By: Molly Helfend
Peace, love and Ben and Jerry’s…welcome to what we call “Bernie Country.” How can I describe the magic of my undergraduate college home in the picturesque Green Mountain State. Burlington, a progressive up and coming city, is a hub for liberal artists and “granola” outdoor enthusiasts. It has been getting quite a bit of press in the recent years, while experiencing tremendous tourism growth, thanks to a thriving college population and our ever famous and most lovable senator Bernie Sanders.
However, Burlington has always been on the map for the jam-band and snow sport communities. You will find no shortage of self proclaimed Phish and Dead-heads, as well as, hipster skiers and skateboarders. But, most importantly, you will find some of the most kind, open minded people you will ever meet. You will walk around a charming town, where people genuinely march to the beat of their own drums, with warm smiles and accepting hearts.
Burlington is a community-driven city, that is easily one of the most livable and environmentally conscious cities in the United States. The green lifestyle is built right in, as this city runs on the ethical principles of keeping both environmental and human health a priority. Any season will pack an outdoor punch with stunning foliage in autumn, phenomenal ski slopes in winter, post hibernating happiness in spring, and blooming flora and fauna in summer. Vermont also prides itself on its local farm to table food scene, with some of the finest cheese, maple syrup and beer companies. Burlington has a thriving arts and music scene, which is kept alive by the laid back youthfulness of the college community. As you walk or bike through charming Burlington, it is easy to observe the pride and realness amongst locals, who will ensure that Vermont leaves an indelible impression on your heart. So, take a page out of our book and come visit a town where the norm is to walk barefoot in the enchanted deciduous forests and feel the numinous sensation of breathing fresh air over Lake Champlain. Our motto is “keep Vermont weird,” and frankly, we like it that way.
This is, without a doubt, my favorite spot in Burlington. In a bohemian style tea room, enjoy a large selection of some of the highest quality teas from across the globe. There is no shortage of beverage choices, as well as, a delectable and quite eclectic selection of gluten-free, vegan plates and snacks. And if you do not know much about tea, don’t worry! One of their highly knowledgable employees can recommend the quintessential libation for you. I never leave without buying a bag of loose leaf Ya Bao Wild White Tea. Check out The Dobra Collective’s multitude of tea houses across the country.
80 Church Street Burlington, VT 05401 | (802) 951 - 2424
A Vermont institution, this pizza parlor sells some of the finest artisanal flatbread and hand-crafted beer in Burlington. Their core values lie solely on food integrity and sustainability, creating an open atmosphere and creatively delicious menu. They offer vegan and gluten free options, with my recommendation being the Revolution flatbread. It’s first come first serve, so grab the family and get there early.
115 St Paul St, Burlington, VT 05401 | (802) 861-2999
One of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in Vermont, Hen of the Wood is the creme de la creme of a quality upscale meal in Burlington. They create sumptuous, down-to-earth dishes from seasonally changing menus, with premium ingredients sourced only miles from the restaurant in the lush Green Mountains and Champlain Valley. Making a reservation is the ideal way to ensure a table.
55 Cherry St, Burlington, VT 05401 | (802) 540-0534
If you are looking for a consistently delicious and healthy breakfast and brunch restaurant, this is the place to be. Because it is one of the most popular breakfast restaurants in town, there is almost always a line, but brave through, as it is well worth the wait. I could easily recommend almost anything on the menu, as long as their renowned homefries are included.
169 Cherry St, Burlington, VT 05401 | (802) 651-8834
A Vermont staple with environmental stewardship, Skinny Pancake offers creative crepe creations by the picturesque lakefront. Local, affordable, and friendly for almost all dietary restrictions, come listen to some live music, sip a beer and share a few crepe dishes under the summer sun.
60 Lake St, Burlington, VT 05401 | (802) 540-0188
City Market holds a special place in my heart. It is Burlington’s only grocery store and community-owned food cooperative. It is an essential stop to get any of your produce or local artisanal food and product needs. They also boast an impressive health and wellness department. They really shine in their fresh salad and sandwich bars, which is my personal on-the-go staple. Make sure to try their delicious Lemon Tahini Dressing (the secret ingredient is maple syrup, of course)!
82 S Winooski Ave, Burlington, VT 05401 | (802) 861-9700
Rustic and earthy, Muddy Waters is a community hub for palatable espresso, coffee, juice and even original cocktail selections. It attracts a youthful crowd that comes to enjoy the quiet atmosphere amongst friends and business professionals alike. Its the perfect snug spot to catch up on some light reading or enjoy a Maple Syrup drizzled coffee. Yes, I know it sounds strange, but Vermonters try to sweeten almost everything with maple syrup!
184 Main St, Burlington, VT 05401 | (802) 658-0466
This locally owned bakery and café is located in a funky renovated garage with large open space and seating in both winter and summer. A great breakfast and lunch scene, with renowned homemade European style breads and pastries.
