12 Best Things to Do in Burlington, VT: Must-See Attractions

by Flora Backup
Burlington VT Activities Featured Image
This post may have affiliate links, where I may receive a commission if you purchase through them. Here's our Disclosure and Privacy Policy for more info.

Burlington might be best known for the University of Vermont, but there’s so much more to this New England city than its academic credentials. It’s a hotspot for arts, culture, and outdoor activities that cater to both the adventurous and those seeking a laid-back getaway. Located between the Adirondack and Green Mountains, Burlington’s setting is hard to beat. But it’s not just about the views. Dive into the local scene, and you’ll find bustling cafes serving up artisanal brews, a thriving arts scene that spills onto the streets in the form of murals, and bike paths that offer some of the best views of Lake Champlain.

The Church Street Marketplace? It’s a must-visit, with its array of shops, eateries, and occasional street performances. And if you’re into craft beer, you’re in for a treat. Burlington’s breweries are top-notch, each offering its unique take on classic and innovative brews.

In this guide, I’ve broken down the best of Burlington, VT. Whether you’re here for a weekend or planning an extended stay, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained and coming back for more. To help you make the most out of your next trip, here are my top 12 things to see and do in Burlington.

Here's all the best things to do in Burlington, Vermont that you should know about.
This article on the best things to do in Burlington contains affiliate links where I may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Best Places to Visit in Burlington

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Burlington? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this charming vacation spot in Vermont. So keep reading to discover all these unique Burlington places to visit.

Are you looking to explore the vibrant arts scene, enjoy farm-to-table dining, and savor locally crafted beverages? Or would you prefer to go hiking, cycling, and do water sports on Lake Champlain? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Burlington can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Burlington that you should know about.

1. Church Street Marketplace

The heart of Burlington’s downtown, Church Street Marketplace is more than just a shopping destination. It’s a lively pedestrian zone filled with shops, restaurants, cafes, and street performers. Whether you’re hunting for a unique Vermont-made souvenir, craving a local dish, or simply keen on people-watching, this marketplace has got you covered.

Among the best things to do in Burlington, spending an afternoon here is a must. The four-block area is lined with historic buildings, each housing a mix of local boutiques and national retailers. Foodies will appreciate the diverse culinary options, from farm-to-table restaurants to quick snack stalls. And if you’re visiting during the warmer months, the outdoor patios are perfect for enjoying a meal or drink. You can soak in the city’s vibrant atmosphere while you dine.

One of the top activities in Burlington is to dedicate an afternoon at Church Street Marketplace , making it a must-do.
One of the top activities in Burlington is to dedicate an afternoon at Church Street Marketplace , making it a must-do.

Beyond the bustling activity of shoppers and diners, Church Street Marketplace also serves as a cultural hub for Burlington. The cobblestone streets, combined with the charm of the historic buildings, give visitors a sense of stepping back in time. Art enthusiasts will be delighted to find several galleries showcasing the works of local artists, reflecting Vermont’s rich artistic heritage.

Frequent events, like festivals and live music, add to the marketplace’s appeal, ensuring there’s always something happening. So, whether you’re a shopper or a diner, Church Street Marketplace is a must-visit. It offers a genuine taste of Burlington’s local flavor for every curious traveler.

2. Waterfront Park

Located on the shores of Lake Champlain, Waterfront Park is a hub of activity in Burlington. It’s a favorite spot for both locals and visitors, offering a range of recreational opportunities and events throughout the year. The park’s expansive green spaces are ideal for picnics, while the well-maintained paths are popular for jogging and leisurely strolls.

One of the highlights here is the Burlington Bike Path. It’s a scenic route that offers stunning views of the Adirondacks and the lake. Rent a bike or take a leisurely walk, and you’ll understand why it’s a top attraction in the city. If you’re more into water activities, there are options for kayaking and paddleboarding, with rentals available nearby.

Waterfront Park showcases Burlington's commitment to preserving nature and providing engaging activities for all ages.
Waterfront Park showcases Burlington’s commitment to preserving nature and providing engaging activities for all ages.

The park also hosts numerous events, from music festivals to weekly summer concerts. The nearby ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is an added attraction, especially if you’re traveling with kids. It’s an interactive museum that delves into the ecology and history of the region.

In short, Waterfront Park is more than just a green space by the lake. It’s a testament to Burlington’s commitment to preserving natural beauty while offering engaging activities for all ages.

3. ECHO Leahy Center

Situated close to Waterfront Park, the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is a fascinating destination for visitors of all ages. This innovative science and nature museum dives deep into the ecology, culture, and history of the Lake Champlain Basin. With over 100 interactive exhibits, it offers hands-on learning experiences that captivate both kids and adults.

From aquariums showcasing native species to exhibits on the geological formation of the region, there’s a wealth of information to absorb. The center also emphasizes the importance of conservation. It educates visitors on the steps being taken to preserve the lake’s ecosystem and how they can contribute.

The ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain captivates visitors of every age, making it a fascinating destination for all.
The ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain captivates visitors of every age, making it a fascinating destination for all.

Beyond the main exhibits, the ECHO Leahy Center has a state-of-the-art 3D theater. Here, visitors can watch documentaries and short films related to the environment and Lake Champlain’s unique ecosystem. The center’s design is a testament to sustainable architecture. It utilizes green building practices and serves as a model for environmental responsibility.

Among the coolest things to do in Burlington, spending a few hours at ECHO is both educational and fun. Regularly rotating exhibits ensure there’s always something new to see. Special events, like animal encounters and science demonstrations, further add to the excitement. Whether you’re a science enthusiast or just looking for an engaging indoor activity, the ECHO Leahy Center promises a memorable experience.

4. Burlington Bike Path

Stretching for over eight miles along the city’s waterfront, the Burlington Bike Path is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Originally built on abandoned railway tracks, this paved path offers a smooth ride. It provides panoramic views of Lake Champlain and the distant Adirondack Mountains.

Starting from Oakledge Park in the south, the path extends to the Winooski River in the north. It takes riders through various parks, beaches, and natural reserves. Along the way, there are plenty of spots to pause. You can snap a photo of the scenic vistas or grab a bite from one of the seasonal snack stands.

The cherished Burlington Bike Path, adored by locals and tourists alike, stands out as one of the finest ways to discover Burlington's natural splendor.
The cherished Burlington Bike Path, adored by locals and tourists alike, stands out as one of the finest ways to discover Burlington’s natural splendor.

Cycling the path is more than just a recreational activity; it’s one of the best ways to explore Burlington’s natural beauty. Bike rentals are readily available at various points, making it easy for visitors to hop on and start their adventure. And for those who prefer walking or jogging, the path is equally accommodating.

With its combination of accessibility and stunning views, the Burlington Bike Path is special. It stands out as a must-experience attraction for anyone visiting the area.

5. Shelburne Museum

Located just a short drive from downtown Burlington, the Shelburne Museum is a sprawling complex. It offers a deep dive into American art, design, and history. Spread across 45 acres, the museum comprises 39 distinct structures, including historic houses, barns, and galleries, each housing a unique collection.

From folk art and impressionist paintings to vintage carriages and a steamboat, the museum’s exhibits are diverse and extensive. The Ticonderoga, a 220-foot steamboat, is one of the museum’s standout attractions. Anchored on dry land, this National Historic Landmark offers a glimpse into the maritime history of Lake Champlain.

The Ticonderoga, a 220-foot steamboat, stands out as one of the Shelburne Museum's notable attractions.
The Ticonderoga, a 220-foot steamboat, stands out as one of the Shelburne Museum’s notable attractions.

The museum’s grounds are equally impressive, featuring beautifully manicured gardens and walking paths. Seasonal events, workshops, and educational programs are frequently held. This ensures there’s always something happening, making it a dynamic destination for both first-time visitors and returning fans.

Among the unique things to do in Burlington, a visit to the Shelburne Museum stands out. It’s not just a museum. The Shelburne Museum is an immersive experience that transports visitors back in time, showcasing a rich tapestry of American heritage and creativity.

6. Magic Hat Brewing Company

Dive into the world of craft beer at the Magic Hat Brewing Company, one of Burlington’s pioneering breweries. Located a bit south of the city center, this brewery has been pushing the boundaries of beer-making since its inception in the ’90s. It has earned a reputation for its quirky flavors and offbeat approach to brewing.

Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the Artifactory, the brewery’s on-site production facility. Here, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing process, from the selection of ingredients to the final bottling. The tour is both informative and interactive, with plenty of opportunities to ask questions and learn from the knowledgeable staff.

A trip to Magic Hat Brewing Company is a delight for both beer enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike.
A trip to Magic Hat Brewing Company is a delight for both beer enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike.

After the tour, head to the tasting room to sample some of Magic Hat’s signature brews. Whether you’re a fan of hoppy IPAs, rich stouts, or fruity ales, there’s something for every palate. And if you’re keen on grabbing some merchandise or bottled beers to go, the brewery’s store has you covered.

For beer enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike, a visit to Magic Hat Brewing Company is a treat. It offers a flavorful journey and a deeper appreciation of Burlington’s vibrant craft beer scene.

7. Fleming Museum of Art

When considering Burlington things to do, the Fleming Museum of Art often tops the list for art enthusiasts and history buffs. Located on the University of Vermont campus, this museum boasts an impressive collection. It has over 25,000 objects from various cultures and time periods.

The museum’s exhibits span the globe, from ancient Egyptian artifacts and Asian ceramics to African tribal masks and European paintings. Each gallery offers a unique journey through time and space, allowing visitors to explore the artistic expressions of diverse civilizations.

