A Visit to Real Life Stars Hollow (aka Unionville, Ontario)

Confession: I have a Trekky-level obsession with Gilmore Girls and the fictional town of Stars Hollow. I’ve watched every episode countless times – even the much-hated season 7. I got into Gilmore Girls around 2005 and have been been an avid fan of the show since. Needless to say, I was thrilled when news broke about the Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix. In the mean time, I got my fix by watching reruns. I also visited Unionville, Ontario where the pilot episode of Gilmore Girls was filmed!

Real Life Stars Hollow AKA Unionville, Ontario – Background

A huge draw of Gilmore Girls is the fictional town of Stars Hollow. The town, and the series as a whole, was inspired by Amy Sherman-Palladino’s visit to Washington Depot, Connecticut. The pilot episode was filmed in Unionville, Ontario. Unionville is a historic town near Toronto, which was subsequently recreated on the Warner Bros lot.

Unionville Ontario Real Life Stars Hollow Gazebo
Unionville outdoes Stars Hollow with not one but TWO town gazebos

The opening scene of the Gilmore Girls pilot episode takes place on Unionville’s Main Street. Lorelei crosses the street to Luke’s Diner and begs him for coffee, kicking off one of the most underrated tv shows in history. Now if you’re a serious Gilmore Girls fan, Unionville has probably been on your list of places to visit. I googled Unionville and it was just as picturesque as Stars Hollow. With not one but two gazebos, a pond perfectly named Toogood Pond in Toogood Park, loads of adorable little shops occupying Main Street, and enough charming buildings to give you flashbacks of Stars Hollow.

Main Street Unionville Ontario - a stand-in for Stars Hollow, CT from the show Gilmore Girls
Main Street Unionville Ontario – a stand-in for Stars Hollow, CT from Gilmore Girls

My Visit to Stars Hollow AKA Unionville, Ontario – How It Happened

A month ago I was in Toronto, under some not-so-great circumstances. Sight-seeing or doing anything fun for that matter wasn’t on my agenda. At one point I mentioned to my parents that I’d like to come back at a later time and check out Unionville. My dad brought it up in front of my cousins, who insisted I tell them the name of the town. I refused. I just thought it was in poor taste to ask people to take me sight-seeing while they were mourning a loved one.

A few days later, my cousins and I piled into a car and hit up a Tim Horton’s drive-through. “So what was the name of that town you wanted to visit?” my cousin asked. We sparred over the fact that I wouldn’t tell him, until I finally relented after insisting that we wouldn’t go: “Unionville.” “Oh that’s like 15 minutes away from here. This is the perfect time to go.” The timing was perfect. By the time we arrived, it had gotten dark, the twinkle lights were on, and the entire town look straight out of a storybook.

Gilmore Girls Main Street Unionville Ontario AKA Stars Hollow
Historic Main Street Unionville, Ontario – a stand-in for the fictional Stars Hollow in the Gilmore Girls pilot episode

Main Street Unionville, Ontario (AKA Stars Hollow)

On our way towards Main Street, we even passed a series of houses that looked similar to those occupied by the residents of Stars Hollow. This house we drove past bore a striking resemblance to Lorelai Gilmore’s House on the show…

Lorelai Gilmore's House Unionville Ontario
Add a wrap-around porch and this house is practically a replica of Lorelai Gilmore’s home in Stars Hollow

Searching for Luke’s Diner and the Town Gazebo

My goal was to find the town gazebo and the building where Luke’s Diner was filmed. I pulled out my phone to look up their locations: The building standing in for Luke’s Diner was on 156 Main Street, while the gazebo was further down the street.

Church Building Unionville Ontario AKA Stars Hollow
Looks like a church straight out of Stars Hollow, but it’s actually a tv and stereo store in Unionville, Ontario

My cousin pulled over in the parking lot of what looked like a church, but turned out to be a TV and Stereo store. Oddly enough, there was an actual church two blocks down, which looked exactly like this one. We walked towards Main Street and that’s when the 7-degree weather hit me and I began losing feeling in my hands and toes. We passed a cute little dress boutique called Paris Fashions and this quaint little shop, which turned out to be a Spanx store. What is a Spanx store doing in Stars Hollow?!?! Talk about ruining the facade.

A Spanx store in Stars Hollow (i.e. Unionville, Ontario) disappointing.
A Spanx store in Stars Hollow (i.e. Unionville, Ontario)…so disappointing.

Taylor’s Olde Fashioned Soda Shoppe?

When we couldn’t find any buildings resembling Luke’s Diner,  we walked into the Old Firehall Confectionery (Hello Taylor Doose!) to ask for help.

