Compact and beautiful, Burlington is home to a university, three colleges, a thriving arts scene, creative entrepreneurship, great shopping and a full range of 4-season outdoor pursuits. It’s no wonder this city consistently earns national awards.
Historic buildings, fountains, and a brick-paved pedestrian mall provide the backdrop for the Church Street Marketplace. Specialty shops and national retailers comingle with a wide range of restaurants and cultural venues, assuring that downtown is always lively. In warm months outdoor cafes, street vendors and entertainers keep things lively long after sundown.
In fact, the downtown is alive with outdoor markets, festivals and street entertainment throughout the year. The annual First Night Celebration kicks off the year. Then, in March it's time for the Magic Hat Mardi Gras Parade and celebration featuring 40 floats, as participants line the street to toss strands of beads, candy and moon pies. Summer festivals, lke the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival are destination events that attract visitors from throughout the Northeast.
The downtown district was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. Buildings lining the main street and surrounding blocks date from about 1820 through to 1957 and tell the story of one of the oldest commercial and mercantile districts in Vermont. Look up as you walk through the streets and you'll find early styles and later Art Deco and Streamline Moderne details too.
A short walk from Church Street takes you to the nearby waterfront - lakeside parks, ferry crossings, excursion boats and a 12.5 walking/bike path that connects to the Lake Champlain Islands by a special bike ferry in summer. All manner of conveyance is available for rent – bicycles, rollerblades, kayaks, and sailboats – and the views along and accross the lake are spectacular.
The city harbors great museums and galleries too – the Waterfront offers the go-to place to learn about the history and ecology of Lake Champlain: the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. Just above the Waterfront, Pine Street and downtown are full of contemporary galleries. The University of Vermont’s eclectic Fleming Museum is not to be missed.
For more information, www.churchstreetmarketplace.com and www.vermont.org/visiting/.