VT - Land of Lake, Arts and Food
by Deborah Straw
Burlington has changed immensely in the 25 years I have lived
here. Always beautiful, it has also become much more
cosmopolitan. Its main street, Church, is now an award-winning
pedestrian mall; its Lake Champlain waterfront becomes more
accessible yearly ; and its selection of restaurants continues
to increase and improve.
The largest city in the "Green State," Burlington is a
fine place to live and to visit, as witnessed by many awards
over the last few years. These include, for example, the least
stressful metro area for raising children; winner of one of five
"Great American Main Street Awards,"; among the top
twenty metro areas in Money magazine; and most livable city (for
cities with populations under 100,000) in America awarded by the
National Conference of Mayors Here's another good one: Vermont
has often won the safest state in the country award.
If you're not a snow person, the best times to visit Burlington,
on the shores of 120-mile-long Lake Champlain, are between May
and October or November, but activities abound in all seasons.
If you're a skier, we are only an hour away from four
nationally-heralded ski areas: Sugarbush, Stowe, Smuggler's
Notch and Jay Peak.
The lake is one of the primary attractions. One of my favorite
places is the Burlington Community Boathouse, where during the
warm months, you can sip a coffee, eat a snack or a light meal,
and watch the world float by (sail boats and kayaks, ducks and
cormorants). There's an eight-mile paved bike path along the
lake for walkers, runners, bicyclists and roller bladers. Picnic
tables and swinging seats are available in many stretches. Also
on the water is the ferry dock, with a restaurant and gift shop;
the Lake Champlain Transportation Co. ferry crosses to Port
Kent, New York between May 21 and October 18. You can go by
foot, car or cycle; it's a one-hour ride, worth it for the
scenery and breezes.
Of course, we also have several beaches.
Food in Burlington is top-rate. No longer a center for
steakhouses and fern barns, the area hosts more than 200
restaurants including Italian, Thai, Cajun, Japanese,
Vietnamese, Mexican lots of deli/outdoor cafes and two good
downtown diners. Try Sweet Tomatoes, Smokejacks, The India House
or the Daily Planet. And with the introduction, last year, of
the New England Culinary Institute's excellent restaurant and
shop, standards have improved even more. A school for chefs,
NECI also runs restaurants in neighboring Essex Junction and
nearby Montpelier, the state capital.
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream started in a small gas station in
Burlington, and it still has digs at 36 Church Street. The
company's factory, a 30-minute drive away in Waterbury, offers a
fun and tasty tour.
On and around the Marketplace, you can find excellent pizza,
fine tacos, sushi, Montreal bagels, vegetarian entrees, and
microbrewery beer (at the Vermont Pub and Brewery), or a
downhome diner meal at Henry's or the Oasis, historic Burlington
landmarks. We have a plethora of coffee shops where you can
linger for hours.
The arts are alive and well in Burlington during all seasons.
One of the reasons for this stimulating life is the presence of
six colleges and universities within a ten-mile radius. Students
of all ages keep us on our toes. In the summer months, we have
the Mozart Festival, which holds outdoor and indoor concerts in
spots such as Shelburne Farms, the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe,
and aboard a Lake Champlain ferry. The Festival also holds a
winter series, generally in a downtown church. The Lane Series
and the Flynn Mainstage Series also offer world-class concerts
year-round, many in the Flynn Theatre for the Performing Arts on
Main Street, a restored art deco masterpiece.
For another kind of culture, you must visit the nearby Shelburne
Museum, one of this country's primary spots for historic
Americana. Consisting of thirty-seven exhibit building on
forty-five acres, the world-class museum is open full-time from
late May to late October and offers daily mini-tours at 1 p.m.
throughout the winter months. The collection-- especially of
paintings, quilts and folk art -- is spectacular.
It's heading on toward winter now, and I 'm beginning to feel
nervous. We have great snow removal and plowing, but I just
don't enjoy snow. So I do what most of us here do -- stock up on
warm clothes, bring out the winter duvet, and plan our winter
activities -- skiing, concerts, people to see and books to read.
We socialize a lot in Burlington-- it's a community-centered
place, good for children and the elderly.
Try Burlington -- it's a socially and artistically-conscious
place which graciously welcomes visitors all times of the
year.Through November 15, 1999 select Burlington businesses are
offering special rates on rooms, dining and area attractions in
a "The Best of Burlington" package. Information is
available through the Chamber of Commerce: tel. 802-863-3489 or
fax 802-863-1538. Burlington has an international airport and is
well-served by bus. Amtrak runs to nearby Essex Junction. It is
approximately 100 miles to Montreal, 150 miles to Albany, 230
miles to Boston, and 300 miles to New York.If you visit in
September or October, the Fall Foliage Hotline lists the best
spots to see the brightest leaves: 1-802-828-3829.