Burlington is the largest city in the American state of Vermont, with a population of over 40,000. Situated on Lake Champlain, it is the heart of a small urban area that acts as Vermont's vibrant and cosmopolitan center. Known for its ultra-liberal environment (for an American town at least) and free-thinking spirit, Burlington is both a college town and an important commercial city, while maintaining an intimate atmosphere. It is relatively well connected to Montreal, Quebec, Canada to the north and Plattsburgh, New York to the west.
Burlington is known outside of Vermont mostly as the place where Ben & Jerry's ice cream began, and as the city where democratic socialist Bernie Sanders launched his political career, winning the 1980 mayoral election and serving in that role for eight years before moving on to the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the 2016/2020 presidential races. However, contrary to what you may think, this lovely town has a lot more to offer than liberal politics and ice cream.
- 1 Burlington International Airport (BTV IATA), Airport Drive, ☏ . Served by a number of airlines with non-stop service to destinations as far as Chicago and Orlando.
Interstate 89 lies just to the east of town. The town center is accessible via exit 14W, while the south end of town can be accessed via Interstate 189 at exit 13. Interstate 89 continues north to the Canadian border at Highgate, and south and east to the New Hampshire city of Concord. U.S. Route 7 can also be useful for accessing Burlington from the south, as it travels north from western Connecticut and Massachusetts and the southwestern Vermont town of Bennington.
- Greyhound, +1-800-552-8737. The Greyhound bus terminal is at the airport, but there is stop at the downtown transit center (listed as "Burlingt Transit Ctr" on the website search page - you must type "burlingt" without the "-on" to find it in the search). The price for the two stops differs by about $7. If you're coming from Canada, it is much cheaper to buy the ticket from the US-based Greyhound.com instead of from Greyhound Canada, but you must print out your ticket yourself and bring the paper printout to the station (tickets on phone screens aren't accepted).
- Megabus. Daily service to Burlington from Montpelier and Boston. The bus stop is at the north end of University Place, near Colchester Avenue.
The closest 2 Amtrak station is in Essex Junction, about a 15-minute drive to the east. Amtrak provides daily service to Washington, D.C. via New York City. This route does not include connections to Canada, but does reach St. Albans near the border. During the summer season, another Amtrak service, the Adirondack, stops at Port Kent, NY, where transfer can be made to the Burlington-Port Kent ferry (see ferry directions below). The Adirondack provides daily service between New York City and Montreal, Quebec, following the scenic shores of Lake Champlain and the Hudson River.
Lake Champlain Ferries operates seasonal ferry service from 3 King Street Dock in downtown Burlington to Port Kent, NY across Lake Champlain; this gives access to the Adirondacks area of New York state. This ferry is mainly a tourist attraction since it is faster to drive up to the Grand Isle-Plattsburgh ferry and then take the interstate to Port Kent than it is to use the Burlington-Port Kent ferry.
Downtown Burlington is one of the most walkable and beautiful small cities in New England, and you'd do well to get out of your car (parking in city and most private garages is free for the first 2 hours, and all day on Sundays) and soak it in.
There are car rental offices at Burlington International Airport, including Hertz, Avis and Thrifty. Traffic is generally bad during the normal crunch half-hours (7:45-8:15AM and 4:45-5:15PM). Williston Road to the east and Shelburne Road to the south are congested during those hours, and, unfortunately, unavoidable for the most part.
Burlington and the surrounding communities of Winooski, South Burlington, Shelburne, Colchester and Essex Junction are served by Green Mountain Transit (GMT) which operates public buses. Buses are generally clean, uncrowded and relatively cheap. The main terminal is in downtown Burlington at the intersection of Church St. and Cherry St.
Burlington is a bike-friendly city. There are various bike lanes around the downtown area, and thanks to slow traffic and often courteous drivers, getting around the greater Burlington area on bike is a breeze. In the summer extra bicycle parking is made available, and low bike-related crime helps encourage everyone to get on their bikes. Bikes can be rented at Local Motion on the waterfront or at some of the other bicycle shops around town.
