Our thirst to explore every nook and cranny of this globe cannot be quenched—our wanderlust continues! This time around, our quest to unearth hidden travel gems took us to the picturesque city of Burlington, in northwest Vermont. We had never ventured into the New England region of the United States; therefore, we were not quite sure what to expect. What we were sure of though, was that we were going to embark on our inaugural journey to Vermont with an open mind, free from the burden of preconceived notions. Perhaps you are wondering if Burlington, Vermont is worth visiting? Or maybe you have it on your must-visit list, but you are unsure of what to expect? Well, let’s read on and find out, why don’t we? Join us as we travel to Burlington, Vermont — we’ve saved you a front-row seat for the ride!
Disclosure: Our Burlington, Vermont stay was hosted by Hello Burlington; however, all opinions shared herein are those of Afrostylicity® and are not influenced by any being or brand. Additionally, this post may contain affiliate links at no cost to you.
In the interest of providing background information to anyone unfamiliar with the state of Vermont in general, and the city of Burlington specifically, the following are a few quick facts about each one:
5 Quick Facts About the State of Vermont
- Vermont is one of six states that make up the northeastern region of the United States known as New England. The other states are Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
- The name Vermont comes from two French words ‘mont’ and ‘vert’ which when translated mean green mountain. It is for this reason that it is referred to as the Green Mountain State.
- Vermont’s state slogan is “Vermont, naturally.”
- Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S. Thus, the state tree is the Sugar Maple.
- Vermont is the second smallest state by population.
5 Quick Facts About Burlington, Vermont
- Burlington is the most populous city in Vermont. It is located on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, just 45 miles south of the US-Canadian border.
- Burlington International Airport (BTV) is Vermont’s largest airport.
- Ben & Jerry’s ice cream began in Burlington, Vermont,
- The historic University of Vermont is located in Burlington,
- Decker Towers, an 11-floor building in Burlington, is the tallest building in the state of Vermont. It is the shortest of any US states’ tallest buildings.
Our Experience in Burlington, Vermont
Our visit to Burlington was during the summer, in the thick of what Vermonters described as a heatwave. Considering the furnace (that is Texas) that we were visiting from, a New England summer was a welcome change.
Burlington is the perfect combination of Mother Nature’s breathtaking beauty, a rich historical influence, and the convenience of modern-day amenities. As far as small cities go, Burlington packs a punch! There is a myriad of activities and experiences to participate in. We were limited on time; however, we were determined to squeeze in as many experiences as we could into our visit.
Our goal is to walk you through our Burlington adventure from onset to finale, sharing reviews, tips, and recommendations, based on our experience.
Travel to Burlington, Vermont
Airlines that fly non-stop to Burlington, VT are Delta, American Airlines, United, JetBlue, Frontier Airlines, and Boutique Air. Check out the following sites for flight deals:
You can take the Vermonter Amtrak Train which has a daily service from Washington, DC and St. Albans in northern Vermont. The train ride begins in DC and runs through New York City to Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The following are the Vermonter Amtrak Train stops that are closest to Burlington:
- Essex Junction, Essex, VT stop which is approximately 6.8 miles (15 minutes) from Burlington.
- St. Albans City stop which is approximately 24 miles (32 minutes) from Burlington.
- Waterbury, VT stop which is approximately 27.7 miles (30 minutes) from Burlington
- Montpelier, VT stop which is approximately 38.9 miles (41 minutes) from Burlington
Depending on where you live, a road trip to Burlington, Vermont could be feasible. Enjoy the scenic route and take in all the sights of the glorious Mountain State.
Transport from Burlington (BTV) International Airport
If you will be renting a car for your stay in Burlington, the car rental options include Hertz, Dollar, and Enterprise. The rental car counters are within close proximity to the BTV airport’s baggage claim section. Our experience was record fast— the whole process took approximately 10 minutes.
