A weekend in Burlington, Vermont is exactly the fall getaway you are looking for.
No joke. Get there ASAP.
Sitting comfortably in the northwest corner of the state, nestled on the shores of Lake Champlain, sits Burlington. This small city radiates a cool vibe of crunchy, healthy and happy. It’s a college town, a craft beer mecca, a local food epicenter, and an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.
Burlington was my home for 9 years, and my absolute favorite place to be in the fall. September and October are simply glorious, and November isn’t half bad either! The weather is warm(ish) during the day and cold at night. Days are sunny, and the excitement of the leaves changing colors permeates every part of the town. Restaurants, breweries, and bars celebrate with special fall beer. Farms have harvest festivals. And the mountains glow with orange, red and yellow.
There are so many things to do in Burlington, VT; it’s a city that is enjoyable anytime of the year, though in my opinion, the Fall is the best time for a perfect weekend.
Here is a potential itinerary for a weekend in Burlington. A weekend filled with food, drinks, and outdoor adventures.
Let’s assume you are arriving Friday evening. There are a lot of hotels in Burlington; I recommend Hotel Vermont or the Hilton Burlington– both options are smack dab in the middle of downtown. Once you are settled, head over to Church Street, a pedestrian only promenade, for drinks and appetizers at a few of the best places in town. This will give you a nice little taste of the delicious food and drinks around.
6pm – Church and Main
Start at this bottom of Church Street restaurant for a warm spiced cider drink, while sitting under the heat lamps outside. Order the calamari or curry mussels (my favorite) to share.
Here is some more info on Church and Main.
7:30pm – Leunigs Lounge
Sip a maple manhattan in the upstairs lounge of this classic Burlington restaurant while nibbling on a plate of Vermont artisan cheeses.
Here is everything you need to know about Leunigs Lounge.
9pm – El Cortijo
Time for a ‘farm-to-taco’ experience at El Cortijo. Enjoy any of the fresh made margaritas (the prickly pear margarita is my fav) and a couple of tacos (carnitas, chorizo and pescado are my go-tos).
Head over to the El Cortijo website for details.
10:30pm – Red Square, Juniper Bar OR Bed
If you still have the energy, and the weather allows, sit outside at Red Square. While inside tends to be a pulsing blur of drunk college students, the tables outside are enjoyable. Not your scene? Juniper Bar in the lobby of Hotel Vermont is a bit more classy with great cocktails. OR go to bed and rest up for a full day tomorrow!
10am — Farmer’s Market
Start your morning with a stroll through the Burlington Farmer’s Market. It’s a hodge-podge of hot food, fresh produce, locally made goods, and artisan handicrafts. It runs through the end of October in City Hall Park. There is always a band playing, tons of people (and dogs) around, and lots of Vermont goodies to try.
From the Farmer’s Market walk over to City Market, the local co-op, and pick up a freshly made sandwich to go.
*Tip – choose a Myers bagel with hummus and all the veggies you want for the most filling and cheapest option. Otherwise, all of the sandwiches are great!
1pm — Hike Mt. Philo
Enjoy the colorful view of the Champlain Valley from the top of Mt. Philo. Mt. Philo, in Charlotte, is a quick two mile climb to a grassy knoll overlooking the valley. It’s accessible via car as well as foot, so everyone can make it up this mountain in some form. At the top, sit in a chair gazing out over Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains in New York.
3pm — Shelburne Farms
Shelburne Farms is working farm just south of Mt. Philo. It’s an expansive space bursting with color in the fall. Park at the visitor’s center and walk your way past the farm barn, through the trails and to the Inn. Sit in one of the adirondack chairs overlooking the lake and take in all of the beauty that is Vermont.
*From the visitor center to the Inn, a brisk walk should take about 45 minutes.
When you have finished walking the grounds of Shelburne Farms, head back to your hotel or Airbnb for a little rest. I highly recommend stopping at Fiddlehead Brewery (about 5 minutes from Shelburne Farms) and picking up a growler of beer to enjoy in your room.
