Thursday, February 29, 2024

9 Things To Do In Burlington: Complete Vermont Guide From Church Street & Beyond

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Burlington, nestled on the eastern shores of Lake Champlain, is Vermont’s largest city, yet it retains a small-town charm. In fact, this is still a Vermont town with a low population of just over 40,000. Just about 40 miles from the Canadian border, Burlington boasts a rich history dating back to the late 18th century.


Once a bustling port, today it’s a hub for arts and culture, as evidenced by the vibrant Church Street Marketplace and the renowned Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. History buffs can delve into Burlington’s past at the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum, while nature enthusiasts will revel in the beauty of Waterfront Park and the nearby Green Mountains.

Despite its modest size, Burlington offers a diverse culinary scene, with farm-to-table eateries and craft breweries dotting the cityscape. For those seeking to explore this captivating destination, this ultimate guide provides valuable insights into the top things to do in Burlington, ensuring an unforgettable experience in this scenic lakeside city.

Things To Do In Burlington, Vermont

Burlington offers a number of fun adventures, from taking a cruise on the lake to exploring the historical sights. Here’s a look at the top things to do in this destination.

15 Explore Shelburne Museum

Photo by Fred Murphy distributed under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Restored steamboat in Shelburne Museum, Burlington, VT.

Shelburne Museum is found in the township of Shelburne, located just seven miles from Burlington. This museum offers a unique cultural experience; it’s spread across 45 acres and boasts 39 exhibition buildings.

Visitors can check out the diverse collections that include American folk art, textiles, and historical artifacts like horse-drawn carriages and even a restored steamboat.

The museum grounds feature beautiful gardens, providing a picturesque backdrop for leisurely strolls. Engaging events and educational programs are held throughout the year, catering to diverse interests.

  • Address
    : 6000 Shelburne Rd, Shelburne, VT 05482

  • Hours
    : May – October: 10 am – 5 pm (daily); November – April: Wed – Sun: 10 am – 5 pm

  • Price
    : Adults $25, Children (5-17) $14, under 5 free

14 Visit The Ethan Allen Homestead Museum

Ethan Allen Homestead Museum
Photo by Mfwills distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

A section of the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum.

Ethan Allen Homestead Museum offers a glimpse into the life of the museum’s eponymous Revolutionary War hero. The house was built in the late 1700s and it belonged to Ethan Allen. In fact, it is the last of his homes in Vermont.

Visitors can explore the historic building, check out the displays, learn about Allen’s life, and even tour the picturesque surroundings.

The museum offers guided tours, interactive exhibits, and a gift shop with unique souvenirs. There’s also a scenic trail network that meanders through the homestead’s property, offering opportunities for leisurely strolls and wildlife sightings.

  • Address
    : 1 Ethan Allen Homestead, Burlington, VT 05408

  • Hours
    : May – October: 10 am – 4 pm (daily)

  • Price
    : Adults: $10, Seniors/Students: $8, Children (4-17): $5, Children under 4: Free

Related: Vermont’s Historic Landmarks: Tracing The State’s Rich Colonial & Revolutionary Past

13 Drop By ECHO, Leahy Center For Lake Champlain

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
Photo by Mfwills distributed under a CC BY 3.0 license.

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain entrance.

The ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is a science center found on the shores of Lake Champlain. The center’s mission is to enlighten visitors on the lake’s history as well as its ecology and cultural significance.

The museum boasts close to 100 animal species, including turtles, otters, birds, and fish. There are also hands-on exhibits, like a life-size replica of the General Butler, a ship that was wrecked in the lake.

There’s also a 3D movie theater where films about Lake Champlain and its wildlife are screened. It’s no wonder why the ECHO Center has won awards from notable organizations like the National Science Foundation.

  • Address
    : 1 College St, Burlington, VT 05401, United States

  • Hours
    : 10 am – 5 pm (daily)

  • Price
    : Adults: $18; Students & Seniors: $16; Children (ages 3-17): $14.50; Children 2 and under: Free

Related: 10 Awesome Things That You Can Do In Vermont

12 Hang Out At Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park, Burlington, Vermont
Via: Wallpaper Flare

A section of Waterfront Park, Burlington, Vermont.

The 14-acre Waterfront Park on the shores of Lake Champlain is a popular spot among locals and tourists. This park offers a spectacular view of the lake and the Adirondack Mountains in the background.

