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Top 10 Things To Do in Burlington, Vermont

Updated on January 16, 2015

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, Vermont - nicknamed the Queen City - sits on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain and offers spectacular sunsets over New York's Adirondack Mountains to the west and sunrises over Mount Mansfield and the Green Mountains of Vemont to the east.

Burlington is home to the University of Vermont, Champlain College and Burlington College; St. Michael's College in Colchester is less than five miles away. The area's colleges and the University provide an exciting medium for new ideas and art and cultural events.

Whether it's shopping, sports, the arts, entertainment or natural beauty Burlington, Vermont on the shore of Lake Champlain has something to offer everyone.

Here (in no particular order) is our top 10 List of things to do in Burlington:

Burlington (A Bird's Eye View)

Burlington (A Bird's Eye View)
Burlington (A Bird's Eye View)

Accolades for Burlington, Vermont

Burlington has consistently been rated highly in 'Top 10' lists produced by various organizations. Here's a short list of some of the honors that Burlington has received:

  • Top 10 Downtowns in the U.S.
  • Best of the Best Places to Live
  • Top 10 Cities for outdoor Recreation
  • Top 10 Cities in the U.S. for Volunteering
  • #1 of Top 10 Small Cities in The U.S.
  • #1 Bass Fishing Capital
  • Top 100 Places to Live
  • Top 10 Healthiest Cities in U. S.
  • Top 10 Cities for Beer Lovers
  • Best Walking City
  • Top 25 Cities for Art
  • Top 10 Prettiest towns

Church Street Marketplace
Church Street Marketplace

Experience The Church Street Marketplace

Church Street was one of the major streets in the city until the upper four blocks were turned into an outdoor pedestrian mall in 1981. Now it is a featured location for some of Burlington's most popular events, including the First Night, the Discover Jazz Festival and the Key Bank Vermont City Marathon. It frequently is the location for concerts, evening television newscasts and a site for political announcements.

The street is closed to vehicular traffic between Main and Pearl Streets and is a shopper's paradise, featuring an eclectic blend of boutique shops, restaurants, art galleries, delis, taverns and nightclubs. The variety of foods and drinks offered seems endless. During the warmer weather, many of the restaurants move seating outside, so patrons can enjoy the activity going on around them.

First Night
First Night

Celebrate First Night

Started in Boston in 1976, First Night is a substance-free, New Year's Eve festival of the arts. First Night Burlington is Vermont's largest, single-day arts festival. It provides a New Year's Eve celebration for thousands of people in the area that is both accessible and affordable.

Events are held at a variety of venues all around the city: from churches to schools to city properties, and transportation is available to help move attendees from one event to another.

First Night Burlington, Inc. is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization; with much of its funding coming from sponsors, tax-deductible donations and grants. Purchase of a 'Firts Night Button' provides access to the festival's events, although people are encouraged to participate in the festival in a variety of ways, from volunteering and creating art to making individual donations.

Learn More About Burlington, Vermont - Books About Burlington

ECHO Center
ECHO Center

Learn About Lake Champlain at ECHO

ECHO Lake Science Center & Aquarium

The ECHO Lake Science Center and Aquarium is part of Burlington's Waterfront revitalization. Located at the old Naval Reserve Center site at One College Street, the ECHO Center is helping Burlington use the Waterfront to research, educate, and promote stewardship of Lake Champlain.

ECHO stands for the integration of Ecology, Culture, History, and Opportunity. The Center offers guests a powerful message on stewardship of Lake Champlain.

The ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center/Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is located at One College St. in Burlington. Contact information is

Phone: 802.864.1848

Toll-Free: 877.324.6386

Waterfront Park
Waterfront Park

Relax at Waterfront Park

(The Best Sunset Views in Burlington)

Waterfront Park is Burlington's downtown waterfront and community park featuring 900 feet of lakeshore, a boardwalk, and benches make this a great place to sit and watch some of the beautiful sunsets that Burlington has to offer.

Also accessible from Waterfront Park are the Bike Path, The Burlington Community Boathouse, The ECHO Center, a festival site, which is host to a number of major events throughout the year, and a two lane boat launch.

The Burlington Community Boathouse is considered the centerpiece of Burlington's magnificent waterfront on Lake Champlain. The Boathouse offers a full service Marina to boaters - with power, water, showers and pump-out facilities.

The city provides a free shuttle from the foot of College Street, near the ECHO Center - to the Church Street Marketplace and further up the hill to the University of Vermont and the Fletcher Allen Medical Center.

The Bike Path
The Bike Path

Ride, Skate or Walk the Bike Path

Running from Oakledge Park in Burlington's South End to the Winooski River, where it connects by bridge to the Colchester Bike Path. The Burlington Waterfront Bike Path follows the Lake Champlain shoreline for 7.5 mile, providing spectacular views of the lake and the Adirondack Mountains to the west. The bike path links six major waterfront parks, as well as Burlington High School and the central Waterfront district.

Local Motion - a 501(c)3 non-profit organization to promote cycling, rollerblading and walking is located on the Burlington Bike Path next to the train platform at Union Station. Local Motion is committed to keeping trails, bikeways, and sidewalks used for such travel - safe, easy and fun.

For more information on the Burlington Bike Path, call Burlington Parks and Recreation at (802) 864-0123.

Northern Lights
Northern Lights

Take a Cruise on Lake Champlain

Day, Evening, Dinner and Themed Cruises

There are several different ways to cruise Lake Champlain while in Burlington.

