20 Best Things to do in Burlington Vermont On Your First Visit

Best Things to Do in Burlington Vermont

Sitting on the shores of Lake Champlain is one of the most beautiful places to visit in New England. Burlington VT may be considered a city, but is full of amazing outdoor adventures and things to do. As soon as you step foot on Church Street you’ll love the small-town feel and vibe of the Green Mountains. So are you ready for days of fun activities and all the best things to do in Burlington Vermont? Let’s dive right in! 

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20 Best Things to do in Burlington Vermont

1. Explore Church Street

Church Street is the center of life and home to some of the best things to do in Burlington Vermont! Here you’ll find unique shops, tasty restaurants, music, and plenty of interesting characters. There’s no better way to start your time in Burlington than to take a walk down Church Street! 

7 Things You’ll See on Church Street in Burlington Vermont

Fun Things to Do in Burlington

2. Go to Ben and Jerry’s 

While exploring Church Street you have to visit the world-famous ice cream shop! First opening at a gas station in 1978 on nearby College Street, this now Vermont landmark quickly caught on around the United States.

These days you can find Ben and Jerry’s in over 35 countries around the world! One of the most fun things to do in Burlington Vermont is to grab a cone on Church Street and see where it all started. 

Ben and Jerry

3. Stroll the Burlington Vermont Waterfront

Just a short walk away from Church Street is the gorgeous Lake Champlain. While many of the best Burlington Vermont activities are done on the lake, simply strolling along the water is fun in itself! The paved path along the water is perfect to walk as you look out over the lake and Adirondack mountains of New York.

Burlington Waterfront

4. Hit the Burlington VT Beaches

There are so many fun things to do in Burlington Vermont, and in the summertime that especially means the beaches! You may not think lakes have nice beaches, but that will change once you have a swim in Lake Champlain. Below we break down the 5 most popular beaches in Burlington from North to South!

Starr Farm Beach: The furthest to the north and accessible from the bike path. A small collection of different beaches and never crowded. 

Leddy Beach: Leddy is a beautiful beach just steps from Burlington’s North End. You’ll also find a grass picnic area, tennis courts, and even an ice rink!

North Beach: The most popular of the Burlington beaches especially with the college crowd. Expect North Beach to be packed on a hot summer day with plenty of partying. 

Texaco Beach: The only dog beach and one of our favorite in VT! An afternoon at Texaco is one of the most fun things to do in Burlington Vermont.

Blanchard Beach: Located right next to Oakledge Park, this beach is a great place to hang out South of downtown Burlington. In the summer there is a spot with stand-up paddleboards available for rent.

Burlington Things to Do Beaches

5. Enjoy Water Sports at Burlington Surf Club

Speaking of paddleboarding, you can get all that and more at the Burlington Surf Club. For just $20 you can have use of kayaks, canoes, sailboats, windsurfing, and paddleboards for the entire day. The surf club is within walking distance from downtown and they even offer lessons and tours! If you live in Burlington we would also recommend looking into the yearly pass.

Burlington Surf Club

6. Ride the Burlington VT Greenway

The Burlington Greenway is a paved bike and walking path that stretches 8 miles along Lake Champlain. It goes by downtown, along the beaches, and through the forest. The official start of the Greenway is just south of Oakledge Park and goes all the way to the Winooski River.

You can even continue on all the way to Grand Isle if you’d like! Riding the path on a bicycle is easily one of the best things to do in Burlington VT, and honestly all of New England!

Burlington Vermont Bike Path: Downtown to the Winooski River

Burlington Vermont Bike Trail

7. Cruise on the Spirit of Ethan Allen

Another great way to get out on the water is by taking the Spirit of Ethan Allen ferry. Yet, you should know this isn’t your average boat cruise! The Spirit of Ethan Allen offers trips ranging from narrated historic tours to dinner cruises, and even music and comedic shows. So whatever you’re looking for in a cruise on Lake Champlain, you’re sure to find it with the Spirit of Ethan Allen. 

Spirit of Ethan Allen Burlington

8. Sample Local & International Foods 

When searching for what to do in Burlington Vermont you’ve surely thought of the local foods. I mean who would really come without sampling maple syrup, cheese, and other VT goodies??

Still, what you may not know is how much amazing international food Burlington has! The diverse community has everything from Mexican tacos to Chinese dumplings, and more. Below you’ll find some of our favorite international restaurants in Burlington.

  • Hong’s Dumplings
  • Taco Gordo 
  • Istanbul Kebab House
  • Skinny Pancake
  • Leunig’s Bistro
  • Pho Hong

Skinny Pancake

9. Stop Into the Saturday Farmer’s Market 

Every Saturday on Pine Street you’ll find one of the best things to do in Burlington Vermont! The Farmer’s Market puts artisan crafts, food stands, and more on full display. From spring to fall, you can find some of the best local products from all around Vermont at the Farmer’s Market. Definitely make a point to go if you’re in Burlington on a Saturday from 9am to 2pm.

Burlington Farmer’s Market Location

Vermont Maple Syrup

10. Drink at a Craft Beer Brewery

Burlington is known for its great craft breweries and there’s no shortage of them around the state! You can find breweries all across town, some even within walking distance of each other.

Swing by and try an assortment of IPA’s, Stouts, and other blends, each with their own distinct taste. Vermont does so many things well, and beer is definitely one of them!

  • Zero Gravity
  • Switchback 
  • Queen City 
  • Magic Hat
  • Foam Brewers

Burlington Vermont Activities

11. Learn at ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain

ECHO is an interactive science and nature museum right on the waterfront of Burlington. It features different exhibits and over 2,000 fish and reptiles are on display at the aquarium! The Echo Center is one of the best things to do in Burlington Vermont for families and children. 

