Burlington Travel Guide
It’s not quite the wide-open ocean, but it sure feels pretty big when you can barely see New York State and the Adirondacks in the distance. They call Lake Champlain the sixth great lake—and according to Wikipedia it actually was for a bit in 1998—and it sure feels that way when you’re standing along its shores. A visit now probably isn’t quite the same as it is in the summer, but strolling or riding along its shore on the bike path is certainly a welcome distraction.
Be sure to bundle up, as the wind off the lake isn’t the warmest of welcomes. However, once you’re basically numb you can no longer notice the chill, and you’re just able to focus on the waves, the rocks, and the water—the ducks seem to downright enjoy it. Heading south out of town is the best option as it points you in a more scenic direction, and it eventually leads you all the way over to one of Burlington’s hidden attraction—the earth clock.
Hot chocolate with a view of a chocolate factory...
Everyone has their own bests when it comes to foodie finds and locations, so we wanted to share ours with you—the best bits and bites in Burlington. With plenty of things to sip and sample it’s a good distraction from a day on the slopes, as there’s plenty of local flavor and Vermont variety from which to sample. So here are our picks for some quick not-to-miss options:
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With the University of Vermont just up the hill and the shores of Lake Champlain on its western edge, Burlington is a city to spend some time with anytime of the year. Sure the nearby mountains and ski slopes are pretty darn enticing during the winter, but we find plenty of charm, character, and cuisine right within the boundaries of The Queen City.
This weekend is when they’re flipping the switch on all the holiday lights and decorations at the Church Street Marketplace. This pedestrian mall features plenty of local shops, restaurants, and other places to poke and peruse, and there’s some national chains on hand as well for when you just need something from Starbucks or Macy’s. The local retailers are a great place to cash in your American Express Shop Small promotion this weekend, as there’s plenty of spots to support Small Business Saturday.
Someone, somewhere in the airport apparently burned some toast, which set off a fire alarm and forced everyone to evacuate the terminal building. Luckily, the evacuation only lasted about half an hour, and it sounds like the resulting delay wasn't bad enough to cause passengers to miss fights. Annoyed passengers did, however, begin tweeting pictures of fire trucks heading for the airport at the ripe hour of 5am.
Although the crisis wasn't averted, we don't consider the mystery solved. Who exactly is responsible for burning the toast? How sensitive are the Burlington airport's smoke alarms? Were there no windows open anywhere? And was it whole wheat or seven grain?
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At this point we’ve seen pretty much anything that usually does its thing outside of the airport move to inside the airport. One of these new additions to the concourses and terminals is the appearance of yoga rooms.
We’re pretty sure that San Francisco International Airport started the airport yoga movement just about a year ago, as the lotus position found its way just past the security checkpoint at the airport’s Terminal 2. A year later there’s other airports getting in on the fun as well, and this week it looks like Burlington, Vermont is joining in.
Burlington International Airport is the latest airport to add yoga room to their list of amenities. A bamboo floor and plenty of yoga mats transform the space from just another room at the airport into a little bit of a sanctuary for stressed out travelers looking to unwind before or after their flights.
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After ice cream, chocolate, and cheese we’re pretty convinced that Vermont is the foodie tour capital of the world. However, that didn’t stop us from checking out one more place. This was especially the case because we needed something sudsy to wash down all the other snacks and samples. That’s why we loaded up our phone with directions to see the secrets and scenes at the Magic Hat Brewery in South Burlington. We waited until the afternoon to visit—like at a couple minutes past noon—because we wanted to appear somewhat responsible.
The Magic Hat Artifactory is made up of a crazy trippy gift shop, a psychedelic bar, and snazzy factory. In total it added up to one of the best breweries we’ve seen, and it was surprising to see such a place just a few minutes off the city’s commercial strip.
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Just outside the downtown center of Burlington, Vermont—as in you need to ride your bike or drive your car—sits a factory known to chocolate lovers far and wide. Of course we’d consider ourselves fans of these sort of sweet treats, so it was a natural fit for us to make a little bit of a pilgrimage to the home of Lake Champlain Chocolates.
