Are you looking for the perfect vacation to shake off your pandemic blues?
Burlington Vermont, located on the shores of Lake Champlain, has got everything that you may want for your time off the mundane routine.
Vermont’s largest city, Burlington is a vibrant and energetic place, with innumerable places to visit and can make your stay worth remembering.
If you are looking for shops to empty your pockets, the Church Street Marketplace is there for your every need. If it is an adventure that you are seeking then the Burlington Bike Path and its award-winning trails are there to give you an adrenaline rush. Or if a relaxing and calm time is your aim, then simply wander along the Waterfront area and lose yourself in the stunning beauty of the lake.
The downtown is dominated by fine dining and small shops while south Burlington is the industrial part of the city. This outdoor-centric city has islands, bike paths, breweries, farmlands, and ski trails, covering every possibility of a perfect holiday for you.
Natural beauty is everywhere and adds to the charm of the city. The flourishing music, fine arts, and rich culture are also the reason for its growing popularity.
So without any further ado then, let us hop into the article, relishing in the beauty of Burlington Vermont.
A. Interesting facts about Burlington Vermont
Before we dive in and explore the various things to do in Burlington Vermont, let’s know about some interesting facts about the city, which we are sure, will definitely harden your resolve to visit the place.
- The city of Burlington is recently accredited as being the most environmentally progressive city in the country. It is the first city to source 100% of its entire energy from renewable sources.
- Every year, Burlington Vermont hosts the ‘Festival of Foods’ in honor of its old tradition of busking. It features street performers and artists along Church Street and City Hall Park.
- Ben and Jerry’s, the famous ice cream shop that you would have definitely heard of, was founded here. In 1978, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened this ice cream shop with no prior experience. These childhood friends then set their names in stone in history, by producing some of the best quality and flavors of ice cream in the world.
- The University of Vermont was the first institution of higher learning to declare support to freedom of religion and to admit female students in 1871.
- The University’s abbreviation, UVM does not stand for the University of Vermont as most believe, but rather, ‘Universitas Viridis Montis’ or ‘University of Green Mountains’.
- Another popular festival hosted by Burlington Vermont is the Dragons Boat Festival. Every summer, rowers compete in the Lake Champlain in longboats similar to the ancient boats of China and all the proceeds of the event go to the local cancer charity center.
- Burlington Vermont hosted the first international hockey match of the world in 1886. It was between Montreal Crystals and the local Van Ness House hockey team.
Burlington Vermont will never bore you. This city has a lot to offer and is an amazing place to relax and spend your time while on a vacation.
B. Things to do in Burlington Vermont
With its thriving art scene and culture, Burlington Vermont is a vibrant city. Mother Nature shines in her glory and this Green Mountain city has countless options for you to explore and visit.
1. Lake Champlain
Covering most of Vermont-New York state border, and a small part of Canada, Lake Champlain was founded and named by Samuel De Champlain, a French explorer, in 1806. As soon as you enter downtown Burlington Vt, you will find the view of this stunning lake which will leave you spellbound.
There are many ways to enjoy the beauty of this lake. You can even go sightseeing at the beautiful islands surrounding the lake in the cruises and ferries running during the summer and fall seasons. The Spirit of Ethan Allen III is one of the most popular cruises which, along with the spectacular views of the lake also provides the narration of the history of the Revolutionary War and the role played by Lake Champlain.
The cruises of this historic lake are popular among the locals as well as the visitors as it is one of the main transportation routes to Port Kent, New York.
There are options of lunch, dinner and sometimes dance performances on the cruises to make your journey more interesting and fun. Apart from the cruises, you can also take a sailboat excursion with your own experienced crew and enjoy the beautiful sunset from Burlington’s Lake Champlain.
2. Church Street Marketplace
Located in the heart of downtown Burlington Vermont, Church Street Marketplace is an open-air market and traffic-free street covering four blocks of Church Street, the main street of Vermont. It is an activity hub in Burlington Vermont and has hundreds of restaurants, cafes, chain stores, local art galleries, and boutiques.
You can’t complete your visit to Burlington Vermont without visiting Church Street Marketplace and going on souvenir shopping. The outdoor pedestrian area also has free public Wifi, so you can sit and enjoy the local performers or stroll the streets while updating your social media with photos of the amazing district that you are visiting.
Apart from being a great place for shopping, Church Street Marketplace is a popular site for several festivals throughout the year. The headquarters of the historic Ben & Jerry’s is also located here.
Listed as one of the Great Public Spaces in America, Church Street Marketplace also contains some of the most beautiful public arts like the mural Everyone Loves a Parade! by Canadian muralist Pierre Hardy.
3. Shelburne Farms
Shelburne Farms is a non-profit education center with a mission to educate the youth about a sustainable future. It is located on the shores of Lake Champlain and the estate stretches across 1400 acres. Visitors can explore the beautiful farmlands and woodlands or stroll along the shoreline of the lake.
