Burlington, Vermont was a stop on our mega-vacay this past summer. I’m a weird completionist so in my mission to check off all of the states, we needed to go to Burlington. But also there were a few places I’d actually been told about that I wanted to check out. Burlington is an impressively cool small town, as is nearby Stowe, which I will also do a quick post about.
I’m sharing things we did as well as things that sound fun and would be worth checking out on our next visit.
How to Get Around in Burlington, VT
There is so much you can walk to around Burlington. But despite its size, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a walkable city. Depending on where you’re staying and where you want to go, taking advantage of bikeshare or rideshare programs may be more or less necessary.
Gotcha’s Greenride e-bike share. (Use code “CHON8R” after signup for $5 off your first ride)
What to See in Burlington, VT
Chances are, you’ll spend most of your time in the area between Church Street and Waterfront Park, two of the city’s biggest highlights. But some of the best breweries and recreation options are further south so access to a Greenride bike might come in handy. Local coffee roasters and coffee shops are also smattered throughout town and you’ll definitely want to try a few of these.
Where to Stay in Burlington, VT
We stayed in the DoubleTree by Hilton Burlington Vermont in South Burlington because we booked last minute and it was the only thing that was affordable. It really was a lovely hotel and comes with free hot chocolate chip cookies, but was quite a ways away from things to do.
So here are a few more places that look nice and have good recent reviews.
Cozy Getaway in the Heart of Town – On the second floor of a large home, just two blocks from Church street.
Relax in Downtown – Walkability, loft-style bedroom, skylights, and sunshine.
Luxurious Church Street Loft – natural light , lake views, artistic modern decor, and home made quilts.
Hotel Vermont – downtown Burlington’s only independent LEED Certified hotel, views of Lake Champlain.
What to Do in Burlington, VT
Red Rocks Park offers 3.3 miles of easy hiking trails that loop through hemlock and pine forests and emerge onto the rocky shoreline, where there are spectacular views of Lake Champlain, Shelburne Bay, and the Adirondacks. This is a great way to work up an appetite at the start of your day. Note that there may be a small fee for parking in the summer.
Battery Park in Burlington was once a defensive position during the War of 1812. Vermont troops saw full-size warships sailing on Lake Champlain and many soldiers died of a cholera outbreak in the encampment. The park was deeded to the city of Burlington in 1870, and boasts a panoramic view of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks, with a promenade, playground, monuments, and a bandshell.
Waterfront Park offers ferry crossings, excursion boats, and a 12.5-mile walking/bike path that connects to the Lake Champlain Islands via bike ferry in summer. Bicycles, rollerblades, kayaks, and sailboats are all available for rent, and the views across the lake are spectacular.
Church Street Marketplace is what you wish your city had. Fountains, a brick-paved pedestrian mall, and historic buildings provide the backdrop for the Church Street Marketplace, where specialty shops and national retailers mingle with restaurants and cultural venues.
Where to Eat and Drink in Burlington, VT
For breakfast and coffee:
- Myer’s Bagel Bakery is super tucked away at the back of a sketchy looking warehouse area, but I promise it exists and that it is totally worth the hunt. These Montreal style bagels are better than any other bagel you’ve eaten in this country. If you think you don’t like bagels, it’s because you haven’t tried these.
- Kestrel Coffee Roasters sources and roasts specialty coffees from all over the world, focusing on excellent coffees that are ethically sourced single origin coffees from small farms.
- Carrier Roasting Co. roasts and serves the best coffee in Vermont according to Food and Wine Magazine.
- Brio Coffeeworks is a magical specialty coffee roaster, retail boutique, and espresso bar. If you’ve had a great cup of coffee at any number of esteemed restaurants and cafés around town, chances are that the beans came from Brio.
For lunch and dinner:
- To be honest, we never really found any great food in Burlington. Sweetwaters tried to rip us off, The Farmhouse Tap and Grill was just mediocre, and the other place we tried to go to was open for takeout only which was not going to work with my tired legs and full bladder.
- I would definitely give Hen of the Wood and Juniper a try next time, which are both located in the previously mentioned Hotel Vermont.
- Foam Brewers – Burlington is located across from Burlington’s Waterfront Park and boasts great views along with a funky laid back atmosphere. Treat yourself to one of their famously unique IPAs or choose from the rotating selection of seasonal brews. If they are open for indoor or outdoor dining, plan in advance and make a reservation.
- Queen City Brewery has an unusual selection of beers for this area, largely focusing on European styles. We couldn’t decide what to try so randomly dove in with the Rauchbier and Barleywine, both of which went down so easily, not being remotely heavy. The appropriate flavors were there, but not overly strong. The space is cozy and conducive to making bar friends.
- Zero Gravity Brewery is an IPA focused brewery (shocking, I know). The Cone Head is light and juicy, while Bike Beer is purely easy – not too beer-y, boozy, juicy, or hoppy – just nice. The price of the Dirty Fries is entirely justified by the flavor intensity, quality, and quantity. So good. And the space is the PERFECT place to wait out a summer storm.
- Shy Guy Gelato serves local, all-natural, small batch gelato and sorbet made by a Vermonter who trained in Italy.
Itinerary for a Weekend in Burlington, VT
From my experience, two days is a good amount of time for a first visit to Burlington. That said, I’m not going to spell out a detailed itinerary for you because you may want to do slightly different things than we did, but hit me up if you want help coming up with your own personalized itinerary. Here’s my Google Map that you can use to start planning your own adventure in Burlington, Vermont.