Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Burlington, VT

  • Published 2023/01/21

Burlington is a charming city on Lake Champlain’s eastern shores.

This lakeside city is part of Chittenden County, Vermont.

It’s known for its excellent tourism industry, tightly knit community, colorful heritage, culture, and natural beauty.

On the opposite side of Burlington lies the gorgeous Green Mountain range, which is adjacent to Canada’s southern border.

Those who yearn for top-notch rest and recreation consider Burlington a top destination.

You’re guaranteed to enjoy relaxing activities such as sightseeing, hiking, entertainment, and leisure.

Besides, Burlington is an idyllic destination for budget travelers who want to save as much money as possible without sacrificing the experience.

This beautiful Vermont city has plenty of places to enjoy without spending a single penny.

You might be wondering what awaits you in Burlington.

Here are the best free things to do in Burlington, Vermont:

Explore the University of Vermont

William Science Hall at the University of Vermont

Wangkun Jia /

Visiting the University of Vermont offers you a one-of-a-kind experience.

Many locals recommend taking a stroll and exploring the university’s century-old buildings, museums, art galleries, and other facilities that allow the public to visit.

A chapel at the University of Vermont

Wangkun Jia /

The University of Vermont has well-manicured gardens, lawns, and red-brick buildings, which serve as its college’s faculty and various departments.

Visiting this university is truly a one-of-a-kind and immersive experience you mustn’t miss during your Burlington trip.

Waterman building at the University of Vermont

Bob LoCicero /

Have Fun at Maple Street Park in Essex Junction

Maple Street Park in Essex Junction is probably Burlington’s most famous park for many reasons.

You can visit this park along Maple Street to start your Burlington travel adventure.

This park spans over 38 acres and is home to many sports facilities, natural areas, and other amenities.

Most of Burlington’s locals, especially sports enthusiasts, love to spend their afternoons or weekends at this park for outdoor activities.

At the same time, it’s also where you’ll find the Maple Street Recreation Center, which is a multipurpose facility.

Visiting this park allows you to enjoy both sports and other outdoor recreation.

It has basketball courts, baseball fields, tennis courts, picnic pavilions, and a vast green open space for everyone to enjoy.

Regarding top-notch outdoor recreation, head to Maple Street Park in Essex Junction.

Meet the Sunrise at Waterfront Park

Trail of Waterfront Park

Ilir Hasa /

Waterfront Park is probably Burlington’s most scenic park.

You can visit this park along Lake Street.

This park facing Lake Champlain is famous for its breathtaking sunrise, a mesmerizing experience you mustn’t miss.

The sunrise usually comes out on the northeastern side of the park, facing the lake.

People admiring the lake from Waterfront Park

D. Scott Larson /

Once the sun comes out, you’ll be treated to gorgeous scenery, perfect for a souvenir photo.

On top of that, Waterfront Park is one of the fewest areas in Chittenden County to offer such a breathtaking sunrise view.

Besides its famous sunrise, the park is known for its top-notch water activities, such as boating, fishing, and plenty more.

Look at the World’s Tallest Filing Cabinet

Daytime view of the World's Tallest Filing Cabinet

NatalieBuzzyBee /

Burlington is home to many odd and fascinating tourist attractions.

One of them is the World’s Tallest Filing Cabinet which you’ll find along Flynn Avenue.

This attraction features 38 stacked filing cabinets or drawers, standing tall to this day.

Close view of the World's Tallest Filing Cabinet

brett Vachon from Montreal, canada, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s pretty easy to spot this attraction, and it’s completely impossible to miss during your visit to the city.

The World’s Tallest Filing Cabinet is a public art installation created in 2002 by local artist Bren Alvarez and instantly became a tourist attraction.

Don’t forget to drop by this world-record-holding attraction in Burlington for some souvenir photos.

Guess the Time at Burlington Earth Clock

Burlington Earth Clock allows you to experience how people check the time through the position of the rocks’ shadows.

You can visit this stone circle along Island Line Trail.

This stone circle is a sundial or a modern compass that tells the time and date through shadows.

The Circles for Peace, a grassroots nonprofit group in Burlington, created this fascinating stone circle as a public art installation.

However, Burlington Earth Clock is unique among other sundials in the world.

It’s because you’ll only determine the time and date when you step into the center to act as its gnomon or projecting piece.

A total of 14 granite stone slabs comprise the Burlington Earth Clock, which you can visit for free anytime.

Explore the Gorgeous Lake Champlain

Sunset reflecting on Lake Champlain

Stacy Funderburke /

Lake Champlain is a separate attraction full of outdoor recreation and fun.

People throughout Vermont travel to the lake for boat cruises, fishing trips, swimming, sightseeing, camping, and plenty more activities.

This lake spans the borders of New York in the south and the edge of Quebec in Canada.

It covers a total of 1,269 square kilometers of a freshwater lake.

Silhouette of two people admiring Lake Champlain

Dan Lewis /

Besides outdoor recreation, Lake Champlain is the world’s oldest fossil reef, estimated to be 480 million years old.

Plenty of dinosaur fossils were uncovered on the bottom of the lake back in the day and are now displayed in various national museums.

Remember to list Lake Champlain in your itinerary when visiting Burlington for a memorable outdoor adventure.

Boats on Lake Champlain

vermontalm /

Find Serenity at Starr Farm Park

Starr Farm Park is a regional park on Burlington’s northern end.

This park, situated along Starr Farm Road, is known for its spacious dog park, athletic fields, and scenic view of Lake Champlain.

Unlike most parks in Burlington, this one is less crowded and known for its tranquil atmosphere, perfect for meditation and relaxation.

At the same time, it’s also a popular place for biking since it’s adjacent to the Burlington Bike Path.

