Vermont’s largest city is inseparable from the state’s crown jewel: Lake Champlain. In fact, the best way to approach the Queen City is by water. Arriving by ferry lets you imagine how the bustling burg looked centuries ago to incoming Indians, soldiers, merchants — and tourists?
Burlington Bike Path
The Burlington Bike Path runs for miles along the city’s shoreline, north through Colchester and out onto a narrow old railroad causeway that connects Chittenden County with the Champlain Islands. The Island Line Trail sustained major flood damage in the spring of 2011 but should be repaired soon. The southern terminus of the Burlington Bike Path is at Oakledge Park; from there, you can connect to the South Burlington Bike Path. Photo: Matthew Thorsen
Vermont Lake Monsters
The crack of the bat, the call of the hot-dog vendor — it wouldn’t be summer without minor-league baseball. In Burlington, the Vermont Lake Monsters — formerly the “Reds,” then the “Expos” — play through Labor Day at UVM Centennial Field. The ballpark, which is more than 100 years old, is a jewel in the middle of a city neighborhood that once hosted the likes of Barry Larkin, Ken Griffey, Jr., Orlando Cabrera and Jason Bay. Photo: Matthew Thorsen
North Beach is where Burlingtonians go to swim and hardy out-of-towners park their campers. Leddy Beach is a little bit further north, but both beaches are within walking distance of the Burlington Boathouse. To the south is Red Rocks — a popular swimming and sunset spot — and Oakledge Park, which also offers tennis, bocce and picnic pavilions. You have to pay to bring in a vehicle but there’s no charge if you’re self-propelled. The bike path is the best way to get to all of Burlington’s beaches. Don’t forget your sunscreen. Photo: Andy Duback
Burlington Farmers' Market
Got kale? They usually do at the Burlington Farmers Market. Area food producers take over Burlington City Hall Park every Saturday morning throughout the growing season in a democratic display of edible innovation. Just-picked fruit, veggies and flowers practically sell themselves, but there are local livestock farmers, too, selling fresh meat raised the old-fashioned way. Don’t cook? Homemade baked goods, ethnic treats are the Queen City’s fast food. Photo: Matthew Thorsen
Church Street Marketplace
Downtown Burlington is dominated by the Church Street Marketplace, a pedestrian-only promenade enlivened by shops, restaurants, food vendors and street performers. When the weather’s nice, and the cafe tables come outside, you can get dinner with a side of people-watching. It’s the closest thing in Vermont to an Italian piazza. No Vespas on the cobblestones, though. Looking for all of the above off the beaten path? Check out the Pine Street corridor in the city's South End. Photo: Matthew Thorsen
ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center
What’s the largest fish in Lake Champlain — not including the legendary monster “Champ?” Check out the 40-pound lake sturgeon on view as part of the Lake Champlain Aquatic Habitat. And make it at feeding time, which happens three times a week. With interactive experiences and inventive exhibits, the ECHO Center makes environmental education as engaging as its view.
Community Sailing Center
Lake Champlain is a sailor’s paradise, but only after you’ve learned the ropes. Don’t know port from starboard? The Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center gets adults and kids properly launched through camps, classes and clinics. No jibe. The nonprofit promotes the benefits of “human-powered boating” and long-term stewardship of Lake Champlain. You can volunteer or store a boat there, too.
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