The park’s centerpiece is a 900-foot boardwalk that stretches out over the water, but there are other facilities like picnic tables and BBQ grills. There’s also a playground for kids and walking/biking paths for those who want to stay active.

This is also the venue of a lot of Burlington’s events, like the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, and the Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival.

  • Address
    : 20 Lake St, Burlington, VT 05401, United States

  • Hours
    : 24 hours (daily)

11 Spend An Afternoon At Oakledge Park

A path in Oakledge Park, Burlington VT
Photo by NNECAPA Photo Library distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license.

A path in Oakledge Park, Burlington VT

Oakledge is another one of Burlington’s parks, boasting 45 acres of space right next to Lake Champlain. Just like its counterpart, Waterfront Park, Oakledge Park also offers a wonderful view of the lake against the backdrop of the Adirondacks.

There are walking and hiking trails charted through this park. Birdwatchers are drawn to Oakledge because of the opportunities to view birds like ospreys, herons, and even the occasional bald eagle.

Other facilities like sports fields, picnic areas, and BBQ grills are available.

  • Address
    : 11 Flynn Ave, Burlington, VT 05401, United States

  • Hours
    : 7 am – 9 pm (daily)

  • Price for Parking
    : May to October: $2 per hour

Related: 9 Magical Castles In Vermont That Are Worth A Road Trip

10 Catch A Performance At The Flynn Center For The Performing Arts

A view of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
Photo by Onasill – Bill Badzo distributed under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

A view of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington VT.

This theater is housed in a 1930s building in Downtown Burlington, and it boasts a space that can seat over 1400 people. The Flynn has been Burlington’s flagship performing arts center, having hosted music, dance, theater, and comedy performances since it was established.

In fact, this is home to the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and the Vermont Youth Orchestra, who regularly stage their performances at this venue.

  • Address
    : 153 Main St, Burlington, VT 05401, United States

  • Office Hours
    : Mon – Fri: 9 am – 5 pm (closed on weekends)

  • Box Office Hours
    : 2 hours before shows

9 Tour The University Of Vermont Campus

University of Vermont - Old Mill Building
Photo by Jared C. Benedict distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

The oldest building at the University of Vermont

The University of Vermont is one of the oldest universities in the country as it was founded in 1791. This is evident from the historic buildings that dot the campus; the oldest one is the Old Mill building, which today houses the English Department.

Tours of the campus are conducted for prospective students but visitors can still explore the grounds and check out the mix of historic and modern architecture.

The university is also home to the Fleming Museum of Art and the Robert Hull Fleming Museum of Natural History, which are open to the public.

  • Address
    : Burlington, VT 05405, USA

8 Take A Bike Ride On The Burlington Greenway Bike Path

Some cyclists at the Burlington Greenway Bike Path
Via: Pxfuel

Some cyclists at the Burlington Greenway Bike Path.

The Burlington Greenway is an 8-mile path that runs along Lake Champlain’s shoreline. This paved path is ideal for cyclists, joggers, and walkers, offering a wonderful view of the lake. Starting at Oakledge Park, the path runs all the way to the Winooski River to the north of the city.

Visitors get to see a variety of birds while on the path, and in spring, wildflowers emerge to elegantly line the trail.

7 Take A Cruise On Lake Champlain

A boat on Lake Champlain
Via: Pxfuel

A boat on Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain is Burlington’s crowning jewel and visitors can get an immersive experience of this feature by taking a cruise on the lake.

Several companies offer daily cruise tours, the most popular of which is Spirit of Ethan Allen, which boasts the largest cruise ship on the lake.

  • Visitors can choose between a lunchtime cruise or a dinner cruise, which costs about $60 and this includes the meal.

Typically, cruise tours are available from May to October because of weather restrictions in winter and early spring.

  • Cruise Company
    :
    Spirit of Ethan Allen

  • Available Cruises
    : Sunset Cruise, Narrated Cruise, Lunch on the Lake Cruise, Dinner Cruise, October One-Hour Scenic Cruise, Fireworks Cruise

  • Price
    : From $34 for a 1.5-hour cruise

6 Where To Eat In Burlington

View of Burlington, Vermont
Shutterstock

View of Burlington, Vermont

Vermont may be known for its cheeses and maple syrup, but it’s also home to foods like fried dough, cider donuts, venison, and strawberry rhubarb pie.

Below is a list of some of the top places to eat in Burlington, where one can enjoy these treats and more.

