In the heart of North Jersey, where the leaves paint a vibrant tapestry of reds and golds and the air turns crisp with the promise of autumn, it’s as if the story of Gilmore Girls, a 2000s-era TV show, magically comes to life. The show is widely known for its autumn aesthetic and fashion in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, and has sparked inspiration among fans and non-viewers alike. Locals can explore North Jersey’s haven of nostalgia and warmth, and step into a real-life Stars Hollow for a Gilmore-inspired day. Whether you’ve watched the show or simply came across the fall spirit it brings to TikTok, here are some ideas for spending a Gilmore-inspired fall day in North Jersey. Read on for ideas of having a Gilmore Girls-inspired autumn day in North Jersey.
About the Show
Gilmore Girls is a popular 2000s-era TV show celebrated for its autumnal aesthetic, which extends beyond the screen and has become a source of inspiration for fall enthusiasts. The show follows the main characters, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, a mother-daughter-duo and is known for its portrayal of the fall season in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. Stars Hollow is complete with quaint small-town settings, autumn festivals, and a coffee culture that includes memorable visits to Luke’s Diner.
The show’s charming aesthetic has gained a devoted following on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, where users share their favorite clips of the show or real-life scenes inspired by the show. Viewers turn to the show not only for its iconic character dynamics but also for the comfortable and stylish outfits worn by Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, which have become a sense of inspiration for fall fashion. Additionally, the season’s portrayal of fall festivals and community events gives fans and non-viewers ideas for their own autumn adventures and activities. Even if you have never heard of the show, the Gilmore Girls know all about making the most of the fall season.
Local North Jersey Towns
It’s not about finding an exact replica of Stars Hollow but about embracing the intimate and friendly atmosphere of small towns in North Jersey, enjoying local businesses, and having meaningful connections with people, just like the characters did in the show. Here are some quaint towns in North Jersey that resemble Stars Hollow:
Booton captures the small-town charm reminiscent of Stars Hollow with its quaint streets, community spirit, and welcoming atmosphere that can feel like home. The town is home to several restaurants, a theater, and cafes, and is a place to walk around just like Lorelai and her daughter Rory do in Stars Hollow.
The downtown area of Denville has a classic small-town feel with endless shops and eateries. It’s easy to find a spot to sip a cup of coffee while strolling through the town.
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Known for its picturesque downtown, Madison extends a quaint atmosphere with boutique shops, a classic movie theater, and cafes. The town’s charm is reminiscent of Stars Hollow.
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With its tree-lined streets and welcoming community, Maplewood exudes the small-town charm that fans of Gilmore Girls will love. One can enjoy coffee at local cafes and explore the town’s vibrant art scene.
Montclair offers a mix of an urban and small-town atmosphere. The town is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, cafes, and bookstores to spend a Gilmore-inspired day.
Ridgewood is a place where one can easily imagine characters in the show strolling down the street, engaging in ‘window shopping’ as the Gilmore girls do, and savoring life’s simple pleasures. With the town’s endless storefronts, restaurants, and cafes, the town exudes the feeling of Stars Hollow.
Things to Do
Support Local Businesses/Shopping
Just like Lorelai and Rory supported local businesses, part of Gilmore Girls’ Day is to make an effort to patronize North Jersey’s small businesses. This includes dining at local restaurants, shopping at boutiques, and attending local events.
The best way to begin a Gilmore-inspired autumn day is to hit some local shops and boutiques to find the perfect outfit, taking fashion inspiration from the Gilmore girls. Rory frequently wears buttoned-up shirts, cardigans, and pullover sweaters, often in solid colors or subtle patterns to give off a polished and scholarly look. Lorelai’s fashion sense typically features comfortable and practical attire for the New England climate, with a touch of creativity and accessories.
Many shops and boutiques have the fall collection in-store and provide a range of these pieces in these shops. Some well-known independently owned boutiques and shops in North Jersey for Gilmore-inspired fall fashion include Ester + Friends in Ridgewood, Barbara Eclectic in Montclair, Gypsy Muse in Boonton, and Right-On Denville in Denville.
Gilmore Girls fans are also well-acquainted with Kim’s Antiques shop in the show. Shopping at a local antique store is a go-to destination for a Gilmore-inspired fall day. Some ideas for antique shops within North Jersey include Ridgewood Antiques, The Rustic Mill in Denville, Main Street Antiques in Boonton, and the Montclair Antique Center.
There is no better retreat than a visit to the bookstore on a fall-inspired day — especially when it involves Rory Gilmore. One of Rory’s characteristics is her love for reading books, which the show frequently pays homage to through literary references. At some point in the day, take a visit to a local bookstore and find a cozy spot to read. A visit to Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, for instance, allows one to unwind on the couch and browse a wide selection of books, spanning from classics to contemporary releases. What sets this bookstore apart is its hidden Italian restaurant, providing an extra incentive to linger over a good book. Other local and independent bookstores within North Jersey are the Book Barn in Denville, Words Bookstore located in Downtown Maplewood, and the well-known independent bookstore Bookends in Ridgewood.
