Things to Do in burlington

Burlington, Vermont, nestled on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, offers a delightful blend of outdoor adventures, cultural attractions, and local charm. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or a foodie, Burlington has something to offer for everyone. Explore the best activities and sights this vibrant city has to offer.

Outdoor Adventures

Burlington Bike Path

Island Line Trail | Vermont Trails | TrailLink

The Burlington Bike Path is a standout attraction for both locals and visitors. Stretching 7.6 miles along the shores of Lake Champlain, this paved trail offers stunning waterfront views and easy access to several parks and beaches. Whether you prefer biking, jogging, rollerblading, or simply strolling, the path provides a tranquil escape from the city buzz. It’s particularly popular during the warmer months when the lake sparkles under the sun, and cyclists can enjoy a leisurely ride while taking in the sights of sailboats on the water and the Adirondack Mountains in the distance.

Shelburne Farms

Shelburne Farms

Located just a short drive south of Burlington, Shelburne Farms is a historic estate encompassing 1,400 acres of pastoral land along Lake Champlain. It’s renowned for its commitment to sustainable agriculture and education. The estate offers over 10 miles of walking trails that wind through forests, meadows, and fields, providing visitors with scenic views of the lake and the Adirondack Mountains. The trails are perfect for nature walks, birdwatching, and photography enthusiasts looking to capture Vermont’s natural beauty.

Waterfront Parks

Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park Phase II by SWA/BALSLEY and WEISS/MANFREDI | Parks

Burlington’s waterfront parks, including Oakledge Park and North Beach Park, offer fantastic opportunities for outdoor recreation. Oakledge Park features scenic walking trails, rocky beaches, and picnic areas shaded by mature trees. It’s a popular spot for families and groups looking to spend a relaxing day by the lake, enjoying activities such as swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding. North Beach Park, known for its sandy beach and expansive views of Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains, is another favorite destination for beachgoers and sun-seekers.

Mount Philo State Park

Mount Philo State Park Campground | Charlotte, VT

For those seeking panoramic views of Lake Champlain and the surrounding landscape, Mount Philo State Park is a must-visit. Located a short drive from Burlington, this state park offers hiking trails that lead to the summit of Mount Philo. The hike is relatively easy and suitable for all skill levels, making it accessible for families with children and casual hikers. At the summit, visitors are rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the lake, the Adirondacks, and the Champlain Valley. It’s an ideal spot for picnicking, wildlife viewing, and capturing memorable sunset photographs.

Outdoor Activities in Every Season

It's easy to be snowed inn at Bolton Valley - New England Ski Journal

One of the highlights of outdoor activities in Burlington is that they are enjoyable year-round. In the winter, nearby ski resorts such as Bolton Valley and Stowe Mountain Resort offer skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing opportunities, all within a short drive from the city. During the fall, the foliage in Vermont’s Green Mountains transforms into a spectacular display of vibrant colors, attracting leaf-peepers from around the world. Spring and summer bring blooming wildflowers, warm weather for outdoor picnics, and festivals celebrating Vermont’s agricultural heritage.

Cultural Attractions

Shelburne Museum

Shelburne Museum | Burlington, Vermont | Attractions - Lonely Planet

The Shelburne Museum stands out as one of Burlington’s premier cultural destinations. Located just south of the city, this museum sprawls across 45 acres and features a unique collection housed in 39 historic buildings. Visitors can explore a diverse array of exhibits that showcase American folk art, textiles, decorative arts, and even a notable collection of impressionist paintings by artists such as Degas, Cassatt, Manet, and Monet. Each building at the museum offers a glimpse into different aspects of American history and culture, making it a fascinating journey through time for visitors of all ages.

Church Street Marketplace

History — Church Street Marketplace

Church Street Marketplace serves not only as a bustling shopping district but also as a cultural hub in downtown Burlington. This pedestrian-only street is lined with shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants housed in historic buildings. It’s a vibrant place where locals and tourists gather to enjoy street performances, live music, and outdoor events throughout the year. The marketplace is also home to art galleries showcasing works by local and regional artists, offering a glimpse into Vermont’s vibrant arts scene.