7pm — Burgers and Beer
Head to the Farmhouse for drinks and dinner tonight. Chances are there will be quite the wait, but that is okay! Hang out in the backyard beer garden; a fenced in space with tons of ambiance, a full lineup of beer, and (possibly) some live music.
You have 30 choices of draft beer, but don’t leave without tasting at least one of the brews from Hill Farmstead. For dinner, I always go with one of the burgers. All made from local meat, bread and vegetables. My favorite is the pork burger with Kimchi slaw – so delish!
9:30pm — Drinks on Church Street
Tired yet? Probably.
If you still have energy in you, go out on Church Street!
There are plenty more bars to choose from that you didn’t get to last night. You will be able to distinguish the college bars from the rest of them by the amount of people that are in line. Some good options for drinks with a laid back atmosphere are the Whiskey Bar, The Daily Planet, Sweetwaters, or Drink.
Late Night — Midnight Snack
If you happen to stay out and awake into the late hours of night, chances are you will be looking for something to chow down on. You cannot go wrong at the Kountry Kart Deli (KKD) for a greasy late night snack. The Rise-N-Shiner is their signature sandwich of bacon, egg, cheese and hashbrowns on a roll.
10:00am — Brunch
Start your Sunday morning, and last day in Burlington, with a filling brunch at Leunigs. A pricey French Bistro by night, but an affordable Sunday Brunch joint. Sip breakfast cocktails and order anything; seriously it’s all fantastic! My favorite is the avocado hummus eggs Benedict.
12:00pm — Explore the Burlington Bike Path
One of my favorite parts of Burlington is the bike path that runs parallel to the lake. It stretches 8 miles from Oakledge Park to the Winooski River (and it keeps going for many miles past that as well, but that’s not technically Burlington). I love running, walking, and biking this path – particularly in the fall when the trees that line it are full of color.
If you are interested in biking the path, you should do it! HOWEVER– many of the bike rental places stop renting bikes in the beginning of October. Your best bet would be Northstar Sports.
If you aren’t into biking, I suggest taking a stroll instead.
Start at Waterfront Park and walk South (the lake on your right) down the bike path to Oakledge Park. It is 1.75 miles to Oakledge Park and will probably take you about 30 minutes if you are walking at a leisurely pace.
Once in Oakledge (my favorite park in Burlington) check out the massive earth clock and the circular accessible treehouse.
1:00pm — South End Walking Food and Brew Tour
When you are done exploring Oakledge, you are going to walk back toward downtown Burlington via Pine Street. The south end of Burlington is a major up-and-coming area. What was once just a neighborhood and some warehouses is now a major foodie destination.
Here are places you will want to stop (in this order) as you walk the 2 miles from Oakledge Park back to downtown Burlington:
- Beer Samples at Switchback Brewery
- Chocolate Tasting at Lake Champlain Chocolates
- A pint of beer at Queen City Brewery
- A flight of beers at Zero Gravity Brewery
- A tortilla or rice bowl at New World Tortilla
- Locally made frozen yogurt at SoYo
- Bagels at Myer’s Bagels
- Hard Cider Tasting at Citizen Cider
**Be on the lookout for a detailed video post about this DIY Burlington South End Food Tour!
3:00pm — Head Home 🙁 OR Stay Longer 🙂
If your weekend in Burlington comes to an end on Sunday (sad face), be sure to stock up on local Vermont goodies for your trip back. If you have longer (yahoo!) check out some of these other very Fall-y things to do in Burlington ,VT!
- Apple Picking & Cider Donut Eating @ Shelburne Orchard
- Drive over the Notch Road between Smugglers Notch & Stowe
- Stroll around Winooski and check out the
- Visit Sam Mazza’s Corn Maze
- Go shopping on Church Street
Don’t worry if you don’t make it to Burlington during the fall. Almost all of these things work any time of the year!
Have you been to Burlington, Vermont? What is something you did/somewhere you ate/something you saw that you loved?!
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