Burlington is a university town and thoroughly charming 365 days a year. In the winter things are cold but cozy. In the summer there’s lots of biking and exploring along the water. The abundance of college kids ensure a plethora of bars and restaurants. The close Canadian border means everyone’s friendly. Oh, and there’s the skiing.
Burlington is one of those glorious places that has both lots to do and nothing to do. If you don’t know how to relax, this is the place to actually get a little vacation in your vacation. Walk around. Drink a lot. Pace yourself.
Where to explore
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The Church Street pedestrian mall is the heart of this little city. It’s the place to see and be seen, and also a place where you can buy a flannel or fur thong. It’s a liberal city.
The Burlington Bike Path is mandatory. If you don’t want to get wheels, you can walk the water’s edge on foot.
ECHO is not the most exciting science center. It’s pretty small and geared to the elementary age set. If the weather is bad or you have little ones with you, it’s worth going. Worst case scenario you hang out at the touch tanks and poke some frogs.
When your feet are tired, check out Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas for a break.
Where to work
The last time I was in Vermont was an exceptionally cold, face-freezing week. Nothing brings the workaholic in me like cold weather. Most of the coffee shops right downtown feel more or less like Starbucks. There are both pros and cons to that.
I loved Maglianero. It’s designed for bikers (and right on the bike path) but it’s an industrial gem that is basically a coworking space. This is the spot if you’re obsessed with kombucha.
Radio Bean was much less refined, but was a cozy space to work. Assuming there isn’t a performance going on. This is the center of a community.
Where to eat
I once went to Shalimar of India on Thanksgiving. It was one of the best meals I’ve had in Burlington. Everyone else is getting takeout, but dining in is great, too.
The Skinny Pancake is a good spot for a light meal. If it’s not too crowded, it’s also a good spot to get a little work done. Just don’t hog the table for too long.
Let’s have a moment of silence for the grand classic, Bove’s. RIP.
Where to drink
Apparently there is a winery/alpaca farm in Vermont, which would totally be my jam, but no one I’ve talked to is quite sure where it is. This includes numerous strangers, one of whom was wearing a bathrobe in a cafe. Please let me know if you can direct me to this xanadu.
Burlington is a land of breweries, wineries, and distilleries. I cannot think of another meadery anywhere. Burlington has two.
- Switchback Brewing
- Foam Brewers
- Citizen Cider
- Queen City Brewery
- Mad River Distillers
- Zero Gravity Brewpub
- Four Quarters Brewing
- Three Needs Brewery
- Magic Hat
- Simple Roots
- Groennfell Meadery
- Burlington Beer Company
- Goodwater Brewery
- Colchester’s Mead Hall
- Farmham Ale & Lager
If you’re doing your drinking downtown, my favorite place is The Other Place. It’s the first choice of the old men drinking alone, which means it’s the spot for me.
If you’re a bit more social, Three Needs Taproom is popular with normal people. And bros. I prefer my bars empty, but I can see why everyone else likes this place.
Taking the train to or from Burlington near a holiday is a mistake. I can promise you the train will be packed with college kids and it will be an unpleasant, wifi-less journey. Burlington does still technically have a downtown train station, but it’s only used for amusement rides. The Amtrak stop is quite a bit outside the city.
One of my favorite things about Burlington is that you can walk to the airport. It’s so cute! Or, if you’re not up for the walk, there’s always Uber.
Thanks to Chris Massa and Sass and Sivan at Stonecutter for their suggestions!