Flynn Center for the Performing Arts

Flynn Center |

The Flynn Center for the Performing Arts is a cornerstone of Burlington’s cultural life, hosting a diverse range of performances including theater, dance, music, and comedy. Housed in a beautifully restored Art Deco building on Main Street, the Flynn Center offers both local productions and touring shows featuring acclaimed artists and performers from around the world. It’s a cultural landmark where visitors can experience everything from Broadway musicals to avant-garde performances, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in the performing arts.

ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain

ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain - Projects - H.P. Cummings

For a hands-on exploration of the natural and cultural history of Lake Champlain and its ecosystem, visit the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. Located on Burlington’s waterfront, this interactive science museum offers exhibits that highlight the region’s maritime heritage, ecology, and conservation efforts. Visitors can touch live animals from Lake Champlain, participate in interactive science demonstrations, and enjoy stunning views of the lake from the museum’s outdoor terraces. It’s a family-friendly attraction that combines education with fun, appealing to visitors of all ages.

Local Arts and Crafts

Stowe Foliage Arts Festival | Stowe Festivals | Stowe Country Homes

Burlington is home to a thriving community of artists and artisans, and visitors can explore their work at various galleries and studios throughout the city. From contemporary art galleries showcasing paintings, sculptures, and photography to craft studios offering handmade pottery, jewelry, and textiles, there’s a wealth of artistic talent to discover. Many artists also participate in Burlington’s vibrant arts festivals and open studio events, providing opportunities to meet the creators and purchase unique pieces of art directly from the source.

Culinary Experiences

Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour

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A visit to the Ben & Jerry’s Factory in nearby Waterbury is a must for ice cream aficionados. This iconic brand, founded in Burlington in 1978, has become synonymous with innovative flavors and social responsibility. The factory tour provides an insightful look into the production process, starting with the company’s humble beginnings and evolving into a global ice cream powerhouse. The 30-minute guided tour includes a walk through the production area (when in operation), educational displays, and a short film about the company’s history. The highlight for many visitors is the generous free sample of freshly made ice cream at the end of the tour. Don’t forget to visit the Flavor Graveyard, where you can pay your respects to retired flavors like Vermonty Python and Ethan Almond, each memorialized with witty epitaphs on tombstones.

Burlington Farmers’ Market

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Photo of vendors

Photo of fresh local foods

The Burlington Farmers’ Market is a vibrant showcase of the region’s agricultural bounty. Held every Saturday from spring through fall in City Hall Park, this market is a community favorite and a must-visit for anyone interested in local food. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, baked goods, maple syrup, and handmade crafts. It’s also an excellent place to sample prepared foods from local vendors, ranging from wood-fired pizza to ethnic cuisines. The market’s festive atmosphere, complete with live music and friendly vendors, makes it a delightful experience for all ages.

Farm-to-Table Dining

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Burlington’s culinary scene is heavily influenced by the farm-to-table movement, emphasizing fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Several restaurants in the city are renowned for their commitment to sustainability and quality. Hen of the Wood, for instance, offers a seasonal menu that highlights the best of Vermont’s produce, meats, and cheeses in an elegant yet rustic setting. The Farmhouse Tap & Grill is another standout, featuring a farm-to-table menu with a focus on local meats, cheeses, and craft beers. Their outdoor beer garden is a popular spot in the warmer months. Juniper Bar & Restaurant at Hotel Vermont provides a chic dining experience with a menu that celebrates local ingredients and inventive cocktails.

Local Breweries

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Burlington boasts a thriving craft beer scene, with several local breweries that offer unique and flavorful brews. Magic Hat Brewing Company is one of the pioneers in Vermont’s craft beer movement, known for its quirky branding and innovative beers like the popular #9 “Not Quite Pale Ale.” Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the brewery, sample a variety of beers, and purchase merchandise in the whimsical Artifactory. Switchback Brewing Company is another local favorite, celebrated for its unfiltered ales and lagers. Their taproom offers a relaxed environment to enjoy a pint and learn about the brewing process. Additionally, Zero Gravity Brewery and Foam Brewers provide excellent options for those looking to explore Burlington’s diverse beer offerings. The Beverage Warehouse in nearby Winooski is a great place to pick up cans from various local breweries if you want to take some of Vermont’s finest beers home.