5 Breakfast

The Skinny Pancake Burlington

  • Address
    : 60 Lake St, Burlington, VT 05401, United States

  • Hours
    : Mon & Wed – Sun: 8 am – 8 pm; Tue: 8 am – 3 pm

  • Popular Meals
    : Blueberry Frumple Cake, Breakfast Burrito, Choco Nutty Crepes, Hot Apple Crumble Crepes, Sweet Potato Fries

Henry’s Diner

  • Address
    : 155 Bank St, Burlington, VT 05401, United States

  • Hours
    : Fri – Tue: 6 am – 2 pm (closed on Wed & Thu)

  • Popular Meals
    : Santorini Sandwich, Sausage Gravy Biscuits, Eggs Benedict, Buttermilk Pancakes, Cheese Omelet

Related: Savor The Flavors Of Vermont: A Culinary Journey Through Farm-To-Table Cuisine

Lunch/Dinner

Leunig’s Bistro

  • Address
    : 115 Church St, Burlington, VT 05401, United States

  • Hours
    : Tue – Sat: 11 am – 9 pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

  • Popular Meals
    : Pastrami Melt, Beyond Burger, Chipotle Turkey Club, Roast Beef Melt, Crab Fritter Po’boy

Istanbul Kebab House

  • Address
    : 175 Church St, Burlington, VT 05401, United States

  • Hours
    : Tue – Sun: 11 am – 8 pm (closed on Mon)

  • Popular Meals
    : Yaprak Sarma Stuffed Grape Leaves, Chicken Shish Kebab, Shrimp Guvec

Dinner/Drinks

The Farmhouse Tap & Grill

  • Address
    : 160 Bank St, Burlington, VT 05401, United States

  • Hours
    : Sun – Thu: 11 am – 10 pm; Fri & Sat: 11 am – 11 pm

  • Popular Meals
    : Smoked Bluefish Pate, Chilled Mussels Conserva, Stonewood Farm Turkey Burger, Vermont Pork Schnitzel

  • Drinks
    : House Cocktails: Farmhouse Mule, Margarita, Blood Orange Collins, That’s Amaro!

Mad River Distillers Burlington

  • Address
    : 137 St Paul St, Burlington, VT 05401, United States

  • Hours
    : Sun, Mon & Wed: 12 pm – 6 pm; Thu – Sat: 12 pm – 8 pm

  • Drinks
    : Revolution Rye, Burnt Rock Bourbon, Maple Cask Rum, Old Fashioned Cocktail

Rí Rá Irish Pub

  • Address
    : 123 Church St, Burlington, VT 05401, United States

  • Hours
    : Mon – Thu: 12 pm – 12 am; Fri & Sat: 12 pm – 2 am; Sun: 12 pm – 11 pm

  • Drinks
    : Bud Light, Pale Ale, Cocktails: Pink and Bubbly, Classic Irish Coffee, Martini, Winter Negroni

4 Where To Stay In Burlington, Vermont

An aerial view of Burlington
Photo credit: Burlington

An aerial view of Burlington

Accommodations in Burlington are cozy, comfortable, and come at a range of price points.

Hotels

Hotel Vermont

  • Address
    : 41 Cherry Street, Burlington, VT 05401

  • Price
    : From $394

  • Amenities
    : Tennis court, fitness center, pool, garden, bar, restaurant, laundry facilities, EV charging station

Willard Street Inn

  • Address
    : 349 South Willard Street, Burlington, VT

  • Price
    : From $292

  • Amenities
    : Complimentary breakfast, garden, patio, free parking, lake view, fireplace

Courtyard Marriott Burlington Harbor

  • Address
    : 25 Cherry Street, Burlington, VT 05401

  • Price
    : From $259

  • Amenities
    : Hot tub, indoor pool, fitness center, beach access, EV charging station, picnic area, on-site ATM, bar, restaurant

Hilton Garden Inn Burlington Downtown

  • Address
    : 101 Main Street, Burlington, VT 05401

  • Price
    : From $211

  • Amenities
    : Indoor pool, fitness center, laundry facilities, free shuttle service, business center, restaurant, bar

Related: 10 Most Relaxing Vermont Getaways In Charming Inns And B&Bs

Vacation Rentals

Gorgeous Burlington Home

  • Address
    : Burlington, Vermont, United States

  • Price
    : From $854

  • Amenities
    : 4 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, 48-inch TV, well-stocked kitchen, porch, city view, washer & dryer, private backyard

Cottage near Downtown Burlington

  • Address
    : Burlington, Vermont, United States

  • Price
    : From $344

  • Amenities
    : 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, washer & dryer, queen beds, loft space, lake access, travel crib, children’s books, full kitchen, private patio

Sunny Studio Apartment

  • Address
    : Burlington, Vermont, United States

  • Price
    : From $133

  • Amenities
    : Second-floor studio, double & single beds, 43-inch TV, driveway parking, full kitchen facilities, workspace, private backyard

3 Best Time To Visit Burlington, Vermont

Church Street
Image by Michelle Raponi via Pixabay

Christmas lights along Church Street in Burlington, Vermont

The best time to visit Vermont is the warmer months from May to September. Below is a deeper look at what to expect during the different seasons in Burlington.