In the realm of Burlington activities, the Fleming Museum of Art frequently ranks high for art enthusiasts and history buffs.
In the realm of Burlington activities, the Fleming Museum of Art frequently ranks high for art enthusiasts and history buffs.

In addition to its permanent collection, the Fleming Museum frequently hosts temporary exhibitions, showcasing contemporary artists and thematic displays. These rotating exhibits provide fresh perspectives and ensure there’s always something new to discover on return visits.

Beyond its visual treasures, the museum also offers a range of educational programs, lectures, and workshops. Whether you’re an art student or just a casual visitor, the Fleming Museum is a destination to consider. It provides a rich and enlightening experience. It’s a testament to Burlington’s commitment to preserving and celebrating art in all its forms.

8. Battery Park

Overlooking Lake Champlain, Battery Park is a historic green space that offers both relaxation and a glimpse into Burlington’s past. The park gets its name from the military batteries that were once stationed here during the War of 1812. A visit will reveal remnants of this bygone era, including old cannons.

Today, the park is a favorite spot for many. Its elevated position offers panoramic views of the lake and the Adirondack Mountains beyond. The park is an ideal place for a leisurely stroll, a picnic, or simply sitting on a bench and watching the world go by.

Battery Park, a historic green area, provides both relaxation and a peek into Burlington's past.
Battery Park, a historic green area, provides both relaxation and a peek into Burlington’s past.

Throughout the year, Battery Park becomes a hub of activity, hosting various events and festivals. The summer concert series is particularly popular, drawing crowds with live music spanning various genres. And if you’re visiting in August, there’s a special event to consider. Don’t miss the annual Festival of Fools, a street performance extravaganza that brings laughter to the park’s grounds.

In a city filled with natural beauty, Battery Park is a peaceful retreat. Yet, it also pulses with the energy of community gatherings and vibrant events.

9. Burlington Farmers’ Market

A staple in the community since the early 1980s, the Burlington Farmers’ Market is a vibrant gathering spot. It showcases the best of Vermont’s local produce and artisanal products. Held every Saturday, rain or shine, the market transforms City Hall Park into a bustling hub of activity.

Stroll through the market, and you’ll be greeted with a diverse array of stalls. They offer everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to handmade crafts and gourmet foods. Local farmers proudly display their organic produce, while artisans showcase their crafts, from pottery to handwoven textiles.

The Burlington Farmers' Market highlights Vermont's finest local produce and artisanal products.
The Burlington Farmers’ Market highlights Vermont’s finest local produce and artisanal products.

One of the highlights of the market is its food stalls. Here, you can sample a variety of dishes made using local ingredients, from savory crepes to maple-infused treats. It’s a culinary journey that reflects the rich flavors of Vermont.

Beyond shopping and eating, the market also serves as a social venue. With live music performances setting the mood, it’s a lively place. Locals catch up with friends, and visitors get a genuine taste of Burlington’s community spirit. If you’re looking to experience the city’s local culture firsthand, a visit to the Burlington Farmers’ Market is a must.

10. North Beach Park

Just a short drive from downtown Burlington, North Beach Park offers a refreshing escape with its sandy shores and clear waters. As Lake Champlain’s premier urban beach, it’s a popular spot. Both residents and visitors flock here to enjoy a day of sun and relaxation.

Among the best things to do in Burlington, taking a dip in the lake at North Beach is a favorite. The park boasts well-maintained facilities, including lifeguard services, restrooms, and a snack bar serving up summer favorites. For those who prefer staying active, there are volleyball courts and kayak rentals available, ensuring a fun-filled day for everyone.

Escape to North Beach Park, where sandy shores and clear waters provide a refreshing retreat.
Escape to North Beach Park, where sandy shores and clear waters provide a refreshing retreat.

Adjacent to the beach, there’s a spacious campground. It’s a top choice for those wanting to experience the great outdoors but still stay close to the city’s amenities. With its combination of natural beauty and convenient facilities, North Beach Park is special. It embodies the essence of a perfect summer day in Burlington. Whether you’re looking to swim, sunbathe, or simply enjoy the picturesque views, this park has it all.

11. Flynn Center

If you’re a culture buff like me, you can’t miss the Flynn Center when you’re in Burlington. This isn’t some flashy new venue; it’s a piece of the city’s history, dating back to the 1930s. Located right downtown, the Flynn has seen everything from local theater groups to big-name Broadway shows light up its stage.

The architecture? Classic art deco. You’ll feel the vintage vibes the moment you step in. The intricate designs and old-world charm are a visual treat, making you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. But what I love most about the Flynn is its commitment to the community. It’s not just about hosting big acts; they’re big on promoting local talent and arts education. They’ve got workshops and programs that cater to budding artists of all ages, ensuring that the city’s arts scene continues to thrive.