Downtown Burlington is home to an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants, and is well known for its pedestrian Church Street Marketplace. Church Street is home to a multitude of performers ranging from violists to folk singers to hip-hop dancers, and you don't have to pay a penny, although it doesn't hurt to leave a few dollars. Burlington is ideal for observing all sorts of individuals: flower-child hippies, students, funky artists, tattooed hipsters, and preps mingle on the streets and can provide unparalleled entertainment.
- 1 ECHO at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, 1 College St, ☏ . Daily 9AM-5PM in summer. Lake aquarium and science center. $9/$7.
- 2 Shelburne Museum, 6000 Shelburne Rd, ☏ .
- Waterfront. At the bottom of College street. $5 for parking.
- North Beach (End of Institute Road (off North Avenue, behind Burlington High School)). $8 for non-resident parking or get there for free from the bikepath at the Waterfront (go right when looking at the water)
- Williams' Fire Escape, Williams Hall, University Pl. One of Burlington's hidden treasures is a few flights up the fire escape of one of UVM's buildings. Williams Hall, across from the University Green, is an architectural masterpiece in its own right. However, the sunset sights seen from an outside stairwell are some of the best views one will experience. If there are not too many people/students visiting the spot, it is a romantic and breathtaking place to visit. At the uppermost flight of the fire escape, all of downtown Burlington, spanning to Lake Champlain, is visible. At sunset, the sun hits the water and the buildings in a lovely way.
Burlington is renowned for its cultural amenities and strength in the arts, providing the opportunities typical of a much larger city. Outdoor activities include a 7.6-mile (12.5-km) bike path that runs along the lake and now connects to the Colchester bike path. Mount Philo is a leisurely hike for beginners, especially with younger kids. Camel's Hump and Mount Mansfield offer more challenging terrain, but reward hikers with beautiful summit views of the Champlain Valley. All three mountains are within 1-hour driving distance of Burlington. Several alpine and cross-country ski resorts and backcountry ski trails are within an hour of Burlington—and you can Nordic ski in the city, as well, at Red Rocks Park and Burlington Country Club.
- Spirit of Ethan Allen III. Regular cruise tours of Lake Champlain leave from Burlington's harbor.
- Flynn Theater. Home to the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Vermont Stage Company, and Lyric Theatre Company.
- Flynnspace. Presents alternative and avant-garde performances in an intimate, black box theater.
- 1 Ethan Allen Homestead, ☏ . Guided tours of Revolutionary War Hero Ethan Allen's final home on Burlington's Scenic Intervale
- 2 Fleming Museum of Art (formerly Robert Hull Fleming Museum), ☏ (recorded info), (museum offices).
- BCA Center. A five-story complex of galleries, classrooms, and studios run by Burlington City Arts.
- The Bern Gallery, 135 Main St (Downtown Burlington across from City Hall Park), ☏ . 10AM-9PM. This is a local grassroots art gallery with live glassblowing daily. The Bern Gallery smoke shop makes custom glass, has Burlington's only Hookah Bar, features local artwork and jewellery, and is a Vermont accredited glass blowing school. The Bern Gallery is also home to the Pipe Classic, the glass industry's première pipe-making competition. Held every September, the Pipe Classic features the talents of 12 glass artists chosen from across the nation to compete head-to-head in this celebration of pipe-making.
- Queen City Ghostwalk, Downtown Burlington (tours start at 199 Main St. and 1 Main St., check website for exact location), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Haunted history tours of Burlington with author and historian Thea Lewis.
- Center for Mindful Learning, 751 Page Rd (the Burlington Friends Meeting House), ☏ . CML offers guided meditation practice on Sunday nights from 7PM-9PM.
- Magic Hat Brewing Company. A tour worth checking out.
