Burlington, VT Travel Guide

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Best Things To Do in Burlington, VT

Whatever your interest — historic, outdoorsy, cultural or family-friendly fun — Burlington's got you covered. Sift through the impressive collection of Americana at the nearby Shelburne Museum, or tour the former home of Ethan Allen, one of Vermont's most iconic residents. Explore the Waterfront's interactive ECHO Aquarium and stretch of prime picnic green. Catch a performance at the Flynn Center or along the Church Street Marketplace; Burlington's street performers are a very talented group. 

How we rank Things to Do

Updated July 26, 2016

  • #1
    Things to do in Burlington, VT
    View all Photos
    #1 in Burlington, VT
    Museums
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    From weathervanes, quilts and American art to transplanted 1950s era homes, a railroad station and a fully outfitted steamboat, the Shelburne Museum really does have a little of everything on display. Nearly 40 buildings, filled with various exhibits, span the museum's 45 acres. There's even a respectable collection of impressionist paintings, featuring the works of Degas, Cassatt, Manet and Monet.

    Recent visitors were equally impressed with the museum's artifacts as they were with its grounds. 

  • #2
    Magic Hat Brewing Company
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    #2 in Burlington, VT
    Wineries/Breweries, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Wineries/Breweries, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    As one of Burlington's top-rated factory tours, the Magic Hat Brewing Company is a must-see (for anyone 21 and older that is). The Victorian-Gothic circus-themed decor and seriously unconventional atmosphere sets it apart as one of the most eclectic breweries around. Be sure to secure a designated driver; there's a fully stocked bar waiting for you at the end of your visit, complete with limitless, free tastings of the featured beers on tap. Recent visitors rave about the informative tour, ample samples and friendly bartenders at this Burlington staple.

    Guided tours are offered year-round in the afternoons, but you can always take a self-guided tour during factory hours. The best part is that both iterations of the tour are free and include complimentary beer tastings. For more information on hours and to learn what's currently on tap, check out Magic Hat's website

  • #3
    Church Street Marketplace
    View all Photos
    #3 in Burlington, VT
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Church Street Marketplace is the place to be in Burlington: a car-free walkway buzzing with the town's offbeat vibe. Explore the hip shops along the stretch, or take a seat at one of the many open-air cafes and watch the funky street performers nearby.

    Recent visitors enjoyed how much there was to do in the marketplace. Many said they spent hours visiting the various shops and restaurants.

  • #4
    Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
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    #4 in Burlington, VT
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    When you're in the mood for a show, look no further than the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. Reopened in the 1980s, the Flynn serves as the cultural pulse of Burlington, showcasing everything from a live ballet performance one night to a mariachi band the next. Visitors appreciate the venue, complete with its old-fashioned marquee and art deco interior.

    The Center puts up performances year-round, but show times vary. For more information, including tickets and schedule of the diverse acts that pass through the Flynn, check out the website.

  • #5
    Waterfront
    View all Photos
    #5 in Burlington, VT
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Right off of the city's Main Street, the Waterfront neighborhood is a lovely place to spend the afternoon with the kids or your sweetheart. Explore the local ecosystem at the ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center, take a ride on Burlington's scenic bike path or lay out a picnic spread in Waterfront Park. If you do decide to grab a bite by Lake Champlain's Waterfront, bring your own goodies: the food stalls are a bit limited when it comes to dining options.  

    Make sure on your stroll through the Waterfront to stop and take a seat on the long bench swings. Visitors particularly rave about the breathtaking view at sunset.

  • #6
    Ethan Allen Homestead
    View all Photos
    #6 in Burlington, VT
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    As the former home to one of Vermont's more eccentric founding fathers, the Ethan Allen Homestead is a must visit for any history buff. This 1787 farmhouse, located along the Winooski River, displays artifacts narrating Allen's command of the ragtag Revolutionary War militia, the Green Mountain Boys. But it's also a great example of what life was like during that time period, and the grounds have miles upon miles of trails fit for your exploration.

    And it's a kid-friendly attraction, too. Families love the reproduction of antique toys and the section where kids can play archaeologist.

  • #7
    ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center
    View all Photos
    #7 in Burlington, VT
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Nestled in the heart of the bustling Waterfront neighborhood, the ECHO makes an attractive pit stop for lots of young families. Its marine-focused children's museum is full of hands-on exhibits like the saltwater petting tank and ever-popular FrogWorld. Visitors note that the aquarium is much smaller than expected but still worth visiting if you have kids.

    The ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center is part of the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, which is dedicated to educating visitors on the fragile Lake Champlain ecosystem. It's open year-round from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $13.50 for adults and $10.50 for children. For more information about the ECHO, check out the center's website.

  • #8
    Green Mountain Audubon Center
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    #8 in Burlington, VT
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Located approximately 19 miles southeast of downtown Burlington, the Green Mountain Audubon Center is a must-see for birding enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The 255 acres have varied habitats full of diverse wildlife populations, which can be discovered via 5 miles of nature trails. (First-time visitors should stop by the Education Barn on Sherman Hollow Road to grab a map).

    The center's trails are open year-round from dawn to dusk, but the Education Barn is only open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Entrance to the grounds is free, but donations are appreciated from individual visitors. Also, larger groups are urged to call ahead, especially in the popular spring and summer months. For more information on programs and special events, visit the Audubon's website

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