Best Things To Do in Burlington, VT
Whatever your interest – history, the outdoors, culture 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 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 talented group. And if you've got a sweet tooth, take a short daytrip to the nearby Ben & Jerry's factory.
Updated July 26, 2016
- #1View all Photos#1 in Burlington, VT7.3 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND7.3 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME 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. You can spend hours learning about the exquisite displays and buildings, but also mosey along the grounds simply taking in the beautiful scenery.
- #2View all Photos#2 in Burlington, VTSightseeing, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Located just outside Burlington is the one and only Ben & Jerry's Factory where the famous ice cream is manufactured. Take a 30-minute tour of the factory to get an inside look at the company's history, manufacturing process and how they create the unique flavors they are so well known for. The tour is offered every day, except specific holidays, and includes a free sample of ice cream along the way. There is also a Scoop Shop where you can enjoy your favorite flavors in freshly baked waffle cones, as well as milkshakes or sundaes. After the tour, plan to stop by the Flavor Graveyard, where you'll find discontinued flavors like Vermonty Python and Ethan Almond, memorialized with mock gravestones and flavor descriptions. During the warmer months, guests are encouraged to sit outside around the playground area to take in the views of the Worcester Mountain Range.
Past visitors praised the factory tours and said it was a great activity for a rainy day. Some suggested visiting in the morning to beat the afternoon crowds.
- #3View all Photos#3 in Burlington, VT0.3 miles to city centerEntertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.3 miles to city centerEntertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME 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 the variety of things to do in the marketplace. Many said they spent hours visiting the various shops and restaurants.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Burlington, VTWineries/BreweriesTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDWineries/BreweriesTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Did you know that Vermont boasts the most breweries per capita of anywhere in the United States? What's more, there is a powerhouse group of breweries in Burlington offering a great atmosphere and a collection of innovative new brews.
The Magic Hat Brewing Company has a Victorian-Gothic circus-themed decor and its seriously unconventional atmosphere sets it apart as one of the most eclectic breweries around. If you're taking a walk along the Waterfront, stop into Foam Brewers, which offers a collection of seasonally rotating brews alongside local cheeses, meats and breads. Other local favorites are: Zero Gravity, Burlington Beer Company, Switchback Brewing Co. and Queen City Brewery.
- #5View all PhotosfreeWaterfront#5 in Burlington, VT0.5 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.5 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME 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 ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, lay out a picnic spread in Waterfront Park or take a ride on Burlington's scenic bike path. The bike path is an 8-mile paved recreational route that runs the entire town of Burlington and links six major waterfront parks, along with the Burlington High School and the central Waterfront district.
Make sure on your stroll through the Waterfront to stop and take a seat on the long bench swings. Past visitors particularly raved about the breathtaking view at sunset.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Burlington, VT0.5 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.5 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Nestled in the heart of the bustling Waterfront neighborhood, ECHO – a science and nature museum – makes an attractive pit stop for young families. The museum is full of 100 hands-on exhibits, and shelters 70 live species, a live butterfly exhibit (available through September 2020), as well as seasonal exhibits, and a 3D theater that screens science and nature films daily. Among the animals housed here are bullfrogs, sturgeons, trout, turtles and snakes.
Reviewers noted that ECHO was much smaller than expected, but still worth visiting if you have kids and want to learn more about the area's ecology.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Burlington, VT13.8 miles to city centerParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND13.8 miles to city centerParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME 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 center's 250 acres have varied habitats full of diverse wildlife populations, which can be discovered via 5 miles of incredible nature trails. (First-time visitors should stop by the Education Barn on Sherman Hollow Road to grab a map).
Recent visitors said the center has a helpful staff and that it's a great place for short hikes.
- #8 in Burlington, VTMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Part of the University of Vermont, the Fleming Museum of Art shelters a collection of art from around the world. It first opened in 1931 and has a collection of 24,000 objects from various cultures, along with special exhibits that change annually. Highlights of the museum's collection include works by American artists, such as Winslow Homer, John James Audubon and Kara Walker, as well as Qing Dynasty textiles, Sumerian cuneiform tablets and sculptures from West and Central Africa.
After seeing the beautiful scenery surrounding Burlington and stopping by Lake Champlain, this museum is the perfect next stop if you're looking for some cultural time spent indoors, according to reviewers.
- #9View all Photos#9 in Burlington, VT2.4 miles to city centerHistoric Homes/Mansions, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND2.4 miles to city centerHistoric Homes/Mansions, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
As the former home of 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.
What's more, it's a kid-friendly attraction. Families love the reproduction of antique toys and the section where kids can play archaeologist.
- #10View all Photos#10 in Burlington, VT0.1 miles to city centerEntertainment and Nightlife, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.1 miles to city centerEntertainment and Nightlife, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
When you're in the mood for a show, look no further than the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. Originally opened in 1930, the Flynn serves as the cultural pulse of Burlington, showcasing everything from a live ballet performance one night to a mariachi band the next. Among the local groups that call the Flynn home are the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and the Vermont Youth Orchestra.
Past visitors appreciated the venue, complete with its old-fashioned marquee and art deco interior.
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