Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Burlington, VT

  • Published 2023/02/16

Burlington City in Vermont is a fairly old city dating back to 1865.

However, this city remains fun, thanks to a lively and thriving community!

With a wide range of tourist attractions and destinations you can visit year-round, you won’t run out of things to do and sights to see!

One of the most popular attractions in Burlington is the pedestrianized Church Street Marketplace, which is also the busiest district in this city.

Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure or indoor establishments, Burlington has everything you need for a relaxing getaway!

Here are the best things to do in Burlington, VT:

Take a Stroll Down Church Street Marketplace

Night lights of Church Street Marketplace

Sean Pavone /

Start your trip to Burlington by exploring Church Street Marketplace, the go-to destination for first-time visitors.

This four-block district is the center of downtown activity, with streets lined with stalls, vendors, restaurants, and other eclectic boutiques.

You can buy many preloved items, fresh produce, retail items, and more for a great price, making this street the ideal place to go shopping on a budget.

Shops along Church Street Marketplace

James Kirkikis /

Live entertainers also find their way down the street, providing fun experiences while browsing the stores and restaurants.

From breakfast to dinner, you have a wide range of options and eateries to choose from to keep you energized for the day!

Drop by Church Street Marketplace, even if it’s just for a stroll.

A musician at Church Street Marketplace

Wangkun Jia /

Attend the Annual Vermont Brewers Festival

Vermont Brewers Festival is an annual event that celebrates the community’s love and culture of craft beverages and drinks of all kinds, like beer!

This festival has occurred since 1991 at the waterfront of Lake Champlain, making it a tradition for Burlington.

This outdoor activity is a hotspot for locals and tourists with a shared love for craft brews.

Over 50 of the best taprooms and breweries in the city compete to make the best, most uniquely delicious beers.

You can find only Vermont-made beer throughout the entire event, so drink responsibly.

Don’t forget to buy your tickets for this festival ahead of time and be part of the celebration.

Cruise Lake Champlain on the Spirit of Ethan Allen

Spirit of Ethan Allen cruise ship at the dock

Erika J Mitchell /

Your visit to Burlington would not be complete without cruising the iconic Lake Champlain.

The Spirit of Ethan Allen is a well-known cruise ship, especially because it’s the only floating restaurant in the entire city.

Interested guests and visitors climb aboard this cruise ship, sail the beautiful, crystal clear waters, and enjoy the fantastic view.

Daytime view of the Spirit of Ethan Allen cruise ship

BakerJarvis /

These cruises only occur during the summertime between May and October to ensure a great day out on the lake.

The crew provides lunch and dinner meals while narrating the history of this lake and providing champagne and other drinks to give you an enjoyable experience.

Visit one of Vermont’s best lakes by scheduling your cruise at Lake Champlain.

Grab a Refreshing Beer at Foam Brewers

Located on the Burlington waterfront, Foam Brewers gives guests a relaxing experience while enjoying a freshly crafted beer!

Foam Brewers has operated in Burlington since 2016.

A group of eclectic individuals with shared love and passion for beer founded the brewery.

Staying true to its name, the founder of this brewery believes that great, delicious beer always sits under a generous amount of foam!

This brewhouse is also perfect for those who love tasting new, bold flavors since their menu is constantly changing with their team creating new recipes and rotating their taps!

You can also spot a couple of food vendors outside this establishment where you can grab a light snack to complement your beer of choice.

See the World of Art and Anthropology Collide at Fleming Museum of Art

Located within the University of Vermont campus in Burlington, Fleming Museum of Art is a museum open to the public that showcases the worlds of art and anthropology!

This museum features a great collection of old memorabilia across different mediums under different genres, including American, Egyptian, Middle Eastern art, and so much more.

Through reimagined artworks, the art pieces also tell the history of these collections.

With over 25,000 collected artifacts, there is so much to learn and see.

This museum also frequently rotates and develops new exhibits and displays, sharing newfound knowledge and information with the public.

Check out these collections by booking a tour at Fleming Museum of Art!

Visit ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain

Exterior of the ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain

jenlo8 /

Found at the shore of Lake Champlain, ECHO, Leahy Center is a museum that houses the natural history of Burlington.

Its main attraction includes remnants and artifacts of this iconic lake, taken from the Revolutionary War and other critical periods.

Entrance doors of ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain

jenlo8 /

They host daily programs, science demos, and engineering challenges that pique the interest of STEM majors and students.

Many of their exhibits and displays are interactive, accommodating visitors of all ages.

