If you are planning a perfect Vermont itinerary and wondering what are the best things to do in Burlington VT winter that you cannot miss, you are at the right place!
Burlington is the most visited city in Vermont, and besides being small, it is such a fun place to visit! Vermont in winter offers fun activities to fulfill everyone’s wanderlust – from quaint towns to excellent skiing resorts, and also some of the most romantic covered bridges in the country.
The small northwest Vermont town sits on Lake Champlain. The most popular attraction in Burlington is Church Street, a 4 block pedestrian marketplace, and the adorable downtown area full of shops and restaurants. You will find plenty of things to do in Burlington, as it is the center of nightlife, arts, and culture making this city a must-visit for a day or two during your trip to Vermont.
Winter is one of my favorite times to go to Burlington because there are many fun activities. There is something for everyone, from traditional winter sports to unique shows and bars, even if you don’t want to be outside in the cold!
This guide to the best things to do in Burlington VT in winter is packed with very helpful tips, plus the best places to stay, and the must-visit breweries and restaurants. So without any further ado, let’s explore the best of Burlington Vermont!
You will also love:
- Perfect Vermont Road Trip Itinerary
- 15 Coziest & Most Romantic Cabins to Rent in Vermont
- 15 Most Beautiful Inns & Boutique Hotels in Vermont
- Essential Tips for Visiting Burlington, VT in Winter
- 15 Terrific Things to do in Burlington, VT in Winter
- 1. Skiing in Burlington, Vermont
- 2. Ice Skating at Burlington’s Rinks
- 3. Snowshoeing is one of the best things to do in Burlington VT in winter
- 4. Take a Sleigh Ride
- 5. Eat and Shop on Church Street
- 6. Drink at Burlington’s Breweries
- 7. Game the Night Away at the Archives
- 8. Catching a Live Show is a great way to enjoy Burlington in winter
- 9. Enjoy the incredible Lake Champlain
- 10. Explore Burlington Greenway from Waterfront Park To Grand Isle
- 11. Attend a Winter Festival in Burlington
- 12. Visit Sugartree Maple Farm
- 13. Take Day Trips from Burlington
- 14. Lake Champlain Chocolates
- 15. Rent a cabin or a lake house in Burlington VT in winter
- Best Places to Stay in Burlington VT in Winter
- What to Pack for Burlington VT in Winter
- Things to do in Burlington, VT Winter Conclusion
Essential Tips for Visiting Burlington, VT in Winter
Before you jump to the best things to do in Burlington in winter, let’s talk about trip planning and make sure you are prepared for the best experience:
- I recommend spending 2-days to take full advantage of all things you find to do in Burlington
- You can stay in Burlington as a base if you are planning to take nearby day trips
- Burlington is one of the most popular destinations in Vermont during wintertime, but it has limited accommodation options.
- Making your hotel reservations in advance is also part of a well-planned visit, as it may be hard to find last-minute accommodations
- Burlington offers fantastic options for accommodations. I recommend booking your stay at the incredible Williston Village Inn or the Essex Resort – both are considered some of the best inns in Vermont.
- For a romantic gateway, I recommend renting one of the cozy cabins in Vermont
- It is cold in Burlington in winter, so be sure to pack your warm jacket
- If you are driving, you will find plenty of parking spots around the city.
- You will need a car to explore the surroundings of Burlington. You can get a 15% off your rental car when you book through this site. I use and recommend RentalCar because it is the most reliable rental car source, and it allows you to compare the prices of different places.
15 Terrific Things to do in Burlington, VT in Winter
1. Skiing in Burlington, Vermont
Skiing is one of Vermont’s most popular winter activities, and there are tons of amazing mountains that you can get to from Burlington. Whether you are a lifelong skier or a beginner who needs some lessons on the bunny hill, you’ll find a slope for you in or near Burlington.
Here are some of the mountains and ski centers you should visit in Burlington, Vermont winter:
- Bolton Valley Nordic Center
- Catamount Outdoor Family Center
- Cochran’s Ski Area
- Sleepy Hollow Inn Ski & Bike Center
Many of these mountains are between Burlington and Montpelier, another one of my favorite cities in Vermont for a winter getaway.
