I look forward to Saturday. It's my favorite day of the week. And not just because I can sleep a little later (now that my kids are older!) or because I don't have make lunches or because I can look forward to a day without any major carpool craziness.
No, Saturday is my favorite day of the week because the NYT travel section comes out on Saturday. My favorite part of the section you ask? 36 Hours, of course! Not only do I use this great, weekly article as a reference for my business, but it’s also been a big inspiration for my personal travel.
This summer, with both kids at sleep away camp for the first time ever, my husband and I had a chance to go away… all alone, just the two of us! The prospects were endless! In country, out of country, beach, cosmopolitan… I thought and thought… and thought so long that all of the affordable airfares sold out. Looked like we were staying local. Luckily, I have a long list of drive able destinations in my files and there, at the top of the list, was Burlington, VT, which rose to the top after reading 36 Hours in Burlington (www.nytimes.com printed August 19, 2015)
Needless to say, our trip was spectacular. Sweet, syrup aside, Burlington is absolutely gorgeous. Set on breathtaking Lake Champlain, this small city is beyond picturesque, packed with great restaurants, and lots to do. It really is the perfect summer escape. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite spots with you! Read on for my recommendations on what to do, where to stay and eat, and more.
What to do in Burlington…
Hiking (and Eating)
With dozens of trails at your fingertips (hmm.. footsteps?), there are plenty of paths to choose.
Is a popular hike. Six miles round trip, this semi-strenuous hike will take you between 6 and 7 hours to complete but the 360 view from the top is amazing.
Post Hike Eats
The launch spot for the Camels Hump hike is in Burlington-adjacent Waitsfield, which is home to local-favorite taco joint Mad Taco. Nearby Prohibition Pig Restaurant & Brewery www.prohibitionpig.com touts the best burgers and mac & cheese in town.
Thirty minutes from Burlington lies Mt. Philo, featuring a breathtaking view of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. This spectacular site is well worth the 25-minute walk/hike up.
Post Hike Eats
Fiddlehead brewery-www.fiddleheadbrewing.com and adjacent pizza joint, Filino's on your way back down route 7! You can’t go wrong with the free samples in the tasting room!
Sterling Pond Trail
The drive to nearby Sterling Pond Trail in Stowe is incredibly scenic, passing through famed Smuggler’s Notch Gap and the sweet downtown shops and cafes of Stowe. Hikers are rewarded with a beautiful pond at the top.
Post Hike Eats – What better place to fill your belly after hiking the Sterling Pond Trail than at Doc Ponds www.docponds.com in Stowe,VT With snacks ranging from Bailey Blue Balls to house pickles and entrees including burgers, brisket, bluefish, and more, this local-favorite blue house is a great way to end your day.
Spacious, clearly-marked, paved bike paths Burlington and extremely bike-friendly city. In fact, you can bike your way through most of town, so bring or rent a bike and take a leisurely ride through beautiful scenery, stopping to snack and shop wherever you like.
Burlington is located on Lake Champlain, the 6th largest lake in the country. Within the lake sit “the islands” – six beautiful, cultural, natural wonders easily accessible via boat. Whether you rent your own or charter a boat www.vermontsailing.com, Juniper Island, 4 Brothers Islands, and Willsborow Point are must-sees. Paddle boarding, kayaking, and canoeing communitysailingcenter.org are three more amazing ways to spend an unforgettable day on the lake.
Church Street is the place to be, day or night. Featuring dozens of specialty shops, bars, and restaurants, you’ll also find the original Ben & Jerry’s of Burlington, street performers, and great people watching.
Hen of Woods
www.henofthewood.com is a “must eat” in Burlington. The wood beams and open air kitchen make you feel like you are dining in a friend’s living room and the local agriculture and fresh seasonal menu makes you feel like you’re eating from their farm. Mushroom lovers DO NOT miss Hen of the Woods’ Mushroom Toast – a delectable creation featuring a poached farm egg, house bacon, and, you guessed, it, fresh mushrooms. Easily my favorite meal – and restaurant – in Burlington.
Another spectacular spot, Juniper , is located within the Vermont Hotel. Juniper offers food and drink inspired by fresh, local ingredients. Arrive early for cocktails on the outdoor terrace and then head in for dinner or start your day at Juniper – the breakfast burrito is to die for.
The Farm House
Farm-to-table is a popular theme in Burlington dining and The Farm House doesn’t disappoint. This special spot includes an outdoor beirgarten featuring an endless beer list as well as burgers, salads, and classic American cuisine.