The factory and visitor’s center is located along right along Pine Street in a somewhat bustling industrial looking area of Burlington. You can definitely trust your GPS to find it, but be on the lookout for the sign and the parking lot as it’s easy to miss. Once inside the scent of some of the world’s best chocolate—at least in our opinion—hits you as soon as you enter the door. At that point you can pretty much hand over your credit card, as you're definitely going to bring something home with you.
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If big 747s or even 737s are not your cup of tea and you instead prefer to see the smaller regional jets, private jets and a few Airbus A320s scattered in there, then plane spotting at Vermont's Burlington International Airport is for you. Aside from the concentration of regional jets that visit BTV, the airport is unique in that the public can come up to the old Control Tower to enjoy the best view for free.
The trick is to go to the second level of the terminaldon't go through securityand there's a hallway with a simple sign pointing to the "observation tower." Up a few flights of cramped stairs and you're in the old control booth. Now all it's got are stools, but a wise plane spotter will bring the binoculars and professional camera lenses to capture shots of the planes taking off with the mountains in the background.
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Earlier this year in May, we had the blessed news that Europe had put a expiration date on their liquids ban, and that was April 2013. Well, it looks like that longed-for day could come far sooner, even in 2012, if the International Civil Aviation Organization gets their way and US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano backs down. The development that's pushing this change is the arrival of better technology in the airport security and scanning areas at airports, which would allow the machines to decide whether or not a liquid is dangerous.
Surprisingly, we saw proof of this desire to end the liquids ban on actual TSA signs at the security checkpoint of Burlington Airport (BTV) this week. There it is above, snapped with our iPhones, the words "What's next? Future advances to AT X-ray technology will enable our officers to distinguish between harmless and potentially dangerous liquids."
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When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!
What comes to mind when you think Vermont? Lots of pretty trees in the fall and skiing at the rural resorts in the winter, sure, but what aboult foodie culture? We're talking about the land of maple syrup and chocolate and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, so Vermont often surprises with what can be found on supermarket shelves. One such item is Maple Seltzer by Vermont Sweetwater. You'll find seltzers in almost any flavor and maple goodies in almost any form, so why not combine the two? They did.
Looking at the bottle, you'll notice that it's got the typical liquid consistency of regular seltzer, so no drinking viscous maple syrup here. Turn it over and you'll see the plain ingredients of "100% pure filtered and carbonated Maple Sap...no water added." Sip it and you'll find that it tastes like plain seltzer at first, all bubbles and fizz until a slight maple hint hits your tongue as the bubble settle. It's sweet in only a very small way, and it's actually refreshing enough to enjoy on a regular basis, should you be lucky enough to live in Vermont. Plus, it's only got 52 calories for one whole bottle. We'd like to see Coca Cola try that.
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This is downtown Burlington, Vermont, as seen yesterday from the roof of a public parking structure in the Church Street Marketplace area. As you can see, the fall foliage is absolutely out there already, and pretty soon, those green trees leftover will turn fiery shades as well. It's just the beginning of the fun, as the real swathes of color should happen in about one week. Currently, the weather is rain, rain, mist, rain and more mist, with a few minutes of damp calm to capture images like this.
Still, we wish you were here. It feels like everyone else is, as tour buses chock full of Europeans roll past, keeping up with strict leaf-peeping itineraries. Listening to NPR last night, there was an hour discussion on exactly what turns leaves different colors, followed by something like two hours of locals calling in to confirm whether or not the leaves on their streets had begun the fall transformation. It was riveting in the way that only lifelong Vermonters find interesting. However, it did make us crave a warm breakfast of fresh waffles drenched in real maple syrup and a cup of steaming hot apple cider, so that's our weekend goal.
Going leaf-peeping as well this weekend? What does fall make you crave?
Don't know about you all, but we've spent the past week in heavy denial that the holidays are over. It's just so depressing--not only the whole back-to-work thing, but transitioning from two weeks of festive eating and drinking into a time when we're all supposed to be dieting and getting fit. Ugh.
So where are these healthy destinations? According to the CDC, Burlington, Vermont is the healthiest city in America. Despite its proximity to the Ben and Jerry's factory, a full 92 percent of Burlingtonians are supposedly in good health. So what are all these hippies doing to stay so healthy, and how can we get in on it?