2. Ice Skating at Burlington’s Rinks
Ice skating is a classic winter activity, and it’s a lot of fun in Burlington. You can visit two community rinks: Calahan Park Community Rink and Lakeside Skating Rink.
There is a unique place called Arthur Park that lets you skate on wild ice, which means you are skating on a lake instead of a man-made rink. Skating on wild ice requires a lot of precautions, and there are risks involved. But, from the ice, you get a great view of the Sea Caves.
3. Snowshoeing is one of the best things to do in Burlington VT in winter
Snowshoeing is another fun winter activity you can do in Burlington, VT. One of the prettiest places to snowshoe is North Beach, just north of downtown on the lake.
There are no groomed trails at North Beach, so if you are a beginner, you may want to go to Intervale Community Farm. You can also walk or ski at the Intervale if snowshoeing isn’t for you!
4. Take a Sleigh Ride
Sleigh rides are one of the best winter activities, and you have to take one in Burlington, Vermont, so you can admire the winter scenery.
Shelburne Farms is not only a beautiful place in the winter, but it is the best place to take a sleigh ride in the winter! You can drive to the farm from downtown Burlington in less than 15 minutes. After your sleigh ride, stay on the farm to enjoy other fun activities like the indoor winter Farmers’ market and educational winter farm events.
You can also take sleigh rides in Stowe, Vermont, like at Gentle Giants Sleigh Rides & Carriage Rides or Sterling Mountain Carriage Services. And there are plenty of other awesome things to do in Stowe, VT, in winter.
5. Eat and Shop on Church Street
This is my favorite thing to do in Burlington VT in winter. Church Street is one of the main roads that runs through downtown Burlington, and four blocks of the street make up the pedestrian Church Street Marketplace.
While the marketplace is outdoors, there are plenty of shops along the street to stop in on cold winter days. There are a few chain stores, but most of them are local boutiques unique to Burlington.
If you are here during the holiday season, it’s the perfect place to buy your gifts. Church Street is also where many of the town’s events occur throughout the year, including the Christmas tree lighting at the end of November.
When you’re done shopping, rest and enjoy a meal at one of Burlington’s amazing restaurants. A few popular ones include The Farmhouse, E B Strong’s Steakhouse, and Top of the Block Sandwich Shop, all of which are open in the winter with indoor seating!
PRO-TIP: Church Street is decorated with hundreds of lights between December and April. Even if you are not shopping, you should take some time to walk down the street on a Winter night in Burlington, VT.
6. Drink at Burlington’s Breweries
Did you know that Vermont is the state with the most breweries per capita? And, there are plenty to visit in Burlington where you can spend a cold winter day or night.
Here are the breweries in downtown Burlington.
- Foam Brewers
- The Vermont Pub & Brewery
- Citizen Cider
No matter where you go in downtown Burlington, whether it be a brewery, bar, or restaurant, you will find some craft beer made in Vermont. And there are lots of popular breweries just south of downtown Burlington.
These four breweries are all close together, so you can make a day of hopping between them
- Zero Gravity Brewery
- Queen City Brewery
- Switchback Brewing Co.
- Burlington Beer Company
You can also take a Burlington brewery tour if you want to go to some breweries but don’t want to do the planning yourself. Some brewery tours take you to the most popular breweries and have lots of recommendations for what to try. Or, you can find a tour that lets you pick the breweries, but they handle the transportation for you.
Pro tip: You can also choose to go on a Classic Beer Tour with tasting and lunch to taste the best of Burlington.
7. Game the Night Away at the Archives
Right off of Church St. is The Archives, an arcade bar with vintage games. They have pinball machines, classic video games, and more that can keep you entertained even on the coldest winter days.
When you’re not playing games, you can enjoy craft beer, classic cocktails, and wines from the bar. They also have some unique cocktails, which are usually a spin-off of the classics.
8. Catching a Live Show is a great way to enjoy Burlington in winter
Burlington, Vermont, has a variety of live entertainment, and what better way to spend a winter day than to see a show?
The Flynn is Burlington’s nearly century-old theater with many different local and national performances. The types of shows range from classical music to dance groups to comedy shows. But you never know what kind of show will be at the theater when you’re in Burlington, so check out their calendar and grab some tickets.