- Sunset Drive-In Theater. In the neighboring town of Colchester, sends patrons on a nostalgic trip back to the 1960s with double features of movies on four screens. Open seasonally from late April to early September. $8.50 for adults, children under 12 get in free.
Burlington hosts several festivals and events throughout the year. This list changes every year but the following events staples of the community.
- First Night. December 31. Parades, performers, and fireworks help to mark the coming of the new year. Burlington continues the First Night tradition with plays, performers, and a grand welcoming of things to come.
- Winter Carnival. February time frame. Celebrate the winter with ice sculptures, parades, and sleigh rides.
- Mardi Gras Parade. Weekend before Ash Wednesday. Burlington hosts its own Fat Tuesday parade which is usually scheduled for the Saturday before Ash Wednesday. A large parade goes up Church Street, bands play in the clubs and streets, and special events hosted by Magic Hat Brewery.
- KeyBank Vermont City Marathon. Sunday before Memorial Day. A qualifying race for major national marathons, it is one of the largest sporting events in the city with street vendors, musicians and food stalls during and after the race. The marathon begins and ends at Waterfront Park and traverses much of the city. Expect major city streets to be closed down in the morning hours and most hotel rooms booked far in advance.
- The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. First two weeks in June. The Discover Jazz festival is the largest event of its kind in the state and draws internationally renowned performing artists to the city each summer, as well as throngs of jazz, blues, gospel and Latin music fans. Its the highlight of the summer festival season. Venues throughout the city, including Waterfront Park, Memorial Auditorium, Contois Theatre, Waterfront Theatre, and The Flynn Center for the Performing Arts.
- Independence Day Fireworks. Evening of July 3. The City of Burlington holds its fireworks the evening of the 3rd to allow people to attend both it and the smaller towns' festivities on the 4th. If you go to the latter, prepare to leave early as many roads are closed for parades and it's not always possible to reach towns without Interstate exits between mid-morning and late afternoon of the 4th.
- Vermont Brewers Festival. Mid-July. Taste microbrews from Vermont and throughout New England during this annual summer gathering on Burlington's waterfront. General admission is $35/session which includes 10 tasting tickets and a complimentary tasting glass. Discounts are available for admission tickets purchased before July 1st.
- Festival of Fools. Early August. A curated festival of street performers.
- Dragon Boat Festival. Early August. The Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival is hosted by Dragonheart Vermont, a breast cancer survivor and supporter dragon boat team. Local companies paddle 10-person dragon boats in head to head races on Lake Champlain.
- Vermont Air Show. Late August. Watch an air demonstration of older and newer airplanes. Sometimes held at Hanscom Field and sometimes held over the downtown area.
- Grand Point North (GPN), 1 Lake Street. Annual September music festival curated by Vermont's own Grace Potter who also headlines both nights of the festival.
- 1 Church Street Marketplace. Four blocks of Church Street are closed to all motor traffic and creates an open air mall in the heart of the city. A variety of eateries, shops, and stores provide a diverse place to find unique gifts.
- Burlington Town Center Mall. Connected to the Church Street Marketplace is the downtown mall. This indoor shopping area has a lot of the traditional stores you would find in an enclosed mall. Anchor stores include Macy's.
- 2 University Mall (U-Mall), 155 Dorset St, ☏ . The University Mall is closer to campus and offers a wider range of shops than the Downtown Mall. Anchor stores include Kohls, Sears, and JCPenny's.
- LeZot Cameras, 34 Church St, ☏ . This non-chain, locally owned and operated camera shop has an amazing collection of lenses, manual cameras, and accessories; even their camera bags collection is large and versatile. Their repair shop is great, and the employees actually know cameras, love cameras, and you can see it. For the service, it is reasonably priced.