Sweet Treats and Specialty Shops

Visit Our Retail Chocolate Stores in Vermont | Lake Champlain Chocolates

Burlington’s culinary delights extend beyond ice cream and beer. Lake Champlain Chocolates is a local chocolatier that offers a wide range of handcrafted chocolates and confections. Visitors can stop by their flagship store on Church Street to indulge in truffles, caramels, and hot chocolate, or even take a factory tour to see how their delicious treats are made. Myer’s Bagels, another local gem, is famous for its Montreal-style bagels, baked fresh daily and offered in a variety of flavors. Their bagel sandwiches are a popular breakfast and lunch option for locals and visitors alike.

Coffee Culture

Two Black Birds Spring Hill | Must Do Brisbane

For coffee enthusiasts, Burlington offers a thriving coffee scene with numerous cafes serving up expertly brewed coffee and espresso. Vivid Coffee Roasters is known for its small-batch roasted beans and minimalist aesthetic, while New Moon Cafe on Church Street offers a cozy atmosphere and a variety of coffee and tea options. Onyx Tonics Specialty Coffee is a must-visit for those who appreciate a meticulously crafted cup of coffee, featuring a rotating selection of single-origin beans and innovative brewing methods.

Culinary Events and Festivals

Vermont Brewers Festival 2024 - Dates

Burlington hosts several food-related events and festivals throughout the year, celebrating the region’s culinary diversity and excellence. The Vermont Brewers Festival held on the waterfront is a highlight for beer lovers, featuring tastings from dozens of local breweries, live music, and food vendors. The Vermont Maple Festival in nearby St. Albans celebrates the state’s signature product with tastings, demonstrations, and family-friendly activities. During the fall, the Burlington Wine & Food Festival brings together local chefs, winemakers, and food enthusiasts for a weekend of gourmet tastings and culinary workshops.

Historical Sites

Ethan Allen Homestead Museum

Ethan Allen Homestead - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

The Ethan Allen Homestead Museum is a key historical site in Burlington, dedicated to one of Vermont’s most famous historical figures, Ethan Allen. As a leader of the Green Mountain Boys during the American Revolutionary War, Allen played a crucial role in the fight for Vermont’s independence. The museum, located on his restored 18th-century farm, offers guided tours that provide insights into Allen’s life, his contributions to Vermont’s statehood, and daily life in the 18th century. Visitors can explore the house, which has been carefully preserved and furnished to reflect the period, and wander through the surrounding farmland and trails that offer scenic views of the Winooski River.

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Situated a short drive from Burlington in Vergennes, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is dedicated to the maritime history of Lake Champlain. The museum features a collection of over 15,000 artifacts, including shipwrecks, nautical instruments, and historical boats. Exhibits cover the lake’s role in pre-Columbian times, the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812, highlighting its strategic importance in American history. Visitors can also explore full-scale replicas of historic vessels, such as the Philadelphia II, a gunboat from the Revolutionary War era. The museum’s educational programs and interactive exhibits make it an engaging destination for history buffs and families alike.

University of Vermont (UVM)

UVM, Champlain College Move to Online Classes | Off Message

Founded in 1791, the University of Vermont (UVM) is one of the oldest universities in the United States. Its historic campus in Burlington is home to several notable buildings, such as the Old Mill, which dates back to the university’s early years. A self-guided walking tour of the campus offers visitors a glimpse into the university’s storied past, including its architectural evolution and contributions to education and research. The Fleming Museum of Art on campus also houses a diverse collection of art and anthropological artifacts, offering a cultural complement to the historical exploration of UVM.

Burlington’s Waterfront Park and Community Boathouse

20+ Burlington Boat House Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Burlington’s Waterfront Park is not only a beautiful recreational area but also a site of historical significance. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Burlington’s waterfront was a bustling hub of commerce and industry, with mills, factories, and docks lining the shores of Lake Champlain. Today, the area has been revitalized, preserving elements of its industrial past while creating a vibrant public space. The Community Boathouse offers exhibits on the waterfront’s history and its role in the city’s development. Walking along the Burlington Bike Path, which follows the old railroad bed, visitors can see remnants of the waterfront’s industrial era, complemented by interpretive signs that tell the story of Burlington’s evolution.

The Strong House Inn

Strong House Inn: Historic Bed and Breakfast in Vergennes Vermont

Located in nearby Vergennes, the Strong House Inn is a historic bed and breakfast that dates back to 1834. This Federal-style mansion, built by prominent local merchant and politician Gamaliel Painter, offers a glimpse into 19th-century life in Vermont. The inn has been meticulously restored, with period furnishings and décor that reflect its historical significance. Staying at the Strong House Inn provides a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in Vermont’s history while enjoying modern comforts and hospitality.

