trees on set had removable fake leaves. Production designers would exchange these leaves in order to fit the setting of the show, making it look like the seasons were changing. When the story took place during the winter, the snow was actually mashed potatoes!
Most scenes shot indoors were filmed on sound stages around the Warner Brothers studio. Sets were built within these stages to create interiors of homes, diners, and the iconic Dragonfly Inn. Scenes set outside of Stars Hollow were also filmed on the west coast. When Rory goes to college at Yale, the campus of the University of Southern California was actually used. The Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills was also used to shoot scenes set at the Chilton Preparatory School.
What Happened to the Gilmore Girls Set After the Show Ended?
After production on the final season of Gilmore Girls ended, Stars Hollow remained. While the set was altered, the general layout of the town stayed the same. The show Pretty Little Liars began production on the set, creating the town of Rosewood. Fans of both shows will be surprised to see how the Stars Hollow set transformed. Luke’s Diner became the Applerose Grill, and the high school was made into the Rosewood Town Hall. Those with a sharp eye will be able to recognize pieces of Stars Hollow in shows like You and films such as La La Land.
When the follow-up miniseries of the show, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, was filmed, Stars Hollow was reborn. The Warner Brothers Backlot once again became the iconic Connecticut town, filled with all of the memorable locations.
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