- Lower Main Neighborhood (Lo Main), Main St. from Pine St. to the Waterfront. This funky neighborhood sits between Church St. and the Waterfront, and boasts some of the best local establishments. Look for quirky antiques and collectables at Anjou and Little Pear, earth-friendly and locally made housewares at the Green Life, and delicious artisan breads, pastries, coffee and lunch at August First Bakery. Discover Burlington's special off-the-beaten-path neighborhood!
- Kiss the Cook, 72 Church St, ☏ . Locally owned kitchen store.
Being a large college town, Burlington is home to many cheap eateries. Due to the competition, most of them are pretty good.
- Ali Baba's Kabob Shop, 163 Main St, ☏ . Serves Greek and Middle Eastern food. Popular spot with students, open late.
- Asiana Noodle Shop, 88 Church St, ☏ . Specializes in noodle soups from all over East Asia.
- Boloco, 92 Church St, ☏ . Burlington outpost of this small, Boston based burrito chain. They have unusual burritos including Thai and Tikka Masala burritos
- The Skinny Pancake, 60 Lake St, ☏ . 8AM-8PM. A Burlington creperie. They serve sweet and savory crepes with a local twist. The "Heartbreaker" crepe features the world favorite Nutella spread loaded with fresh bananas and local strawberries. Along with an emphasis on local and organic products, the S.P. offers molten Swiss fondues and live music on Th, F and Sa. Come grab a crepe! $6 and up.
- Handy's Lunch, 74 Maple St, ☏ . Popular south-end diner.
- Halvorson's Upstreet Cafe, 16 Church St, ☏ . Dine outside at this Church St. cafe.
- Henry's Diner, 155 Bank St, ☏ . Historic downtown diner
- Pearl Street Diner, 85 Pearl St, ☏ . M-F 6:30AM-3PM; Sa Su 8AM-3PM. Popular downtown breakfast spot.
Coffee and bakery
- New Moon Cafe, 150 Cherry St, ☏ . Named well before the Twilight craze, this cafe is a good place to grab coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and salads.
- 1 August First Bakery, 149 S. Champlain St (At the corner of Main St.), ☏ . M-F 7:30AM-5PM, Sa 8AM-3PM, Friday nights 6PM-9PM for flatbread pizza. A local favorite! Casual bakery cafe in downtown Burlington, baking artisan bread and serving delicious breakfast and lunch. Look for classics like BLT made with Vermont bacon on homemade baguette, and amazing pastries like their signature Hungarian Sweet Roll. under $10.
- Barrio Bakery, 203 N. Winooski Ave, ☏ . Old North End bakery that turns into a pizza place at night.
- Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop. No trip to Vermont would be complete without a stop by one of the renowned Ben & Jerry's scoop shops to sample their latest contributions to Americana. Indeed, few would dispute the fact that ice cream is in season every season. There is a scoop shop on the Church Street Marketplace at the corner of Cherry Street. The original Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop was nearby on the southwest corner of College Street and Saint Paul Street.
Italian and pizza
- Bove's, 68 Pearl St, ☏ . Tu-Th 2PM-8:45PM, F Sa 11AM-8:45PM. Since 1941, traditional Italian fare. Lasagna (traditionally Wed only but check first) is the stuff of local legend.
- Junior's Downtown, 176 Main St, ☏ . Popular late night pizza spot.
- Sofia's Pizzeria, 205 St. Paul St, ☏ . Has all the pizza mainstays, as well as a few eclectic topping selections.
- Pine Street Deli, 316 Flynn Ave, ☏ . Deli that serves everything from burgers and subs to Greek food.
- Top of the Block Sandwich Shop, 2 Church St, ☏ . They roast their own meats at this tiny sandwich shop. Coffee is $1 if you bring your own mug.
- Henry Street Deli, 11 Henry St, ☏ . Hands down best hidden sandwich shop in Burlington.
- American Flatbread, 115 St. Paul St, ☏ . 11:30AM-10PM (11PM F Sa). Enjoy a wide range of flatbreads made with local ingredients as well as beer from the attached microbrewery. If flatbreads aren't a thing where you're from, they're basically pizza.
