Escape From New York: A Guide To Your Long Weekend Getaway In Burlington, Vermont
Nestled along the shores of Lake Champlain, using the Green and Adirondack Mountains as though they were bookends, Burlington, Vermont is one of the best-kept secrets on the East Coast. It is your ambassador to the state’s gorgeous landscape and distinct culture. Burlington is also a leader in progressive politics, an early adapter of the organic food and environmental movements, and home to four colleges and universities.
The Waterfront Park is one of this city’s biggest focal points. This is where Burlington plays. From the late spring through early fall, this is a must-see destination. Lake Champlain and the surrounding mountains regularly provide stunning, cinematic sunsets and sunrises that need to be seen in order to be believed. The park has plenty of green fields to romp though, a sailing academy, boat cruises and a cozy wooden dock peppered with loveseat swings. Throughout the summer, there are plenty of activities from concerts to festivals. It is also the home to the city’s interactive, kid-friendly city aquarium, The Echo Science Center.
The Burlington Bike Path is one of the earliest adapters of the rail trail bike path movement, and it is easy to see why it is one of the most popular. There are over fourteen miles of serene settings as the path plays peek-a-boo along the Lake Champlain shoreline. It carries you through neighborhoods, backyards, parks, woods, beaches and wetlands. The path comes to a spectacular stop with the end of a jetty in the middle of Champlain. During the late spring and summer, a ferry service is provided to transport you over to the beautiful Champlain Islands where you can pick up the path again and carry on.
Endowed with a collection of over 150,000 works and artifacts on its 45-acre campus, the Shelburne Museum is one of the most eclectic museums in the country. The majority of works on display are located in 18th and 19th-century houses sprinkled throughout the campus. Several contain the works of some of America’s best folk art and impressionist painters. The museum also hosts a lighthouse, a functional turn-of-the-century carousel, steam engine trains, a tiny 18th-century village, a circus building that has to be seen in order to be believed and its crown jewel: the land-locked, 2,200-foot steamboat, the Ticonderoga. Shelburne Museum, 6000 Shelburne Road, Shelburne VT, USA
It is very rare to encounter something as odd and magnificent as Shelburne Farms. It is hard to call something this spectacular a ‘farm,’ but that’s what it is, replete with cows, chickens, pigs, tractors and hay rides. Members of the Vanderbilt family commissioned park landscapist extraordinaire Fredrick Law Olmstead and architect Robert Henderson Roberts to transform these 3,800 acres into a magical wonderland of farm and forestry. The centerpiece of the estate is a farmhouse that has more in common with a castle. The grounds are palatial, filled with magical rolling hills that never seem to end. Sitting high atop a hill overlooking the farm and Lake Champlain is simply heavenly.
Burlington is your basecamp to the great outdoors. All your skiing and winter sport needs can be easily found at Stowe Mountain Lodge, Sugarbush Resort and Jay Peak Resort. All are just short drives away. There is also plenty of hiking trails throughout the state and the region. The Long Trail, the oldest long distance trail in the US, is nearby. Camping grounds can be found as close as in Burlington itself — the North Beach Campground has many camping options and is centrally located to everything in town.
The Intervale Center is one of the largest inner-city cooperative farms in the nation. It encompasses over 350 acres of city land. Its mission is to create a local community food system that not only produces food but also educates. They delve into subjects on new farm incubation, farm business development, agricultural market development and land stewardships, the education of the viability of farming, sustainability and the working to create synergies with local stores and open-air green markets. They also have a super cool red barn to rent out for special occasions.
Church Street runs six blocks right through the middle of the city and keeps Burlington’s commercial heartbeat animated. It is also where the city lets its collective hair down. During the warm months, this traffic-free street is awash with foot traffic. It hosts a generous range of bars, high-end retail and eating possibilities. On weekends, the street is alive with the chatter from al fresco dining, the sound of live music wafting out of the local clubs and talented street artists performing along route. This is a must-visit evening destination. Nectar’s, Red Square, Sweet Waters, and Rí Rá Irish Pub all shine.
Flynn Center for the Performing Arts is Burlington’s culture hub for the performing arts. This beautiful, cozy, Art Deco theatre holds 1,400 plus in the main venue. It hosts on any given night dance, performance art, comedy, theatre and music. The Flynn also houses an art gallery and a smaller space for more intimate settings. This theater is over 80 years old, and an impressive list of local, national and international performers have graced its stage.
Lake Champlain is one of the largest lakes on the East Coast. Because of its size, it offers a multitude of activities, whether it’s a fishing trip, sailing or lovely sunset dinner cruise. Nearby, North and Hero Beaches provide a wide range of sporting pleasures, such as swimming, kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding, biking, volleyball and beach tennis. For purchasing or renting sporting gear and accessories, there are no better places to visit than Skirack and Outdoor Gear Exchange.