You can also take a wagon tour as a way to scout this vast expanse of nature in Burlington Vermont. The unique campus teaching offered here makes the learning more fun and real. Shelburne Farms also hosts many educational workshops about sustainable agriculture and forestry.
Shelburne farms contain many historic buildings and is designated as National Historic Landmark District in 2001. It also has many inns, restaurants, and Children’s Farmyard to make it a perfect day trip to the farms.
4. Shelburne Museum
Shelburne Museum is located on the outskirts of the city of Burlington and next to its namesake, Shelburne Farms. From paintings, arts, furniture, to decorative art, it has approximately 150,000 pieces from all the eras of Vermont’s past.
Shelburne Museum has thirty-nine historic buildings which also include a sawmill, school, and a railway station. This open-air museum displays New England’s fascinating history and is a paradise for history buffs.
The museum is shaped like a horseshoe and was constructed to display a 500-foot long handmade circus parade. The round barn is used for special exhibits.
The legendary Ticonderoga steamship was hailed over here and later restored for the public to see. Shelburne museum gives a unique experience of America’s art, history, and design.
There are entry charges for all adults, except for children under five, whose entry is free. This is Burlington’s one of the main attractions that are a must-go for all tourists visiting the town for the first time.
5. Waterfront Park
Another way to enjoy the scenic views of Lake Champlain is by going for a stroll in Burlington’s Waterfront Park. This wide green expanse of a park is within walking distance from Church Street, downtown Burlington Vermont and covers the shores of Lake Champlain. Adinrock Mountains frames the park from behind.
Along with the gorgeous views, Waterfront Park also has a bike path and is popular for outdoor recreational activities like running, cycling, or taking boat trips. If you are looking for ways to relax, then you can either go for a walk or a picnic. There are cafes and ice cream stands within walking distance at your disposal.
Waterfront Park is a popular site for festivals, concerts, and cultural events throughout the summer. It is also the location of ECHO Leahy Center which is home to the aquatic life of Lake Champlain. Here, the visitors learn more about the history of Lake Champlain, enjoy a panoramic view of the waterbody, and watch educational films at its on-site camera.
Waterfront Park is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing day with your family. It is Burlington’s best attraction and should be part of the itinerary of all the tourists visiting the city.
6. University of Vermont
Sprawled across the hilltop area of Burlington Vt, is the University of Vermont, one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of the state. It was the fifth educational institution of higher education established in New England. The University is surrounded by beautiful old buildings like Old Mill, William Hall, and Billings Memorial Library.
During your visit here, you can also see the Fleming Museum of Art. This museum contains some of the most diverse collections of paintings, decorative arts, and cultural artifacts like the African masks, the Egyptian mummy in its coffin, and art pieces of some of the most notable artists across the centuries.
Another one of the main attractions of the University of Vermont is the Royall Tyler Theatre. Throughout the year, the students of the University perform plays by Shakespeare or there are even student-directed one-act plays. You can definitely catch one of the shows if you are interested in theatre and literature.
7. Lake Champlain Islands
While Vermont is usually associated with the large mountains framing the back of the state, Lake Champlain Islands also catch the attention of many visitors. You can plan a day trip to the islands, as they have many summer recreational activities available to make your stay full of excitement and fun.
Lake Champlain Islands includes Great Isle, the largest island of the Lake. It is also known as South Hero Island, Isle La Motte, North Hero, and the Alburg Penninsula among the locals. They have beaches, campgrounds, and state parks. If you are not scared of the waters, then you can also go kayaking or paddleboarding in the lake.
All the islands of Lake Champlain are inter-connected by bridges and causeways as well as there are roads leading to north Burlington. They are famous for their apple orchards and have the longest blooming season in the state.
Isle La Motte is home to the oldest coral reefs and has a small museum explaining this amazing natural phenomenon.
There is something for everyone at the Lake Champlain Islands of Burlington Vermont. From families to lovers seeking a romantic gateway, these islands have got you covered, so do check them out during your stay in the city.
8. Burlington’s Farmer’s Market
When in Burlington Vt, you just cannot miss the Famer Market.
Set up every year from May to October, this market is located in City Hall Park, downtown. Popular among tourists and locals alike, Burlington’s Farmer Market is full of shops and stalls organized by more than 90 vendors.
In a state which defines going local in the most literal sense, you can shop the freshest seasonal produce, flowers, craft products, and baked goods. It is one of the best places to buy souvenirs for your friends and relatives. This Burlington market is also dog-friendly so you can also sit on the benches and enjoy the warm atmosphere.
