Best Things to Do in Burlington, Vermont

BY Dana Freeman | January 27, 2022

Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” Burlington? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Burlington?”

Sitting on the shores of Lake Champlain, with views of the Adirondack Mountains, Burlington is Vermont’s largest and most populous city. It consistently lands itself on annual lists of best places to live, work and retire, for good reason. This bike-friendly, dog-friendly, vibrant yet down-to-earth city with a college-town vibe should be the number one spot on your list of places to visit in Vermont. Queen City comprises five neighborhoods: the New North End, the Old North End, Downtown, the South End and the Hill Section. There’s a lot to explore in each section, and this guide will help you explore Burlington through local eyes.

WHAT TO DO

Burlington Bike Path in Burlington, Vermont. Photo by Shutterstock.
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BURLINGTON, VT, USA. May 14, 2020. Burlington Bike path, Burlington, Vermont. Photo by Shutterstock.

Burlington Bike Path

20 Lake St, Burlington, VT, USA

Part of the Island Line Trail, walk or ride along the Burlington Bike Path, a 7.6-mile paved path that winds its way along the shores of Lake Champlain. Adjacent to the path, daily bike rentals are available from the Local Motion Trailside Center.

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Flynn Center in Burlington, Vermont.
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Flynn Center in Burlington, Vermont.

Flynn Center

153 Main St, Burlington, VT, USA

Established in 1930, the iconic Flynn Center is Burlington’s hub for arts and entertainment. It’s a fully restored Art eco-style theater that’s hosted some of the world’s greatest performers like David Crosby, Tony Bennett, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris and Vermont’s very own Phish.

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Oakledge Park in Burlington, Vermont. Photo by Shutterstock.
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Oakledge Park in Burlington, Vermont. Photo by Shutterstock.

Oakledge Park

11 Flynn Ave, Burlington, VT, USA

Burlington is a mecca for outdoor lovers. In the summer months, you find many locals hanging out at Oakledge Park. It is located in the South End and has a decent-sized beach for swimming, and Paddlesurf Champlain rents stand-up paddleboards.

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ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. Photo by Shutterstock.
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Burlington, Vermont - September 29th, 2019: Exterior of ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. Photo by Shutterstock.

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain

1 College St, Burlington, VT, USA

Visit ECHO, Vermont’s innovative science museum, located just steps from the bike path directly on the waterfront. Dedicated to understanding Lake Champlain and its animals and plants, this museum has interactive exhibits, aquarium tanks filled with species found in the lake and animal care labs.

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WHERE TO EAT

Honey Road in Burlington, Vermont.
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Honey Road in Burlington, Vermont.

Honey Road

156 Church St, Burlington, VT, USA

If you can snag a reservation at Honey Road, take it. This James Beard-nominated restaurant at the bottom of Church Street serves delicious family-style Mediterranean fare. Share several small plates with your dinner companions, but be sure to save room to finish off your meal with their house-made baklava and Turkish coffee.

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August First in Burlington, Vermont.
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August First in Burlington, Vermont.

August First

149 S Champlain St, Burlington, VT, USA

Just off lower Main Street, get breakfast at August First. This bakery and cafe has cozy indoor seating and plenty of space to eat outside. Choose from an assortment of fresh-baked pastries, scones, muffins and more served with local Brio coffee and Vermont artisanal teas. And be sure to try their famous maple biscuit.

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Beansie’s Bus in Burlgington, Vermont.
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Beansie’s Bus in Burlgington, Vermont.

Beansie’s Bus

1 Sherman St, Burlington, VT, USA

A Burlington establishment, Beansie’s, a retrofitted yellow school bus, has been serving Michigan hot dogs, burgers, fries and creemees out its side window since 1944. You will find it parked and open seasonally at the edge of Battery Park on the edge of the Old North End.

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Handy’s Lunch in Burlington.
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Handy’s Lunch in Burlington.

