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What to See and Do in Burlington, Vermont

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Burlington is for the outdoorsy, and many of its attractions are, well, outdoors. This is the kind of place you can ski 5 resorts in 5 days, all in snow-covered New England villages that make you feel like you've walked into postcard. Or, in warmer months, go hiking the Long Trail, apple picking, or camping on the Lake Champlain islands.

Nearby ski resorts


An easy 20-minute drive from Burlington is Bolton Valley. The terrain of Rob and Eric DesLauriers, who starred in dozens of ski movies, Bolton offers extensive and scenic beginner and intermediate trails, plus gentle glades to introduce newcomers to tree skiing, as well as a network of cross-country trails. At the other end of the spectrum, Mad River Glen, also known as "Ski it if You Can," has one of the nation's only remaining single chairs; it was replaced a few years ago, as shareholders were determined to keep it.


  • Bolton Valley, 4302 Bolton Valley Access Road, Bolton Valley, VT 05477; Tel: +1 802 434 3444; Website: Bolton Valley

  • Mad River Glen, 62 Mad River Resort Road, Waitsfield, VT 05673; Tel: +1 802 496 3551; Website: Mad River Glen

Grand Isle


Many visitors hear Grand Isle mentioned as a neighborhood and never know that it's actually an island. An easy drive across a causeway and only minutes from downtown Burlington, it's like a whole different world, with just a couple of restaurants and a park. Consider spending the day crab fishing in the lake, or simply walk the trails and the pebbly beach lined with round rocks smoothed by waves. The few spots to eat are excellent. Try Zach's Cafe, which is located inside Grand Isle Art Works, and surrounded by jewelry, arts, textiles, and more from local artisans.


  • Grand Isle State Park, 36 E. Shore, Grand Isle, VT 05458; Tel: +1 802 372 4300; Website: Grand Isle State Park

  • Grand Isle Art Works, 259 Route 2, Grand Isle, VT 05458; Tel: +1 802 378 4591; Website: Grand Isle Art Works


The famous Long Trail


Designed and painstakingly constructed by the Green Mountain Club between 1910 and 1930, the Long Trail is the oldest long-distance trail in the nation. It follows the Green Mountains from Massachusetts to Canada, and crosses Vermont's highest peaks. If you're feeling adventurous, spend a night in one of the 70 cabins along the way, with 1 atop Smuggler's Notch resort. The Long Trail is said to be the inspiration for the Appalachian Trail, and runs side by side with it in southern Vermont. The Green Mountain Club provides excellent guidance on where to find trailheads, plus the trail's history.


  • The Green Mountain Club, 4711 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury Center, VT 05677; Tel: +1 802 244 7037; Website: The Green Mountain Club

  • Smuggler's Notch Resort, 4323 Route 108S, Smugglers Notch, VT 05464; Tel: +1 800 419 4615; Website: Smuggler's Notch Resort


Apple picking


Apple orchards are a Vermont staple, and many surround Burlington. Among the greenest is Shelburne Orchards, which is also known for the popular “Pick for Your Neighbor” event, where visitors can pick and pay for apples, and leave them to be distributed to families in need by the Vermont Foodbank. Another fun favorite is Adams Apple Orchard, where on fall weekends you pick to the music of a live band, and almost every weekend offers an activity; from make-your-own-cider, to petting zoos.



Island camping


Campsites are all around Burlington, and some of the most adventurous are found in the middle of Lake Champlain. Knight Island, Woods Island, and Burton, all Vermont State Parks, offer campsites and/or tents. Take the Burton Island Ferry, or request a delightfully informal shuttle from Driftwood Tours.


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