Happening every Saturday, Burlington’s Farmers Market is not just any shopping area, it is the coming together of the communities of Vermont to sell and produce the ethnic varieties of food. In addition to the shopping activity, you can also simply stroll along the area, listen to the street performers singing live music, or eat at a restaurant. It is an excellent way to get a taste of local life in Vermont.
9. Island Line Rail Trail
One of the top attractions of Burlington Vermont is the Island Line Rail Trail. Consisting of Burlington Bike Path, Colchester Park, and Allen Point Access Area, it is an amazingly picturesque place of Burlington Vt. It runs for 23 kilometers, stretching from Oakledge Park to Grand Isle, passing through Burlington Waterfront Park.
The trail is usually used by joggers, bikers, and walkers, enjoying the breathtaking view as they take part in these outdoor activities. The beautiful shimmering lake along with lighthouses, beaches, and a spectacularly beautiful sunset, should definitely be on the travelers’ things to do in Vermont list.
The Island line Rail Trail was inducted into the Hall of Fame’s national trails in 2010. Do stop by this trail and participate in a few recreational activities as well as explore Burlington’s scenic beauty.
10. Green Mountain Audubon Center
Approximately 19 miles southeast of downtown, Green Mountain Audubon Center, located in Burlington Vermont is a paradise for nature lovers. The center is operated by Audubon Vermont and is surrounded by the Green mountains.
Throughout the year, there are many seasonal activities to do and areas to visit. Access to the ground is free and the center has some of the most diverse wildlife populations. It is also the ideal place for bird-sighting. You can also go for a short hike here and enjoy what nature has to offer. The trails are open every day and dogs are also permitted to enter the Audubon center. You can check out this place if you want to feel more connected to nature and spend a few hours in its warmth.
C. When in Burlington Vermont…
There are endless places you can go to when you are in the city, but when you are in Burlington Vermont you would not want to miss out on the exciting experiences that the place has to offer to you.
From bustling downtown to a multitude of shops in the marketing district, Burlington Vt gives off a lively and vibrant atmosphere all seasons.
Some of the few things that you must check off your list are-
Go Beer tasting
It is rumored that Burlington Vermont is the place where Americans turned to craft beer. The city offers some of the best breweries in New England for you to visit and taste. Foam Brewers, situated just a few steps away from waterfront park, is the only brewery to sell the blended beers and offers a heterogeneous mix of beers.
Zero Gravity, another brewery located in Burlington Vermont, sells some of the best quality beer under the guidance of the brewmaster Paul Sayer. This brewery also has a restaurant to provide some fine dining options along with the beer tasting.
If you want to know more about breweries in Vermont, check out this article 10 Best Vermont Breweries for your Beer-cation.
Ski during winter
Though the ideal months to visit Burlington are from May to October, winter in Burlington is also quite magical, especially during the Christmas time. If you enjoy skiing then, the city will not disappoint. The place is quite famous for its skiing and snowboarding activities. There are also many options in terms of the mountains that you want.
Bolton Valley, half an hour from downtown, includes three terrain parks and is a local favorite. This affordable ski resort is the best place to plan your ski trip with your family. One of the best things about Bolton Valley is that, apart from skiing, it also offers other winter recreational activities like night skiing, a nordic center, and a sports center.
You can know more about skiing in Burlington Vermont by clicking here.
Eat at Ben and Jerry’s
When in Burlington Vermont, you can’t miss the opportunity to buy a scoop from the original Ben & Jerry’s.
Located in Church Street, the iconic Vermont-based is known for its quality ice cream and the creative flavors that will make you want more.
You can also visit the original location of the shop, which is now turned into a parking lot, but there is a plaque addressing its location.
Explore the South end
South End is the hidden gem of Burlington Vermont. Once a bland industrial area, this place is now one of the cool parts of the city. The south end is now a transformed art hub, spilling with restaurants, art galleries, and breweries.
Some of the top attractions of South End are the world’s tallest file cabinet and the Burlington earth clock.
ArtsRiot is also highly recommendable. A destination for art lovers and food enthusiasts. This part of the town is the site for events like Friday Night Truck Stop, where every week all the food trucks gather together. The live music scene and food trucks create a fun and lively atmosphere for you to relish and enjoy.
Take the Edible History Tour
For all the foodies, this tour is for your taking!
Burlington Vermont is has a rich culinary past. You can take one of the guided food tours to experience Vermont’s great cuisine and stop at different shops. You are definitely in for a foodgasm as each restaurant has something unique to offer and leaves you drooling at the sight of that delicious food.
The beautiful thing about guided tours is the bonus interesting stories told by local guides. It operates three times a week and is a two-mile walk in the town, all the while visiting each restaurant that makes farm-to-table food a reality.
Burlington Vermont has so much to offer and has the potential to make your vacation full of adventures, excitement, and the most important aspect, great food. One visit is not enough to cover all that is Burlington Vt and once here, you will leave with a promise to come back again.