7 Reasons to Love Burlington, Vermont

Lake Champlain
We fell hard for Burlington, Vermont. From the mountains to Lake Champlain to the restaurants and artisan food, this place had everything we crave. In no particular order, here are seven reasons to love Burlington, Vermont.

  1. Factory Tours

    Do you watch “How It’s Made” on tv? Then maybe you’re like us and love factory tours. Burlington is flush with them for its size and a couple of them even come with delicious samples.
    Ben and Jerry's van

  2. Summer Festivals

    We have no doubt that Burlington is beautiful in the winter and filled with winter sports. After that snow finally melts, though, it feels like Vermonters try to suck everything they can out of the nice weather. I’m sure there are plenty of more festivals to see, but these are the ones we encountered while we were there.

    • The Festival of Fools fills Church Street marketplace with street theater. These buskers put on all kinds of performances from music to acrobatics to yo-yos. You can see busking in many touristy towns, but what is interesting here is the festival staff curates the performances and the performers hail from all over the world.
      Festival of Fools
    • There are many outdoor music festivals in the area all summer, but we happened to arrive in time for the Summer Nationals Tour featuring one of my favorite bands Bad Religion. It was everything my 16-year-old self could want. It seems likely there would be some music to strike your fancy during your stay.
      Bad Religion Poster
    • Nearby Stowe, Vermont hosts an Annual Antique Car Show and parade that started before half the cars were even considered antique! Combine it with some nearby trails and maple walnut ice cream and you’re set.
      Old Woody
  3. Local Specialties

    If you know us or read the sidebar, you’ll know we like to find regional foods. That is easy to do in Vermont. For some reason, I had it in my head before we arrived that I would try to cut down on my dairy consumption. Yeah, that didn’t last. Between the cheese and creemees, I was a goner.

    • Vermont is known for maple syrup and for good reason, the state produces 42% of the country’s maple syrup. Maple doesn’t only come in syrup form or have to be used on pancakes, check out our Maple Pumpkin Spice Muffins recipe.
      Maple Syrup
    • Creemees are Vermont’s version of soft serve ice cream originally having a higher fat content than regular ice cream. They come in multiple flavors, but the most ubiquitous and unique to Vermont is maple. I don’t even care for ice cream all that much, it’s usually Brandon’s department, but I became addicted. To top it, some places offered black raspberry, my favorite fruit, so I ended up with a cream/purple swirl cone…and I’m starting to drool. Next!
      Maple/Black Raspberry Creemee
    • Most people will recognize Cabot Creamery and some of their cheeses. They are a co-op of farmers across New England and New York and sell some fantastic cheddars including the hard to find Chipotle. They run three Cabot stores in Vermont including one in Waterbury Center, so you can visit on your way from Ben & Jerry’s. The stores have lots of other Vermont goodies, too. Technically, Grafton Village Cheese Company is in the southern part of the state, but you can find their products around Burlington, too, so be on the lookout. May we suggest the Maple Smoked Cheddar?
    • Apples are grown throughout the U.S., but not everywhere we’ve lived or visited, so seeing an orchard always make me happy. We were a little early for full-on apple season, the honeycrisps were starting to ripen, but that didn’t stop us from visiting Cold Hollow Cider Mill nor from them having an Apple Cider Festival. The mill has a store filled with Vermont-made foods (including the aforementioned Grafton cheese) and often have tastings of different varieties. In addition to a large jug of cider, we picked up apple cider jelly, and a cider doughnut that is made right in front of the store. Also, they have a separate lunch restaurant that was pretty good.
    • Finally, I know a lot of our friends and fellow RVers would be all over the brewery scene happening here, but that’s just not our jam. We did try a sampler at Citizen Cider, but overall, I’ll just say there are a lot of breweries for you craft beer loving folks. Fun fact: Vermont has more breweries per capita than any other state. Of course it has the second lowest population, too.
      Citizen Cider sampler
  4. Good Eats

    Yes, more food! There are so many awesome restaurants in the area that we hardly made a dent in the selection. Here are a few of our favorites that we did get to try.

  5. Outdoor Activities

    It’s Vermont! You know there will be plenty of things to do outside.
    The Island Line Trail through Lake Champlain

    • One of the unique things to do is bike across Lake Champlain. The Island Line Trail extends into the lake with a small break for boats to go through. At this point, there is a bike ferry that will take you across to the island in the middle. If you’re feeling strong and adventurous, you can bike to the other side of the island and catch the ferry to Plattsburgh, NY, then ride south to catch another ferry back to Burlington. We weren’t feeling that adventurous, but we did pick up some apples and a baby creemee at a little store on the island.
    • Hiking abounds in Vermont. Pull out a map, put your finger on it, and I’m sure you’ll find a trail.
    • For those who prefer to stay in town, Stowe has a 5.3 mile recreation path that allows you to walk, run, or bike around the city.
  6. Diving in Lake Champlain

    Maybe this is an outdoor activity, but Brandon thought it was so awesome, he wrote a whole post about it.
    Dive Boat on Lake Champlain

    • It’s cold and dark, but it’s clear.
    • The chilly freshwater has preserved shipwrecks, unlike the ocean where they tend to disintegrate.
      Oj Walker Wreck 2
  7. Shelburne Museum

    This museum deserves a point by itself and not just because it doesn’t seem to fit anywhere else. It’s another one that we had to write a separate post about because it was So Much More than We Expected.
    Shelburne Museum taxidermy

    • The museum houses a vast and amazing collection of New England buildings, art, decor, and more.
    • It is so overwhelming, your ticket is good for two days.
    • Just standing in front of the Ticonderoga and pondering how they moved this giant steamship to the middle of the field is worth the admission price.

So there you have it, our reasons for loving Burlington, Vermont. It checks off all our criteria, drive, dive, and devour, plus a few more. Maybe next time we’ll make it to Misery Loves Company, a restaurant recommended by a local diver and add it to the list. Or we’ll pick up a new roasted caffeine habit and seek out Green Mountain Coffee. For now, though, I’m pretty happy with our list. Is there anything you’d add?

You should know

  • Factory tour times may vary by season, check the websites for details. Burton Snowboards is by appointment only and you must sign up online.
  • The Festival of Fools and Stowe Antique Car Show are held in late July/early August.
  • Any creemee is a good creemee, but here’s a list of some of the best according to locals.
  • The Island Line Trail starts in downtown Burlington, but you can pick it up in Colchester or leave your car in a park near the lake to get a head start.

Lucy on Lake Champlain

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