Top Things to See in Burlington VT: Museums, Parks, Markets, and More

Nestled along the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, Burlington, VT, is a vibrant city that beautifully combines cultural richness with natural splendor. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or a foodie, Burlington offers an array of attractions that cater to every interest. The city’s unique charm lies in its seamless blend of historical landmarks, bustling marketplaces, and serene waterfront views, making it a perfect destination for travelers seeking both relaxation and adventure.

Begin your exploration at the Shelburne Museum, where you can immerse yourself in an eclectic collection of American folk art and historical artifacts. A visit to the Ben & Jerry’s Factory is a must for ice cream lovers, offering a sweet journey through the brand’s history and production process. For those who appreciate the great outdoors, the Burlington Bike Path, also known as the Burlington Greenway, provides miles of scenic trails along the lake, ideal for cycling, walking, and soaking in the picturesque landscapes.

No trip to Burlington is complete without experiencing the lively Church Street Marketplace, a hub of dining, shopping, and entertainment. Discover the rich history of the region at the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum and take in the breathtaking sunsets at Waterfront Park. Burlington’s thriving craft beer scene, with its numerous breweries, offers the perfect opportunity to unwind and savor local flavors. With so much to see and do, Burlington promises an unforgettable experience filled with delightful discoveries at every turn.

Shelburne Museum

A walk through Shelburne Museum - Vermont's Very Best

The Shelburne Museum, located just a short drive from Burlington, is a fascinating destination that showcases a vast array of American art, history, and culture. Spanning over 45 acres, the museum features 39 buildings, each housing unique exhibits that offer a glimpse into various aspects of Americana. Visitors can explore an impressive collection of fine art, including works by renowned American Impressionists such as Degas, Cassatt, Manet, and Monet. The museum’s extensive collections also include folk art, textiles, decorative arts, and exquisitely carved decoys, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Vermont and the United States. Among the highlights are historic buildings like a lighthouse, a steamboat, and a covered bridge, which provide a tangible connection to the past. One of the museum’s standout features is its Americana collection, which includes Vermont firearms, horse-drawn vehicles, and much more. For a truly immersive experience, visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic and enjoy the scenic grounds, which are dotted with picnic tables and benches. A trip to the Shelburne Museum offers a unique and enriching journey through America’s artistic and historical landscape, making it a must-visit attraction for anyone in the Burlington area.

Ben & Jerry’s Factory

Ben & Jerry's Factory Tour In Vermont Will Satisfy Your Appetite For Ice  Cream

The Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury, Vermont, is a delightful destination for ice cream lovers and those interested in the history of one of America’s most beloved brands. Located about 30 miles from downtown Burlington, this factory offers an engaging and educational experience through its Factory Experience tours. These 30-minute guided tours provide visitors with an inside look at the ice cream production process, starting with the company’s founding in 1978 right in Burlington. As you walk through the factory, you’ll learn about the history of Ben & Jerry’s, the principles behind their unique flavors, and the brand’s commitment to social and environmental causes.

One of the tour’s highlights is the chance to sample some of the delicious ice cream made on-site. Visitors receive generous samples, including options for vegan and dairy-free alternatives, which have been praised for their variety and quality. After the tour, you can visit the Scoop Shop to indulge in more flavors through cones and sundaes, although be prepared for potential long waits, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Another charming feature of the factory is the Flavor Graveyard, where you can find mock gravestones memorializing discontinued flavors with whimsical names like Vermonty Python and Ethan Almond. This quirky addition adds a fun, nostalgic touch to the visit. Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Ben & Jerry’s or simply curious about how this iconic ice cream is made, the Ben & Jerry’s Factory provides a fun, flavorful, and memorable experience for all ages.

Shelburne Farms

Shelburne Farms Is an Educational Farm Where You Can Vacation Like a  Vanderbilt | Edible Manhattan

Shelburne Farms is a breathtaking 19th-century estate located just seven miles south of Burlington, Vermont. This grand property, originally established as a model agricultural estate by Dr. William Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Webb, has transformed into a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainability, education, and conservation. Spanning over 1,400 acres along the shores of Lake Champlain, Shelburne Farms offers visitors an immersive experience in a picturesque setting of rolling pastures, woodlands, and beautifully maintained historic buildings.