Handy’s Lunch

74 Maple St, Burlington, VT, USA

Handy’s Lunch is a true Burlington landmark. Located downtown on the corner of Maple and South Champlain, third-generation owner and operator Earl Handy makes some of the best diner food in all of Vermont. So grab a seat at the counter and try the world-famous “Chuck Norris,” a gigantic one-pound sandwich with five pieces of french toast, four eggs, American cheese, bacon, ham, sausage, a burger and corn beef.

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WHERE TO STAY

Hotel Vermont in Burlington, Vermont.
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Hotel Vermont in Burlington, Vermont.

Hotel Vermont

41 Cherry St, Burlington, VT, USA

Stay in the city’s center at the Hotel Vermont, which oozes Vermontiness. This modern yet rustic boutique gives you a good taste of local products such as blankets from Johnson Woolen Mills, robes from Vermont Flannel Co. and bath products from Lunaroma. Their in-house restaurant Juniper also uses the freshest local ingredients, such as maple syrup.

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Willard Street Inn in Burlington, Vermont.
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Willard Street Inn in Burlington, Vermont.

Willard Street Inn

349 S Willard St, Burlington, VT, USA

This historic 14-room Victorian mansion in the Hill Section of town offers guests daily fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies delivered to the rooms and a chef-prepared breakfast chock-full of Vermont-sourced goodies, including maple syrup. The Inn is just a few blocks north of downtown, making it a walkable location for your stay in Burlington.

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WHERE TO DRINK

Foam Brewers in Burlington, Vermont.
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Foam Brewers in Burlington, Vermont.

Foam Brewers

112 Lake St, Burlington, VT, USA

With Vermont at the forefront of the craft brewing movement, it should be no surprise that Burlington boasts enough breweries to make it worthy of its own beer trail. With prime lakefront real estate, Foam Brewers is a small independent brewery that should be top on your list of places to grab a cold IPA and listen to live music. Pop next door to their sister restaurant, Deep City, if you are hungry.

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The Archives in Burlington, Vermont.
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The Archives in Burlington, Vermont.

The Archives

191 College St, Burlington, VT, USA

Chill out with a cocktail or craft brew while playing vintage video games and pinball at The Archives. Their downtown location is a great place to hang out for a few hours while playing ’80s arcade games.

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Citizen Cider in Burlington, Vermont.
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Citizen Cider in Burlington, Vermont.

Citizen Cider

316 Pine St, Burlington, VT, USA

Try a local hard cider made from local apples at the Citizen Cider pub. In the warmer months, you will find the garage doors wide open with ample seating on the porch. They have a full food menu as well. Dine on burgers, brats, sausages and fresh cider donuts.

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WHERE TO SHOP

Burton Flagship Store in Burlington, Vermont.
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Burton Flagship Store in Burlington, Vermont.

Burton Flagship Store

162 College St, Burlington, VT, USA

In a state where Jake Burton founded his snowboard company, it is only fitting that there is a Burton flagship store right in downtown Burlington. The shop carries an assortment of snowboard gear, apparel, bags and accessories. So even if you don’t ride, you can look the part while in town.

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Stella Mae in Burlington.
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Stella Mae in Burlington.

Stella Mae

96 Church St, Burlington, VT, USA

This boutique women’s store on Church Street Marketplace carries clothing, footwear and accessories. Stella Mae has all the brands you know like Blundstone, Free People and Levi’s and plenty of unique ones that you do not. 

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Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, Vermont. Photo by Shutterstock.
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Burlington, USA-20 October 2019 : Burlington Vermont Church Street Marketplace downtown city. Photo by Shutterstock.

Church Street Marketplace

Church St, Burlington, VT, USA

In the heart of downtown, you will find the Church Street Marketplace. This bustling four-block pedestrian-only walkway is filled with 100+ boutique shops, restaurants and cafes housed in historic buildings. Grab a maple latte from Leunig’s Petit Bijou coffee and pastry kiosk and wander in and out of the stores, or just window shop from the street.

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