A Real-Life Inn Inspired the Independence Inn in ‘Gilmore Girls’

October will mark the 20th anniversary of the premiere of Gilmore Girls. While the show has been off the air since 2007, it has steadily gained fans thanks to its tenure on Netflix. The show’s creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband, Dan Palladino, managed to capture life in a small town in New England. Believe it or not, the inspiration for the series arose from a single trip to Connecticut. Even the inn where Lorelai Gilmore worked was inspired by a real business. 

Neither Sherman-Palladino nor her husband, Daniel Palladino, grew up on the East Coast

Gilmore Girls expertly captured the feel of small, New England towns. The series also managed to craft believable characters who personified the “old money” found on the East Coast. Strangely enough, neither Sherman-Palladino nor her husband ever called the East Coast home. 

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Sherman-Palladino was born and raised in California. The daughter of a comedian and a dancer, Sherman-Palladino, got her start writing for Roseanne. The series focused on a midwestern family, something that Sherman-Palladino, admittedly had little experience with. Palladino also spent his formative years on the West Coast. He was raised in Reseda and graduated from a private high school in Van Nuys, California. He started his television writing career on Who’s The Boss?. According to IMDb, he wrote ten episodes for the show. Who’s The Boss? Was also based in Connecticut. 

Amy Sherman-Palladino was inspired to write Gilmore Girls after a trip in Connecticut

Sherman-Palladino always intended to pitch a show about a mother-daughter duo who were more like best friends than mother and daughter. Still, she didn’t have the backdrop for the show until she visited a small town in the middle of Connecticut. She’s spoken extensively about the inspiration for the town of Stars Hollow, claiming to have borrowed elements from multiple villages and hamlets in the state. Everything, apparently, clicked in Washington Depot, Connecticut, though.

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According to Mental Floss, Sherman-Palladino once said, “We’re driving by, and people are slowing down saying, ‘Excuse me, where is the pumpkin patch?’ And everything is green, and people are out, and they’re talking. And we went to a diner and everyone knew each other” That small-town feel ended up in the series, and, in a lot of ways, became a character in itself. Washington Depot, a small hamlet within Washington, CT, even looks like Stars Hollow. The one element the real town is missing is the famed gazebo. Several towns nearby, however, have pavilions in their town centers. 

The Independence Inn was based on a real inn 

Not only was Gilmore Girls inspired by the existing town of Washington, Connecticut, but the inn that Sherman-Palladino stayed in served as the inspiration for Lorelai’s job. Sherman-Palladino stayed at the Mayflower Inn and Spa during a trip her fateful trip to Connecticut, and within 24 hours, managed to map out the general idea for Gilmore Girls. The inn factored heavily into the show’s first two seasons. 

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The inspiration business has a full dining room and serves up top-notch dishes, just like the Independence Inn. While Sookie St. James isn’t on staff, the inn’s executive chef is said to be just as celebrated. Unlike the Independence Inn, the Mayflower is owned by a larger parent company. In fact, it can be argued that the Mayflower’s current management is reminiscent of what Richard Gilmore suggested Lorelai could do with the Dragonfly Inn after she got the business off the ground.