At the heart of Shelburne Farms is the Farm Barn, a stunning structure that serves as a hub for various educational and agricultural activities. Here, visitors can meet a variety of farm animals, including cows, sheep, chickens, and goats, at the Children’s Farmyard. This area is particularly popular with families, as it provides hands-on opportunities for children to learn about farm life and animal care. On certain days, visitors can also witness the cheesemaking process and see how Shelburne Farms produces its award-winning cheddar cheese. It’s a fascinating experience that highlights the farm’s commitment to traditional, sustainable practices.

Shelburne Farms is also renowned for its extensive network of walking trails, which meander through diverse landscapes of forests, fields, and lakefront areas. With over 10 miles of trails to explore, visitors can enjoy leisurely strolls or more vigorous hikes, all while taking in breathtaking views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains. The trails are well-marked and maintained, making them accessible for hikers of all skill levels. Along the way, interpretive signs provide information about the natural and cultural history of the area, enriching the hiking experience.

Another key feature of Shelburne Farms is the Welcome Center and Farm Store, located on Harbor Road. This is an ideal starting point for any visit, as it offers maps, information about the farm, and a selection of local products. The Farm Store is a haven for food lovers, offering a variety of goods produced on-site, including the farm’s famous cheddar cheese, maple syrup, and fresh produce. Additionally, the store carries products from other Vermont farms, making it a great place to pick up unique and delicious souvenirs.

Shelburne Farms also plays host to a variety of educational programs and events throughout the year. These programs are designed to foster a deeper understanding of sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship. Workshops, farm-to-table dinners, seasonal festivals, and hands-on learning experiences for all ages make Shelburne Farms a dynamic and engaging destination. The farm’s mission to educate and inspire visitors about sustainability is evident in every aspect of its operation, from the way it manages its land and resources to the innovative programs it offers.

Church Street Marketplace

Church Street Marketplace Reviews | U.S. News Travel

Church Street Marketplace is the vibrant heart of downtown Burlington, Vermont, and a quintessential destination for visitors looking to experience the city’s unique charm. This bustling, car-free street stretches for four blocks and is lined with an eclectic mix of over 100 shops, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment venues. The Marketplace is more than just a shopping destination; it’s a lively public space where locals and tourists alike gather to socialize, dine, and enjoy various street performances and events throughout the year.

One of the defining features of Church Street Marketplace is its diverse array of shopping options. From well-known national retailers to locally owned boutiques, there is something to suit every taste and budget. Visitors can browse through stores offering Vermont-made products such as maple syrup, artisanal cheeses, handcrafted jewelry, and unique souvenirs. The mix of international clothing brands and local shops ensures a varied and interesting shopping experience, where you can find everything from high-end fashion to quirky, one-of-a-kind items.

Dining at Church Street Marketplace is an experience in itself. The street is home to a plethora of restaurants and cafes that cater to a wide range of culinary preferences. During the warmer months, many establishments set up outdoor seating, creating a lively, alfresco dining atmosphere. Food trucks also make frequent appearances, adding to the diverse food options available. Whether you’re in the mood for farm-to-table cuisine, international dishes, or just a quick snack, the Marketplace has something to satisfy every palate. The vibrant dining scene is complemented by a variety of bars and clubs, making Church Street a popular nightlife destination as well.

The atmosphere on Church Street Marketplace is always energetic and engaging, thanks in part to the numerous street performers and artists who entertain crowds with music, magic, and other talents. This lively entertainment adds to the street’s festive ambiance and provides a constantly changing backdrop for visitors. The Marketplace also hosts numerous events and festivals throughout the year, including the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, holiday celebrations, and summer sidewalk sales. These events draw large crowds and add to the sense of community and excitement that characterizes Church Street.

Another significant aspect of Church Street Marketplace is its role as a social hub. The pedestrian-friendly design encourages people to stroll, linger, and interact, fostering a strong sense of community. The street’s layout, with wide sidewalks and numerous benches, invites visitors to sit and people-watch or enjoy impromptu conversations with friends and strangers alike. This welcoming environment makes the Marketplace not just a commercial center, but a place where people come together to enjoy the vibrant urban life of Burlington.

