Series: Planning for 36 Hours in Burlington, VT

About the series: Welcome to our ongoing travel series. These are all posts written by planning students and professionals about what to do in a given city when looking for Brunch, a Brew, or a good idea on a Budget. To cap it all off, we include a fun planning fact!   

About the visit: Whether you’re a foodie, an arts enthusiast, an outdoor adventurer, or anything in between Burlington has something to offer. Only a 3-hour drive from Boston, Burlington is located on the shores of picturesque Lake Champlain and combines the amenities of a large city with the charm of a small town. Many travelers are attracted by Burlington’s access to the great outdoors but the city also boasts an impressive array of museums, concert venues, restaurants, and local boutiques. Read on for a few of my favorite Burlington (and closely surrounding area) spots!

Misery2
Misery Loves Co. located just outside of Burlington in Winooski, VT serves up a rotating farm-to-table brunch menu. Photo Credit: Savorytravels.com

While not technically located in Burlington, the cleverly named Misery Loves Co. is too good not to include on this list. Both head chefs have been nominated for James Beard Best Chef in the Northeast awards and as you’d suspect their brunch menu does not disappoint. Their menu is seasonal and therefore subject to change, but don’t miss their tater tots, complete with smoked char, trout roe, and crème fraiche.

Brew  

Foam
Foam Brewers opened in 2016 on the shores of Lake Champlain and serves a varied and ever-changing lineup of beers. Photo credit: SevenDaysVT

Like seemingly every other place in the nation, craft beer has exploded in Burlington and in Vermont more generally (there are 60 breweries on the Vermont Brew Trail). While there are many options to choose from, any visit to Burlington would be incomplete without a trip to Foam Brewers. Head to their waterfront location and try to find a seat on the often-crowded patio to take in the views of Lake Champlain while sipping a craft brew. Their beer selection rotates and includes traditional New England IPAs as well as some funkier sour options for the more adventurous drinkers. Stop by and see what is on tap!

Budget 

BCA
Burlington City Arts located on Church Street is free and features three stories of exhibitions, including this past installation by artists Crystal Wagner. Photo Credit: Hifructose 

If window shopping on Church Street doesn’t sound appealing, stop in at Burlington City Arts (BCA). Their galleries feature local, national, and international artists and are free to the public. Not only is BCA a budget-friendly option for the arts enthusiast, they also host events, run art camps, and provide studio space for local artists. BCA has been a mainstay of the Burlington Arts scene for more than 30 years and is definitely worth a visit!

Fun Planning Fact 

Church street
Today Church Street Marketplace is a thriving public space, but 50 years ago cars drove down these blocks in central Burlington. Photo Credit: Church St. Marketplace

Pedestrian malls were trendy in planning during the 60s and 70s as a way of trying to entice customers back to downtown areas and away from large indoor shopping malls. While Burlington’s Church Street Marketplace was officially opened in 1981, the idea of closing the street to vehicular traffic began a decade earlier.

In July 1970, the Burlington Downtown Merchants Association sponsored a one-day event meant to show the community what life could be like with a pedestrian mall on Church Street. It took a decade of negotiating and planning, but eventually, the mall was opened to the public and has mostly been a success, drawing 3 million visitors to downtown Burlington each year.

Featured Image: Lake Champlain from the shores of Burlington. Photo Courtesy of Amy Sechrist.


About the Author: Amy Sechrist is a first-year Master’s candidate in the Department of City and Regional Planning at UNC-Chapel Hill with a concentration in Housing and Community Development. Her research interests include affordable housing, planning for equity, and the intersection of gender and planning.