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Boats on Lake Champlain in Burlington Vermont
George | Adobe Stock

The Ultimate Burlington, Vermont Weekend Guide

For the quintessential New England summer getaway, head to Burlington, Vermont. Set on the shores of Lake Champlain, this charming city features a lively downtown centered around pedestrian-friendly Church Street, a thriving food and beverage scene, and easy access to outdoor recreation. Whether you’re into hiking, cycling, boating, or brewery-hopping, Burlington packs a big punch for a small city.

Burlington is the perfect summer weekend destination, located just a 3.5-hour drive from Boston and an easy train ride away from New York City. Follow our itinerary to have the perfect trip to The Queen City. 

Where to Stay

Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain
Hilton Hotels & Resorts

When it comes to choosing a hotel in Burlington, location is paramount, and the property with the best spot is undoubtedly the Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain. (Note: This hotel is currently undergoing renovations and will soon rebrand as the Hotel Champlain.) Occupying a prime lakefront location, this hotel is just steps away from Lake Champlain’s beautiful waterfront and merely two blocks from Church Street Marketplace, the heart of downtown Burlington. Staying here puts you within easy walking distance of the town’s best restaurants and shops.

I stayed in a King Premium Lake View room, which I highly recommend. Situated on the sixth and seventh floors of the hotel, this room type features large picture windows with panoramic views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains beyond. Open the curtains as soon as you wake up and soak in the scenery while you sip coffee—there’s no better way to start your day in Burlington.

Friday

Kayaking on Lake Champlain
Caroline Morse-Teel

Check into the Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain. Once you’re settled in, walk down to the 

Lake Champlain Sailing Center and rent a kayak so you can get out on the water. Paddle down to Lone Rock and admire the sweeping views of the city and mountains.

After returning your kayak, toast your arrival to Burlington with a drink at Foam Brewers, one of the city’s best craft brewers. Enjoy a beer on the outdoor patio, and hopefully catch some live music. 

Walk back to the hotel and enjoy the sunset over the lake from your room. 

Landing a table at Hen of the Wood takes planning—reservations open 60 days in advance, and weekends fill up fast. But trust me, the effort is worth it and this celebrated restaurant lives up to the hype. Their ever-changing menu showcases local ingredients in a way that will transform your perspective on vegetables. My personal favorites were asparagus lightly fired in a wood stove and a honey sorbet that was pure sunshine on the palate.

Saturday

Maple Creemee from Allenholm Farm
Caroline Morse-Teel

Sleep in and head to the Burlington Farmer’s Market, open from 9 am to 2 pm on summer Saturdays. This is your one-stop shop to sample local delicacies and buy souvenirs. There are plenty of stands to choose from for breakfast—I recommend the fried egg tostada from Cha Cha Garna. 

Just across the street from the Farmer’s Market, is Speeder & Earl’s, my favorite coffee shop in Burlington. Stop in for some house-roasted coffee and pick up some beans to take home with you. Once you’re adequately caffeinated, take advantage of the Hilton’s free bike rentals for guests and pick up some wheels (plus a to-go lunch from the hotel’s cafe, Lily May’s, to toss in your bike basket for later) and get ready to ride the Island Line Rail Trail

This 14-mile car-free pathway runs along the shores of Lake Champlain, and you can hop on it just outside the hotel’s front door. This tree-lined path eventually turns into a causeway, where you’ll be surrounded by water on both sides as you cycle along, making it one of the most beautiful rail trails in the country. The path abruptly stops toward the end of the causeway, where there is a 200-foot gap that allows boats to pass through. Wait here for the volunteer-run Local Motion Bike Ferry, which will carry you and your bike across. The ferry is free, but donations of $10 for the round trip are suggested. The journey across the gap takes less than five minutes but be prepared to wait in line on busy weekend days, as the ferry can only hold around 20 people and bikes.

Disembark on South Hero and ride your bike along the quiet roads to Two Heroes Brewery, a laid-back spot for a refreshment break. On your trip back to the ferry, be sure to stop at Allenholm Farm, where you can cool off with Vermont’s classic summer treat, the maple creemee. This unique treat isn’t quite soft serve, nor is it hard ice cream—it occupies a delightful middle ground. With less milk fat and more air than ice cream, the creemee offers an ultra-creamy yet light indulgence. There are a variety of flavors available, but the quintessential Vermont experience is the maple creemee.

Cycle back to downtown Burlington, and stop at one of the beaches along the bike path for a refreshing dip in Lake Champlain. 

Tonight, enjoy dinner at Frankie’s, Burlington’s best new restaurant. Expect to find this stylish hotspot packed on weekend nights—it’s a favorite with locals who flock here for the intimate atmosphere, innovative cocktails, and seasonally-inspired menu. Dishes here are crafted based on what’s fresh and in-season from nearby farms. Since the menu changes daily, you might not be able to have my favorites (radishes with radish top pesto and cured egg yolk and pasta with pistachios and fresh vegetables), but you’re sure to find something equally delicious. The cocktails are equally tasty and fresh—I loved my refreshing drink made with lemon, mint, and ginger.

Sunday

View of Camel's Hump Mountain in Vermont from a distance
vermontalm | Adobe Stock

Place a mobile order for a breakfast sandwich and coffee from August First Bakery (lines in store are crazy on weekends) and take your meal to-go to the Lake Champlain Waterfront Park to enjoy on a bench overlooking the water. 

Bid goodbye to Burlington and drive about 45 minutes southeast to Camel’s Hump State Park. Here, you’ll find Camel’s Hump, one of the most beautiful hikes in Vermont’s lush Green Mountains—this peak is so distinctive that it’s featured on the US Vermont Quarter. Follow the Burrows Trail to the Long Trail for a 2.4-mile moderate hike to the summit, where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Lake Champlain in the distance. 

Downloadable Burlington, Vermont Weekend Itinerary

Reference all our Burlington recommendations on-the-go with this handy downloadable itinerary.

Weekend itinerary for Burlington Vermont

Editor’s Note: The writer of this story was hosted by Burlington, Vermont, during her visit to the city. Some of the links featured in this story are affiliate links, and SmarterTravel may collect a commission (at no cost to you) if you shop through them. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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