Nature and Parks

Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park | Condé Nast Traveler

Waterfront Park is one of Burlington’s most cherished green spaces, located along the picturesque shores of Lake Champlain. This expansive park features walking and biking paths, picnic areas, and beautifully maintained lawns that offer stunning views of the lake and the Adirondack Mountains. The park is a hub of activity throughout the year, hosting events such as the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, the Vermont City Marathon, and various concerts and festivals. The park’s Community Boathouse provides boat rentals and sailing lessons, making it a perfect spot for water-based activities. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk, take in a spectacular sunset, or simply relax by the water.

Burlington Bike Path

Burlington Bike Path - Snow Farm Vineyard & Winery

The Burlington Bike Path (also known as the Island Line Rail Trail) is a scenic multi-use trail that runs for about 8 miles along the Lake Champlain shoreline. This trail is popular with cyclists, runners, walkers, and rollerbladers, offering breathtaking views of the lake and access to several parks and beaches along the way. The path extends northward to the Colchester Causeway, a unique stretch that juts out into the lake, providing a spectacular experience for outdoor enthusiasts. Along the trail, you’ll find interpretive signs that share information about the area’s natural and cultural history, adding an educational component to the scenic journey.

Red Rocks Park

Red Rocks Park | Outdoor Project

Located just south of downtown Burlington in South Burlington, Red Rocks Park is a 100-acre natural area known for its striking red sandstone cliffs and dense forest. The park features a network of hiking trails that wind through the woods and along the cliffs, offering panoramic views of Lake Champlain and the surrounding landscape. The trails vary in difficulty, making the park suitable for hikers of all skill levels. During the summer months, the park’s small beach provides a tranquil spot for swimming and sunbathing. Wildlife enthusiasts can also enjoy birdwatching and observing other local fauna in this serene environment.

Oakledge Park

Oakledge Park | Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront

Oakledge Park is another gem along Burlington’s waterfront, offering a variety of recreational amenities and natural beauty. The park features a large, sandy beach, a wheelchair-accessible treehouse, tennis courts, and playgrounds. Oakledge is also home to the Burlington Earth Clock, a modern stone circle that serves as a unique space for contemplation and community gatherings. The park’s extensive trail system connects to the Burlington Bike Path, making it an excellent starting point for a longer adventure. Oakledge’s diverse landscapes, from open meadows to dense forests and rocky shorelines, provide ample opportunities for exploration and relaxation.

Ethan Allen Park

Ethan Allen Park | Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront

Named after Vermont’s famous Revolutionary War hero, Ethan Allen Park is a historic and scenic park located in the New North End of Burlington. The park features several miles of hiking trails, including a path that leads to the Ethan Allen Tower, an observation tower offering panoramic views of Burlington, Lake Champlain, and the surrounding mountains. The park’s wooded areas and open spaces are ideal for picnics, birdwatching, and nature walks. In the winter, the park’s trails are popular for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, providing year-round recreational opportunities.

Centennial Woods Natural Area

Centennial Woods - Wikipedia

Managed by the University of Vermont, the Centennial Woods Natural Area is a 70-acre preserve that offers a peaceful retreat for nature lovers. The area features a network of trails that meander through diverse habitats, including wetlands, hardwood forests, and open meadows. This natural area is used for both recreational and educational purposes, serving as an outdoor classroom for university students and a haven for local wildlife. Visitors can enjoy hiking, birdwatching, and discovering the rich biodiversity of the area. The trails are well-marked and vary in difficulty, making Centennial Woods accessible to hikers of all levels.

Intervale Center


The Intervale Center is a unique community resource dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture and conservation. Located along the Winooski River, just minutes from downtown Burlington, the Intervale encompasses over 350 acres of farmland, trails, and natural areas. The center supports local farmers through various programs and initiatives and provides fresh, local produce to the community. Visitors can explore the Intervale’s extensive trail network, which winds through fields, forests, and along the river, offering opportunities for hiking, biking, and wildlife observation. The Intervale also hosts events and workshops focused on sustainable agriculture, environmental stewardship, and community engagement.