If you are looking for a night of laughter, check out the Vermont Comedy Club in downtown Burlington. There are shows most nights of the week, from up-and-coming comedians to open mic nights and trivia nights. There is also a small cafe at the comedy club that is open during the day where you can get some coffee and a fresh breakfast.
Some bars in town have live music. Radio Bean is an intimate bar with live music, theater, poetry, and dancing. They serve local beers, coffee, cocktails, and small plates for you to enjoy during the live shows.
Another fun bar with live music is Nectar’s, a more traditional bar than Radio Bean. They sell food and have a large list of craft and domestic beer, wines, and cocktails.
9. Enjoy the incredible Lake Champlain
This should be on top of the list of the best things to do in Burlington VT in winter. Lake Champlain freezes over in the cold winter, and the frozen water and winter scenery are breathtaking. You should brave the cold and walk along the Burlington Greenway, an eight-mile paved biking and hiking path that runs along the lake.
The city keeps the path plowed and free of snow and ice the best it can to keep it safe for you. But, they do not use any salt or chemicals on the path since it is right next to the lake.
PRO-TIP: If you love Lake Champlain, there are many other pretty outdoor places to see and explore in Vermont in Winter, like covered bridges and Mad River Valley.
10. Explore Burlington Greenway from Waterfront Park To Grand Isle
If you love the outdoors, this is the best thing to do in Burlington in winter. This beautiful paved bike path follows Lake Champlain’s shoreline for 8 miles, connecting many of Burlington’s lakeside parks. If you have time, you can take a bike ferry that crosses a short section all the way to the Island Line Trail further North.
You can rent a bike and cycle it, go for a run or just walk to appreciate the stunning views along the Greenway Bike Path.
11. Attend a Winter Festival in Burlington
Burlington has events happening year-round, and some of the best ones are in the winter.
One of the most significant events is the Vermont Penguin Plunge. Participants raise money for the Special Olympics leading up to the event, and on the day of the Penguin Plunge, they run and plunge into Lake Champlain. It’s a great event to watch, participate in, and donate to.
And, if you are in Burlington, Vermont, at the start of the winter season, there is a Holiday Parade, a Christmas tree lighting, and a visit with Santa every year around Thanksgiving. The holiday festivities continue throughout December.
There are always new events and festivals popping up too! Attending a festival or event in winter is a great way to meet the locals and learn more about Burlington, Vermont.
12. Visit Sugartree Maple Farm
One of the best parts of visiting Burlington, Vermont, in winter is taking a trip to Sugartree Maple Farm. Vermont has a ton of maple trees, and wintertime is the prime sugaring time for the maple industry. Sugaring season usually goes from mid-February to early April.
At Sugartree Maple Farm, you can buy maple foods made with 100% natural maple, like syrup, sugar, and candy. If you visit in the winter, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how the maple tree sap gets made into syrup. And, you can get a sample of fresh maple syrup, which is an indescribable taste in the best way.
13. Take Day Trips from Burlington
Yes, it is true that there are plenty of fun things to do in Burling VT in winter. But I strongly recommend you take some side trips to the nearby areas if you have more time to spend in this area.
A great option is to take a day trip to Stowe. The Alpine-style mountain town offers great options for ski resorts and is one of the most beautiful towns n Vermont. Here you can also drive to search for some of the best covered bridges in the State, and of course, you cannot miss a visit to the original Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream factory. You can see more about the best things to do in Stowe to help plan your trip.
Another option for amazing side trips from Burlington is the quaint town of Shelburn, a very charming town that truly captures the essence of Vermont.
And Middlebury, a quaint town with brick and stones buildings and the gently sloping town green and cascading falls of the Otter Creek
14. Lake Champlain Chocolates
Do you still have a sweet tooth after all the maple syrup? How about some chocolate?!
Lake Champlain Chocolates has more than a dozen stores selling their chocolates in the Burlington area, and there’s no better way to warm up in the winter than to have some delicious chocolate.
At the flagship store on Pine St., you can take a self-guided tour of the store, where you will learn about the chocolate-making process and admire the largest chocolate sculpture exhibit in the state.