- Sweetwater's, 118 Church St, ☏ .
- Bluebird BBQ, 317 Riverside Ave, ☏ . Serves traditional BBQ and dishes with a Northern Vermont flavor such as BBQ Poutine
- The Farmhouse Tap & Grill, 160 Bank St, ☏ . This restaurant serves gourmet burgers along with one of the most extensive beer selections in the area.
- Das Bierhaus, 175 Church St, ☏ . German restaurant with a large selection of German beers on tap.
- Daily Planet, 15 Center St, ☏ .
- Trattoria Delia, 152 St. Paul St, ☏ .
- Asiana House, 191 Pearl St, ☏ . Fusion restaurant serving Japanese, Korean, and Thai food.
- A Single Pebble, 133 Bank St, ☏ . Authentic Chinese restaurant.
- El Cortijo Taqueria Y Cantina, 189 Bank St, ☏ . Small Mexican restaurant emphasizing local ingredients wherever possible.
Although the Burlington area is much wealthier and more populous than the rest of the state, there aren't many expensive restaurants in town. Most of Vermont's expensive restaurants are out in the countryside or up in the mountains. Most of their menus change frequently and prices within each menu can vary wildly so if you want to get carried away, go for it.
- Bluebird Barbecue, 317 Riverside Ave, ☏ .
- Hen of the Wood, 55 Cherry St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily: dining room 5PM-10PM, bar 4PM-midnight. This is a restaurant that changes its menu every day and concentrates on using ingredients in season in interesting ways. They also have a very interesting and wide range of alcoholic beverages, and their dessert chef is particularly brilliant, so if you have any inclination at all to order dessert in restaurants, make sure to do so at this one. Their small plates can be quite small, but their main dishes are filling. The food is delicious, but the level of salt can be high at times.
- Ice House Restaurant & Bar, 171 Battery St, ☏ . This steak and seafood restaurant sits in a 200-year-old building overlooking Lake Champlain.
- Lake Champlain Chocolates, 750 Pine St. A local chocolate maker. They have a company store and a viewing area to see the chocolate being made. They also have a small coffee bar where they serve espresso drinks and their own ice cream.
- Leunig's Bistro, 115 Church St, ☏ . French style bistro with outdoor seating. They sometimes have live jazz.
- Muddy Waters, 184 Main St, ☏ .
- Rusty Scuffer, 148 Church St, ☏ .
- Uncommon Grounds, 42 Church St, ☏ .
- Big Daddy's, 177 Church St, ☏ . The footlong Oinkin' Gobbler is a local favorite, but the pizza is great as well.
- Leonardo's Pizza, 83 Pearl St, ☏ .
- Manhattan Pizza, 167 Main St, ☏ .
- Mr. Mike's, 206 Main St, ☏ .
- Shanty On The Shore, 181 Battery St, ☏ . Fresh seafood and great lake views. Expect a wait on weekends.
- India House Restaurant, 207 Colchester Ave, ☏ .
- Shalimar of India, 16 North Winooski Ave, ☏ . Have a great Sunday brunch which is ~$10 and buffet/all you can eat. Good deal.
Mexican and Tex-Mex
- Madera's, 3 Main St, ☏ .
- Amir's Kebab Cart, Church Street Marketplace (next to City Hall). Gyro, chicken gyro, Doner Kebab.
Bars and clubs
- 1 The Vermont Pub and Brewery, 144 College St, ☏ .
- 2 Akes' Place, 134 Church St, ☏ .
- 3 Ri Ra Irish Pub, 123 Church St, ☏ .
- Nectar's, 188 Main St, ☏ .
- 4 Esox, 194 Main St, ☏ .
- 5 What Ales You, 152 St. Paul St (Corner of Main and St. Paul), ☏ .
