Does dabbling in artsy charm and natural beauty sound like your type of getaway? Pack your bags for Vermont and discover the best things to do in Burlington, VT! Settled between the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain, Vermont’s largest city is the quintessential New England vacation and one of the coolest small cities in the Northeast.
The top tourist attractions in Burlington offer no shortage of outdoor activities. Go sightseeing as you bike along the Island Line Trail or try paddleboarding on the tranquil waters of Lake Champlain. History buffs will love visiting the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum to delve into Burlington’s rich Revolutionary War history or exploring the eclectic collection of Americana art at the Shelburne Museum.
With so many points of interest to choose from, creating your ideal Burlintogn itinerary can be challenging. Launch the perfect Vermont trip with this guide to the best places to visit in Burlington, VT.
Best places to visit in Burlington, VT
Looking to chill out in Burlington? Lounge along the scenic banks of Lake Champlain at Waterfront Park. You’ll find plenty of outdoor activities and picturesque views at this popular urban park. Whether you want to explore the paths, have a picnic, or simply enjoy the views, your whole family will love Waterfront Park.
Stroll along the boardwalk parallel to the tranquil waters of the lake. At the Burlington Community Boathouse, sit for a while and watch speed boats zip around and sailboats bob about the harbor. When it’s almost sunset, perch yourself on a bench swing to bask in the vivid pink and orange hues of the sun lowering itself behind the Adirondack Mountains.
When you’re ready for a nosh, check out College Street for a variety of restaurants. The Skinny Pancake is famous for, you guessed it, their fluffy mouthwatering pancakes. Or, if you’re looking for a local brew, the Vermont Pub & Brewery is serving up fresh craft beers.
Church Street Marketplace
Feel the heartbeat of Burlington at the Church Street Marketplace. Drop by this downtown open-air market in downtown Burlington for historic buildings, local boutiques, scrumptious eateries, and entertainment. It’s no wonder it was named the “#1 Best Public Square in America” by USA Today.
Wander through the lively pedestrian street, surrounded by New England-style brick buildings and lovely scenery. Browse the hand-made jewelry at locally owned Raintree Jewelry or find a Vermont aesthetic outfit at Lovermont 802 with tie-dye and the 802 zip code galore.
Browse the contemporary and experimental art at the Burlington City Arts Center. Then, arm yourself with an ice cream cone from Burlington’s iconic Ben and Jerry’s before your stroll through City Hall Park.
The Church Street Marketplace holds recurring and exclusive events year-round. From the Jazz Festival in June to Christmas on the Marketplace, this is the hub of Burlington.
ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
Traveling with youngsters in tow? Let their curiosity run wild at ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. This science center is loaded with interactive exhibits and experiments for children to learn about local wildlife, energy, engineering, and more.
Your little one will love learning through play and hands-on experiences. In the Awesome Forces exhibit, try to balance a ball on a wind stream and see ice crystals form before your eyes. In the Engineer It station, your child will try STEM projects like using straws and paper clips to create a floating raft.
Peer into the invasive species tank and examine fish, amphibians, and reptiles. For a hands-on nature museum experience, take the back-of-house tour to feed fish and turtles or care for snakes. Your kiddos will have a new appreciation for animals after these engaging activities!
Peaceful and pristine Battery Park is bordered by Waterfront Park, The Old North End, and The Downtown District. Its prime location in Burlington makes it a convenient stop to fit into your sightseeing plans. Stop by Battery Park to mosey under shady trees and explore some Queen City history.
Meander through the calm trails with Lake Champlain glittering in the distance, peeking out from between the trees. As you walk, notice the historical trail markers throughout the paths. Stop to read the markers and plaques on the monuments; you’ll pick up some fun facts about this Burlington neighborhood, like how it was Burlington’s Little Italy in the early 1900s.
Along the northern edge of Battery Park, you’ll find Beansie’s Bus, a restored yellow school bus transformed into a food cart. Pick up drool-worthy comfort food picks like hand-cut fries and the famous loaded hot dog.
Ethan Allen Homestead Museum
Ready for a lesson about Ethan Allen and daily life in the 18th century? Head to the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum to learn about Continental Army General Ethan Allen in his 1787 original restored home.
First, watch a short movie about Ethan Allen’s life and accomplishments in the Revolutionary War. Your tour guide will lead you through the Ethan Allen home, telling tales of the war hero’s time with the Green Mountain Boys and his family’s life.
In the sitting room, the linen weaving station looks as if someone had just gotten up halfway through finishing. On certain days you might be lucky enough to meet actors portraying the family and gardeners.
When you’ve finished the tour, head to the walking and biking trails. With a canopy of lush forest covering you, cross wooden bridges over babbling brooks, and make your way to the clearing with a view of the rushing Winooski River.
Just south of downtown awaits the lakeside paradise at Oakledge Park. Set on the shore of Lake Champlain, this top Burlignton attraction has water sports and outdoor activities aplenty. Swim at the beach, frolic in the vast green grass, and track through the wooded trails.