149 S Champlain St, Burlington, VT 05401 | (802) 540-0060
A classy restaurant with healthy options, Chef and Owner Chiuho Duval has developed meals that are served family style, recreating the spirit of her youth and traditional Chinese culture. Make a reservation in advance on any day of the week.
133 Bank St, Burlington, VT 05401 | (802) 865-5200
A charming vegan cafe that is 100% plant-based. With harlequin landscape murals painted across the walls and a homey vibe, you will fall in love with this innovative, fast casual restaurant. So, savor a Food Truck Reuben over a bed of greens while admiring the majestic Winooski River.
1 Mill St, Burlington, VT 05401 | (802) 540-0110
This specialty handcrafted coffee bar is an eclectically connected with an artist gallery that hosts creative events. Supporting only local coffee, tea, and pastry items, this trendy shop provides an expressive ambience with high quality beverages. With indoor bike parking, it is the ideal spot to swing by on your morning bike ride down to Lake Champlain.
47 Maple St, Burlington, VT 05401 | (802) 861-3155
A new innovative American style restaurant I was introduced to on my last visit to Burlington. Open for brunch and dinner daily, I would personally recommend trying their vegan gluten-free waffle of the week. Butch and Babe’s utilizes bold flavors and unique ingredients to create a heterogenous menu. Check out their weekly food theme days.
258 N Winooski Ave, Burlington, VT 05401 | (802) 495-0716
Last, but not least, this innovative restaurant is the first of its kind of Burlington. All organic, non-GMO and completely sustainable, this is the go-to place for a quick smoothie, juice or reliable healthy meal. With vivid character, Eco Bean and Juice cleverly utilizes the local Vermont Aronia Berry in many of their smoothie creations. This bitter cranberry tasting fruit blends very well to create a symphony of flavors. I would also recommend trying their vegan seaweed-flavored Caesar Salad. Paleo and vegan friendly!
688 Pine St, Burlington, VT 05401 | (802) 497-2075
I have stayed at this inn multiple times, and still always yearn for a repeat visit. This is the quintessential small Vermont inn, attached to a stunning horse barn and located in the beautiful scenic back country of Waitsfield, Vermont. Celebrated as a stunning wedding venue, you can take a walk around the pastures and admire old century farm barns, or wander through their lush annual and perennial gardens, or even enjoy a night in in their indoor pool and game room. And be prepared to wake up to some of the best breakfast you have ever eaten in your life. Very dietary restriction friendly. Ideal for those looking for a romantic getaway or to be closer to the outdoor action.
1661 E Warren Rd, Waitsfield, VT 05673 | (802) 496-2276
There are no words to truly describe the beauty of this property. The Inn at Shelburne Farms is located right on the shores of Lake Champlain and was originally the 19th-century country home of Dr. William Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Webb. Restored in 1987, the inn today features 24 guest rooms, 4 guest cottages, a renowned farm to table restaurant and 1,400 acres of landscape to explore. Your stress will melt away as you meander through the dirt roads, admiring green pastures, flowered meadows along the lake. The rooms range from colonial to contemporary, but the real gem lies within the exceptional staff and service.
1611 Harbor Rd, Shelburne, VT 05482 | (802) 985-8498
Burlington’s most luxurious 4 star hotel, Hotel Vermont combines both rustic and modern aesthetics with sophistication and big city amenities. Located in the heart of downtown and walking distance from Lake Champlain, this is an ideal option if you want to be closer to the action. Hotel Vermont is also renowned for their bar and farm to table dining at Juniper Restaurant. This is a dog friendly hotel.
41 Cherry St, Burlington, VT 05401 | (802) 651-0080
No Vermont trip is complete without visiting the Ben and Jerry’s factory. Bonus, you get free ice cream samples on the tour!
1281 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Route 100, Waterbury, VT 05676
Grab your partner, snuggle up and pretend you are back in the 1950s, watching movies under the illuminating stars.
155 Porters Point Rd, Colchester, VT 05446
The finest local farm produce and artisan products Vermont has to offer. Every Saturday, it is located outdoors from May 13th to October 28th and indoors at the University of Vermont Davis Center during the colder winter months.
City Hall Park St Paul St, Burlington, VT 05401
You do not have to stay at the inn to enjoy the stunning Shelburne Farms property. Great for families and young children, Shelburne Farms is a working farm with some of the best walking trails, a children’s farmyard, cheesemaking classes and a farm cart selling their dairy and produce. There is nothing more healing then strolling around this viridescent property.
1611 Harbor Rd, Shelburne, VT 05482
This donation-based yoga studio is a local favorite. Get there early to grab a spot at peak hours or pop in for a class in the mid-afternoon for a grounding shavasana.
120 Pine St, Burlington, VT 05401
ECHO is a non-profit organization that aims to educate about the Ecology, Culture, History, and Opportunities for Stewardship of the Lake Champlain Basin. Great museum for the whole family.