The best Bruly breakfast can be found at Penny Clus Cafe -www.pennycluse.com
here locals meet to partake in an incredible menu featuring everything you loved about breakfast as a kid, served by the warmest staff in town. Not an early riser? Not to worry. The Penny Clus Café serves breakfast (and lunch!) all day long.
The Skinny Pancake -www.skinnypancake.com
is situated in the heart of downtown Burlington and renowned for their crepes. Choose from sweet or savory and don’t miss the poutine – delicious!
Bleu-www.bleuvt.com is Burlington’s finest seafood restaurant, with fresh fish delivered daily. Situated within the Courtyard Marriot, Bleu offers a creative breakfast menu and striking dinner selections. You’ll want to make a reservation.
Sweets of Burlington
Locals look forward to summer all year long, and not only for the warmer weather! Summer brings “creemees" – the Green Mountain State’s version of soft serve (but don’t call it that!). A blended combo of soft ice cream and maple sugar or syrup,creemees are served in a cup or a cone and the best in Burlington comes from the Burlington Market and Café -www.burlingtonbaycafe.com/Creemees
Grab a cone, find a bench, and enjoy a tasty treat and a breathtaking view of the mountains and Lake Champlain. Maple and black raspberry were my favorite flavors.
In addition to the bars within the restaurants listed above, Burlington touts tons of microbreweries. Beer tours www.burlingtonbrewtours.com are available, as well as Bike & Bar rides (if you’re coordinated enough)!
There are several hotels to choose from in Burlington, ranging from quaint to corporate.
Hotel Vermont -
Brooklyn meets the Catskills at Hotel Vermont www.hotelvt.com The rooms are minimal, clean, and refreshingly nice; the staff is incredibly accommodating; and the hotel offers its own beer concierge. Need I say more?
Hilton Burlington -
If you’re more into modern, the Hilton Burlington
www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/vermont/hilton-burlington is another good choice. Overlooking Lake Champlain, the hotel is just a 5 minute walk to the waterfront and an 8 minute walk to Church Street.
Marriott Burlington -
Marriott’s Courtyard Burlington Harbor is a shopper’s delight, located next to the Burlington Town Center mall, but still just a 10 minute walk from the waterfront.
If you’re driving from New York, Saratoga is the perfect place to stop half way. There’s so much to do in this charming town that you might even want to stay over a night or two – between the American Ballet Theater, the world-famous racetrack, and a plethora of restaurants and shopping, there’s plenty to keep you busy!
World-famous, the Saratoga Race Course www.saratogaracetrack.com is America’s oldest thoroughbred track. A year-round destination featuring a variety of exciting of horse racing events, the track is fun for the whole family – kids get in FREE! I recommend arriving for breakfast on the Clubhouse porch, where the trainers will share tidbits about the horses’ morning routines.
There are more museums in Saratoga Springs than I can count on two hands. For the fine art lover, there’s the Hyde Collection www.saratoga.com/business/the-hyde-collection a beautiful, historic home displaying works by Botticelli, Rembrandt, Rubens, Degas, Renoir, Picasso, and more. For the military buff, the New York State Military Museum
www.saratoga.com/business/new-york-state-military-museum-1195, which houses more than 10,000 military artifacts, including some pre-Revolutionary War pieces. Then there’s the Adirondack Museum, the Automobile Museum, the Museum of Innovation and Science… See? There really is something for everyone! For more information, visit www.saratoga.com/guide/activities_artsandmuseums.cfm
The battle at Saratoga helped turn the tides of the Revolutionary War and you can visit the National Saratoga Battlefield! Beautiful in its own rite, National Historical Park in Saratoga features the battlefield site as well as the home of a Revolutionary War general, the Saratoga Monument, and Victory Woods, the path of retreat for the defeated British Army.
Rustic and charming, the Old Bryne Inn www.oldebryaninn.com features historic dining rooms that have been in place since 1773! With thoughtfully prepared menus and a traditional tavern, the Old Bryn is the perfect place to stop for lunch.
The premier boutique hotel in Saratoga Springs, the Saratoga Arms www.saratogaarms.com dates all the way back to 1870! This elegant, 31-room hotel offers concierge-style service, an in-house spa, and is within walking distance of fine dining, shopping, and the Saratoga Race Course.
The Pavilion Grand Hotel -
www.paviliongrandhotel.com is also within walking distance to historic downtown. The hotel claims the highest level of guest service, over-sized condo-style accommodations, and a full-service hotel experience.
Saratoga Springs also offers an Embassy Suites www.saratogaarms.com Hampton Inn www.hamptoninn3.hilton.com, Courtyard, www.marriott.com and the Saratoga Hilton www3.hilton.com.