Burlington, Vermont, is located on the vast Lake Champlain. It has a historic downtown area for walking around, breweries, and lots of good food.
Burlington is surrounded by mountains, and it isn’t far from the Canadian border. It’s just under two hours to Montreal, another fun city to explore. It is one of the most underrated cities in the USA.
In Northern Vermont, Burlington is situated in a great spot near Canada, the mountains, and of course on Lake Champlain, so there is a ton to do in the surrounding area.
While Burlington is the largest city in Vermont, it’s still not very large compared to other cities like Boston, Massachusetts, Portland, Maine, or Concord, New Hampshire.
It only boasts around 40,000 people. It’s home to two colleges, including the University of Vermont and Champlain College.
Burlington is a great place to visit year-round. Summer and fall are most popular because of the fantastic weather and outstanding views, especially leaf-peeping in Autumn.
Winter is also popular because there are great places for skiing and snowboarding.
Another reason Burlington is remarkable is its culture. It’s a carefree city where quirkiness is not only accepted but welcome. People enjoy all the natural things in life and appreciate the surrounding environment along with a good beer and meal.
Top 11 Things to Do in Burlington
1. Walk Around Church St Marketplace
This city of Vermont is a great place to visit for a long weekend or even a day trip. The highlight of Burlington is that it’s very pedestrian friendly.
Church St is a long, wide street made just for pedestrians and is filled with bars, restaurants, and shops.
Dogs are welcome and the four blocks are packed with fun activities.
It’s the highlight of the city and the most popular place in Burlington, no doubt.
2. Walk Along Lake Champlain Waterfront
Lake Champlain is a long, expansive, beautiful body of water crossing through New York and the Canadian border.
The sunsets on Lake Champlain are breathtaking and are a must-see. The city is perched on a hill overlooking the lake so as you are driving or walking down towards the water, you can enjoy the stunning views.
If you’re out of the city, you can enjoy stunning views of Burlington with the lake behind it.
There is a waterfront area you can walk along to take in the views and there are opportunities for sailboat excursions, private cruises, ferries, scenic cruises, and other daily cruises you can jump on.
As for swimming, there are nearby beaches where you can take a dip in the freshwater lake. Some of the recommended beaches are North Beach, Leddy Beach, and the beaches in Oakledge Park.
North Beach is the largest and has dedicated lifeguards and rentals for paddleboards and kayaks so it’s the best option.
What also makes the lake views even more spectacular are the mountain views you can enjoy across the lake in the distance.
The waterfront area of Burlington also has sailboats that are a lovely focal point.
3. Visit a Brewery
Vermont has some of the best beer and sampling local craft brews is an absolute must if you’re a beer connoisseur.
Burlington adores beer and there are breweries all over the city to explore.
Foam Brewers is located near the waterfront and has a large outdoor and indoor sitting area. It constantly has new brews to try and the menu includes IPAs, stouts, sours, lagers, and ciders.
In addition, there is often live music on the weekends and pop-up food trucks.
Switchback Brewing Company is another fan favorite. The tap room hosts many events, including Stretch & Sip Yoga and even Uke ‘n ‘Sip, where you can learn to play the ukulele while drinking a good beer.
The brewery is also 100% employee-owned.
The Vermont Pub and Brewery, also known as VPB, is also a good choice.
It has excellent food and even better beer. It’s a longstanding and reliable favorite in downtown Burlington.
4. Eat at a Restaurant
There are many restaurants in Burlington. On every corner, you’ll have tons of options to choose from.
Just walk along Church St and pick something if you don’t have anything in mind ahead of time, but if you do want some suggestions, here are a few.
The Farmhouse Tap is a farm-to-table pub with a seasonal beer garden in the back. You can sit indoors and on the front porch for restaurant service or visit the outdoor beer garden on the back patio and order food from a QR code on your table.
The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner, and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm.
The Friendly Toast is an eccentric breakfast joint open daily from 7 am to 3 pm.
The restaurant is known for its unique menu, and there are few locations in New England.
So if you enjoy breakfast, it’s a must-visit. There are also great cocktails, including a mimosa flight with flavors like elderberry, orange, and strawberry vanilla.
