• Explore Church Street Marketplace, Burlington's vibrant downtown district with boutique shops, restaurants, and a lively arts scene.
  • Take a walk or bike ride along the Burlington waterfront for breathtaking views and recreational opportunities.
  • Visit the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center to explore exhibits on the Champlain Basin and Adirondacks, and enjoy hands-on activities for kids.

Wondering how to spend a weekend in Burlington, Vermont? Burlington is the largest city in Vermont and offers plenty of activities for travelers looking to make the most out of a weekend getaway. Nestled on the shores of Lake Champlain and surrounded by scenic mountains, Burlington provides a perfect blend of urban attractions and outdoor adventures.

From exploring historic sites and appreciating local arts and culture to hiking, biking, and water activities, travelers have many options to fill their weekend itinerary. Burlington's vibrant downtown district features boutique shops, cafés, restaurants, and a lively arts scene. The city also serves as a gateway to the nearby Green Mountains, providing easy access to outdoor pursuits, like skiing, as well as camping. For those who prefer a little more luxury, there are even some amazing glamping options in the Green Mountains.

So, with its stunning natural scenery, refreshing small-town charm, and many things to see and do, travelers can fit many memorable experiences into just one weekend in Burlington.

10 Explore Church Street Marketplace

Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, Vermont, USA
Photo By SdkbCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, Vermont, USA

Exploring the vibrant Church Street Marketplace is one of the top things to do in Burlington. The pedestrian-only Church Street Marketplace should be at the top of any traveler's Burlington weekend itinerary.

This bustling outdoor mall stretching for four blocks is Burlington's epicenter of retail and dining. Visitors can browse the boutique shops featuring Vermont-made products, pop into a café, enjoy street entertainment, or sample cuisine from the many excellent restaurants. On weekends, there's a lively farmer's market where one can pick up local produce, baked goods, crafts, and more. It's a great place to soak up Burlington's youthful, creative vibe.

  • Location: Church Street between Main Street and Pearl Street, downtown Burlington
  • Hours: Shops open daily 10 am-7 pm; restaurants/cafes open earlier and close later
  • Best Times: Weekends for farmer's market, evenings for street performers

Related: A Journey Through Church Street Marketplace: Vermont's Unique Winter Charm

9 Take A Walk Or Bike Ride Along The Burlington Waterfront

Burlington's waterfront
Photo by Ronan Furuta on Unsplash
Burlington's waterfront at night

Burlington's scenic waterfront along Lake Champlain offers breathtaking views and many recreational opportunities. Travelers can take a relaxing stroll or an invigorating bike ride along the 7.5-mile biking and walking path parallel to the shoreline. One will pass sandy beaches, lakeside parks, marinas, and other attractions.

Stop at Waterfront Park, where one can dip their toes in the lake, have a picnic, and enjoy free live music and events during summer. Travelers should take advantage of the Burlington Bike Path extending north, offering more scenic riding with views of the lake and the iconic Adirondack Mountains beyond.

  • Location: Along Lake Champlain, access from downtown Burlington
  • Length: 7.5 mile path one-way
  • Attractions: Beaches, parks, marinas, splashing fountain

8 Visit The ECHO Lake Aquarium

ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center on the Waterfront in Burlington, Vermont
Photo By:MfwillsCC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center on the Waterfront in Burlington, Vermont

The ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center makes a fun educational outing in Burlington. This interactive museum overlooking Lake Champlain offers exhibits exploring the ecology, history, and culture of the Champlain Basin and Adirondacks. Highlights include a giant wraparound tank housing native aquatic life, turtle terrariums, touch pools, and multi-sensory displays.

There are also special hands-on activities for kids, like exploring a shipwreck. Before leaving, visit the observation deck for stellar lake and mountain views. ECHO provides an enriching look at the natural wonders of Vermont's landscape.

  • Hours: Open daily 10 am-5 pm
  • Highlights: Lake exhibit, turtle terrariums, outdoor deck

7 Go Hiking Or Skiing In The Green Mountains Near Burlington

Scenic view from Owls Head Mountain, Groton, Vermont
Marc WannerCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Scenic view from Owls Head Mountain, Groton, Vermont

Visitors who are nature lovers will want to take advantage of the chance to explore the Green Mountains, just a short drive from Burlington. Camel's Hump State Park offers excellent hiking trails with panoramic alpine views leading to the distinctive Camel's Hump summit.

For a winter adventure, travelers can hit the slopes at Stowe Mountain Resort, featuring Vermont's highest peak and varied terrain, perfect for skiing and snowboarding. Bolton Valley is another great option located just 30 minutes from Burlington, with plenty of family-friendly trails. Enjoy the area's natural splendor on scenic mountain trails or alpine ski runs.

  • Camel's Hump Hiking: 5 miles round trip, moderate difficulty, incredible summit views
  • Stowe Mountain Resort Skiing: 116 trails, 485 skiable acres, terrain for all levels
  • Bolton Valley Skiing: 71 trails, 300 skiable acres, great for families

Related:10 Best Things To Do In Burlington Vermont During The Fall

6 Enjoy A Boat Tour On Lake Champlain

The bustling Lake Champlain off the shores of Burlington, Vermont, USA
Image by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay
The bustling Lake Champlain off the shores of Burlington, Vermont, USA

A boat tour on Lake Champlain is one of the best ways for travelers to admire Burlington's stunning surroundings and learn about the area's history and landmarks. Several operators, like Lake Champlain Cruises, offer narrated tours to visitors showcasing highlights like remote islands, historic lighthouses, the Adirondack coastline, and the region's wildlife.