Moreover, Church Street Marketplace is an architectural gem, with many buildings dating back to the 19th century. The blend of historic and contemporary architecture creates a visually appealing streetscape that reflects Burlington’s rich history and progressive spirit. Efforts to preserve and maintain these historic buildings have ensured that Church Street retains its character and charm, making it a delightful place to explore on foot.

Burlington Breweries

Burlington VT Guide to Breweries & Wineries

Burlington Breweries are a cornerstone of the city’s vibrant culture and a must-explore for any beer enthusiast visiting the area. Burlington, often referred to as one of the beer capitals of the United States, boasts a diverse and thriving craft beer scene. The city is home to numerous breweries, each offering unique brews that showcase both creativity and quality. Whether you’re a fan of hoppy IPAs, rich stouts, or experimental ales, Burlington’s breweries provide a wide array of options to satisfy every palate.

One of the most iconic breweries in Burlington is The Alchemist, best known for its flagship beer, Heady Topper. This double IPA has achieved legendary status among craft beer aficionados for its complex flavors and well-balanced bitterness. The brewery itself offers a welcoming atmosphere, with knowledgeable staff who are passionate about their craft and eager to share their expertise. Visitors can sample a variety of brews, take guided tours to learn about the brewing process, and purchase fresh cans to take home.

Foam Brewers is another standout in Burlington’s brewery scene. Located on the waterfront, Foam Brewers combines stunning views of Lake Champlain with an ever-changing lineup of innovative beers. The brewery is renowned for its creative approach to brewing, often experimenting with different ingredients and styles to produce unique and flavorful beers. Foam’s taproom is a lively space where visitors can enjoy live music, art exhibitions, and food from local vendors, making it a popular spot for both locals and tourists.

For those looking to experience a true Vermont staple, Zero Gravity Craft Brewery is a must-visit. Located in the bustling South End Arts District, Zero Gravity offers a diverse selection of finely crafted beers, from traditional lagers to bold, experimental brews. The brewery’s taproom features a warm, inviting ambiance, complete with wooden accents and a spacious outdoor patio. Zero Gravity also places a strong emphasis on sustainability, using locally sourced ingredients and environmentally friendly practices in their brewing process.

Another brewery that has made a significant impact on Burlington’s beer scene is Switchback Brewing Company. Known for its unfiltered and naturally carbonated beers, Switchback has a dedicated following of fans who appreciate the brewery’s commitment to quality and tradition. The flagship Switchback Ale, a reddish-amber ale with a well-balanced malt and hop profile, is a favorite among locals. The brewery’s taproom offers a relaxed atmosphere where visitors can sample a variety of beers, including seasonal and limited-edition brews, and learn about the unique aspects of Switchback’s brewing techniques.

Citizen Cider is a great option for those who prefer ciders over traditional beers. This Burlington-based cidery produces a range of hard ciders that highlight the flavors of locally sourced apples. Citizen Cider’s offerings range from dry and crisp to sweet and fruity, providing a refreshing alternative to beer. Their taproom, located in the heart of Burlington, is a cozy spot to sample ciders, enjoy a bite to eat from their food menu, and learn about the cider-making process.

Lastly, no exploration of Burlington’s breweries would be complete without a visit to Magic Hat Brewing Company. Although Magic Hat’s production has moved out of Burlington, the brewery’s Artifactory remains a popular destination for beer lovers. Visitors can enjoy tastings of Magic Hat’s eclectic range of beers, explore the brewery’s quirky and artistic space, and learn about the history and creative philosophy that drives Magic Hat’s brewing.

Burlington Bike Path (Burlington Greenway)

Burlington Greenway and Bikeway | Burlington, NC - Official Website

Burlington Bike Path (Burlington Greenway) is one of the city’s most cherished recreational assets, offering residents and visitors alike a scenic and enjoyable way to experience the natural beauty of Burlington, Vermont. This 8-mile paved path, officially known as the Burlington Greenway, runs along the Lake Champlain shoreline, providing stunning views of the lake and the Adirondack Mountains in the distance. The path is a favorite destination for cyclists, joggers, walkers, and rollerbladers, accommodating a variety of outdoor activities throughout the year.

The Burlington Bike Path is part of the larger Island Line Trail, which stretches for 14 miles from Oakledge Park in Burlington to the Colchester Causeway, and even further to South Hero Island via a seasonal bike ferry. The path’s flat terrain and well-maintained surface make it accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the experience of riding or walking along the lakeshore. The path’s route takes users through a mix of urban parks, natural areas, and residential neighborhoods, offering a diverse range of scenery and experiences.

