Travel 2022: Small-town charm with world-class outdoor activities in Burlington, Vt.

The Church Street Marketplace is a popular outdoor shopping and dining mall in downtown Burlington. - Magrino Public Relations
The Church Street Marketplace is a popular outdoor shopping and dining mall in downtown Burlington. - Magrino Public Relations

SUMMER TRAVEL 2022 Looking for a city that boasts local shops, breweries, restaurants and outdoor activities? Look no further than Burlington, Vermont — just three hours from the Capital Region by car.

“Burlington is tough to beat, especially when the weather gets warmer,” said Jeff Lawson, director of the destination marketing organization Hello Burlington. “There’s nothing quite like Lake Champlain.”

The 107-mile-long lake is the 13th-largest lake by area in the United States, covering a cool 490 square miles. It touches parts of two states (Vermont and New York) and one Canadian province (Quebec).

In addition to swimming, activities such as paddleboarding, sailing, fishing and cruising are possible on Lake Champlain during the warmer months.

“Getting out on the water is really easy,” Lawson said. “You can rent kayaks, sailboats, paddle boards and even learn to sail. The Spirit of Ethan Allen [offers] a beautiful cruise, especially at sunset.”

Visitors can also see the city by bike, according to Diana Wood, marketing and outreach manager of the city of Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront department. “You can rent bikes or use the city’s Greenride bikeshare to take a tour of the” bike path that runs along the Lake Champlain shoreline, Wood said. “You can also stop along the way for creemees [Vermont slang for soft-serve ice cream],” said Wood.

THINGS TO DO
Wood also encourages people to visit one of her favorite spots in Burlington, the Intervale Center, a 360-acre campus of farmland, trails and open space along the Winooski River.

The center stretches to the Ethan Allen Homestead, a historic house museum and former residence of the soldier who fought in the French and Indian War and American Revolution. Visitors can also climb the Ethan Allen Tower, a 40-foot-tall monument.

“It’s a magical place to hike in the summer,” Wood said of the Intervale Center. “The tower will give you a spectacular view of the city, lake and mountains, so you’ll get a feel for what the valley looked like before the city grew around it.”

Wood also recommends visiting Burlington’s public, universally accessible community treehouse at Oakledge Park.

“It’s a wheelchair-accessible, giant tree fort that’s open all year,” Wood said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

For those looking for something off the beaten path, Lawson recommends they venture outside the Queen City.

“If you head out to Colchester, you’ll get beautiful views of the Champlain Islands along the bike path,” he said of the nearly 11-mile trail. “Shelburne also has great offerings, including a museum that has the largest selection of folk art.”

The Shelburne Museum, just 10 minutes south of Burlington, is home to a collection of 18th- and 19th-century American folk art on its 45-acre campus. It boasts 39 different buildings, some of which are historic and were relocated to the museum, including a carousel, steamboat, Shaker barn and more.

“There’s nothing like the Shelburne Museum anywhere else,” Lawson said. “It’s the more unique experience you’ll find.”

Lawson also recommends visiting one of Burlington’s many breweries, including Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, Switchback Brewing Company and Foam Brewers, among others. According to the Vermont Brewers Association, more than 1 million people patronize breweries in Vermont each year.

“Vermont craft beer is a category of its own, and Burlington is the epicenter of that,” he said. “We have so many great breweries and many restaurants serve beer from around the state, too.”

‘BEST PUBLIC SQUARE’
A visit to Burlington isn’t complete without going to Church Street — a four-block National Register Historic District brick, pedestrian street that was named the “Best Public Square” in the United States for 2022, according to USA Today.

“It’s four blocks of shops and restaurants that are almost entirely locally owned,” said Julia Chalmers, marketing coordinator at Church Street Marketplace and Love Burlington. “It’s the heart and core of our city, and center of downtown.”

Church Street boasts more than 100 businesses, according to Chalmers, making it a top attraction for shopping, dining as well as enjoying live music. This summer, Church Street will be home to many local events, including the 15th annual Festival of the Fools, which is scheduled for Aug. 5-7.

The festival features acrobatics, dancers, sketch comedy and music by international street performers.

Events and concerts will also return to City Hall Park this summer, including the Twilight Series concerts, Summer Concert Series and BTV Market featuring local artists and makers every Saturday through October.

The 2022 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival is slated for June 3-12 and will be held at various venues throughout Burlington.

“There’s always something going on in Burlington during the summer,” Chalmers said.

CITY REBOUNDS
Since Burlington relies heavily on tourism, the height of the COVID-19 pandemic caused many difficulties for city businesses.

“The Burlington community rallied behind local businesses by shopping online, getting takeout and curbside pickup,” Chalmers said. “The city also closed streets down to allow for outdoor dining, which really helped them.”
Tourism began to rebound when pandemic restrictions were lifted statewide, according to Chalmers.

“Things started to pick up in Burlington during the summer of 2020, and last summer things felt back to normal,” she said. “The opening of the Canadian border also really helped the city rebound.”

This city is ramping up toward another busy summer season.

“There’s so much pent-up demand for vacations to Burlington, so we’re really excited for summer,” said Chalmers. “We’re expecting things to be back to normal this year, if not better, and we’re excited to welcome everyone to the city.”

For information about attractions and events in Burlington, visit enjoyburlington.com or loveburlington.org.

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Categories: Life and Arts, Summer Travel 2022

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