From geology to zoology and even history, ECHO, Leahy Center combines fun with education to provide memorable experiences for all their visitors!

Purchase Local Goods at Burlington Farmers Market

Burlington Farmers Market is the go-to destination for those looking to spend the day outdoors to purchase local goods!

Found in the city center of Burlington, this farmers market hosts hundreds of vendors selling various items, including fresh produce, freshly baked pastries, flowers, jewelry, and more!

This market attracts locals and tourists alike, especially during the summer season, so drop by early!

You can take a simple stroll down this market and enjoy the sun’s warmth on your skin.

There’s nothing better than shopping on a sunny day at the Burlington Farmers Market.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at Waterfront Park and Burlington Bike Path

If you’re looking for a great place to spend the outdoors, check out Waterfront Park and Burlington Bike Path!

This spacious land area in the heart of Burlington borders the lakeshore, giving guests a chance to enjoy land activities as the cool breeze from the water keeps them cool.

This park is also a regular venue for various festivals and events during the summer and fall seasons, so try to join these celebrations when you can.

You may even spot Vermont’s only All-America Display Garden somewhere near the docks, where different species and varieties of flowers and plants bloom during the summer.

You may also indulge in simple outdoor activities, such as jogging, biking, and even picnicking, where you can spend quality time with your friends and family.

Catch a Live Music Show at the Flynn

Flynn Center's marquee

Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This popular music and entertainment center is where the musical culture of Burlington thrives!

Initially established in 1930 as an entertainment palace before being converted into a performance site in 2000, Flynn Center is a culturally significant venue.

The Flynn Center can seat more than 1,000 guests in its auditorium and is one of the most spacious establishments for those passionate about performing arts.

This entertainment center prides itself on diverse performances, ranging from dramatic plays to musical productions that will mesmerize you.

They also feature local and national artists and internationally renowned performers.

Their events calendar is packed with all kinds of productions, so don’t forget to purchase a ticket.

Learn about Burlington’s Artistic Culture at South End Arts District

If you’ve got a knack for the arts, check out Burlington’s South End Arts District!

Before becoming one of Burlington’s liveliest centers for the arts, South End Arts District was formerly an industrial zone.

This district is home to several art galleries, displays, and collections that showcase the hard work of various artists across different mediums.

They also host many events and programs dedicated to the arts, inspiring up-and-coming artists who wish to showcase their talents, skills, and craft.

Interested buyers also have the opportunity to purchase these masterpieces and meet the artists who created them.

Add this tourist hotspot to your itinerary and learn all about the artistic side of Burlington!

Stop by the Historic Ethan Allen Homestead Museum

Ethan Allen is a revolutionary war hero who fought for the country and the inspiration for the historical Ethan Allen Homestead Museum.

This land spans over 1,400 acres and contains the original residence of the Allen family during this era.

You can find several archaeological and historical exhibits at this museum that detail his life and service to the country.

Several sections of the homestead have undergone restoration to its original state.

Meanwhile, they also added more buildings that revolve around the life of Ethan Allen.

Schedule a tour to learn more about this legendary hero at Ethan Allen Homestead Museum!

Enjoy Kayaking at North Beach Park

Daytime view of North Beach Park

Igal Shkolnik /

From strolling to kayaking, there are always fun and exciting activities to do at North Beach Park.

Kayaking and paddleboarding are among the main activities at the park’s designated area on the lake.

You can use your own equipment, or go to a nearby kayak rental for convenience.

The waters of North Beach Park

Igal Shkolnik /

Explore around it and soak in the sun during warmer months.

North Beach Park also features a swimming beach on the lake with lifeguards on duty.

And if you’re taking a picnic, you can simply lay a blanket on the sand along the shores that stretch the beach, or you can use the picnic areas with grills for barbecue.

Catch Free Outdoor Summer Concerts around Burlington

In the summer, the City of Burlington celebrates the warm sunshine through a series of outdoor concerts at the parks and downtown Burlington.

You can soak in the sun, paddle in the water, or dine on the patio of a local restaurant while listening to live performances by local and regional musicians.

Musicians with different genres grace the stage to entertain all locals and tourists visiting Burlington.

Also, when you’re here on the 4th of July, there are parks that also host fireworks displays on the night of the concert.

You can look out for concerts at Waterfront Park, Battery Park, and the downtown area, among others.

Go Climbing and Bouldering at Petra Cliffs Climbing Center & Mountaineering School

Climbing and bouldering fit all sizes and ages, and Petra Cliffs Climbing Center & Mountaineering School doesn’t disappoint!

This indoor facility offers both fun and exciting activities for you to enjoy with your family and friends.

