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Best Outdoor Activities in and Around Burlington

Best outdoor activities in Burlington

Ah, Vermont. The Green Mountain State, full of vast expanses of lush northern forests, top-notch skiing, quaint mountain towns that feel like stepping back in time, and the fun and funky cultural hub of Burlington. Home to the University of Vermont and situated on the shores of Lake Champlain, Burlington is “not like the rest of Vermont”, as the locals like to say. Whether you’re looking to get outdoors or to take in the sparkle on the lake over a glass of wine, there’s plenty to keep you entertained in Burlington. Here are our suggestions, to get you started.

Shelburne Farms

This 1400 acre working farm is a National Historic Landmark and is now managed for the public to visit. You can walk the 8 miles of trails, visit the farm store, participate in cheese making, or eat at the on-site restaurant. After you’ve visited all the animals, of course…

Waterfront Park

If it’s a nice day, this should be your first stop. Located at the bottom of College Street on Lake Champlain, the park offers stunning views of the lake, the marina, and during the summer, festivals and concerts by the water. Bring a lunch and sit on one of the swinging benches, or head to the boathouse and eat at Splash, a bistro, and bar on the floating docks.

Church Street Marketplace

This is Burlington’s prime place to see and be seen. The pedestrian-only street is lined with shopping, eateries, and coffee shops, and during summer days, lots of people to watch. Church Street plays host to a variety of street performers, and the Discover Jazz Festival and other events pack the place on summer weekends. Many of the best restaurants open patio and outdoor seating when the weather’s nice, but you’ll want to make a reservation or get there early.

Lake Champlain Boat Tours

Want to see the lake from a different perspective? Many companies offer boat tours of the lake, both by sailboat as well as a motor boat. A boat called The Spirit of Ethan Allen offers lunch while you cruise around the lake, or the sailing vessel Friend Ship will take you on an educational tour by wind power and teach you the history of the area. If you prefer a private outing, Let’s Go Sailing Boat Tours will take out private charter groups. 

ActiveVT Tours

Not sure you want to brave the lake or the mountains on your own, but you’re ready to be active? ActiveVT Tours will coordinate the whole adventure for you, including arranging any gear you’ll need and a great spot to eat. All you need to do is choose what kind of activity you want, and bring your energy!

Sunset Ridge to Mt. Mansfield

Speaking of energy, Mt. Mansfield is the tallest mountain in Vermont and is less than an hour from Burlington. So if you’re really feeling like seeing the state from above, take yourself up to the Sunset Ridge. The 3.3 mile hike starts with a short walk on an old CCC road leaving the parking area. It is well-traveled and well-signed, but all hikers should still carry a map. If you’re moving to Vermont for the amazing outdoors, this hike is not to be missed.
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