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Thursday, June 24, 2021

A Day Trip to Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, Vermont is just about everything you could want from a city in the Green Mountain State. It's Vermont's biggest city and it's full of good food, famous breweries, bike paths, eccentric shops, and the crown jewel of them all, Lake Champlain. Burlington is also a college town (home to the University of Vermont) which certainly helps to keep the area up and coming and trendy. 

You can find a dozen reasons to visit Burlington in the summertime. For me, it's the dog-friendly atmosphere, craft breweries, amazing bike path, and access to the lake. When the sun is out and the green mountain states takes on its namesake, it's the perfect place to spend the day - tag along. 

Getting Here
If you look at the map, Burlington is up there. It's only about 45 miles from the Canadian border.  This means cooler temperatures in the summer months and a shorter summer. It's also about 40 minutes west of Stowe and a quick trip on the ferry from the Adirondacks across the lake. You could easily spend a weekend in this beautiful northern city but its proximity to so many amazing places make it the perfect day trip while visiting the northern New England states. 


Start the day downtown by the waterfront. There is metered parking along the city streets, there are parking garages, and paid lots. We paid $3 an hour to park in the Pease Lot down by the waterfront. Here is a parking map with parking info

Waterfront Park 

Once you've parked, grab a coffee and breakfast and take in the views of the lake. The waterfront park area has swinging benches, areas to picnic, city bikes to rent, access to the bike path, skate park, dog park, and outdoor exercise stations. There is a bathroom at the tourist booth/information area at the parking lot by the park. 

Burlington Bike (& Walking) Path 
After you've spent some time at the waterfront park, you are in the perfect spot to jump onto Burlington's famous bike path. I biked it on my first trip to the city but this time, we walked a section of it along the lake with the dogs. The bike path was actually the old Central Vermont Railway which was converted to a bike path in the 1970s. This bike path is open to walkers and because it's so wide and well-maintained, it's easy to share with other bikers and pedestrians. There are various attractions as you walk along including a dog park, exercise stations, benches, and natural areas in a "no-mow" zone. Follow the path to enjoy amazing views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks in the background. I wrote all about our day on the bike path here

Island Line Trail: If you want to cover some distance on the bike, the Island Line Trail covers 14-miles along Lake Champlain. This path will take you over the causeway and you can eventually hop on the Local Motion Bike Ferry (seasonal) over "the Cut", a 200-foot gap in the causeway and continue over to the island on the lake, Grand Isle. It's a great way to see more of Burlington as long as you get an early start. 


Stop along the bike path for a swim. Lake Champlain is much bigger than you think. The lake is 12 miles wide at its widest point. The average depth is 64 feet but the deepest point is about 400 feet. There are 587 miles of shoreline with 71 islands in the lake. The beaches are nice, especially for a lake, and the clear warm-ish water is actually inviting. There are some great Swim Areas along the lake and Texaco Beach (just south of North Beach) is even dog-friendly. 


You can't come to Burlington without stopping at one of the well-known breweries. It's a great spot after biking/walking for a refresher and a snack. Citizen Cider, Zero Gravity, and Foam Brewers are the big names in town. Fiddlehead Brewing Company is located 15 minutes south of the city in Shelburne and also makes some tasty beers (perfect stop on your way home). Citizen Cider has a full menu at the cider pub and a great outdoor space to hang out (dogs allowed on the patio). I stopped here on my first trip to Burlington and loved this cider spot. Foam Brewers snags an excellent spot right off the bike path near the water and features some tasty brews from soups to double IPAs. There is also a limited snack menu and Adam, the dogs and I stopped here after our walk on the bike path for wings and a beer(s). 

Church Street Marketplace 

After you walk/bike and buzz a bit on the bike path and breweries, head back to where you started and make your way to the Church Street Marketplace. The marketplace is a pedestrian-only section of Burlington near the waterfront that can be compared to an open-air mall. You can walk the car-less streets and see various street performers, events, pop in and out of shops, and dine outside at the various restaurants. I recommend scoping out the menus as you walk and decide on a dinner spot. 


There are so many options for food by the water and right in the marketplace. We had a fussy baby and two dogs so we opted for something quick and did poke bowls (delicious). Last time in Portland, we had a nice lunch at Sweet Waters and enjoyed local beer and delicious food. You can't go wrong in my opinion but this Best Restaurant List will help you find a place for dinner if you need some inspiration. 

Burlington is a gem. You can bring the baby and the dogs and fill the day with summertime fun from beaches to breweries. The weather in the summer is lovely and the lake makes the perfect backdrop for just about everything and anything. It's a quick trip from Stowe or a ferry ride from the Adirondacks (bring your bike!). This college town has something for everyone and we've already planned a bike trip across the causeway next time we head north. Burlington, you are dreamy and the perfect place to spend a day.

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