Also, Starr Farm Park kept its natural beauty, making it an excellent place to see the natural area of Burlington, especially its local wildlife.

Commune with Nature at Red Rocks Park

Nature trail at Red Rocks Park

Damien Harshbarger /

Red Rocks Park is known for its gorgeous natural beauty and the wide variety of natural attractions.

You can visit this park along Central Avenue.

The park has a public beach area on the shores of Lake Champlain, hiking trails, and snowshoeing paths.

The park borders Burlington and South Burlington, making it accessible to both cities.

This park is recommended because of its scenic rocky shoreline, pristine pine forests, and peaceful atmosphere.

Most parkgoers love to swim, fish, or bike at this park since it has access to some bike trails.

Overall, Red Rocks Park is great for chilling or connecting with nature because of its natural beauty and peaceful environment.

Learn Geology at Lone Rock Point

Daytime view of Lone Rock Point

Erika J Mitchell /

Lone Rock Point might look like an average layer of rock exposed on a hillside on the eastern shores of Lake Champlain.

However, these layers of rocks have more exciting things to offer visitors.

The exposed rocks are part of the 200-mile fault which stretches from New York to Quebec and runs through Vermont called the Champlain Thrust.

Champlain thrust fault at Lone Rock Point

James St. John, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s a fascinating layer of rocks that offers you plenty to learn about its geologic information and history.

The layers provide information about the differences between various prehistoric periods, virtually transporting you back in time.

Above all, Lone Rock Point is one of the region’s most frequently visited structural geologic sites, so don’t miss checking out this place.

Traverse the Burlington Bike Path

Burlington Bike Path is the best place to sweat and explore the outdoors.

The bike path meanders through Lake Champlain and features 28 miles of looped trail, taking you to various towns and cities surrounding the lake.

At the same time, the trail leads you to various other bike paths, such as the Colchester Causeway and Island Line Rail.

Remember to bring your bike when visiting Burlington and head to this famous trail to see some of the most picturesque views of Lake Champlain.

Don’t forget to make stopovers while traversing the Burlington Bike Path.

It’s also known to have plenty of hidden beaches and overlooks, which adds more excitement to your journey.

Meet the Locals at Church Street

Night lights of Church Street

Sean Pavone /

Church Street is Burlington’s downtown area.

It comprises four blocks that stretch from Main and Pearl Streets.

It has a marketplace, shops, restaurants, cafes, art galleries, historical landmarks, buildings, and many attractions.

Buildings at Church Street

Wangkun Jia /

Whether you’re looking for an immersive experience or a romantic spot in the city to spend time with your loved one, Church Street is the best place.

The entire street is where you’ll find most of Burlington’s attractions, which you’ll pass by as you stroll through the streets lined with charming local businesses.

You won’t grow bored strolling through Burlington as buskers and street performers entertain everyone.

Shops at Church Street

James Kirkikis /

Pass the Time at Roosevelt Park Playground

Roosevelt Park Playground is a favorite place for locals to hang out.

You can visit this neighborhood park along Willow Street.

This park is where most of Burlington’s local soccer and baseball leagues happen, making it an ideal place to hang out and watch games.

Besides a sports event venue, it’s also the home of the city’s youth center.

The entire neighborhood park spans three acres with a picnic area, sports facilities, an outdoor skating rink, green open space, and a children’s playground.

Remember to hang out at Roosevelt Park Playground with your loved ones, especially your kids.

Take a Dip at North Beach Park

Scenic view of North Beach Park

Igal Shkolnik /

North Beach Park is Burlington’s biggest beach area, located on Lake Champlain’s shores.

This beach destination is popular in summer and winter.

Likewise, it is packed with locals who want to cool off or get their tan during the summer.

The waters of North Beach Park

Igal Shkolnik /

Meanwhile, this beach becomes a winter wonderland for skiers and snowboarders, shredding the ice on the frozen lake.

Whatever the season, North Beach Park is an idyllic location for family outings along the cold waters of Lake Champlain.

You should have a good time there, whenever you visit.

Spot Local Wildlife at Centennial Woods Natural Area

Centennial Woods Natural Area encompasses 65 acres of unspoiled natural beauty.

You can visit this place along Interstate 89.

This natural area is a stone’s throw away from the University of Vermont.

It is home to vibrant local flora and fauna.

It has hiking trails that allow you to discover the natural beauty of Burlington through its unspoiled forests, streams, and wetlands.

Along the way, you’ll come across beavers, deer, foxes, otters, and even bobcats roaming freely in the area.

Bring your binoculars and hiking boots when visiting Burlington, and head to the Centennial Woods Natural Area for some adventure with nature.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Remember Forgotten Ice Cream Flavors at the Flavor Graveyard

Entrance arch of the Flavor Graveyard

andysartworks /

The famous Flavor Graveyard – Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is a unique and fascinating attraction in Waterbury, Vermont, 32 minutes from Burlington.

This famous ice cream brand has a dedicated place for its discontinued flavor varieties which they considered the “flavor graveyard.”

This is Nuts tombstone at the Flavor Graveyard

shakedn /

As fascinating as it is, the flavor graveyard is where you’ll see your once favorite flavors that mysteriously disappear from your supermarket freezers.

Amazingly, the Flavor Graveyard – Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is completely serious about retiring its flavors.

Turtle Soup tombstone at the Flavor Graveyard

shakedn /

It’s because they buried a small casket with the original pint of each flavor under the ground and a tombstone on top.

Visiting this odd but fascinating attraction offers you a unique experience you mustn’t miss.

Fossil Fuel tombstone at the Flavor Graveyard

shakedn /

Final Thoughts

Burlington has more hidden gems, and local attractions left undiscovered by many.

Grab the chance to see them first-hand and enjoy its activities and attractions, many of which are free.

Enjoy the free things to do in Burlington, Vermont!

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