Multi-hour tours include perks like onboard meals and live entertainment. Travelers can rent a kayak or charter a sailboat for a more active adventure. However one chooses to explore Lake Champlain, they'll gain new perspectives and appreciation for this magnificent body of water at the region's heart. Interestingly, Lake Champlain is also home to many diveable shipwrecks in some parts.

  • Tour Length: Options from 1 hour to full-day
  • Attractions: Lighthouses, islands, Adirondack views
  • Operators: Lake Champlain Cruises, Spirit of Ethan Allen

5 Visit The Shelburne Museum

Restored steamboat in Shelburne Museum, Burlington, VT
Fred MurphyCC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Restored steamboat in Shelburne Museum, Burlington, VT.

Travelers can also tour this unique museum, which showcases an impressive collection of American art spanning centuries. Housed in 39 historic structures relocated to the grounds, the Shelburne Museum's diverse exhibits feature folk art, quilts, decoys, furniture, and more. Highlights include the landmark steamboat Ticonderoga, a vintage carousel, and paintings by American impressionists.

The museum grounds also contain historic gardens and picturesque walking trails beside Shelburne Pond. An adventure tour in the Shelburne Museum transports one back through centuries of American history and culture. It's an ideal indoor activity for a rainy or relaxing weekend afternoon.

  • Location: 6000 Shelburne Rd, Shelburne
  • Hours: Open daily 10 am-5 pm
  • Top Attractions: Steamboat Ticonderoga, carousel, gardens

4 Tuck Into A Picnic In Oakledge Park

A bike path in Oakledge Park in Burlington, Vermont
Photo by NNECAPA Photo Library via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0
A bike path in Oakledge Park in Burlington, Vermont

Oakledge Park is perfect for a relaxing picnic for travelers, as it offers phenomenal lake and mountain views. This waterfront park contains sprawling green lawns, ornamental gardens, and walking paths winding among majestic oak trees. Visitors can spread a blanket and picnic anywhere they like or use one of the park's picnic tables.

After eating, they can walk down to the beach to swim, stroll along the shore, and admire the views across Lake Champlain. Enjoy free summer concerts at the covered bandstand. With its gorgeous scenery and amenities, Oakledge Park invites visitors to slow down and savor the joys of a Vermont summer afternoon.

  • Amenities: Green lawns, gardens, trails, beach access
  • Best Times: Summer evenings for sunset views

Related:10 Holiday Happenings To Find In Burlington, Vermont This Season

3 See A Show At The Flynn Center For The Performing Arts

A view of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington VT.
Photo by Onasill - Bill Badzo distributed under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.
A view of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington VT.

Visitors can catch a show at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Burlington for an evening of culture and entertainment. This premier performing arts venue presents an acclaimed lineup of music, dance, comedy, Broadway musicals, and more in its multiple theaters.

Nationally touring productions share the marquee with local performing arts groups. High-caliber performances in an elegant theater setting make for a sophisticated night out. Before or after the show, Travelers can enjoy drinks and dining at one of the many nearby award-winning restaurants. Experiencing the Flynn Center's outstanding programming is a highlight for many visitors.

  • Location: 153 Main St, Burlington
  • Shows: Music, dance, comedy, Broadway musicals

2 Go Shopping At The University Of Vermont Farmer's Market

Shoppers at Burlington farmers market
Burlington, Vermont: Shoppers walking by plant and food stands at the Burlington farmers market

Burlington’s restaurant scene is one of the reasons why Burlington should be on everyone’s travel radar. But the shopping is also worth it. Take advantage of the buzzing University of Vermont Farmers Market for fresh local fare and artisanal products. Every Saturday from May to October, over 90 vendors sell organic produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods, flowers, maple products, and crafts.

The market celebrates Vermont's abundant agriculture and culinary excellence. It's the perfect place to grab fixings for a farm-to-table picnic, chat with friendly farmers, and sample the best of Vermont's harvest. Many vendors also offer tasty, prepared foods and snacks for enjoying on-site. With its festive atmosphere and bounty of local goods, the farmers market is a highlight for many Burlington weekenders.

  • Hours: Saturdays 9 am-2 pm, May to October
  • Things to Do: Listen to music, eat prepared foods

1 Devour Some Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Half Baked tub of ice cream surrounded by candy
Photo by Hybrid Storytellers on Unsplash
Ben & Jerry's Half Baked tub of ice cream surrounded by candy

There's no better way to celebrate a weekend spent in Burlington than trying Vermont's famous Ben & Jerry's ice cream! Satisfy one's sweet tooth at the original Burlington Scoop Shop, which opened in 1978. Step up to the counter and sample inventive flavors like Cherry Garcia or Phish Food. One can also join a factory tour to learn about Ben & Jerry's history, wacky company culture, and ice cream manufacturing process.

Visitors can cap off their delicious tour with a serving of their favorite flavor. Kids and adults alike will enjoy this iconic Vermont brand. Indulging in Ben & Jerry's creamy, over-the-top ice cream creations tops off a memorable weekend in Burlington.

  • Location: 1281 Waterbury-Stowe Rd, Waterbury
  • Hours: Daily 9 am-9 pm
  • Top Attractions: Original shop, factory tour