Flynn has hosted a variety of performances, from local theater groups to major Broadway productions, illuminating its stage.
Flynn has hosted a variety of performances, from local theater groups to major Broadway productions, illuminating its stage.

So, if you’re in town and looking for a dose of culture, check out what’s playing at the Flynn. It’s more than just a show; it’s a deep dive into Burlington’s artsy side. The event offers a genuine experience that’s hard to find elsewhere.

12. Burlington Earth Clock

If you’re the kind of traveler who loves stumbling upon hidden gems, then the Burlington Earth Clock is right up your alley. Tucked away in Oakledge Park, this stone circle isn’t your typical tourist attraction. It’s a modern-day homage to ancient stone circles, like Stonehenge. The site serves as both an astronomical calendar and a peaceful meditation space.

Built by a group of local volunteers, the Earth Clock consists of 14 large stones arranged in a precise circle. As you walk around, you’ll notice stones marking the four cardinal directions. They also mark the solstices and equinoxes, showcasing a cool blend of art, science, and spirituality.

For travelers who enjoy discovering hidden gems, the Burlington Earth Clock is a perfect find.
For travelers who enjoy discovering hidden gems, the Burlington Earth Clock is a perfect find.

Among the unique things to do in Burlington, taking a moment to relax at the Earth Clock stands out. It’s a spot where you can disconnect, reflect, and maybe even learn a bit about astronomy. Plus, its location in Oakledge Park means you’re surrounded by nature, with Lake Champlain’s views adding to the serene vibe. So, if you’re looking to step off the beaten path, the Earth Clock is a great choice. It’s a quiet corner in Burlington that’s a must-visit.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about The Best Thing to Do in Burlington, VT

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Burlington? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Burlington:

What’s the best time to visit Burlington?

Burlington’s charm is year-round. Summers are vibrant with lake activities and festivals. Fall? It’s all about those iconic Vermont foliage views. Winter offers skiing and a cozy atmosphere, while spring showcases maple syrup tapping. This makes it one of the best places to live in winter. Each season has its perks, so it really depends on your preferences.

Is Burlington expensive to visit?

Burlington, like many touristy spots, can lean towards the pricier side. But with some savvy planning, you can make it work. Opt for hostels over hotels, seek out local eateries, and prioritize free or low-cost activities. Your budget will thank you.

How many days should I spend in Burlington?

A 3-day trip offers a good taste of Burlington – exploring downtown, visiting major attractions, and maybe a day trip. But if you’ve got the time, staying longer lets you uncover more local spots and hidden gems.

Burlington features a blend of cultural and natural attractions, with a vibrant downtown, artsy atmosphere, and scenic Lake Champlain views.
Burlington features a blend of cultural and natural attractions, with a vibrant downtown, artsy atmosphere, and scenic Lake Champlain views.

Is Burlington family-friendly?

Definitely. Burlington is packed with family-oriented activities, from interactive museums to spacious parks. The locals are friendly and welcoming, making it a great destination for families with kids of all ages.

How’s the food scene in Burlington?

Burlington boasts a diverse food scene. You’ll find everything from farm-to-table restaurants to international dishes. The wealth of tasty farm-to-table delicacies makes Burlington one of the best places to visit in New England for foodies. And if you’re a craft beer enthusiast, you’re in for a treat. The local brews here are something to write home about.

What is Burlington best known for?

Burlington is renowned for its lively arts scene, the pedestrian-only Church Street Marketplace, and the scenic Lake Champlain waterfront. Additionally, it’s the birthplace of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Make sure to add this spot to your New England road trip itinerary. The city beautifully melds urban sophistication with natural beauty, making it a standout destination in Vermont.

Is Burlington worth visiting?

Definitely. Burlington boasts a mix of cultural and natural attractions. Its vibrant downtown, artsy vibe, and Lake Champlain views offer a unique blend for travelers. Lake Champlain boasts natural beauty and recreational diversity. This makes it one of the best East Coast lakes for vacation. Whether you’re into food, history, or outdoor activities, Burlington promises a memorable experience.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Burlington

Burlington is one of those places that genuinely offers something for every traveler. From its bustling downtown to the serene lakeside views, it’s a city that seamlessly blends the urban with the natural.

For those who love diving into local culture, the arts scene and historic sites are a treat. And if you’re more about the outdoors, Lake Champlain and the surrounding parks won’t disappoint. Throw in some top-notch food and craft beer, and you’ve got a destination that’s hard to beat.

In short, if Burlington isn’t on your travel list yet, it should be. It’s a small city with a big heart and plenty to explore.

The top things to do in Burlington, VT for all types of travelers
Enjoyed reading about the top things to do in Burlington, VT? Pin it!

You may also like

Leave a Comment