One of the highlights of the Burlington Bike Path is its connection to several of Burlington’s beautiful parks. Starting at Oakledge Park in the south, visitors can enjoy a variety of amenities, including picnic areas, playgrounds, and a beach. The park is also home to the unique Oakledge Park Treehouse, a universally accessible treehouse that offers fantastic views of the lake. As you continue north along the path, you’ll pass through Waterfront Park, a central hub of activity in Burlington. This park hosts numerous events and festivals throughout the year, including the popular Burlington Discover Jazz Festival and the Fourth of July fireworks. Waterfront Park also features a boardwalk, a skate park, and plenty of open space for relaxation and recreation.

Another significant stop along the path is the ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, an interactive science and nature museum located at the Burlington waterfront. ECHO offers engaging exhibits on the ecology, culture, and history of the Lake Champlain Basin, making it a great educational stop for families and individuals interested in learning more about the region. The museum’s location right on the bike path makes it an easy and convenient place to visit during your ride or walk.

Continuing north, the path leads you to North Beach, one of Burlington’s most popular summer destinations. North Beach offers a large sandy beach, a designated swimming area, and facilities for picnicking and camping. It’s a perfect spot to take a break from your ride, enjoy a swim in the lake, or simply relax on the sand. The beach is also adjacent to a large campground, making it an excellent place for those looking to extend their outdoor adventure.

The northernmost section of the Burlington Bike Path takes you across the Winooski River via a pedestrian bridge, connecting you to the Colchester section of the Island Line Trail. This area is renowned for the Colchester Causeway, a narrow strip of land that stretches out into Lake Champlain, offering breathtaking views and a truly unique riding or walking experience. The Causeway provides a sense of being surrounded by water, with panoramic views of the lake and mountains on either side. During the summer months, the bike ferry operated by Local Motion allows you to continue your journey to South Hero Island, making for an extended adventure.

The Burlington Bike Path is not only a recreational treasure but also a crucial part of Burlington’s commitment to sustainability and healthy living. The path encourages residents and visitors to engage in physical activity and enjoy the outdoors, while also providing an eco-friendly transportation route that reduces reliance on cars. The city has invested in the path’s maintenance and improvements over the years, ensuring it remains a safe and enjoyable resource for all users.

Ethan Allen Homestead Museum

Ethan Allen Homestead Museum

Ethan Allen Homestead Museum is a fascinating destination for history enthusiasts and anyone interested in learning about one of Vermont’s most iconic figures. Located just a few miles from downtown Burlington, the museum is situated on the former homestead of Ethan Allen, a revolutionary war hero, leader of the Green Mountain Boys, and a key figure in Vermont’s early history. The site offers a unique glimpse into the life and times of Allen and provides a deeper understanding of the region’s colonial and revolutionary past.

The centerpiece of the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum is the restored 1787 farmhouse, where Allen lived during the final years of his life. The house is a prime example of 18th-century New England architecture and has been carefully preserved to reflect the period accurately. Visitors can take guided tours of the house, where knowledgeable docents provide detailed insights into Allen’s life, the construction of the homestead, and the daily lives of those who lived there. The tours highlight various artifacts and furnishings from the era, helping to paint a vivid picture of life in colonial Vermont.

One of the key features of the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum is its dedication to educating the public about the broader historical context of Allen’s life and the early history of Vermont. The museum’s exhibits cover a range of topics, including the struggles between settlers and Native American tribes, the conflicts with New York over land claims, and Vermont’s unique path to statehood. Through a combination of artifacts, interpretive panels, and multimedia presentations, the museum brings these historical events to life, offering visitors a comprehensive understanding of the region’s complex past.

The museum also places a strong emphasis on the role of the Green Mountain Boys, the militia group led by Allen that played a crucial role in the early stages of the American Revolution. Exhibits detail the formation of the Green Mountain Boys, their famous capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775, and their impact on the revolutionary cause. This aspect of the museum provides an exciting and engaging narrative that highlights the bravery and determination of these early Vermont patriots.