Summer (June to August)

This is the best time to visit Burlington for a lot of people as the weather is warm and pleasant with temperatures ranging between the high 70s and the low 80s (25 to 27 Celsius).

This is a great time to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, and boating.

However, there are also chances of some rainy days, especially in June, so visitors should prepare for changes in the weather. Also, summer is the high tourist season, meaning prices are higher at this time.

Autumn (September to November)

The beauty of fall foliage makes Burlington a breathtaking destination. During this time, the weather is neither hot nor cold, especially in September and October.

November, however, gets a bit chilly, with temperatures dropping to the mid-40s and below.

Winter (December to February)

Burlington gets quite cold in winter, with temperatures below freezing and sometimes dropping as low as 10 Fahrenheit (-12 Celsius). However, there are a number of ways one can experience the charms of winter in this city.

For instance, lovers of winter sports can enjoy activities like snowboarding and skiing. Plus, there are several holiday events in Burlington during this season.

Spring (March to May)

Temperatures start to rise slightly in March, but it remains cold until May. Spring’s weather is unpredictable, as it’s more likely to rain during this time. However, those who visit will enjoy lower rates since there are fewer tourists.

2 Getting Around Burlington

Amtrak Ethan Allen Express Burlington, Vermont station
Photo by Stephen Mease on Unsplash

Amtrak Ethan Allen Express Burlington, Vermont station.

Burlington is served by the Burlington International Airport, which receives flights from cities like New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. The airlines that operate here are Delta, JetBlue, United, and American Airlines.

From the airport, visitors can use public transportation, rental cars, or rideshare services like Uber or Lyft.

Here’s a look at the different ways one can use to get around Burlington.

Bus

Green Mountain Transit is a public transportation system that serves Burlington as well as other towns in the region. The bus service operates on a number of routes in Burlington, with rides available from around 6 am to 11 pm on some routes.

Fares cost $1.50 for a single ride and monthly passes cost $40.

Bike

Visitors can take advantage of the network of biking and walking paths in Burlington by renting a bike to get around the city. There are bike rental companies like Betty’s Bikes, which offer short-term and long-term rentals.

  • This company charges $26 to rent a regular bike for a day, and e-bikes cost $35
  • Renters have to leave a deposit of $200 per bike and daily rentals are from 1 pm to sunset.

This is the most inexpensive way to explore Burlington. The downtown area is walkable and there are various paths that lead to the waterfront and the parks.

1 Spending The Perfect Day In Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, Vermont at Church Street Marketplace
Shutterstock

Burlington, Vermont at Church Street Marketplace

Start the day with a morning walk or jog along the Burlington Greenway Path and enjoy the early lake view. Afterward, have breakfast at a local restaurant before visiting Shelburne Museum.

Spend time exploring the exhibition buildings and the grounds before heading to Oakledge Park for a picnic lunch. Spend some time relaxing at the park and by the lake. Later, visit Ethan Allen Homestead Museum and check out the historic house and its exhibits.

From here, stroll in the downtown area before taking an evening dinner cruise on Lake Champlain. After the cruise, catch a performance at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts to end a fun-filled day.

FAQ

Q: Is Burlington Vermont worth visiting?

Burlington is worth visiting thanks to its stunning scenery marked by Lake Champlain; the city is located on the lake’s shores. Burlington is also home to the University of Vermont, one of the oldest universities in the US.

Q: What is the famous street in Burlington?

Church Street is one of the most famous streets in Burlington. It is a pedestrian-only street that’s the city’s hub for shopping and dining. The street has a history that dates as far back as the early 1800s, although it was redesigned after World War II.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Company’s first shop was actually set up right around the corner from Church Street.

Q: How far is Burlington from the Canadian border?

Burlington is about 40 miles from the Canadian border, roughly a 40-minute drive away.

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