If you will be using shared rides or taxis, these are also conveniently located outside the airport terminal. At BTV, you don’t have to deal with the hustle of navigating through a humongous airport and the consequent need for terminal shuttles.
Where to Stay in Burlington, Vermont
There are a variety of accommodation options while in Burlington, including hotels and vacation rentals. Our recommendation, based on our personal experience, is Courtyard Burlington Harbor. It is a Marriot Bonvoy hotel, known for its wide array of amenities, including an on-site restaurant, indoor pool, fitness center, and incredible room options. We stayed in a spectacular lakefront room that blew us away!
In the event that you are unable to stay at Courtyard Burlington Harbor, check out the following additional Burlington hotel options:
If you would prefer the comforts of a home away from home, consider staying at a vacation rental. We recently discovered Vacation Rentals By Owner, popularly known as VRBO. It’s become our favorite vacation rental option given the VRBO offer of stays for every budget and flexible cancellation policy. You can book your VRBO stay below:
Alternatively, the widely known AirBnB is always an option.
Getting Around While in Burlington, Vermont
We highly recommend getting a rental car, if you desire to venture out and explore the city fully. However, if your plan is to stay within one area, then a bike rental should suffice. Burlington is heavy on cycling, with accommodations made for cyclists, including the availability of a ton of biking trails. If you only need access to a car occasionally, you have the option of rideshare options such as Uber, or car share options such as CarShare Vermont.
Where to Eat and Drink in Burlington, Vermont
Burlington is without a doubt a foodie haven! We were completely spoiled for choice when it came to food and drink options. Oh, to wine, dine, and unwind! This is by no means an exhaustive list ( we would be here all day), it is merely a list of our top recommendations you can start out with as you explore Burlington.
It is a Vermont creperie known for its mind-blowing selection of sweet and savory crepes. On the menu are delicious and affordable local food options, breakfast all day, cocktails to go and so much more.
It is located in the lobby of the Courtyard Burlington Harbor hotel. The ambiance is upscale, warm, and inviting. We enjoyed an affordably priced, delectable dinner and took in the sounds of a live band belting out catchy tunes. It was quite a delightful dining experience!
Let us just start by talking about the view here! The restaurant is positioned on a dock (as it is so aptly named) on the shores of Lake Champlain. Enjoy the cool breeze of the lake as you partake in a grand selection of meal options including fresh fish. Their fish tacos were our ultimate favorite!
Additional Restaurant Recommendations
It is located within Hotel Vermont and is known for serving fresh, local, ingredient-driven food and drinks.
It is a fine dining restaurant open for dinner only.
On the menu is arm-to-table pub food alongside a curated list of craft beer, natural wines, and hand-crafted cocktails.
It is a waterfront restaurant overlooking Lake Champlain.
Dockside food truck offering seasonal dishes that rotate weekly, and nautical cocktails. Open seasonally from May to October.
This eatery is known for wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, inspired salads, antipasti, as well as creative craft cocktails.
Small plates, eastern Mediterannean mezze that is open for lunch and dinner.
Classic Chinese cuisine meals served family-style.
Northern Chinese style hand-rolled dumplings made from scratch and made to order. Larger than your usual dumplings!
A bistro-like eatery that is popular for all-day breakfasts & brunch, plus American lunch & dinner faves.
Extensive range of whiskey, craft beers & cocktails along with a tapas-style menu.
The Beach House, which is located on North Beach is the only place in Burlington where you can drink and dine right on the beach. Relax on the patio overlooking Lake Champlain and the Adindorack Mountains while enjoying a tasty meal and drinks.
Things To Do In Burlington, Vermont in the Summer
As we alluded to earlier, Burlington has a vast array of activities to participate in. Whether you have a preference for outdoor or indoor options, or a mix of both, there are activities for everyone! We have rounded up a few experiences that you can add to your list of things to do in Burlington.
Note: Vermont is a state that experiences all 4 seasons, so suffice to say that activities may vary based on the time of year. Some restaurants are seasonal based on the time of the year. Additionally, some activities are also seasonal based on the time of year.