5. Grab a Coffee
After a night of brewery hopping, grab a coffee and admire Burlington. Right on Church St, The Cosmic Grind is a great spot if you like having tons of options.
Drinks range from espresso, mochas, coffee, lattes, teas, and Italian sodas.
On top of a hefty menu is an entire binder worth of different flavors you can try for your morning coffee.
If you need help choosing, consider The Vermonter, a latte made with Vermont Maple Syrup (it’s incredible). Other than The Cosmic Grind, there are several other great coffee shops.
6. Go Out on the Town at Night
Burlington has a lively nightlife scene. Church St lights up and turns into a place of parties.
You’ll find numerous bars and clubs to pop in and out of.
Some are low-key with live music; others come alive with neon lights and a DJ.
Whatever your nightlife style is, you’ll find a place to fit in in Burlington.
The Archives is a great game bar in Burlington.
It is home to an arcade with vintage pinball and various video games while serving craft beer, cocktails, and wine. During the day, it’s a chill bar on the corner of Church St, and at night it comes alive.
Other great bars include The Three Needs, which is a rustic bar with pool tables and lots of beers on tap, Drink is a bar with board games, and Half Lounge is a small speakeasy.
Nectar’s always has live music, and Metronome is a nightclub above Nectars.
There are a wide range of options depending on what bar style you enjoy.
The best part is that after a night of drinking, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you walk out of the bar and find food trucks ready to cure tomorrow’s hangover.
7. Stroll through City Hall Park
Right behind City Hall, just off Church St, City Hall Park is an expansive area with trees, lots of grass, benches for sitting, and a water fountain you’ll most often find children playing in.
It’s a great stretch of land if you want to relax or take a break from walking around the city. You may even get lucky and find a farmers market or craft fair occurring outside the park.
If you have kids, it’s a great place to visit because they’ll love running through the rushing water fountain and making friends.
8. Burlington Bike Path
If you’re looking for some outdoor activity, the Burlington Bike Path is a great option. It’s a 7.6-mile path weaving around Lake Champlain with amazing views.
It can be used for more than biking, such as walking and skating, and you can jump on or off at any point, so don’t worry if you don’t have the stamina for 7 miles.
9. Grab Ice Cream at Ben & Jerry’s
The famous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream franchise originated in Burlington. It’s most well known for its eclectic flavors and is a national favorite.
There is a shop right off Church St where you can enjoy heavenly dessert. If you have some extra time, consider making a trip to Waterbury, where the official Ben & Jerry’s factory is located, about 30 minutes from downtown Burlington.
Factory tours are free and come with a free scoop of any flavor. You can also explore the flavor graveyard where failed flavors lay to rest which everyone loves to check out.
10. Shelburne Museum
The Shelburn Museum is located in Shelburne, VT, about 20 minutes from downtown Burlington. The museum displays historical artifacts from circus displays, to toys, to a 1906 Ticonderoga steamship and even art from French impressionists.
The museum is massive on almost 50 acres of land and with nearly 40 exhibition buildings. There are over 150,000 pieces in the entire collection, so there is a ton to see.
The beautiful property is also a gorgeous place to have your wedding if you’re in need of a venue.
11. Burlington Waterfront Park
The Burlington Waterfront Park is not too far of a walk from Church St and the rest of the downtown area.
It’s a nice break from the city where you can enjoy the stunning, natural views. The boardwalk at the park runs along the lake, so you can get in some exercise and enjoy the beauty of Lake Champlain and the mountains that cut through the sky.
If you have a chance, definitely visit during sunset, it will leave you breathless.
Burlington is a great place to visit if you enjoy the outdoors. The vibrant city is the perfect size for walking around and aimlessly checking out the different establishments, from bars to breweries, to gourmet restaurants.
With history, the lake, and the mountains in the distance, it has everything you could ask for in a city.
This northern Vermont location should be on everyone’s bucket list, and it would make for the perfect weekend getaway if you live in the New England area.
Hopefully, this has convinced you to plan your trip to Burlington and see all that it has to offer for yourself. Of course, don’t forget to try the infamous beer and find out what Burlington is famous for.
Do. you have some favorite things to do in Burlington that weren’t mentioned on this list? Say so in the comments below.