The Northern Lights sails from the King Street dock in Burlington. Northern Lights has both daily and sunset cruises, as well as offering concert, dinner and wedding cruises. Owned and operated by the same people who run The Shanty on the Shore, The Burlington Bay Restaurant and Breakwaters Cafe & Grill (a great place to catch the sunset, by the way) they know food and feature the dining aspect of their cruises. Contact:

The Spirit of Ethan Allen is the has been providing Lake Champlain cruises for almost thirty years and departs from the Burlington Community Boathouse. They offer daily and sunset cruises, wedding cruises and a variety of themed dinner cruises and murder mystery cruises. Contact:

The Grand-daddy of the cruiselines on the Lake is the Lake Champlain Transportation Company's Ferries. Although it's limited from Burlington to Port Kent, New york (and back). The company has been providing transportation to the community and to area visitors since 1826. The LCTC does provide a couple of concert cruises during the summer, usually in conjunction with local radio stations.

Although not operating in the Burlington area, there is another cruise company on the lake. Carillon Cruises sails a 60' replica of a 1920s 1000 Island Cruise Boat from the Ticonderoga Ferry dock near Ticonderoga, NY. They tour the southern portion of Lake Champlain - viewing Fort Ticonderoga, Mount Independence and Crown Point form the Lake. Contact:

What Do You Think?

Burlington has so much to offer throughout the year: festivals, shopping, dining, nightlife, the arts, watersports and the natural beauty of Lake Champlain. Winter or summer, there's always a lot going on. So, what do you think.....

Is Burlington More Interesting in the Winter or the Summer?

Sunset from the Burlington Waterfront

Sunset from the Burlington Waterfront
Sunset from the Burlington Waterfront
Discover Jazz Festival
Discover Jazz Festival

Discover Jazz

at The Jazz Festival

For more than twenty-five years the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival has celebrated amazing live jazz music. The Festival features waterfront concerts, street parties, classes and workshops, performances at intimate venues and performances on Lake Champlain cruises.

Past performers have included: Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Sonny Rollins, Bela Fleck,Trey Anastasio, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Skatalites

More information and schedule of events at

Enjoy An Incredible Lake Champlain Sunset

Burlington, VT sunset
Burlington, VT sunset

Words can't describe the sunsets that we enjoy over Lake Champlain. One of the best places to see the sun setting over the lake and the Adirondack Mountains is from Waterfront Park. This is not to be missed. Check it out!

Burlington Sunset

Burlington Sunset
Burlington Sunset

Find Champ

The Lake Champlain Monster

Champ is the local name for the Lake Champlain Monster. Some believe Champ is a relative of 'Nessie', the Loch Ness Monster.

Sightings of Champ in Lake Champlain go back to 1609, when he was allegedly spotted by Samuel de Champlain, whose name the lake bears to this day. P.T. Barnum offered a sizable reward for anyone to catch Champ and that reward went unclaimed. Through the years there have been numerous sightings, some photographs and at least one video recording.

Most of the sighting have occurred near the deepest waters of the lake; this should make Burlington an ideal Champ-spotting location!

Note: There has not been any scientific connection established between spotting Champ and the number of cocktails enjoyed while watching the sunset.

What About Champ?

Do You Believe There's a Lake Monster in Lake Champlain?

Champ at a Lake Monsters game
Champ at a Lake Monsters game

"Take Me Out to The... Lake Monsters!"

One way to see Champ on a fairly regular basis is to attend a Vermont Lake Monsters baseball game at UVM's Centenniel Field. The Lake Monsters are the Class A Short Season Affiliates of the Oakland Athletics, and the team mascot seen in the photo is named Champ.

If you like baseball, check out the Lake Monsters. It's a great way to spend a summer's evening. More info at: Lake Monsters

Your comments are truly appreciated. Please let us know what you think of this lens, or about Burlington. Thanks.

Leave us a comment and tell us how we're doing.

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    • Unlimited11-11 profile image

      Tom McHugh 4 years ago from Lake Champlain, Vermont, USA

      @OhMe: The entire area is wonderful to visit - from New York's Adirondack Mountains to the Lake Champlain Valley to Green Mountains of Vermont. I hope that you have a chance to visit sometime.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I've never been to Vermont but Burlington sounds like a great place to visit

    • Unlimited11-11 profile image

      Tom McHugh 4 years ago from Lake Champlain, Vermont, USA

      @TolovajWordsmith: Thank you. It is a beautiful area, and it has so much more to offer than I've listed here!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      Looks like a beautiful place to visit. Great presentation!

    • profile image

      LoveTheLake 5 years ago


    • Unlimited11-11 profile image

      Tom McHugh 5 years ago from Lake Champlain, Vermont, USA

      @soccer-cleat-reviews: Thanks for stopping by and for liking my lens.

      The sunsets over the lake are truly amazing. Have you ever been to Burlington?

    • profile image

      soccer-cleat-reviews 5 years ago

      That sunset and walking will be my preference at there ...

      Awesome lens ... like it

    • Unlimited11-11 profile image

      Tom McHugh 5 years ago from Lake Champlain, Vermont, USA

      @debra-cornelius: Debra: Thanks for your comments.

      It's been a cold winter up here, and very snowy in your old stomping grounds. A lot of New Englanders might gladly trade the snow this winter for some nice warm sunshine. Thanks again. -Tom

    • debra-cornelius profile image

      debra-cornelius 5 years ago

      Awe...great 'visiting' VT through your lenses! As a transplanted Yankee (Massachusetts) I miss New England snow and all!!!!