Green Mountain Audubon Center

The Green Mountain Audubon Center | Audubon Vermont

A short drive from Burlington in Huntington, the Green Mountain Audubon Center is a premier destination for birdwatching and nature education. The center spans over 250 acres and features diverse habitats, including forests, wetlands, and meadows. Visitors can explore five miles of well-maintained trails that offer excellent opportunities for observing a wide variety of bird species and other wildlife. The center also offers educational programs and guided walks that focus on the region’s natural history and conservation efforts. The Green Mountain Audubon Center is a wonderful place to connect with nature and learn about Vermont’s rich ecological heritage.

Leddy Park

Leddy Park | Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront

Leddy Park is a versatile recreational area located in the New North End of Burlington, known for its beautiful sandy beach and extensive facilities. The park features a large playground, picnic areas, and sports fields, making it a popular destination for families and sports enthusiasts. The beach at Leddy Park is ideal for swimming and sunbathing, with lifeguards on duty during the summer months. The park also includes an indoor ice rink, Leddy Arena, which offers public skating sessions, hockey leagues, and figure skating programs throughout the year. The park’s proximity to the Burlington Bike Path makes it a convenient stop for cyclists and walkers exploring the waterfront.

Events and Festivals

Burlington Discover Jazz Festival


The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival is one of the city’s most celebrated annual events, drawing jazz enthusiasts from all over the country. Held in early June, this ten-day festival transforms downtown Burlington into a hub of musical activity. With performances from internationally renowned jazz artists, local musicians, and student ensembles, the festival offers a rich tapestry of jazz styles and influences. Concerts take place at various venues, including the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, outdoor stages, and intimate clubs. The festival also features workshops, jam sessions, and community events, making it a comprehensive celebration of jazz music.

Vermont City Marathon

Vermont City Marathon 2022: Traffic, weather and what to expect

The Vermont City Marathon is an annual event held on Memorial Day weekend that attracts runners from around the globe. This marathon is known for its scenic course, which winds through the streets of Burlington and along the shores of Lake Champlain. Participants can choose to run the full marathon, half marathon, or relay races, making it accessible to runners of all skill levels. The race is supported by enthusiastic spectators and volunteers, creating a festive and encouraging atmosphere. In addition to the main event, the marathon weekend includes an expo, kids’ activities, and a post-race celebration at Waterfront Park.

Burlington Winter Festival

Wintervale | Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront

The Burlington Winter Festival is a highlight of the city’s winter season, bringing warmth and cheer to the cold months. Held in early February, this festival features a range of activities and events that celebrate the beauty and fun of winter. Highlights include ice carving competitions, snowshoeing, ice skating, and a popular chili cook-off. The festival often coincides with Winterlude, an annual event at the nearby Shelburne Museum, which offers additional family-friendly activities like sledding, crafts, and historical demonstrations. The Winter Festival’s blend of outdoor recreation and community events makes it a beloved tradition for residents and visitors alike.

Burlington Book Festival

Burlington County Book Festival Set for Saturday | Mount Laurel, NJ News TAPinto

The Burlington Book Festival is a literary event that takes place each fall, celebrating the written word and the joys of reading. This festival brings together authors, poets, and readers for a weekend of readings, panel discussions, workshops, and book signings. The event features a diverse lineup of local and nationally acclaimed writers, offering attendees the chance to engage with a variety of literary genres and styles. Venues for the festival include the Fletcher Free Library, local bookstores, and other cultural institutions around Burlington. The festival also includes activities for children, making it a family-friendly celebration of literature.

Festival of Fools

Festival of Fools - UVM Bored

The Festival of Fools is an annual street performance festival held in early August that brings a sense of whimsy and wonder to downtown Burlington. This three-day event features a wide array of street performers, including acrobats, magicians, musicians, and clowns, who entertain audiences of all ages. The performances take place at various locations around Church Street Marketplace and City Hall Park, transforming the city into a stage. The festival’s lively atmosphere, coupled with its emphasis on free and accessible entertainment, makes it a popular event for families and visitors. The Festival of Fools also includes workshops and interactive performances, encouraging community participation.


Whether you’re exploring the outdoors, immersing yourself in history and culture, or indulging in culinary delights, Burlington, VT, offers a wealth of experiences for every traveler. From scenic bike paths and historic museums to vibrant marketplaces and local breweries, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this charming New England city. Plan your visit to Burlington and discover why it’s a favorite destination for nature lovers, history enthusiasts, and food aficionados alike.