You can team up to get through the obstacle courses, a high ropes course, and more.

Birthday parties and other special events are also available at the center.

If you’re new to climbing, Petra Cliffs Climbing Center & Mountaineering School also offers different types of climbing lessons.

There will be detours around Champlain Parkway Construction during your climbing lessons.

Grab a Delicious Meal at Hen of the Wood

Hungry yet?

Mouthwatering eats, a woodsy-chic vibe and a relaxed atmosphere await you at Hen of the Wood on Cherry Street.

Opened in 2013, the restaurant specializes in the region’s food specialties with a menu that changes daily.

Guests are raving about its signature mushroom toast, swordfish, oysters, hanger steak, fried rabbit, duck, and more.

But you don’t want to miss out on the restaurant’s parker house rolls!

Hen of the Wood also features a great selection of wines to pair with your delish meal.

Hike across Red Rocks Park

Nature trail at Red Rocks Park

Damien Harshbarger /

About 2.7-mile loop trail at Red Rocks Park does great for hiking through the woods with spectacular views of Lake Champlain.

Along the way, you’ll see small wildlife, including the lovely birds perching on tree tops and singing to your ears.

The park also features a swimming beach to beat the heat during the summer season.

Red Rocks Park is also popular among snowshoers and cross-country skiers for its lovely terrain.

Also, the foliage here becomes dramatic during the fall season, so don’t forget to take Instagrammable photos!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit Shelburne Farms

Exterior of Shelburne Farms' historic barn

vermontalm /

A short drive south of Burlington takes you to the neighboring city of Shelburne, where Shelburne Farms is located!

This farm is one of the state’s leading agricultural facilities, constructed between 1886 and 1890.

Dedicated to the agricultural sector and environmental sustainability, this farm seeks to educate individuals on the importance of stewardship and caring for the earth.

Scenic view of Shelburne Farms' landscape

vermontalm /

Their barnhouse also allows visitors to taste some of the creamiest, most delicious freshly made cheese that has won several awards.

Their flowers and ornamental plants bloom and blossom during the summer seasons, a sight you wouldn’t want to miss.

There’s so much to do at Shelburne Farms!

Sunrise at Shelburne Farms

vermontalm /

Handpick Fresh Fruits at Sam Mazza’s Farm Market

There’s nothing tastier than freshly handpicked fruit straight from a tree!

Sam Mazza’s Farm Market gives visitors a chance to pick strawberries of the freshest quality.

They also feature a bakery open year-round, selling different kinds of delicious pastries from pies to bread and everything in between.

Every season is essential to Sam Mazza’s Farm Market, providing events and programs you’ll enjoy no matter when you visit!

This family-owned and operated farm has served the community since 1935 and only continues to grow and expand every year.

Admire the Historic Exhibits at Shelburne Museum

Exterior of Shelburne Museum's round barn

Harold Stiver /

Shelburne Museum gives tourists and visitors a unique and unparalleled experience of America’s history, art, and culture.

Founded in 1947 by Electra Havemeyer Webb, this museum was initially meant to be an establishment that preserved her family’s horse carriages before expanding into the museum it is today.

Historic Ticonderoga Steamboat at Shelburne Museum

John Arehart /

Over 39 historic buildings worldwide were relocated to this museum and restored and refurbished to their original state.

From railroads to historic homes and even a ship, this museum houses some of the most iconic, significant, and historic collections across the country.

Don’t miss the chance to see these unique exhibits.

Exterior of Vermont house at at Shelburne Museum

Wangkun Jia /

Watch a Movie at Sunset Drive-In

If you drive up north from Burlington, you’ll reach the city of Colchester, roughly 15 minutes away.

This city is home to one of the few drive-in theaters left in the entire country, better known as Sunset Drive-In.

Established in 1948, this drive-in theater is one of the oldest standing cinemas in the country.

You’ll find a movie in every genre playing on over four different screens.

Sunset Drive-In lets you enjoy an excellent movie under the stars.

Final Thoughts

Burlington has one of the most unique, diverse cultures you can find in the entire country.

You won’t have trouble adding destinations to your itinerary, from water cruises to historic museums, the most fabulous restaurants, and iconic performance venues.

Its convenient location means you can easily visit nearby and neighboring cities with more tourist options.

You may even shop ‘til you drop at their busy business sectors, complete with shopping and retail hubs and local eateries, all topped with live music and entertainment!

Whether you’re traveling with the whole family, your partner, or yourself, this city can accommodate all your needs.

Explore the unique Burlington City by booking a ticket now!

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