ECHO Leahy Center

12. Catch a Show at Flynn Center for the Performing Arts

The Flynn is a legendary theatre in the heart of downtown. Burlington is known for its fantastic art scene and the Flynn is at the center of it all! First opening in 1930, the theatre has been attracting visitors for almost 100 years. As far as Burlington Vermont activities go, it would be hard to find something as historic as the Flynn theatre.

What to do in Burlington Vermont

13. Hunt for Burlington Vermont Street Art

Everywhere you go in Burlington you’ll experience amazing art. Yet, you don’t have to go to a museum to see it! All around town the walls are covered in colorful murals, mostly done by local artists. Keep your eyes opened especially in area surrounding Church Street.  

Burlington VT Street Art

14. Take in the Views at Battery Park 

High on the hill on the lakeside of Burlington sits beautiful Battery Park. This small grassy area has a unique history and also amazing views of the lake and Adirondack Mountains.

Monuments inside the park pay tribute to both the military and Native Americans. It even plays host to a series of concerts, which are one of the most fun things to do in Burlington Vermont in the summer!

things to do in Burlington Vermont

15. See the World’s Tallest Filing Cabinet

Okay… We know what you’re thinking. Who cares about the world’s tallest filing cabinet?! Well, this rusty piece of architecture is 38 drawers high and has been standing here since 2002.

When we first got there we were expecting to see a giant pile of debris, but they were actually stacked straight to the sky. We wouldn’t call this a must-see by any means, but if you’re in the area between Pine and Foster Street stop in for a look.

World's Tallest Filing Cabinet

16. Eat Lake Champlain Chocolates

Ready for something sweet? Lake Champlain Chocolates are known for having some of the best in New England! There are multiple locations in Burlington, but you can find a storefront right on Church Street. 

Lake Champlain Chocolates

17. Day Trip to Shelburne Museum 

Just a short drive from Burlington is one of the greatest museums in Vermont! The Shelburne Museum combines New England’s history with amazing architecture from the past.

Some of our favorite exhibits were the stagecoaches, the Colchester Reef Lighthouse, and the Ticonderoga Steamboat. Yes, you heard that right! They have an actual steamboat from the early 20th century on site. 

Discovering Local History at Shelburne Museum in Vermont

Things to do Near Burlington Vt

18. Go For a Hike Around Burlington VT

There are plenty of incredible hikes around Burlington to enjoy. They range from all-day hikes to short one-hour climbs up Mount Philo. What makes Burlington such an amazing place to visit is that it’s surrounded by so many awesome outdoor activities.

Take advantage and hit one of the many hikes or walking trails that surround the city on the lake. The two most challenging would be Mount Mansfield or Camels Hump. For an easier hike check out Mount Philo which is only a 20-minute drive from Burlington.

Mount Philo: Best Easy Hike Near Burlington VT

Hike Near Burlington Vermont

19. Night Out in Downtown Burlington Vermont

Once all your daytime Burlington Vermont activities are through, it’s time to go out for a night on the town! After the sun goes down is one of the most fun times to be in Burlington. Aside from the epic brewery scene, there are a number of fun cocktail bars and cafes to enjoy.

Red Square is a lively spot for dancing, but you’ll find other low-key bars like the Whiskey Room and the Gryphon for a change of pace. Also, Manhattan Pizza & Pub is the perfect place for a pint and late night slice!

Best Burlington Vermont Activities

20. Visit the New North End 

This revitalized area of Burlington features some amazing restaurants and a unique art scene. It’s come a long way in the last 10 years and has seen an influx of college students and young adults.

It also has great access to many Burlington VT activities like the bike path and the beaches just outside of downtown. So don’t leave the North End out when looking for the best things to do in Burlington Vermont!

Burlington VT Tacos

Have any questions on this article or want to share your own favorite things to do in Burlington VT? Leave us a comment below! 

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

 Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar

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Where to Stay in Burlington Vermont

Fun VacationHotel Vermont Burlington – This rustic yet modern hotel is in the heart of downtown Burlington. Enjoy a stay close to Church Street, Lake Champlain, and all the great Vermont outdoor activities.

Lake ViewCourtyard Burlington Harbor – This gorgeous Marriot is located perfectly on Cherry Street in between downtown and the lake. Take in the views of Lake Champlain, eat at the onsite restaurant, and relax by the pool during summer. 

Great LocationHilton Garden Inn Burlington Downtown – Spacious rooms and close to all the best things to do in Burlington Vermont. Also, amazing lake and mountain views! 

SuitesGreen Mountain Suites Hotel – Green Mountain Suites is a relaxing boutique inn situated just outside the city. Experience the Vermont country life while still being just a few minutes drive from downtown, and all the great Burlington Vt activities. 

For more places to stay in Burlington VT you can explore the latest prices here!

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USA Travel Planning 

 Information: Explore all our USA articles, amazing destinations around the world, travel planning tips, street food guides, and so much more.

 Flights: We always find great flights using Skyscanner and Kayak. This way you can plan your trip around the cheapest and most direct routes.

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also, Hostelworld can be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

Rental Car: We use Discover Cars when traveling. Consider renting a car in one city and dropping it off in another for an epic road trip! 

Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for hundreds of activities around the country. Book a tour of Fenway Park in Boston, skip the line at the Empire State Building in NYC, or go on a Sea Cave Kayak Tour in La Jolla California! 

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

USA Travel

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2 Comments

  1. August 12, 2022 / 2:13 pm

    You forgot, “Travel through history on a Queen City Ghostwalk tour” lol.
    It’s our 20th year!

    Best,

    Thea

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      August 12, 2022 / 3:19 pm

      Looks so fun! We’ll have to check that out on our next visit 😊

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