As you head to Blanchard Beach, meander under the shady paths that open up into sun-kissed grassy spaces. Toss a frisbee, play volleyball, or climb into the Forever Young Treehouse to look out at the views of forests, fields, and the lake.
When you arrive at Blanchard Beach, throw a blanket down to catch some rays. Rent a kayak or standing paddleboard from Paddlesurf Champlain and test your balance on the lake water.
Take advantage of the picnic tables and charcoal grills for lunch. If you plan on picnicking or grilling at Oakledge Park, stop by the City Market Onion River Co-op. for fresh community-sourced veggies, bread, meat, or ready-made meals.
North Beach Park
Connect with the Burlington great outdoors at North Beach Park. Over 45 acres of pristine beaches, grassy meadows, and leafy forests make up this Vermont nirvana. North Beach is a popular spot along the Burlington Bike Path as a way to cool down after a ride.
Adventure through the woods until you find the lookout spot at Lone Rock Point for clear views of Lake Champlain. If the sparkling waters are calling your name, head down to North Beach. As Burlington’s only lifeguarded beach, you’ll feel comfortable taking your children here to splash around.
The Beach House is a fun spot for a beachy lunch with concessions like ice cream, hot dogs, and hamburgers. Take cover from the sun while you eat in one of the park’s gazebos.
Can’t get enough of the beautiful views and North Beach Park? Reserve a spot at the North Beach Campground to stay for a night.
If you’re curious about of Burlington’s secret hidden gems, venture over to Leddy Park. Located north of the city center, this smaller park is often overlooked by visitors. If you’ve been on the hunt for a peaceful retreat in Burlington where you don’t have to compete with crowds, this just might be it!
Athletes can play baseball, tennis, or bike the seven miles of the Burlington Bike Path along the shoreline. Stop by the Gordon H. Paquette Arena for a free-skate session or have some aquatic fun at Leddy Beach. Stay until sunset to see the glorious views over Appletree Bay.
If you’re in the area during the summer, stop by on a Wednesday evening for the weekly food truck festival. Grab some barbecue from Southern Smoke or authentic tacos and burritos from the Taco Truck All Stars.
Ethan Allen Park
Nature and history enthusiasts will find their bliss at Ethan Allen Park. The park’s 60 acres of flourishing woodland are etched with over four miles of trails for biking or hiking. As it”s the highest point in Burlington, you’ll find unparalleled panoramic views and awe-inspiring outlooks, so keep your camera handy.
Admire the landscape of mighty elms and oaks as you roll or stroll through the trails. Birdwatchers, grab a pair of binoculars and be on the lookout for owls, woodpeckers, and warblers. Bikers will praise this park for its convenience as a stop along the 127 Bike Path and the Burlington Wildway Trail.
Emerge from the forest into The Pinnacle, a field of wildflowers, rare orchids, and ferns. Climb to the top of the 40-foot-tall Ethan Allen Tower for aerial views of the Adirondacks to the west and The Green Mountains to the east. Some consider these the best views in town!
Lake Champlain Chocolates
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, your holiday wouldn’t be complete without a stop by Lake Champlain Chocolates. This chocolate wonderland is iconic in Vermont for its premium chocolates. The Lampman family has been making creamy truffles since 1983 with locally and ethically sourced ingredients—and a whole lot of love!
Follow the smell of cocoa confections wafting from the Pine Street Flagship store. Take your tastebuds on a decadent adventure with their famous Almond Butter English Toffee Crunch or the award-winning Five Star Bars.
Peek through the windows at the Church Street Marketplace location at the chocolatiers dipping their homemade marshmallows into gooey chocolate. If you’re visiting during cooler seasons, indulge in a cup of their rich hot chocolate topped with these massive fluffy marshmallows.
With organic, keto, vegan, milk and dark chocolate, and fair-trade certified options, Lake Champlain Chocolates is passionate about creating small moments of gourmet chocolatey bliss for all.
Spirit of Ethan Allen
Experience the beauty of Vermont in a unique and luxurious way by hopping aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen. Lake Champlain’s largest cruise ship offers elegant dinners, boozy brunches, live music, and even comedy shows. The Spirit of Ethan Allen runs daily and specialty cruises to make your Burington vacation extra special.
During the daily Scenic Narrated Cruise, dine on spectacular dishes crafted by the executive chef. Dig into crabmeat stuffed mushrooms or a juicy Spirit Cheddar Burger as you hear riveting tales of the local history from the Captain himself.
Enjoy the romance of evening cruises on the Spirit of Ethan Allen. The Sunset Cruise is the perfect atmosphere for a memorable date night as you watch the glorious sunsets.
Embrace New England’s seafood culture at the Lobstah on the Lake Dinner Cruise, or get out your dancing shoes for the Captain’s Dinner Dance Cruise. Families, couples, and friends will find just what they’re looking for aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen.
Americana, New England architecture, and unusual curios are abound at the Shelburne Museum. Founder, Electra Havemeyer Webb, traveled throughout New England, expanding her collections and even relocating entire buildings to the grounds. Today, thirty-nine structures filled with art exist on the museum’s forty-five acres. Explore the oddities and fascinating pieces at this one-of-a-kind art museum.