Old Firehouse Confectionery Main Street Unionville, Ontario AKA Stars Hollow
Old Firehall Confectionery in Unionville, Ontario

I felt slightly stupid, pulling out my phone and showing the very nice cashier the building I was looking for. She said we’d passed it and told me it was two or three buildings down. We followed her instructions and ended up at the Tucci Armadio Ladies Boutique, which looked similar to Luke’s Diner. Later, I found out I got it wrong once again. The Paris Fashions Dress boutique next door was actually the filming location of Luke’s Diner, not Tucci Armadio.

Luke’s Diner in Real-Life Stars Hollow

Tucci Armadio Ladies Boutique Main Street Unionville Markham
Tucci Armadio Ladies Boutique on 154A Main Street Unionville: Located next to the building where Luke’s Diner was featured in the pilot episode of Gilmore Girls

We walked around a bit more and passed yet another corporate place – Starbucks! That would not fly with Taylor Doose. Or Lorelai. But then again, Luke’s Diner isn’t around anymore so where else is a girl supposed to get her coffee fix? (Sorry if this is all a little too inside baseball – you really need to watch the show to know what I’m talking about).

Unionville Ontario Sushi Restaurant Stars Hollow
Unionville’s Sushi Cafe – another cute building in town

Kim’s Antiques in Real-Life Stars Hollow

There was even a small home decor place called Isla Home that could have been a stand-in for Kim’s Antiques in Stars Hollow.

Isla Home in Unionville Ontario Kim's Antique's Stars Hollow
Isla Home in Unionville, Ontario – a stand-in for Star’s Hollow’s Kim’s Antiques?
Main Street Unionville Stores Stars Hollow Connecticut
More retail stores and restaurants around Main Street Unionville
Gilmore Girls Stars Hollow filming location Unionville Ontario
Another very Stars Hollow-esque building on Main Street Unionville, Ontario

Snow in Stars Hollow AKA Unionville, Ontario

As we passed what I later realized was Luke’s Diner, the most Gilmore of moments happened: It started snowing. The kicker? The snow sparkled with what appeared to be flecks of glitter. On Gilmore Girls, Lorelei had an obsession with snow. She considered it a magical time because every great thing that ever happened to her, happened while it snowed. Having sparkling snow fall as we were making our way down the street where the pilot episode of Gilmore Girls was filmed (and just past the character’s favorite hangout spot) couldn’t have been more perfect.

Cozy Loft Day Spa 147A Unionville Markham Ontario
Cozy Loft Day Spa at 147A Unionville – another building seen in fictional Stars Hollow in the Gilmore Girls pilot episode

Unionville’s Town Gazebo (s)

I took a lot of photos of cute little shops that resembled buildings around Stars Hollow. Then my cousin found the town gazebo. There are two and they are pretty much across the street from each another.

Gilmore Girls Stars Hollow AKA Historic Main Street Unionville Canada
Historic Main Street Unionville, where the Gilmore Girls pilot episode was filmed

My hands and feet were frozen and my face felt like it had been injected with a Real Housewives dose of botox. I was wearing a knee-length dress with tights and a coat. I’m not used to wearing gloves, so I left those in the car. Man did I regret it at that moment! Barely able to hold my phone, I stood across the street and snapped a picture of the gazebo. I literally couldn’t stand out there anymore (let alone cross the street), so I decided this snap was sufficient.

Stars Hollow Town Gazebo in Unionville Ontario
Gazebo in Unionville Ontario – similar to the Stars Hollow gazebo in Gilmore Girls

We headed back to the car and even though I was wearing 4-inch heels, I ran as best as I could. I grew up in Germany where it snowed every winter, but I have never experienced weather this cold before. We all hopped in the car, blasted the heater, and waited for our limbs to thaw before driving back home.

Leaving Main Street Unionville Ontario Stars Hollow Connecticut
Leaving Main Street Unionville, Ontario (AKA Stars Hollow, CT)

Final Thoughts on Visiting Stars Hollow AKA Unionville, Ontario

I loved my short but sweet visit to Unionville, Ontario. As a huge Gilmore Girls fan obsessed with Stars Hollow, it was awesome seeing the town where the show’s pilot episode was filmed. If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan and want to relive the magic of the show and its fictional setting in Stars Hollow, a visit to Unionville is definitely in order.

Have you been to Unionville, Ontario or any of the other locations that inspired the show Gilmore Girls?

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  1. Feroz Khan

    Hi Ariana,

    I know about Gilmore Girls and did see an episode or two but don’t remember it. Reading your description and love for the show makes me want to see it again and I will. It must be good for you to like it so much. I thought people were only huge fans of the show Seinfeld.

