10 New England Small Towns Like Stars Hollow

If you’re a fan of the TV show Gilmore Girls, you’ve probably wondered if there are real-life small towns like the charming and vibrant Stars Hollow.

Lorelai and Rory, the main characters in the show, clearly love their idyllic life in Stars Hollow. First, the walkable downtown makes it easy to run into and chat with neighbors and friends. Then, there’s Luke’s, the local diner and hangout. And the icing on the cake of Star’s Hollow’s charm is its village green, complete with a white gazebo where numerous town-run events occur.

And let’s not forget those boisterous town meetings depicted in the show. Although more often than not, Stars Hollow’s town meetings were contentious, they were still entertaining and showcased the civic pride in the community.

So are there any real-life New England towns like Stars Hollow? Why, yes, there certainly are!

While each of the towns listed below contains some aspect of the fictional community, they also have other distinguishing attributes – many of which add to the town’s attractiveness.

Brattleboro, Vermont

Brattleboro Vermont in the evening - one of the towns like Stars Hollow
The start of Main Street in Brattleboro, Vermont

How it’s similar: A small but bustling downtown, a tight-knit community with a few characters to boot, town meetings

How it’s different: An extensive arts community, very liberal

Brattleboro, located in southern Vermont next to the New Hampshire border and not far from Massachusetts, is just the type of small town one might imagine in a TV show. There’s the local theater, a cafe, plenty of restaurants, and the downtown is usually humming with activity. It’s also a civic-minded community, meaning the people of Brattleboro care not only about the well-being of their town but also the world at large.

One aspect of Brattleboro that isn’t similar to Stars Hollow is its outsized arts community. But this certainly adds to the culture and character of the town.

As with most of Vermont, you’ll also find Brattleboro is a very liberal community. And while political leanings certainly popped up a few times on the Gilmore Girls, it’s probably safe to say that Brattleboro is generally even more left-leaning than Stars Hollow.

See related: Top 16 Best Things to Do in Brattleboro Vermont

Harvard, Massachusetts

Harvard Massachusett's town hall
The Harvard Town Hall, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo credit: John Phelan / Creative Commons

How it’s similar: A picturesque town green, a general store where everyone meets, a tight-knit community with numerous small town events throughout the year, town meetings

How it’s different: The downtown is tiny, with no retail stores

This sweet little town isn’t well-known, but it oozes charm and New England character. Located about an hour’s drive northwest of Boston, Harvard is most well-known for Fruitlands Museum, the former commune of the Alcott family.

But beyond this well-regarded museum lies a tight-knit and civically engaged community, just like Stars Hollow. With just under 7,000 citizens, this small town has not one but two local newspapers. And it seems there’s a festival, event, or parade happening just about every weekend. Locals also meet up in the town’s quaint General Store – just steps away from the town green.

One aspect of Harvard that’s different from Stars Hollow is that it barely has a downtown. The only stores in the central part of Harvard are the General Store, schools, the library, a church, a town hall, and a dry cleaner. While other retail stores exist in Harvard, they’re on the other side of town and are generally in strip malls.

Hancock, New Hampshire

The center of Hancock New Hampshire with the gazebo on the town green
Residents listening to a summer concert on the town green in Hancock, NH. Photo credit: Kerry Flatley

How it’s similar: A picturesque town green with a white gazebo, a tight-knit community, town meetings

How it’s different: The downtown is tiny, with no retail stores

Similar to Harvard, Hancock, New Hampshire isn’t very well-known among travelers. But this small town is worth a stop if you’re a fan of quaint picture-perfect New England communities. Plus, it’s home to the Hancock Inn – the oldest inn in New Hampshire.

Main Street in Hancock is lined with old colonial homes, some dating back to the 18th century. You’ll also find Fiddleheads, the local cafe, serving breakfast and lunch. Right across the street is the Main Street Cheese Shop, which is little more than a room in the back of a house where customers pay by the honor system.

Every August, Hancock organizes an Old Homes Day event, including a 5K race, an art show, activities and games for kids, a synchronized swimming performance at the town pond, and an evening chicken barbecue. The town also hosts a summer music series on the town green and an annual Fourth of July fireworks event.

Camden, Maine

Downtown Camden Maine - one of the towns like Stars Hollow
Downtown Camden, Maine is picture-perfect. Photo credit: Idawriter

How it’s similar: Charming and bustling downtown, a tight-knit community, town meetings

How it’s different: Located on the coast with a harbor steps from the downtown

It’s not surprising that Camden, Maine has been the backdrop for numerous films. The downtown fits the American depiction of a small town so perfectly it feels a bit like a studio set.

The center of town (shown in the photo above) features several retail shops, restaurants, cafes, and even an adorable grocery store, French & Brawn, that feels a bit like a welcome relict from a different era.

What’s different about Camden compared to Stars Hollow is that it sits adjacent to Penobscot Bay, with schooners and yachts docked in the harbor. But like Stars Hollow, the Camden community is civically minded, with active participation in town meetings and events throughout the year.

See related: Top 10 Best Things to Do in Camden Maine

Woodstock, Vermont

Downtown Woodstock Vermont
Woodstock’s charming downtown. Photo credit: David Wilson / Flickr

How it’s similar: A quintessential New England downtown, town meetings

How it’s different: Rolling Vermont hills in the backdrop, more tourists

Few towns are as charming as Woodstock, Vermont, with its village green, quaint and walkable downtown, and idyllic hills in the backdrop. So it’s no wonder this town is a popular tourist destination. That’s especially true in the fall when leaf peepers make Woodstock a stop on their journey.

The central point in town is the Woodstock Inn, which is a major draw (perhaps similar to the Dragonfly?). And across the street from the inn is the village green, shaped in a long oval.

