48 Hours in Burlington, VT

A couple of weekends back, Cam and I took a trip up north to the Burlington, Vermont area. This was the first time I had been, other than a quick pit stop on the way home from Montreal. It's a lengthier drive from where we are in New England at, give or take, 4 hours long. However after the weekend we had, it was well worth the travel time.

Burlington and the surrounding area was a bit of a mystery to me. I knew the University of Vermont was there, that it sat on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, and I had the impression there was an artsy earthy vibe in the city. While that may be true to a degree, it was charming and vibrant like many other mid-size cities in New England. It very much reminded me of a larger Portsmouth, NH with plenty of shopping, restaurants, museums, and more! Plus, it's radiant during the fall.

We ended up staying about 20 minutes out of the city in Charlotte, VT, which provided us with a wonderful opportunity to experience the surrounding area. There are rolling plains of farmland and small mom and pop shops on the way to getting into the city. It is beautiful! And though we were only there for two nights, that gave us plenty of time to get a taste of the area and see what it's all about. Here's the itinerary we created:


Coffee & Brunch Fix
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and with the busy day up ahead it is crucial to get a good meal in. We ended up getting into the city around 9:30AM, but with how popular going out to breakfast is on a Saturday, most places have 1+ hour waits. We originally stopping in Penny Cluse Cafe based on a recommendation, but weren't up for that wait. After settling on a familiar favorite, The Friendly Toast (a restaurant out in our area), we were able to cut down the wait time by eating outside. We had hefty meals and were back out and about around 11:00AM. This was perfect timing because at this point plenty of shops where open on Church Street.

Shop Around Church Street
We went up a few blocks to Church Street Marketplace; the shopping hub of the city. There are clothing stores, more restaurants, and specialty stores galore. A few of my favorites were Frog Hollow Craft Center, Lake Champlain Chocolates, FatFace US, and Kiss The Cook. Frog Hollow is a nonprofit gallery that sells a variety of Vermont-crafted pieces. There are some really unique items there. Lake Champlain Chocolates is a must if you love chocolate. Some chocolates include local flavors, like maple. FatFace has so many great clothing items perfect for the cozy months. They often have great sales going on, too! As a hobby chef and baker, I had to stop at Kiss The Cook kitchen store. They have all you could need, including a wall of cookie cutters. I picked up a few for the holiday season.

Church Street Mural
After shopping til ya drop, make your way over to the Church Street "Everyone Loves a Parade!" mural. It is so meticulously made and detailed, while showcasing the rich history of the area. It is located down one of the alleyways off of Church Street on Leahy Way right near Banana Republic.

Ethan Allen Homestead
After a leisurely morning, we hopped in the car and headed north to the Ethan Allen Homestead. This historical site boasts the home and land once occupied by Ethan Allen (an important dude in Revolutionary War and Vermont history) and his family. Now you can walk around the property, have a tour of the home, learn about early-Vermont life, as well as attend living history events hosted by the museum. This is a seasonal museum only open from May to October. Worth a stop by for history buffs!

Oakledge Park
Oakledge Park is a large area with traditional green space, a playground, sports facilities, and shore front. Admittedly we did a quick touch and go here where we walked along Lake Champlain. While brief, it was very serene and peaceful. Great picnicking location!

As we were driving away from the park, we noticed Switchback Brewery to our left. Switchback is an awesome local brewery with a variety of ales and a tasting room. Whether you're going to Switchback, Zero Gravity, or Foam; the brew scene is booming in this city. For those that aren't a fan of beer, Citizen Cider (one of my faves) is in town and Shelburne Vineyard is a short drive away.

World's Tallest Filing Cabinet 
Down the road from Switchback is the World's Tallest Filing Cabinet. So on our way out of Burlington to Shelburne we just had to make a pit stop to see this 38 feet of randomness. It's just one of those things. 😂

For the afternoon and evening we spent the remainder of our time in Shelburne. Our first stop was at Shelburne Farms. This 1,400 acre working farm is beyond impressive. Here you can learn about the day-to-day operations, the history, how to make cheese, and more. They offer a variety of tours and opportunities to learn about this expansive place. The barns are architecturally out of this world and look very much like something out of Harry Potter. On this property there is even a luxurious inn and restaurant that overlooks Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains. If you're willing to splurge, snag a reservation for dinner here!

For you wine lovers out there, this is a great place to sit back and relax at, while tasting smooth wines. Not only do they offer tastings, but tours as well. With great service and a gorgeous setting, this is sure to be a treasured moment on this trip... it certainly was for us! The Lake View White was our favorite.


Due to extremely cool temperatures and impending rain, we didn't get a chance to take a boat ride on Lake Champlain. If you are able to, I'm sure it would be a beautiful experience; perhaps best done during warmer months. There's a dock in Charlotte, VT that ferries passengers over to Essex, NY. No doubt it'd be stunning on that side of the lake. There are options for for cruises, as well, including a brunch one!

Shelburne Museum 
This was an impromptu addition to our itinerary and it easily was my favorite thing we did. After driving past it a few times, be were intrigued by all the buildings and wanted to see what it was all about. On this 45 acre property are 39 exhibition buildings, 25 of which where relocated to add to the museum. This includes classic New England colonials, a meeting house, lighthouse, the Ticonderoga steamboat, the old Shelburne train station, cafe, and much more. Each of these buildings hold exhibits and antiques appropriate to the time period they cover. I am a sucker for museums and learning about history; especially New England history, so this was the perfect place for me. Two days are recommended to get through everything and I can see why. We got through a lot within a half day, but honestly I could have spent much more time there. 


In the spirit of historical items, we stopped at a few antique shops. There are so many in this area, so you won't be hard pressed to find one. That's what I call a nice way to end a trip!

Have you been to the Burlington, VT area? What's your favorite thing to do around there?