    I go to Pickering, Ontario all the time and Unionville is around Markham road which is one of my favorite places to go while in Toronto. I love the Afghani food at Bamiyan Kabab and always get my sweets from the Al-Karam store on Markham Road.

    I will watch the pilot episode of Gilmore Girls tonight and stop by Unionville, the next time I go to Toronto.

    Thanks for enriching my life. I love people who are passionate about things.


  2. I’ll have to go to Unionville sometime when I go to Toronto next. I just learned that it was where the plot was filmed and searched for more info and stumbled upon your post.

    Love all of the pictures and description. And how fun that it snowed!

  3. Does anyone know the date when they filmed the pilot in Unionville?

  4. I am from Unionville, and I have a little extra trivia for you! The house that you have pictured above that looks like Lorelai’s house was actually the house of a childhood friend of mine. This same childhood friend was actually IN Gilmore Girls. He was a party planner in season six, episode five – We’ve Got Magic To Do. 🙂

    • No way! What a crazy coincidence. Was he by any chance the guy in the pool house, helping Rory plan the DAR event right before Paris storms in and announces she’s broke? (Did I mention my trekkie-level obsession with the show?)

      • Yes! That is him. We went to grade school together, and then he went to a high school for the performing arts.

        • How crazy is that?! I would have loved to have been on set of that show. I’m keeping my finger’s crossed that they’ll do a prequel or something: Gilmore Girls: The Early Years.

  5. Thanks for sharing! I’m 3 season’s into it on Netflix and I’m hooked! It just makes me feel so happy and serene.

  6. Okay this may sound crazy to you, but Have never seen the Gilmore Girls’ pilot movie. BUT Unionville was my home for 41 years. I only recently moved 15 minutes north because they tore down the building I lived in to build Condo’s. I lived right behind the trees behind the bandstand. I still go to Unionville a lot though. The last time I was there was about 3 hours ago! 🙂

    • Lucky! I’m absolutely in love with Unionville. Gilmore fan or not, it’s an adorable little town.

      • Update: I’m actually now working in Unionville for the local BIA. My job is to arrange all the events and hire the bands that play on the street in the summer. So I guess I’ll be seeing Unionville a lot more now lol. You’ll have to come back to visit.

        • That’s so cool, Gary! I’m literally obsessed with this town. I’ll absolutely come back at some point. BTW if you guys can manage to put a diner on Main Street along with a cozy little inn, you’d have Gilmore Girls fans flocking from far and wide.

          • You could manage to bring the cast and do a “Gilmore girls event”, fans would be linen up to see it :3

          • There’s actually an annual Gilmore Girls Fan Fest in Connecticut around October. Part of the cast shows up, though event looks a bit boring (i.e. there’s a knit-a-thon). I’ve been toying with the idea of holding a more fun version of the event in Unionville. Something to think about, for sure!

  7. Jennifer Collins

    I am also obsessed with the show. I LOVE that fictional town! How amazing would it be to live in one just like it?
    Anyone know if a town that has that vibe (besides Unionville?)

  8. Frances Bucci

    Well here is some great news that was released yesterday on the Unionville Main Street page on Facebook- Next Fall the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest 2019 will be in Unionville! Very exciting for the town and the Gilmore Girls fans!

    • Danielle Smith

      I didn’t see your post before leaving my comment so it basically says the same thing…. Its very exciting though! I haven’t been to any of the past fan fests and had heard this was the last year for it…. so glad to see that’s NOT the case!!

    • Yep! The organizers reached out to me to let me know. So exciting!

  9. Danielle Smith

    HUGE Gilmore Girl fan here! (I even have a whole room dedicated to GG complete with wolf girl picture!) I know this is an older post but I wanted to tell you that Gilmore Girls fan fest is scheduled to be in Unionville in 2019!

  10. Frances Bucci

    Very excited too! It’s just 10 minutes from my house. I’m in Unionville and always walk by where Luke’s was. I can’t wait until October 2019!

  11. Just finished watching the series……..Loved it….this post is great!!! Loved seeing these pictures, all the info on the town is wonderful!!! And the snow……..amazing Please post info for the event in October, 2019.


  12. Here’s a link to the video we produced that they played at the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest in Connecticut.

    Fun fact: The organizers from the US had never seen a black squirrel before until they came to Unionville. Hence why we called it “A Black Squirrel Production” 🙂

  13. Kate Gardner Koontz

    Was watching an episode and spotted a board and battan building which building looks Canadian. Have spent summers in Ontario since I was 5. My parents lived in Ontario. My sister lives in Ontario and my brother lives on Vancouver Island. I can usually spot a Canadian setting in US movies or tv. Googled “Gilmore Girls” and yes! I love the series! Too busy to watch tv raising 5 children. Enjoying now at age 71. Thanks!

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