Townsfolk and visitors to Woodstock also enjoy the various shops, cafes, and restaurants downtown – all within walking distance from the village green.

See related: Top 12 Best Things to Do in Woodstock Vermont

Williamstown, Massachusetts

A white church steeple in Williamstown MA
Williamstown is an idyllic New England college town.

How it’s similar: A downtown with red brick buildings, town meetings

How it’s different: A college town, a world-class museum, rolling hills in the backdrop

For a small town of just over 7,000, Williamstown, Massachusetts has much to offer residents and visitors. While its downtown area is small – consisting mainly of Spring Street – this section of town oozes with character with late 19th-century red brick buildings, interesting shops and eateries, and a popular coffee shop to boot.

One aspect of Williamstown that differs from Stars Hollow is that it’s, first and foremost, a college town. Williams College, with over 2,000 students, is a major presence in the community, especially since the campus is centrally located downtown.

Another difference in Williamstown is The Clark Museum, which showcases esteemed works by artists one would expect to find in big city museums. The setting of Williamstown is also different, with towering Mount Greylock, Massachusett’s highest peak, in the background.

See related: Top 15 Best Things to Do in Williamston Massachusetts

Hanover, New Hampshire

Downtown Hanover New Hampshire - one of the towns like Stars Hollow
Downtown Hanover, New Hampshire is full of cute shops and restaurants. Photo credit: Ken_Gallager / Creative Commons

How it’s similar: A charming downtown, town meetings

How it’s different: A college town

Hanover has just about everything one could want in a community. It has a small but extensive downtown with various shops, restaurants, cafes, and even a nostalgic local diner. Add to that an Ivy League university steps away from the shopping district, and you’ve hit small-town gold.

While Hanover’s downtown certainly has Stars Hollow vibes, and the village green adds to the character, unlike Stars Hollow, Dartmouth College is an overwhelming presence in the community that adds to the cultural and intellectual vibe.

Litchfield, Connecticut

Downtown Litchfield Connecticut
Downtown Litchfield, Connecticut on West Street. Photo credit: Joe Mabel

How it’s similar: A walkable downtown, a village green

How it’s different: A smaller downtown than Stars Hollow

Since fictional Stars Hollow is presumed to be located in Litchfield County, Connecticut, we’d be remiss not to add the town of Litchfield to this list.

While rumor has it that neighboring Washington is the actual town the TV series is based on, Litchfield has a more nostalgic feel. While Litchfield doesn’t tend to be a top tourist destination, many come for day trips or overnight to experience a break from the city and bask in a quintessential New England village.

In addition to its walkable downtown with shops and restaurants, which feel a bit reminiscent of Stars Hollow, Litchfield also hosts town meetings to get citizens’ input in government decisions.

See related: Top 10 Best Things to Do in Litchfield Connecticut

Newburyport, Massachusetts

Downtown Newburyport Massachusetts
The red brick buildings of Newburyport’s Market Square. Photo credit: FletcherCreative Commons

How it’s similar: A walkable downtown, a village green

How it’s different: Adjacent to the water, more tourists, technically a city

With over 18,000 residents, Newburyport is one of the larger communities on this list. And while it’s technically a city, Newburyport definitely gives off many small-town vibes.

The downtown section of Newburyport, especially the Market Square area, is one of our list’s most walkable and Insta-worthly downtowns. There are a plethora of shops, restaurants, cafes – you name it, and it’s probably here. And steps away from the center is a village green.

Newburyport is different from Stars Hollow because it feels more like a coastal community than a typical New England village. The Merrimack River is steps away from shopping, and tourists flock to Newburyport in the summer to relax at local beaches.

See related: Top 29 Best Things to Do in Newburyport Massachusetts

Brunswick, Maine

Downtown Brunswick Maine - one of the towns like Stars Hollow
Downtown Brunswick, Maine in the snow. Photo credit: Paul VanDerWerf / Flickr

How it’s similar: A walkable downtown, a village green

How it’s different: A college town, more heavily populated

Located in Mid-coast Maine, Brunswick is another community that’s probably larger than fictional Stars Hollow but still feels like a small town. Its downtown has many buildings that date back to the 19th century. And while the downtown is walkable, Maine Street (get it?) is much wider and busier than other typical New England downtowns.

And like Williamstown and Hanover on this list, Brunswick is also a college town with Bowdoin College not far from the central shopping district. But this addition adds a youthful and intellectual vibe to the community.

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Keene, New Hampshire

Downtown Keene New Hampshire
Keene, New Hampshire’s town is green with a gazebo. Photo credit: Kerry Flatley

How it’s similar: A walkable downtown, a village green with a gazebo

How it’s different: A college town, more heavily populated, technically a city

Keene, New Hampshire could best be described as a city that feels like a small town – not too dissimilar to Stars Hollow. Its downtown isn’t quite as cozy as the fictional one but is still walkable and – importantly – has a village green with a white gazebo in the center.

Like a few other towns on this list, Keene is also a college town with Keene State College residing on Main Street, not far from shopping and restaurants. And with a population of over 23,000 plus about 3000 more college students, Keene lives up to its city status by feeling more densely populated than other small towns on this list.

See related: Top 15 Best Things to Do in Keene New Hampshire

A photo of Kerry Flatley leaning against a wall

About Kerry Flatley

Kerry Flatley has lived in New England for the past 26 years. She has roots in Maine & Massachusetts, family in New Hampshire, and grew up close to the Connecticut border. She loves all that this region has to offer – the ocean, mountains, islands, history, villages, and cities. When she’s not writing about New England, she’s relaxing at home in the Boston suburbs with her two teenage daughters and husband.

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