In addition to the farmhouse and exhibits, the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum features several outdoor elements that enhance the visitor experience. The homestead is set on a picturesque site along the Winooski River, with walking trails that allow visitors to explore the natural beauty of the area. These trails are part of the larger Intervale, a community-supported agricultural area that emphasizes sustainable farming and conservation. The trails provide an opportunity to enjoy the scenic landscape that would have been familiar to Allen and his contemporaries, adding a layer of immersion to the historical experience.

The museum also offers a variety of educational programs and events throughout the year. These include historical reenactments, lectures, and workshops that delve deeper into various aspects of colonial and revolutionary life. Special events often coincide with significant dates in Vermont’s history, providing an engaging way for visitors of all ages to learn more about the state’s heritage. The museum’s commitment to education makes it a valuable resource for schools, families, and anyone with an interest in history.

The Ethan Allen Homestead Museum is not just a static historical site but a vibrant center for learning and exploration. The museum’s staff and volunteers are passionate about preserving and sharing the legacy of Ethan Allen and the early history of Vermont. Their dedication ensures that each visit to the museum is informative and inspiring, providing a meaningful connection to the past.

Waterfront Park

Park Features – Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park is one of Burlington, Vermont’s most beloved and vibrant public spaces, offering residents and visitors a beautiful setting to relax, play, and enjoy the stunning views of Lake Champlain. Located along the city’s western edge, the park stretches along the lakefront and provides a picturesque backdrop for a wide range of recreational activities and community events.

The park’s scenic beauty is one of its biggest draws. With expansive lawns, shaded picnic areas, and well-maintained pathways, Waterfront Park is an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll, a family picnic, or simply lounging on the grass while soaking in the panoramic views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains. The sunsets here are particularly breathtaking, making it a popular destination in the early evening as the sky transforms with vibrant colors over the lake.

One of the standout features of Waterfront Park is its accessibility and connectivity. The park is seamlessly integrated with the Burlington Bike Path (Burlington Greenway), making it easy for cyclists, joggers, and walkers to explore the area. The path runs the length of the park and beyond, providing a continuous route along the lakefront that connects various parts of the city. This accessibility encourages a healthy, active lifestyle and allows for easy transportation between different attractions in Burlington.

Waterfront Park is also a hub for community events and cultural activities. Throughout the year, the park hosts numerous festivals, concerts, and gatherings that draw both locals and tourists. One of the most notable events is the annual Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, which takes place every June. This vibrant festival features a diverse lineup of jazz musicians and performances, attracting music lovers from all over the region. The park’s open space and natural amphitheater setting make it a perfect venue for such large-scale events.

Another highlight is the Independence Day Celebration, which includes a spectacular fireworks display over Lake Champlain. Thousands of people gather in Waterfront Park to celebrate the Fourth of July with music, food, and patriotic festivities, creating a lively and communal atmosphere. The park also plays host to various other festivals, including food and craft beer events, cultural fairs, and charity runs, ensuring there is always something exciting happening.

For those interested in exploring Lake Champlain, Waterfront Park provides access to several water-based activities. The Community Boathouse Marina, located within the park, offers boat rentals, sailing lessons, and dockage facilities. Visitors can rent kayaks, paddleboards, or small sailboats to explore the lake at their own pace, or take a scenic cruise on one of the larger tour boats that depart from the marina. These water activities provide a unique perspective of Burlington and the surrounding natural beauty, making for an unforgettable experience.

The park also features a skate park, which is a popular spot for local youth and skateboard enthusiasts. The skate park is equipped with ramps, rails, and other features that cater to various skill levels, providing a safe and fun environment for practicing tricks and enjoying the sport. This addition to the park’s amenities highlights its commitment to catering to a wide range of recreational interests.

For those looking to learn more about the natural environment of Lake Champlain, the ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is conveniently located at the southern end of Waterfront Park. This science and nature museum offers interactive exhibits and educational programs focused on the ecology, culture, and history of the Lake Champlain Basin. It’s a fantastic resource for families and individuals interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the local environment.


Burlington, VT, is a city that offers something for everyone. From the rich history and art at the Shelburne Museum to the lively atmosphere of Church Street Marketplace, and the natural beauty of Shelburne Farms and the Burlington Bike Path, there is no shortage of things to see and do. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, an outdoor enthusiast, or a craft beer lover, Burlington has a unique and memorable experience waiting for you. So pack your bags and get ready to explore the best of Burlington, VT!