This is a list of five of the best things to do in Burlington VT according to this TravelingMom and her family. All of the items on this list are best to be done during the summer months, but some can also be a lot of fun during the winter.
My parents often took us to Vermont for holidays when I was growing up. We would often visit during the winter months. So up until recently, I didn’t know much about how cool it can be to visit the area when the snow is gone. Yes, even without skiing!
On my childhood trips, we usually bypassed Burlington. I don’t think there was a reason. We simply never thought of Burlington while planning a trip.
Join our NEW Facebook Community: Making Travel Easier. We promise to always tell you what we would tell our best friend -- what works for kids, what doesn’t and what you need to know before you go to have the Best. Family. Vacation. Ever. Our group of travel experts are ready to answer your travel questions!
Now, as an adult with a husband and two sons, I finally turned realized we should make Burlington one of the stops during one of our trips.
All About Burlington
The story of this town goes way back to 1865. Eventually it grew to become Vermont’s largest city. Its two iconic streets were converted to a pedestrian mall. Now, the area is known as Church Street Marketplace.
But to me, the best part about it is all of the opportunities that nature and the landscape offer. It is located between mountains and next to Lake Champlain, making it an amazing home base for hiking, watersports or simply exploring.
Coming during the summer also offers some other perks besides being able to explore the outdoors. Locals enjoy festivals throughout the summer. Plus, Burlington is said to be #2 for the title “Best Bike City in the US.”
Fun Things to Do in Burlington VT with Kids this Summer
1. Take a Bike Tour
There are many trails to go through after you get your bike rental. Since I have two boys who love biking, I ended up deciding on the Island Line Trail. It is a 26-mile trail starting in Burlington. From there, it goes all the way up to Canada.
However, we didn’t do the whole thing. We only reached Allenholm Farms, which is on the first island. The trip took us on a fun bike ferry ride on Lake Champlain. We also decided to stop at a local petting zoo that both of my sons loved. While my son had fun with the animals, my husband and I took a break at the small Farmer Cafe.
2. Explore Main Street and Church Street Marketplace
This is where you find most of the shops, restaurant, and cafes. This uncovered outdoor pedestrian shopping and dining mall was initially created in 1981. In it, you will find almost 90 storefronts that include retailers of clothing, housewares, and books.
Head here if you get disoriented. It is extremely easy to get anywhere in Burlington from this street.
This marketplace might be only four blocks long, but it will keep you entertained for at least a couple of hours. We made it our main place to go to for food after our adventures each day.
3. Shelburne Museum
This is a fun yet weird museum. That is, it isn’t focused on one topic like science or art. Encompassing a little bit of everything, it has an emphasis on local history. It is also really big. It consists of 40 buildings spread over 45 acres of land.
Impressionist pieces of art from amazing artists like Degas, Cassatt, Manet, and Monet fill the walls. There is also American art like quilts. You will find transplanted 1950s era homes, a railroad station, and even a steamboat. As if all of that wasn’t enough, there are artifacts such as old firearms, horse-drawn carriages, and old toys.
The Shelburne Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $25 for adults, $17 for youths ages 13 to 17 and $12 for children ages 5 to 12, smaller kids enter for free.
Note: These fees are for May to October 2018. Check their website if you are reading this after those dates.
4. ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center
You will find this one in the waterfront neighborhood. This marine-focused children’s museum includes tons of interactive exhibits. And all of them are geared toward teaching locals and visitors about the importance of caring for water bodies. They cover many waterways, but focus on Lake Champlain.
A theater features educational films every day. There are also educational programs and temporary exhibits with collaborations with organizations like NASA and camps.
ECHO is open year-round from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Currently, admission is $14.50 for adults and $11.50 for children.
5. Green Mountain Audubon Center
You might need a car for this one. It is located 19 miles southeast of downtown Burlington. This is a park of over 255 acres encompassing a variety of habitats. Therefore, you get all sorts of different sceneries and have more chances to see animals in the wild.
If you have older kids, then definitely take the time to explore the 5 miles of nature trails. If you stop by the Education Barn on Sherman Hollow Road and grab a map, you won’t get lost. The best part about this place is that you can enter for free. However, donations are encouraged.
This is one of the best parks to visit in Vermont with kids.
I know that Burlington has much more to offer. But out of all of the places and activities available, these were my family’s favorite ones.