Burlington is the largest city in the state of Vermont, located on the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain, about 45 miles south of the Canadian border. Scenic beauty from the mountains, Lake Champlain and the Winooski River, as well as entertainment, shopping, dining and recreational activities- most of which are walkable- make Burlington a great place to live. It’s the birthplace of Ben & Jerry’s, the home of the University of Vermont, and in 2010, was named by Forbes as one of the “prettiest” cities in the U.S. Below, local Kendra tells us more about the Green Mountain state to help you plan your next trip!
THE LOCAL: Kendra
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST HER: Kendra, 29, grew up on the other side of Lake Champlain in the Adirondack mountains of New York. After college, she moved to Colorado where she lived and played for six years, but finally in 2014, she was ready to move back east. Rather than move back to her small town in New York, she chose Vermont because of its similarities to Colorado- tons of outdoor activities, laid back culture, etc. Burlington was the perfect fit; mountain-close with a “city” vibe. Kendra loves the quick access to the mountains for hiking or for a ski day on the slopes. Having met friends that attended UVM and getting a job at one of Burlington’s largest employers, Kendra quickly became immersed in the Burlington scene.
1. Favorite Happy Hour in the City?
2. Best Street or Park to Stroll?
Church Street is the pedestrian mall downtown. Start there and walk down College Street to the Waterfront & Burlington Bike Path.
3. Best Area to Shop Local?
Vermont is dedicated to supporting its local business owners, so local shops are not hard to come by. Church Street has a good mixture of small, local boutiques as well as popular franchises like Athleta, Patagonia, Gap, Lululemon, and Banana Republic. There’s also an excellent year-round Farmer’s Market. During the summer, the market runs every Saturday in City Hall Park, and in the wintertime, it’s inside the Burlington Memorial Auditorium every other Saturday. City Market Co-Op, located right downtown, also sells groceries from various local farmers at reasonable prices.
4. Your Recommended Sunny Day Agenda?
Day trip it to the mountains! Stowe, Vermont is a cute mountain town with lots to do in both the summer and winter, and is only an hour or so from Burlington. There’s a wide variety of hikes to choose from in the area. The Monroe Trail to Camel’s Hump is one of my go-to hikes when I have visitors in town. It’s a moderately challenging hike with great views from the top! Not the active type? There are a few good breweries and distilleries in the area as well. I recommend the von Trapp Brewery at the von Trapp Family Lodge (great views!). Waitsfield and Warren also offer a lot of great hiking and mountain biking trails. Warren Falls is an amazing swimming hole located just outside of Warren, Vermont and is a great spot for a post-hike swim or, for the more adventurous, cliff jumping. If you’re up for a longer day trip, take one of the ferries to New York and visit the Adirondacks. The Keene Valley is home to the Adirondack High Peaks and a great area for hiking. Lake Placid, home of the 1980 Winter Olympics, is about a two hour drive from Burlington.
In the winter, there are tons of options for skiers- Stowe, Sugarbush and Smugglers Notch are all great ski areas. Jay Peak is an hour and a half away, but offers great skiing and features an indoor water park for the kiddos.
Not interested in driving? Rent a boat and go out on Lake Champlain! Or, just post up at one of the many beaches in Burlington! Oakledge Beach is a great little spot where you can walk around the park, swim, lay on the beach, or rent a stand up paddle board. You can also rent a bike and cruise down the Burlington Bike Path.
Rainy or Cold Day Agenda? Do a brewery tour. Vermont is known for its abundance of craft breweries and many of them are located in the Burlington area. You can do an organized brew tour (and not worry about driving) or you can make your own tour. If doing your own thing, my suggestion would be to start at Magic Hat Brewery in South Burlington, followed by Switchback, Queen City Brewery, Zero Gravity Brewery, Citizen Cider, and finally, finish at Vermont Pub and Brewery. If you don’t mind driving a little further, start in Shelburne at Fiddlehead Brewing Company.
5. Essential Tip for Visitors?
The best times to visit Vermont are in the summer and fall. The colors in the fall (late September to early October) are absolutely amazing. Winters can be brutally cold.
Lastly, if you are planning to go over to New York, there are three ferries near the Burlington area. The ferry that goes directly into Burlington is only open in the summer and is $30 one-way for a car and one passenger. If you travel south to the Charlotte Ferry or north to the Vermont Islands (North Hero- Plattsburgh ferry), the ferries are just $10 one-way.
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE BURLINGTON ATTRACTIONS
1. Burlington Bike Path– Thumbs up.
You can rent a bike and do the whole thing or just walk a portion of it. The Colchester Causeway is also a great bike path for walking, running or biking that goes straight out into Lake Champlain for 4 miles. You can take a bike ferry from the end of the causeway over to the Vermont Islands if you wish.
3. Segway Tours– Thumbs Down. Burlington is a small city that you can easily see and explore by walking around or renting a bicycle.
4. Church Street Marketplace– Thumbs Up.
KENDRA’S FAVE RESTAURANTS
- Magnolia Bistro– My favorite place for breakfast or brunch!
- Sneakers Bistro– In Winooski; another good brunch spot
- Sweetwaters– American bistro on Church Street. Go for lunch- outside seating and excellent people watching!
- The Farmhouse Tap & Grill– Right off Church Street, they have a locally sourced menu that is constantly changing.
- Waterworks Food + Drink– In Winooski. Call ahead and make a reservation for one of the tables by the river for the best view.
- American Flatbread- Large variety of delicious flatbread and local beers
- Pizza Verità– Known for delicious pizza, but you’ll need a reservation
Are you a Burlington local? Any favorites that we missed? Tell us about them in the comments below!