1. Cruise on Lake Champlain
We had tons of memorable experiences while in Burlington. At the top of our list was a sunset cruise across Lake Champlain, courtesy of Whistling Man Schooner Co. No words can aptly describe the experience, but we’ll use EXHILARATING for now. It was hands down our favorite sailing adventure to date!
Additional Cruise Options
Cruise Lake Champlain and surround yourself with the beauty of the Champlain Valley aboard The Spirit of Ethan Allen Cruise. Cruise options include a scenic narrated cruise, lunch on the lake, champagne on Lake Champlain, and a sunset cruise. Indoor and outdoor cruise seating is available.
2. Hike the Rock Point Trails
Rock Point —a 130-acre sanctuary in the heart of Burlington —has 2 miles of accessible walking and hiking trails. We jumped at the opportunity to appreciate nature in its unadulterated state, taking in all the scenic sites as we hiked to the scenic vista. Our reward was the BREATHTAKING view of Lake Champlain within close sight, and the Adindoracks from afar. How could we not fall deeper in love with Burlington after this?
3. Take a Rock Climbing Class
Learn how to rock climb safely with Petra Cliffs. They offer year-round rock and mountain climbing classes.
4. Enjoy a Wine Tasting Experience
A visit to Burlington is incomplete without wine tasting! The first stop on our list was Shelburne Vineyard. It is known for crafting high-quality Vermont-grown wine. They implement strategic sustainable farming practices to grow their grapes, so you know your wine will be top-notch. They offer wine tasting flights, wine by the glass or bottle, and delicious local cheese and charcuterie boards. At the end of your wine tasting session, you can buy bottles of Shelburne Wine to take home with you.
5. Wine and Dine at a Wine Bar
Enjoy wine and tasty pairings at Dedalus. You can choose wine by style, country, region, or variety. All the wines are made by small growers and cooperatives, often producing parcels of wine less than 1K cases. Bottles of wine are also available for purchase at the on-site wine shop.
6. Explore Local Breweries
For all lovers of beer, you will be pleased to learn that Burlington has tons of local breweries. The following are a few options to consider:
7. Go on a Sip of Burlington Brew Tour
Sign up for the Sip of Burlington Brew Tour and taste your way through Vermont’s world-class beers on this Burlington brew tour with a beer-focused meal at a local restaurant. Get an insider’s perspective on the thriving craft beer scene then meet the owners and brewers behind Burlington’s most iconic pours. Visit Burlington’s breweries worry-free with transportation, taste up to 15 locally produced beers and share the experience with a fun group of fellow beer lovers.
8. Go on a Burlington Bar Crawl Trivia & History Tour
Brews and Clues is an adult scavenger hunt that’s part Pub Crawl, part History Tour, and part Trivia game. Tours are a mix of trivia, adventure, and beer. Participants can choose a location and invite friends to follow the clues, explore the city, and enjoy a few drinks.
9. Try Out Liquor Tasting
Sign up for Mad River Distillers Liquor Tasting of seven permanent spirits. Guests can taste a variety of spirits such as Maple Cask Rum, bourbon whiskey, and Vanilla Rum.
10. Check out Local Coffee Shops
Coffee lovers unite! There is no shortage of unique coffee shops in Burlington. The following are specialty coffee roasteries, coffee shops, and tasting bars that you can check out.
11. Bike along Lake Champlain
Burlington is blessed with tons of bike paths and trails, many of which line the shores of Lake Champlain. You can map your route here.
You can rent bikes from the following locations:
12. Relax at Local Parks
Waterfront Park has bike trails, walking trails, and places to stop and take in sights of Lake Champlain. Walk, cycle or picnic in the park’s gardens and colorful flower beds. During the summer Waterfront Park also hosts concerts and cultural events.
Enjoy scening views and watch the sunset at Overlook Park.
