Burlington, Vermont, is one of the greatest small cities in the United States. Set on the hilly shore of Lake Champlain and backed by the stunning Green Mountains, this city of approximately 42,000 people has much more to offer than you’d first expect.
Its proximity to the mountains and its lakeside setting make it a brilliant place to stay (and live) for outdoor enthusiasts. In addition, Burlington is a university and college city and features a bustling nightlife. Then, there are the craft stores and the specialty boutiques, and the many great microbreweries that dot the city center and the greater Burlington area. The city’s main pedestrian commercial artery, award-winning Church Street, is lined with bars and restaurants as well as shops of all kinds.
Hiking is an obviously popular thing to do around Burlington—Camel’s Hump and Mount Mansfield lie a short drive away—but Lake Champlain makes for a fine alternative to a day in the mountains. The Burlington Waterfront is where you can relax and read a book, grab a bite to eat at a floating restaurant, ride bicycles and enjoy one of the many festivals that take place in Battery Park.
Lake Champlain cruises are amazing as well.
Lake Champlain Cruise
Forming the border between Vermont and New York State, Lake Champlain is the United States’ fifth-largest freshwater lake, after the five Great Lakes. When my aunt and uncle were visiting a couple of weeks ago, we headed out onto the lake on one of the many scenic cruises that are on offer.
There are a few companies that offer scenic boat cruises on Lake Champlain—and there is a ferry that commutes between Burlington and Port Kent, New York State, as well. Options, as is the case everywhere in the United States, are plentiful and range from private charters to sailboat tours to cruises on larger vessels. There are afternoon cruises, sunset and dinner cruises, and even wedding reception cruises.
We booked tickets to the Northern Lights boat; tickets that each cost no more than $16 for a 1.5-hour afternoon cruise. The Northern Lights boat consists of two decks and is a modern replica of one of the lake steamboats that once traveled around the lake in the 19th and early-20th century.
The boat trip was basically a big loop along the lakeshore and across the middle of the lake. However, 1.5 hours isn’t nearly enough to see Lake Champlain in its entirety. It is, after all, 125 miles (200 kilometers) long and 14 miles (23 kilometers) wide at its widest point. Therefore, if you want to explore more of the lake, possibly at your own pace, it is definitely recommended to rent a kayak (or bring your own) and spend a day or two paddling.
The views were absolutely fabulous…