Located by the shimmering shores of Lake Champlain, Burlington beckons with its charming blend of outdoor adventures, delectable eats, and laid-back vibes. If you're planning a summer weekend trip to this picturesque city, get ready for a perfect blend of activities, scenery, and flavors.
Here's your guide to a memorable Burlington getaway:
Island Rail Trail - 14 miles of Scenic Beauty:
Lace up your sneakers or hop on an eBike from Burlington Segways and hit the Island Rail Trail. This 14-mile trail offers a mesmerizing journey through lush landscapes, offering an up-close view of the region's natural beauty. You will be rewarded with views of the Green Mountains to the east and the Adirondacks across the Lake to the west.
I suggest taking the eBike route, as it allows you to traverse the entire trail and cover a significant distance. Using a regular bicycle would likely have exhausted us!
Bike Ferry and Beyond:
To continue your journey take the Local Motion Bike Ferry, operated by donation and runs on weekends from 10 AM to 6 PM throughout the summer. This ferry becomes your bridge to completing the island rail trail, transporting you and your bike across the Colchester Causeway, a brief interruption in the path allowing passage for boats.
Explore the hidden gems of South Hero, including an inviting Orchard/farm stand at Allenholm Farm that promises fresh delights. During the summer, you can find various berries, while in the fall, there's the option to pick your own apples, along with an assortment of homemade goods. Quench your thirst with a refreshing apple cider slushie or indulge in a cold maple creemee, Vermont's iconic soft-serve treat.
The Hive Cafe:
If hunger strikes, the trailer/food truck adjacent to the farm stand, the Hive Cafe, offers quick and delicious options. There, I savored a delectable grilled cheese featuring Cabot cheddar, caramelized onions, and a homemade stinger sauce – a true taste sensation!
Exploring the Southern Burlington Greenway Bike Route:
Heading southward on the Burlington bike path reveals a couple of intriguing attractions worth a quick stop if you have the time. Keep an eye out for a sun dial positioned right next to the bike path, along Lake Champlain's shores. This unique sundial, known as the Burlington Earth Clock, uses shadows to tell time – but with a twist. To make it work, you become the missing piece by standing at its center.
If you continue your path, you'll stumble upon a treehouse nestled within Oakledge Park. This special treehouse, standing 15 feet above the ground, holds the distinction of being the first universally accessible public treehouse in the world.
City Charm and Shopping
Relax at Waterfront Park:
Unwind at Waterfront Park, where the soothing sound of lapping waves and breathtaking views invite you to bask in the serenity of Lake Champlain. It's the perfect spot to rejuvenate your senses.
Shop at Church Street Marketplace:
For a dose of urban charm, meander through the bustling Church Street Marketplace, a pedestrian mall home to 100+ stores and restaurants. Treat yourself to retail therapy, and be sure to explore charming shops like some of my favorites, Ten Thousand Villages and Golden Hour Gift Co (formerly Trinket).
Before embarking on our biking adventure, we enjoyed crepes at Skinny Pancake. The meal was not only scrumptious but also perfectly suited for our upcoming journey. Choose from sweet variations like apple or blueberry, or opt for savory flavors like my choice – cheesy pesto chicken with Vermont cheddar. If you are in the mood for french fries, don't miss out on the 'skinny fries'!
As the sun dips below the horizon, treat yourself to a feast at a charming local restaurant. Craving Italian cuisine, we ventured to the rustic-chic Pascolo Ristorante, conveniently on Church Street. Our selections for the evening included 'gnocchi salsiccia,' featuring sausage, mushrooms, pomodoro, and parmesan, as well as the exquisite 'papparedelle funghi,' a medley of mushrooms, marsala, truffle cream, and rosemary. And don't forget the garlic parmesan bread – a generous portion of bread coated with cheese, perfect for sharing at the table.
Step into Nu Chocolate and treat yourself to both iced and steaming hot chocolate. Yes, you heard correctly – ICED chocolate! Imagine the richness of a chocolate frappe, transformed into a refreshing drink that's simply ideal for a sun-soaked summer afternoon.
Don't miss the quintessential Vermont dessert, a Maple Creemee, for a true taste of summer. Enhance your experience by including maple sprinkles, delightful little nuggets that add a crispy texture to your ice cream.
Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour
No visit to Burlington is complete without a stop at the Ben and Jerry’s factory. Take a quick tour and get a behind-the-scenes look at how these iconic ice creams are crafted. At the end of the tour, you'll be treated to a bountiful sampling of one of their featured ice cream creations.
Another intriguing aspect of my visit to the factory was strolling through the 'Flavor Graveyard,' where discontinued flavors find their resting place. Among the markers were a mix of enticing concoctions and those that perhaps didn't resonate as strongly – a glimpse into the world of flavor experimentation. Among the graveyard were flavors like Wild Maine Blueberry (what a shame!) and Vermonty Python.
Burlington beckons with its diverse offerings, promising a weekend filled with exploration, relaxation, and unforgettable memories.
Thanks for reading!
- The Maine Chick