13. Visit ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
Located on Lake Champlain’s waterfront, ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is an innovative science and nature museum featuring more than 100 interactive exhibits.
14. Roam Burlington on a Scavenger Hunt
The Burlington Scavenger Hunt: Burlington Beauty will take you to Burlington’s best landmarks, with natural beauty at every turn! Walk to all the best landmarks and hidden gems, answering trivia questions, and solving challenges.
15. Go on a Burlington Segway Tour
Explore more of Burlington on a one or two-hour Segway tour and witness breathtaking views of the Adirondack Mountains twelve miles across Lake Champlain. The historical narrative, delivered by radio as you roll along, will take you from the birth of Burlington in 1783 to the present day.
16. Tour the University of Vermont
The University of Vermont is one of the oldest universities in the United States and has stunning architecture to appreciate. Explore the grounds and admire the beautiful old buildings that are over a century old. Additionally, you can tour the famous Fleming Museum of Art and the Royall Tyler Theater while on campus.
17. Catch a Show at Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
The Flynn Center for the Performing Arts is a renowned, world-class performing arts center that hosts concerts and shows.
18. Check Out the Burlington Earth Clock
Located at Oakledge Park and Beach, the Burlington Earth Clock is a 43-foot-wide sundial made of slabs of granite from local quarries. When you position yourself in the middle of the clock, the slabs in front of you represent where the sun sets during equinoxes and solstices.
19. Check Out The World’s Tallest Flying Cabinet
The World’s Tallest Flying Cabinet is made up of 38 drawers and makes for a great photo op.
20. Shop at Burlington Farmers Market
Set up in the central City Hall Park, the summer Burlington Farmers Market is open seasonally, every Saturday morning, from May to October. Almost everything for sale is homegrown/produced by Vermont farmers. In addition to fresh fruit and vegetables, you can also find cheeses, baked goods, and crafts.
21. Explore Church Street Marketplace
Church Street Marketplace is set over four blocks in downtown Burlington. It’s closed off to car traffic and is lined with a wide variety of shopping and dining experiences. Expect to see street performers, specialty stores and so much more!
22. Grab Ice Cream at Ben & Jerry’s
Enjoy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the city where its story began. Located at the famous Church Street Marketplace, the downtown Burlington Ben & Jerry’s location is an ode to the origins of the ice cream company.
23. Experience the Arts at Burlington City Arts (BCA)
Burlington City Arts has an exhibition space dedicated to showcasing contemporary art and providing art-based education and experiences.
24. Get your laugh on at Vermont Comedy Club
Catch a comedy show at the Vermont Comedy Club. It is known nationally as one of the best in the country, attracting top comedy talent.
25. Explore Island Line Trail
Start your journey at Oakledge Park, and explore the 13.4-mile Island Line Rail Trail. You can bike, inline skate, or just walk along the trail. Take Local Motion’s Island Line Bike Ferry to cross “the Cut”, a 200-foot gap in the causeway and then continue on your way.
26. Go Paddle Boarding at North Beach
North Beach is the only beach in Burlington that has active lifeguards in the summer. During the summer months, you can rent kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards. Other amenities include (but are not limited to) BBQ grills, bike path accessibility, and a full campground.
27. Indulge your sweet tooth
Indulge your sweet tooth at Lake Champlain Chocolates where they source fresh, local ingredients to create gourmet specialty chocolates.
Is Burlington, Vermont Worth Visiting?
Well, friends, we know that was a truckload of information! But we wanted to provide as much detail as we could. Now for the million-dollar question: Is Burlington, Vermont worth visiting? That would be a resounding YES! Burlington is without a doubt the epitome of nature’s beauty and good vibes! The people were friendly and welcoming, we enjoyed the diverse selection of things to do, and we loved the free-spirited, lively feel of the city.
It is our hope that this travel guide has inspired you to plan a visit to the Green Mountain State, immerse yourself in New England’s charm, and specifically experience the spectacular city of Burlington, Vermont!