December 17th, 2021

Get your Stars Hollow fix in McMinnville

Gilmore Girls fans reluctantly said goodbye to the fictional town of Stars Hollow when the show wrapped in 2007.  In the years since, we’ve even gotten homesick for the sweet little downtown, with its quaint shops, kind and quirky characters, and simple, absurd, slower pace of life.  When these twinges of nostalgia would hit, all we needed to do was reach for the remote and get whisked away to idyllic Stars Hollow.

Unfortunately, this trick lost its effectiveness for me once the pandemic threatened my own treasured downtown in McMinnville, Oregon.  When Rory and Lorelai could no longer bring solace, I found it when I stood by the folks in my community who longed to protect the real-life downtown ecosystem that we love.  This longing prompted businesses and patrons to rally together, shop locally as much as possible, adopt weekly take-out nights, and find new ways to support each other and stay connected.  

It was during those difficult early days of the pandemic that I began to draw parallels between Stars Hollow and McMinnville, and I realized that this storyline could have been written into a Gilmore Girls season.  We were all weathering uncertain times together, and our determination enabled us to make it through what we are all still hoping was the darkest point of our current season.

You can experience McMinnville’s triumphs yourself.  Whether you’re looking for a mother-daughter getaway, a romantic nook made for connecting with your sweetheart, or family-friendly fun, McMinnville is the place to get that small town, small screen experience.

The exterior of colonial style bed and breakfast.
Home base bliss.  Photo courtesy of A’ Tuscan Estate. 

The Dragonfly Inn: Looking for an equivalent to the Dragonfly Inn?  Book your stay at A’ Tuscan Estate.  Each room is elegantly furnished and breakfast is just as good as we always dreamed Sookie’s would be (served without drama!).  As an added bonus, this cozy B&B is located within walking distance of historic downtown.

Doose’s Market:  Downtown corner market, Harvest Fresh Grocery & Deli has all the staples you may need, from wine and beer, to ingredients for a home cooked meal at your vacation rental.  Or pick up picnic goodies like fresh made sandwiches and home baked desserts from their deli.  We don’t have a Taylor Doose to meddle in town politics, but the owners of Harvest Fresh have built up a reputation for contributing to countless local causes.  

The Town Troubadour: Okay technically, we enjoy a rotating cast of town troubadours.  They like to serenade downtown from the vantage point of Sir Benjamin Franklin on the corner of 3rd and Davis, or they’ll experiment with the incredible acoustics beneath the Mack Theater marquee.

A table spread of coffee, pancakes, creamed chicken and biscuits, strawberry feta salad and a reuben.
Crescent Café has definitely mastered the art of brunch. Photo by Kari Young.

Luke’s Diner: I know you’re wondering which eating establishment we’d equate to Luke’s Diner and the truth is, there are several downtown restaurants that locals love to frequent for coffee and breakfast.  You first need to ask yourself what vibe you want to experience while you’re here.  

We’ve got Wildwood Cafe, the greasy spoon diner with lots of antique signage on the walls, or the warm and inviting Crescent Café, where you can choose from a plethora of in-house baked breads for your toast or sandwich.  Community Plate is known as McMinnville’s living room, where you can belly up to the bar, or grab a table and enjoy delicious farm to fork options.  

These may be more than you bargained for, but with how busy downtown McMinnville gets during brunch, you’ll be grateful for all the options. The only thing you’ll be missing is the grouchy but lovable Luke Danes.

Movie Night: Nothing is more endearing than Rory and Lorelai’s tradition of take-out and a movie.  While you may have thought that going to the video store was relegated to the last Blockbuster on earth, you probably didn’t know that McMinnville is home to an old school video rental establishment.  

At The Reel Hollywood Video, even visitors are eligible to open a rental account; just bring a photo ID and credit card that matches your ID.  So stay at an Airbnb, pick out a couple movies (don’t forget the popcorn and candy), grab some take-out, and you’re good to go!  

Parade participants dressed in McMenamins hammerhead and witch costumes holding a banner that says McMenamins Hotel Oregon UFOfest.
Things can get pretty wild and weird at UFOFest! Photo by Jeff Knapp.

Town Festivals: Remember those charming Stars Hollow gatherings such as the Firelight Festival and Winter Carnival?  McMinnville also has our share of downtown festivals and events.  While they aren’t hosted in a town square setting, much of downtown is closed to traffic, and 3rd Street is transformed into a five block long social room.  

The UFO Festival, celebrating the infamous 1951 UFO sighting at Trent Farm near McMinnville typically is hosted in May.  July’s Turkey Rama celebrates the days when McMinnville was known for their turkey farms.  In November, Santa’s Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony delights folks of all ages, followed the next day by Small Business Saturday, which focuses on supporting local businesses to fuel your holiday shopping madness.  And in December, the McMinnville Downtown Association and downtown businesses band together to offer an unforgettable holiday shopping experience, complete with cookies and hot chocolate, special sales, and prizes.  Be sure to check out all of the fun events to be experienced year-round in McMinnville.  

So the next time you’re looking to soothe that nostalgic Stars Hollow yearning, don’t reach for the remote: You can experience this epic small town friendliness everyday in McMinnville, Oregon.

About the Author: Jamie Corff is the Marketing Coordinator for Visit McMinnville. You’ll likely find her enjoying the arts in the form of theater, music, and the written word. She is also a passionate cheerleader for the people and businesses that are integral to the vibrancy of her beloved Downtown McMinnville.