1 College St, Burlington, VT 05401
You cannot come to Vermont without immersing yourself in our craft beer culture. We have some of the best breweries in the world, so prepare yourself to get a bit buzzed exploring some of Burlington and Stowe’s finest brews. And yes, you must try a Heady Topper and Sip of Sunshine from The Alchemist.
burlingtonbrewtours.com or (802) 760-6091
In Winter and Spring, hit the slopes at one of the nearby resort towns. Find them here
In Summer and Fall, rent a bike, grab a creamy and ride along the famous Lake Champlain path. Learn more here
HIKES, WATERFALLS AND LAKES
A bohemian coffeehouse and bar, street food restaurant, vintage lamp shop, and music club playing live music ever weekend. Great ambiance.
8 N Winooski Ave, Burlington, VT 05401
Legendary Nectar’s bar is known for its historic jam band scene, hosting such musical legends as Phish, and having a Grateful Dead cover band play every Tuesday night at “Dead Set.”
188 Main St, Burlington, VT 05401
Open Tuesday to Saturday for dinner and drinks, Arts Riot is an event space open for music, art, poetry and community events. Be sure to check out their popular Food Truck Stop, every Friday during the warmer months.
400 Pine St, Burlington, VT 05401
For the more mature scene, check out this renowned Tap House and taste quality beer in the outdoor Beer Garden during the warmer months and indoor Parlor Room during the colder months.
160 Bank St, Burlington, VT 05401
If you are looking for a great night on town, simply walk down Church Street Marketplace at check out the vibrant bar scene.
Quaint new and used independent and locally owned bookstore.
14 Church Street, Burlington, VT 05401
Located in a farmhouse on Pine Street, the vintage capital of Burlington, Barge Canal Market buys and sells antique and vintage furnishings and decor.
377 Pine St, Burlington, VT 05401
This classic vintage market sells unique and fun event clothing and costumes. Be prepared to find one-of-a-kind finds that you cannot live without.
180 Main St, Burlington, VT 05401
My favorite spot in Burlington, Railyard Apothecary is Burlington’s local herbal apothecary, providing affordable and high quality medicinal herbs and education to the community. “Railyard also holds weekly classes and events on a variety of topics including herbal medicine, nutrition, growing and harvesting herbs, astrology, and much more. During store hours, customers can stop in for a quick plant walk (seasonally), chat with our staff herbalists, or request a 15-minute walk-in consultation.” Be sure to check out their yoga classes as well.
270 Battery Street, Burlington, VT, Burlington, VT 05401
Outdoor Gear Exchange offers extremely low prices and great deals on gear, equipment and apparel for camping, hiking & backpacking, rock climbing, ice climbing & mountaineering, skiing, biking, kayaking, canoeing, adventure travel, yoga and more. Find them online as well.
37 Church St, Burlington, VT 05401
Handpicked and personally imported gemstone jewelry, arts and crafts inspired by the owners’ exotic cultural travels. They boast consistent sales and stunning pieces.
110 Church St, Burlington, VT 05401
A unique spiritual book & gift store with creative and healing items and spiritual, holistic and metaphysical books. Recently, Star Root Aromatherapy joined the space, selling aromatherapy, custom blending, and natural spa products.
125 S Winooski Ave, Burlington, VT 05401
Quality and acclaimed glass head shop, ideal for a glass aficionado, artist or beginner enthusiast. And who couldn’t love their name?!
135 Main St, Burlington, VT 05401
NEARBY TOWNS TO VISIT
Charlotte - An old fashioned town located in the quiet Vermont countryside. Take the ferry to New York State, check out the wildflower farm, or hike Mount. Philo.
Montpelier - One of the smallest, yet most captivating capital cities in the country. Eclectic and lively during peak season months, browse the local shops, take a tour of the state house, or attend an outdoor event.
Waterbury/Stowe - Known for their spectacular outdoor adventure, Waterbury and Stowe are ski resort towns that are ideal for those looking for amusing outdoor physical activities. Check out their malt shops, general stores, charming churches and working farms.
Waitsfield - An adorable small ski town with quaint shops and kind hospitality. The town also hosts several theater companies and arts facilities, organizing everything from opera festivals to photo exhibits.
Woodstock - One of the most charming and picturesque towns, this quintessential New England town located in a pastoral setting is stunning during autumn foliage. Walk underneath covered bridges, stroll downtown and breath in fresh mountain air.
Photo credit: Leah Fishman, Molly Helfend, various photography artists
Molly Helfend is part of the HOC team and is a writer, ethnobotanist and environmental activist. She graduated from University of Vermont in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Holistic Health and recently from University of Kent in 2018 in Canterbury, England with a Masters of Science Degree in Ethnobotany. She has worked for Urban Moonshine, Greenpeace and received her herbalism training with Spoonful Herbals. Her goal is to travel the world, researching plant-human interconnected relationships while continuing to educate about the transformational energy of life. Molly resides in Raglan, New Zealand and Santa Cruz, California.