- 6 Ruben James Sports Bar & Restaurant ("RJ's"), 159 Main St, ☏ .
- 7 Church Street Tavern, 103 Church St, ☏ .
- 8 Red Square, 136 1/2 Church St, ☏ .
- 9 Three Needs Brewery and Taproom, 185 Pearl St, ☏ . Freshly-brewed self and local beers, as well as a small but decent selection of beers on tap. Red felt pool table in the back, and friendly barstaff.
- 10 Drink, 135 St Paul St, ☏ . Hip spot. Lots of couches. And board games.
- American Flatbread, 115 St. Paul St, ☏ . An organic and localvore flatbread (don't call it pizza) joint which brews its own "Zero Gravity" beer.
- 11 Magic Hat Brewing Company, 5 Bartlett Bay Rd, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, and Su noon-5PM. Guided and self-guided tours. Self-guided tours may be taken any time during normal Artifactory hours. Guided Tours: Th F 3PM, 4PM, 5PM; Sa noon, 1PM, 2PM, 3PM. The bar is a sight to behold with 30 taps flowing and a constantly changing line-up of beers.
- Maglianero, 47 Maple St, ☏ . Exceptional quality craft coffee drinks, pastries, etc, in a large space that doubles as an art gallery. Locally produced beans, teas, and more. Bicycle and laptop not required, but definitely welcome (and maybe prevalent).
- Muddy Waters, 184 Main St, ☏ . Locally owned. Great atmosphere. Some beers on tap too.
- Speeder and Earls Coffee, 104 Church St. Serving the best coffee in downtown Burlington, Ask Anyone.
- Uncommon Grounds, 42 Church St, ☏ . Locally owned, they roast their own beans on site.
Many other hotels with "Burlington" in their names are actually in South Burlington. If you have a car, consider those if price is a consideration, because many of them are within 5 miles (8km) of Downtown Burlington.
- 1 Burlington Hostel, 53 Main St, 2nd floor, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. The only backpackers hostel in Burlington. Free WiFi, free breakfast, security lockers provided. $30.
- 2 Courtyard Burlington Harbor, 25 Cherry St (Corner of Battery St and Cherry St), ☏ . Offers 127 rooms with excellent views and good service.
- 3 Hampton Inn Burlington, 42 Lower Mountain View Dr, ☏ . Offering complimentary breakfast and airport shuttle.
- 4 Hilton Burlington Hotel, 60 Battery St, ☏ . Overlooking Lake Champlain and Waterfront Park, the hotel offers vacationers 257 hotel rooms.
- 5 Lang House on Main Street Bed and Breakfast, 360 Main St, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Historic bed and breakfast offering beautifully restored rooms and breakfast. $145-245.
- The Residence Inn Burlington Colchester, 71 Rathe Rd, ☏ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: Noon. An all suite hotel with full kitchenettes, suites, salt water pool, complimentary parking, complimentary wifi and complimentary breakfast.
- 6 Sheraton Burlington Hotel & Conference Center, 870 Williston Rd, ☏ . The largest hotel and conference center in the state of Vermont.
- 7 Willard Street Inn, 349 S Willard St, ☏ . Very close to Champlain College and UVM with views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks.
- The Canadian border is about an hour's drive, and Montreal, Quebec, is less than a two-hour drive north. Border crossing between the U.S. and Canada now requires a passport or enhanced identification (such as Vermont state's Enhanced Driver's License, or EDL).
- Smuggler's Notch and Stowe ski resorts are within 45 minutes from the heart of the city.
- Just south of the city are several state parks and some of the tallest peaks in the Green Mountains.
- Try to find 'Champ', the Lake Champlain monster who is supposed to be a sister to Nessie of Loch Ness.
|Routes through Burlington|
|Rouses Point ← Jct ← Winooski ←||N E||→ South Burlington → Jct → Montpelier|
|St. Albans ← Winooski ←||N S||→ South Burlington → Rutland|