There are so many amazing places in Vermont, it’s tough to go wrong. Here are some of the best activities in and around the beautiful Champlain Valley:
Downtown Burlington is among the most popular tourist destinations because of its amazing live music venues, lovely art galleries, and of course, the Church Street Marketplace.
Most of Church Street is paved with brick and limited to pedestrian traffic, similar to Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston. This allows people to stroll through this iconic street and explore the local eateries, boutique shopping, and eclectic street vendors. Although this area is most popular in the summer, it remains a bustling cultural center year round.
If you head down Main Street toward Lake Champlain, you’ll find the Community Boathouse where you can have lunch, rent a boat or take an excursion on the Spirit of Ethan Allen. If you jump on the adjacent bike path you can walk, blade, or bike south to Oak Ledge Park, or north to North Beach and Leddy Park, where you can stop for a swim or pack a lunch and have a picnic.
Restaurants and Breweries
The Vermont food and drink scene is epitomized by a single word: Local. The Champlain Valley’s vibrant farming tradition, diverse population, and healthy economy, all combine to give it the best collection of restaurants in the state. Here are some of our favorite restaurants in the area:
With locations in both Waterbury and Burlington, Hen of the Wood has been delighting locals and tourists since 2005. Hen of the Wood serves up delicious, stunningly presented food in a warm, inviting atmosphere with outstanding service. Don't miss their $1 oysters every day at their Burlington location from 4 pm - 5 pm and 10 pm - 11 pm.
A Single Pebble serves elevated Chinese cuisine in a cozy setting in Burlington. Served family-style, A Single Pebbly features outstanding vegetarian and meat dishes and offers a wide variety of dishes made with seitan.
The Essex Resort and Spa's newest restaurant, Junction, features an open kitchen, quirky decor, and creative tasting menus.
Blue Paddle Bistro features high-end new American cuisine in a converted home in South Hero. The Blue Paddle specializes in delicious grilled steaks and juicy burgers.
Serving eclectic American food, The Bearded Frog in Shelburne Village features an intimate dining room in the recently renovated historic, Shelburne Inn.
Vermonters take pride in craftsmanship, and this mentality is exemplified by the state’s spectacular breweries. While the Champlain Valley is home to many breweries, there are a few in particular that we’d recommended.
The Zero Gravity brewery on Pine Street in Burlington was opened in the spring of 2015, although the company has been making its delicious craft beer for over a decade.
Maybe the most well-known and popular Vermont brewery is Magic Hat in Williston. Although this company has grown dramatically in recent years, they still maintain their commitment to maintaining a high-quality product.
Last but not least, Fiddlehead in Shelburne is an excellent destination for beer enthusiasts; not only does this brewery have delicious beer, but it shares a building with Folino’s restaurant which serves (arguably) the best pizza in the Champlain Valley.
If you are looking for something a bit more adventurous, check out one of the region’s scenic hikes. For a quick trip, visit Mount Philo; located about 20 mins from Burlington in Charlotte, VT, this quick, 2-mile hike is perfect for the whole family. For a more intense climb, the highest peak in the state, Mt. Mansfield, is located in the picturesque towns of Underhill and Stowe, about 45 mins from Burlington. At 4,388 ft, the summit offers spectacular views into New Hampshire, New York, and Canada.
While summer and fall are amazing in Vermont, many would say winter is when the real fun starts. Vermont offers several world-class skiing destinations easily accessible from the Champlain Valley. Whether it be family-friendly Smugglers’ Notch, luxurious Stowe Mountain Resort, or the rugged terrain of Mad River Glen, there is something for everyone here.
If you don’t mind a longer drive, the legendary Jay Peak Resort is located about an hour and a half northwest of Burlington. “Jay,” as the locals call it, typically receives the most snow in the northeast United States and has some of the most epic terrain in New England, as well as an enormous indoor waterpark that is open year-round.