Wander the playful gardens and admire the array of New England architecture. Investigate a one-room schoolhouse, an old jail, a meeting house, barns, a lighthouse, and more. Explore these buildings to find folk art, textiles, antique carriages, and toys. The extensive Wildfowl Decoy Exhibit features one of the most extensive collections in the country, with over 1,400 decoys.
Continue along the quaint paths, and you’ll find the bright reds, yellows, and blues of the horseshoe-shaped Arnold Circus Parade building. Have a look at the circus memorabilia and a hand-painted carousel from the Gustav Dentzel Carousel Company.
Shelburne Farms is a wonderful example of Vermont’s love of nature and its eco-friendly mindset. Visit the farms to learn about sustainable food systems and the connection between what we grow and what we eat. Learn something new at Shelburne Farms when you take a seasonal tour.
Join the Sun to Cheese Tour and find out about their cheddar cheese-making process. From the pastures that the cows graze to the raw milk that the cheese is made from, you’ll have a new level of appreciation for cheese after this!
Follow your certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide in the Forest Bathing Tour. Feel the warm sunlight on your cheeks atop Lone Tree Hill as you gaze out upon the magnificent countryside views
Sip on aromatic local tea and listen as the leaves rustle in the cool wind. By the end of this experience, you’ll be one with Vermont nature!
Burlington Farmer’s Market
If your Burlington trip lands on a Saturday, check out the Burlington Farmer’s Market for locally made treats. Discover a treasure trove of artisanal goodies, unique crafts, and farm-fresh fruits and veggies. The market is centrally located at 345 Pine Street in the South End; stop by for an hour or two while you’re in the Queen City.
Browse the aisles of this quaint market, passing baskets of plump raspberries from Adam’s Berry Farm, honey-sweetened jams at the V Smiley Preserves tent, and Vermont spirits from Wild Heart Distillery. When you feel peckish, grab an authentic tamale from Gracie’s Tamales.
If you’re biking along Island Line Trail, take a detour to the Burlington Farmer’s Market and take advantage of the free valet bike parking.
Reenergize yourself before your bike ride with a latte from Vivid Coffee or a glass of perfectly sweet and tart lemonade from Theo’s Maple Lemonade.
Mount Mansfield State Forest
An hour’s drive east of Burlington awaits 44,444 acres of paradise for outdoor activity enthusiasts at Mount Mansfield State Forest. This state forest consists of four state parks: Smugglers’ Notch, Little River, Waterbury Center, and Underhill. From skiing to rock climbing and jaw-dropping views atop impressive hikes, Mount Mansfield State Forest is a nature lover’s utopia, offering some of the best things to do in Burlington, VT.
Gear up for ice climbing and bouldering at Smugglers’ Notch State Park. In the winter months, hit the slopes at Smugglers’ Notch Resort for skiing and snowboarding. Dive into Mount Mansfield State Forest’s history at Little River State Park. Take the Little River History Hike to discover more about the lives of those living here in the 1800s and 1900s.
Experienced hikers may be up for the challenge of Nose to Chin route via Long Trail at Underhill State Park. Shortly into the hike, you’ll have views of the stunning green landscape.
Camel’s Hump State Park
Grab your hiking stick and hit the trails at Camel’s Hump State Park, nestled in the Green Mountain National Forest. This 20,000 acres of Forest Reserve is relatively untouched aside from well-preserved hiking trails. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the underdeveloped woodlands, hikers will enjoy the expedition to the top, and all will love the unmatched view from the summit!
To reach the top, take Monroe Trail from the Duxbury side or Burrows Trail from the Huntington side. Both are relatively challenging.
Burrows Trail is the more popular of the two hiking trails. Whichever you choose, the dazzling views from the Camel’s Hump summit are well worth dedicating to the hike.
It might be a bit tiring to make this a day trip, so camp overnight or get a room at the Trapp Family Resort. This Austrian-style lodging has beautiful views of Vermont, an on-site brewery, a restaurant, show shoeing, hiking excursions, and much more.
Bolton Valley Resort
About 30 minutes from Burlington, Bolton Valley Resort sits on over 5,000 acres of immaculate forests, trails, and slopes. Bolton Valley is ideal for families looking for outdoor activities or couples who could use an escape into nature.
If you’re visiting Bolton Valley Resort during warm weather seasons, zoom around the paths on a mountain bike or try your hand at disc golf. Lounge by the pool while your little ones get involved in some of the summer camp programs.
Kids can learn how to skateboard in the park, handle the twists and turns of mountain biking, and improve hand-eye coordination with ping pong courses. All of their hard work and training are rewarded with an ice cream party every Friday.
Winter brings avid and novice skiers and snowboarders to Bolton Valley Resort. Whether you’re after the thrills of night skiing, downhill alpine skiing, or cross country nordic skiing, Bolton Valley is your one-stop ski shop.
After a day of hitting the slopes, come warm up at the James Moore Tavern with hot cocoa and some comfort food.