Visit Luke’s Diner (a.k.a a Local Diner)
Towns across North Jersey have their own charming diners where one can enjoy a cup of coffee and classic diner food, much like Luke’s Diner in the show. Rory and Lorelai are regulars at Luke’s Diner, known for their go-to orders, which include a burger (with extra French fries), blueberry pancakes (with extra whipped cream), and, of course, coffee served in a ceramic cup. Raymond’s Diner in Montclair is one of those places that can bring a Gilmore-inspired meal to life. The diner serves coffee in ceramic cups, similar to the way Luke served coffee in his diner, and much like any diner within the area, a decent burger with French fries or blueberry pancakes depending on personal preference. Local diner trips during the fall season are a great pit-stop to squeeze into an autumn-inspired Gilmore Girls day.
Fall Foliage Walks
Leisurely walks through some of North Jersey’s scenic parks and neighborhoods are a way to capture the foliage as depicted in scenes from the show. The characters often strolled through their own picturesque town, and North Jersey has many streets and parks to explore the fall foliage. Among the well-known parks in North Jersey for witnessing foliage include Greenwood Gardens in Short Hills, Ringwood State Park in Passaic County, High Point State Park in Sussex County, and Ramapo Mountain State Forest spanning Bergen and Passaic Counties. In Montclair, some parks for taking a leisurely stroll feature Brookdale Park, Anderson Park, and Edgemont Memorial Park. These walks, adorned in Gilmore Girls-inspired fall fashion, provide an immersive experience in the autumn ambiance, allowing one to feel like a character from the show or simply relish the season in the same spirit as the characters do.
Visit a Cafe
“Coffee, coffee, coffee,” Lorelai’s iconic line echoes through many episodes, emphasizing the central role of coffee in a Gilmore-inspired day. To embrace this tradition, a visit to a local cafe is a must where one can grab their favorite cup of coffee. In coffee shops such as Paper Plane Coffee in Montclair and Java Smugglers in Boonton, one can get lost in diverse cafe experiences.
In Paper Plane Coffee, the interior design resembles an airplane, creating an ambiance that combines both comfort and excitement. The warm element comes to life as visitors tuck themselves away in a corner to work or engage in a private conversation. Simultaneously, the cafe exudes an energetic atmosphere with its nostalgic charm of film, music, and pop culture. The coffee shop features two arcade games, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter II, reminiscent of the show’s scenes in “Weston’s Bakery,” which was a bakery in Stars Hollow that also had an arcade section where Rory and her boyfriend in the show, Dean, used to play Pac-Man.
Java Smugglers has a warm and intricate atmosphere, reminiscent of Emily and Richard Gilmore’s house, and Lorelai’s affluent parents. The interior is rich in character, featuring intricate designs, vintage antiques, a well-stocked bookshelf, and scattered guitars. It’s as if the cafe connects the contracting worlds of Rory and her grandmother Emily. It captures Rory’s musical and reading sensibilities while capturing Emily’s opulent tastes in antiques and furniture. The highlight is the comfortable couches where there are plenty of spots to relax and enjoy the autumn aesthetic, just as the Gilmore girls would.
Attend Local Festivals
The characters in the show often participated in town events from volunteering to joining for fun. Towns across North Jersey often host various fall festivals and events, such as the Boonton Bookfest that honored writers and artists, and the Montclair Film Festival. Local festivals within North Jersey that are planned for this month include a Swedish Traditional Christmas Fair in Upper Montclair on November 19th which will feature a selection of Swedish delicacies, home-baked goods, cheeses, handmade Christmas decorations, linen, and wooden items. The Newton Holiday Parade is on November 25th and will include themed floats, live performances, and community groups’ holiday marching. Lastly, the Wayne PAL Holiday Flea Market and Gift Fair on November 26th where over 75 exhibitors will be selling gift items, crafts, and stocking stuffers. By attending or participating in a local festival, one can capture the small-town charm and community spirit as seen in Stars Hollow.
For any fan of the show, it’s essential to understand that the Gilmore Girls conclude their busy days with cozy, at-home movie nights. The beauty of this tradition is that it can be spent in the comfort of home to wrap up an adventure-filled day in the Gilmore spirit. To do this, arrange a Gilmore-inspired movie night featuring all of the classics: pizza, popcorn, pop tarts, ice cream, funky pudding, and of course, a movie. Lorelai and Rory frequently watched a mix of old and newer films, featuring the timeless classics Casablanca and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. To truly inspire the movie night with Gilmore spirit, keep some classic films on standby. As for the dress code, there are no strict rules — simply find the most comfortable attire and pile up blankets for a night of warmth and fun, doing it the Gilmore way.