The Burlington waterfront used to be a busy shipping center with all the accompanying industrial detritus. Thankfully, the urban shoreline has been beautified over the years. Take a stroll along the boardwalk or the bike path, step about the Spirit of Ethan Allen for a lake cruise, have lunch at Splash! at the Boathouse or toss a frisbee on the grass. If it's raining, take refuge at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center.
Oakledge Park marks the Southern end of the Burlington bike path. Once home to the Webb family's Oakledge Manor, it now boasts picnic shelters, playground equipment and a stony swimming beach (no lifeguards, though). It's also home to the first handicapped accessible treehouse built in a public park. A short walk north takes you to the site of Burlington's Earth Clock. Stick around for the spectacular sunset.
Downtown Burlington is dominated by the Church Street Marketplace, a pedestrian-only promenade enlivened by shops, restaurants, food vendors and street performers. When the weather’s nice, and the cafe tables come outside, you can get dinner with a side of people-watching. It’s the closest thing in Vermont to an Italian piazza. No Vespas on the cobblestones, though.
This historic public art gallery in a renovated fire house next to City Hall is managed by Burlington City Arts.
Located on the Burlington waterfront, the 2.2 acre ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center/Leahy Center for Lake Champlain features 70 live species, more than 100 interactive experiences, seasonal changing exhibits and events — all exploring the ecology, culture, history, and opportunity for stewardship of the Lake Champlain Basin.
(Published in 7 Nights 2005-06)
You can get a basic breakfast at any one of Burlington's downtown diners. On weekends, brunch is served at finer establishments like Leunig's and Smokejacks. But only one "a.m." eatery does it all, every day until 3, for a clientele so devoted it's willing to wait up to an hour and a half for huevos rancheros. Or apple-bread French toast. Or baja fish tacos.
(Published in 7 Nights 2008-09)
At Big Fatty's BBQ on Main Street in Burlington, the servers wear black T-shirts that read, "Be nice to me, I pull your pork" — even the cornbread and hush puppies contain piggy products. That's how owner Clay Vagnini — Big Fatty himself — likes it. The florid Floridian isn't here to appease the politically correct.
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