Answers from Our Experts (1)
Nestled between Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains, Burlington is ripe with outdoor activities, but this college town also has a bevy of arts and entertainment options to hit between ski runs and boat rides. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors have scoured the city to find the five best things to see and do in Burlington:
1. Church Street Marketplace. More than 100 shops and restaurants line this four-block cobblestone pedestrian mall, but Burlington’s hub is about more than bistros and boutiques — it’s also the cultural center for impromptu political marches, street performers and quirky events like the World’s Largest Cowbell Ensemble.
2. Lake Champlain. Some 120 miles long and up to 12 miles wide, the sixth largest body of fresh water in the United States sits directly west of Burlington. It serves as a glittering backdrop to the city year-round, but is primarily a playground May through October. Begin with a stroll through scenic Waterfront Park before taking a cruise on the Spirit of Ethan Allen III where you’ll hear interesting historical tidbits and see some spectacular vistas of the lake and beyond.
3. The Green Mountains. Just outside of Burlington, rolling foothills rise up to create world-class hiking and skiing terrain. In the warmer months, visit the peaks at Mount Mansfield and Camel’s Hump; once the snow falls, grab your skis to carve your way down the mountain at the nearby resorts — Bolton Valley, Stowe, Mad River Glen, Sugarbush and Smugglers’ Notch are all within a one-hour drive.
4. Factory tours. Artisanal foods and beverages — not to mention tasty free samples — abound here. In the heart of Burlington’s funky South End is Lake Champlain Chocolates. Farther south in the buzzy suburb of Shelburne you’ll find the Fiddlehead Brewing Company and Shelburne Vineyard — each offers tours. Head 30 minutes east of the city to Waterbury to visit the Ben & Jerry’s factory.
5. Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. This former movie theater features live music (we like the annual Discover Jazz Festival in June), comedy, Broadway shows and dance performances. Its downtown location makes it an ideal spot for dinner and a show.