Situated on a sloping hillside overlooking Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains, Burlington is within an easy drive of five of Vermont’s most iconic ski areas – Stowe, Mad River Glen, Jay Peak, Sugarbush and Smuggler’s Notch. Two parts college town, one part ski town, Burlington Vt. strikes a balance between tourist attraction and a funky, very livable small city. An eclectic arts scene, more restaurants and bars than you can count, and an active, outdoors lifestyle contribute to the esthetic.
Why Burlington Vt. is Different
Burlington thrives on a ‘local first’ mentality. This isn’t a hostility to visitors, rather a decision to actively support their neighbor’s endeavors. From buying and serving Vermont grown and produced foods, to hosting and supporting Mom and Pop shops, to drinking local craft beer, the city’s ethos are decidedly bent towards maintaining a thriving local economy.
Burlington’s left-of-center leanings are displayed in college lectures, impromptu protests and naked bike rides, so don’t be dismayed if you see something out of the ordinary in this town. The same passion and commitment goes for consuming fresh powder at the local ski areas come winter. In Burlington, it’s not uncommon to overhear a passionate discussion comparing the relative merits of the various ski areas over a pint in a downtown pub.
Nearest Ski Mountain
The Courtyard Burlington Harbor overlooks Lake Champlain and the high peaks of the Adirondacks to the west. Needless to say, sunsets are spectacular from higher floor rooms. The recently built Hotel Vermont offers a boutique hotel experience with upscale dining at the Hen of the Wood Restaurant. Nearer the main routes to the ski areas a number of standard hotel options exist, including a Doubletree and a Holiday Inn.
Use the “Explore Burlington’s Best Lodging Deals” box above and right to find the Big Bear lodging choices that best fit you.
Burlington is a great place to stay if you don’t mind driving and wish to hit several of Vermont’s best ski or recreation areas. Conversely, it’s also a great place to visit on a non-ski or recreation day if you’re staying at one of the resorts. Burlington is a city built on live music so check the marquee at the Flynn when in town. Radio Bean Coffeehouse is also an excellent stop to explore eclectic music featuring intimate performances from both locals and national names.
Burlington’s restaurant scene is buzzing with great selections for all palates and budgets. Stroll up and down the pedestrian-only Church Street to find a menu and atmosphere to your liking. American Flatbread’s Burlington Hearth serves brick-fired flatbreads coupled with its on-site brewed Zero Gravity beers. Upscale diners will appreciate the Parisian fare at Leunig’s Bistro with its classic ambiance. Perhaps the most popular eatery in town is the Farmhouse Tap and Grill, which is dedicated to building a menu from only locally grown, raised and produced ingredients. Penny Cluse offers Burlington’s best breakfast, but lines form early for the ultimate ski fuel – the Bucket-o-Spuds with an egg on top.
Home to a handful of colleges, Burlington caters to a large audience looking for nightlife. The walkable downtown features a number of bars, from Irish pubs to cocktail lounges. Red Square is a swanky bar with DJ’s and an intimate feel. Reuben James, better known as RJ’s, does the wings and sports scene by day and fills up with a college crowd by night. A little outside downtown, Higher Ground brings top national touring bands to the stage. Families can see the latest movies at the Roxy Theater or visit the Flynn Center for theater and concerts.
Use the “Explore Burlington’s Best Lodging Deals” box above and right to find Burlington’s Best Lodging choices and deals. Lodging choices are pre-ordered by price, but you can enter your own search parameters.
Mardi Gras in February, is a twenty-year strong Burlington tradition that brings out throngs of revelers even on the coldest mid-winter days. A parade, live music on the Church Street Marketplace and after-hours events make this colorful celebration an event not to be missed. In July, the Vermont Brewers Festival on the waterfront is an exceptional venue for sampling the best of Vermont’s craft brews. For families in August, the Lake Champlain Maritime Festival, centered around the Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center on the waterfront features exhibits, live music, boat parades and much more.
Off Mountain Activities
Burlington is an outdoor recreation hub with easy access to four seasons of activities and adventure. From paddling the rivers to hiking the surrounding peaks, residents spend more time outdoors than locked inside. The Catamount Outdoor Family Center has an extensive trail network for winter recreation. Newest to their lineup is a fleet of fat/snow bikes, that offer a new way to explore the snowy terrain on two wheels. Close to downtown, the organic community farm, Intervale, features a network of cross country ski trails where vegetables are grown in the ‘off-season.’ And when the recreation is done, Burlington’s shopping is centered around the Church Street Marketplace which features national chains, small boutiques and a plethora of outdoor gear shops.
By Patrick Brown