With endless options for things to do, there’s something for everyone to love in Burlington, Vermont.
A vibrant city with prime access to the great outdoors, Burlington boasts the best of both worlds. Home to an eclectic mix of college students and families, artists, and scholars, the bustling downtown offers local shops, farm-to-table dining, and some of the best people watching. Just beyond the city, the perfect outdoor playground awaits, with the surrounding green hills of Vermont, the looming Adirondack Mountains of New York, and the shimmering waters of Lake Champlain as its crown jewels.
Discover my favorite ways to spend a day in this eclectic destination.
Start your day off right at The Skinny Pancake.
Steps from the Burlington waterfront, The Skinny Pancake serves up creative crêpes and delectable brunch with a focus on fresh, local ingredients. Craving something sweet? Try the Hot Apple Crumble with warm, spiced VT apple compote and homemade granola topped with whipped cream. In the mood for something savory? Don’t miss The Garfield, which pays homage to the cartoon cat’s favorite meal: lasagna! Expect it to be busy on the weekend, but the line to order at the counter moves quickly and seating (both inside and alfresco) turns over often.
Go for a bike ride along the Colchester Causeway.
Burlington is an extremely bike-friendly city, with lanes that criss-cross downtown and numerous dormant rail lines that have been transformed into four-season recreation trails. Rent a cruiser from Local Motion, conveniently located beside the Island Line Trail. Catch spectacular 360 degree views of the water and rolling mountains as you follow Burlington’s waterfront and head out along Colchester Causeway three miles into the middle of Lake Champlain. Riding out and back to the “the Cut,” a 200-foot gap in the causeway, is about 20 miles and takes just over 2 hours. If you’re feeling more ambitious, try the Triple Ferry Loop, a 40-mile circuit that offers the best of both land and water. Be sure to stop along the way for a creemee, Vermont’s delectable take on soft serve.
Take in the sights at the Church Street Marketplace.
A lively open-air mall in the heart of Burlington’s downtown district, Church Street Marketplace is the city’s social hub and home to more than a hundred shops and restaurants. Grab a snack at a Maudite Poutine Cart, indulge your sweet tooth at Lake Champlain Chocolates, and don’t miss Ben & Jerry’s – Burlington is its birthplace after all! Pop into Vermont Flannel Company to get locally outfitted or spend the afternoon at one of the many open-air cafes and restaurants, the perfect perch for people-watching (and eclectic Burlington offers some of the best).
Nowhere is the emphasis on local more evident than Burlington. On Saturdays, stop by the Farmer’s Market at City Hall Park, to pick up fresh cheese, organic produce, and unique gifts made by local artisans.
Tour breweries and cideries.
It may not come as a surprise that Vermont has more craft breweries per capita than any other state. Tour the best of Burlington, starting with Switchback Brewery in the South End. Nearby at Citizen Cider, sample unique flavors like the Companion, a limited batch sour cherry cider, or try a cider cocktail, like the Pearse (pronounced pear-say) with elderflower, pear juice, and Brosé. Finally, make your way to Foam Brewers along the waterfront. You can grab a snack at one of the food trucks and enjoy the laid-back vibe on either of their two outdoor beer gardens. While in Vermont, be sure to pop into grocery stores to hunt for Alchemist’s elusive Heady Topper (or make a side trip out to its brewery near Stowe). One of the highest-rated beers with a cult-like following, its limited production is only available in Vermont and sells out within minutes of hitting shelves.
End the day with a sunset cruise on Lake Champlain.
Burlington offers some of the best sunsets, and there’s no better way to enjoy it than from the water. Catch a two and a half hour evening cruise aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen and enjoy stunning views of the sun setting over the lake, the rolling Green Mountains, and the impressive Adirondack Mountains in the distance while sipping on delicious cocktails (the Tequila Sunset is a must-have). It’s an unforgettable way to toast to your well-spent day in Burlington!
The possibilities are endless—what are some of your top things to do in Burlington, VT?