Vermont is for Foodie & Outdoor Lovers!
One summer when my husband and I were camping in the Adirondacks, we took a day trip to see Lake Champlain. we rode the ferry across and discovered a wonderfully vibrant town and decided we needed to come back one day. Twenty years later on another trip, we took our now young adult children to specifically visit Burlington, Vermont and it still is as quirky and fun as ever.
With beautiful mountains as a backdrop, Lake Champlain sparking along the shore, and a historic downtown featuring the famous Church Street marketplace, Burlington is a fun, artsy city to spend a weekend. It is Vermont’s biggest city and a college town, yet it feels quite rural. Burlington is perched on a hill overlooking Lake Champlain and as we took the 1 hour ferry across the lake at its widest point, you could see the sandy beaches and wooded hillsides.
Festive Pedestrian-Only Street
Our first destination in town was Church Street. This pedestrian-only thoroughfare runs several blocks from a church down the hill to the bottom. This area has such a fun vibe with plenty of buskers for outdoor music, lots of independent shops and boutiques, and numerous restaurants with inviting patios to enjoy. Burlington is very dog-friendly and there is plenty of people and dog watching along the way.
If you are an ice cream lover, you can visit the original Ben and Jerry's location at the top of Church Street. And just a block away on Leahy Way is the “Everyone Loves a Parade” mural that shows more than 400 years of Vermont history.
You Will Eat Well
Vermont has a huge farm-to-table and locally-sourced movement and there is plenty for foodies to love here. Cheese, chocolate, ice cream, maple, and craft beer is all taken pretty seriously here. Brunch seems to be a big deal and there are plenty of great brunch spots to enjoy (and eat famous Cabot Cheddar), including The Skinny Pancake. They source locally and are famous for their sweet and savory crepes.
Lake Champlain Chocolates, in the middle of Church Street, offers locally made chocolate with cream from Vermont cows. There are plenty of places to sip and enjoy local coffee, but at the end of Church Street around the corner, is Muddy Waters, the Burlington institution.
Vermonter's are also crazy about their craft beer and there are numerous of breweries (and a cidery) to go brewery hopping all afternoon. You'll have to save room for a Creemee, which is Vermont's name for soft serve ice cream.
A few blocks west of the downtown area, located in a large open space on Pine Street, is the Burlington Farmer’s Market. You can stock up on all sorts of local goodies here. If you're afraid to miss anything or want more insight, you can take a guided food tour of Burlington and learn about Burlington’s early ethnic groups and their culinary history.
Life on the Water
It's only a 5 block walk from downtown to the Waterfront Park along Lake Champaign. Here you can picnic, enjoy a creemee, or check out the exhibits at ECHO, a kid-focused museum about lake ecology. You can also rent bikes here and ride the 7.6 mile bike path that follows the edge of Lake Champlain. If you want to go even further, you can connect to the Island Line Trail, which combines the Burlington Bike Path with several additional miles of trail that lead you out into the Champlain Islands in the center of the lake for a unique experience.
You can also spend time sailing, kayaking or paddleboarding on the lake with rentals available or take a scenic cruise. Nice beaches include North Beach and Leddy Beach. North Beach is the largest in the area with seasonal lifeguards and paddleboard and kayak rentals.
Stay along the waterfront late enough to watch the sunset over Lake Champlain. With the views over the lake and the Adirondack Mountains in the distance, it will be a sunset to remember!
Quirky Art District
What once was a neglected, industrial part of town, the South End of Burlington is now an up-and-coming area that is known for its quirky art displays, plentiful breweries, and restaurants in an urban vibe. You can stroll through art galleries and installations or hop from brewery to brewery, but make a stop at the unique cidery, Citizen Cider along Pine Street.
With plenty of historic B&B's to stay in the area, short drives to enjoy hiking and farm tours, and plenty to enjoy right in town, Burlington, Vermont is a wonderful mix of eclectic art, delicious and fresh food, and beautiful views and recreation right on the water!