If you are in downtown Burlington, be sure to stop at the Church St. store and try one of their signature chocolate-dipped marshmallows (the perfect winter treat!). They also sell hot chocolate and espresso to warm you up on a cold winter day.
15. Rent a cabin or a lake house in Burlington VT in winter
Last, but not least on this amazing list of things to do in Burlington, VT in winter, is to rent a cabin and get warm and cozy by the fire. This is seriously one of my favorite things to do any time I take a winter vacation.
It is a perfect scene experience to invite magic and romance by sipping a glass of wine sitting in front of a wood burn fireplace at the end of the day. Or to get up in the morning and slowly enjoy a hot coffee while watching the white wonderland just outside your window.
You can choose to stay at a romantic feel with amazing mountains or forest views, such as this Robert Frost Mountain Cabins, located just outside Burlington in the quaint town of Middlebury.
Or if you are traveling with a group of up to 6 people this Rustic Lake House on Lake Champlain is a wonderful choice. I just recommend renting way in advance, as they tend to go fast!
Best Places to Stay in Burlington VT in Winter
If you are visiting Burlington in winter, remember that Vermont normally has more snow per year than other US states, therefore, it is easier to stay centrally as it is easier to explore the city by foot.
Also, another benefit to staying downtown is the best option for anyone who wants to be at the heart of the lively town. However, options here are very limited and hit the top end of the budget range. If you are looking for a quiet and romantic getaway, you can choose a cabin or a lake house just outside Burlington, as a short drive.
You can check the top 15 Best cabins in Vermont or I have selected some top-rated places to stay in Vermont, VT winter:
OVERALL TOP PICK: Hotel Vermont Burlington
This hotel is rated 9.2 / 10, and it is perfectly located near Waterfront Park. It is a modern hotel, featuring on-site dining and contemporary artwork. You will love the free bicycles and yoga classes. The Church Street Marketplace is only 10-minute walk away.
BEST CABIN: Robert Frost Mountain Cabins
You can choose to stay at a romantic feel with amazing mountains or forest views, such as this Robert Frost Mountain Cabins, located just outside Burlington in the quaint town of Middlebury. Each unit features a patio, a fully equipped kitchen with a microwave, a fireplace, a seating area, and a hot tub. Rated as a 9.9 Exceptional by the guest!
BEST BUDGET HOTEL: Hilton Garden Inn Burlington Downtown
The Hilton Garden Inn offers an excellent location and it is affordable. It is rated 8.4 by the guests. It has a fitness center, indoor pool, and restaurant. With a breakfast buffet with healthy choices.
What to Pack for Burlington VT in Winter
You need to plan the right packing for your winter vacation in Burlington. Make sure you are prepared, considering the season and the activities you are planning to do. Here are some quick tips:
- Pack layers are the best you can do!
- Pack rain gear – you don’t want to get soaked wet while exploring
- A hat, gloves, and scarf can’t go wrong, even in summer.
- Bring good quality sturdy snow boots.
- Bring warm leggings to wear as a layer is a smart choice!
- Pack a good and warm jacket a waterproof jacket for your trip, check my complete review guide on the Top Jackets for Travel
- If you are planning to carry a backpack for your trip to Vermont, I have compiled a very detailed review of the Best Backpacks for Travel on the market today
Things to do in Burlington, VT Winter Conclusion
In the winter, spending time in Burlington, Vermont, is so much fun, and you never run out of things to do and places to see. Whether you want to hit the slopes, try some of Vermont’s best craft beer, or enjoy a live show, there is something for everyone to do in the Burlington, Vermont winter.
There are plenty of awesome things to do in Burlington, VT in winter and you will easily fall in love, just like I did. And I cannot wait to get back in the fall to continue to explore more of this amazing destination.
If you are looking to visit Vermont, you will love to read this next:
- Perfect Vermont Road Trip Itinerary
- 15 Most Amazing Cabins you can Rent in Vermont
- 15 Best Inns & Boutique Hotels in Vermont
- Top 10 Most beautiful towns in Vermont for a perfect winter gateway
- 18 Awesome Things to do in Vermont in Winter
- Top Things to do in Stowe in Winter
- 20 Amazing Things to do in Woodstock, VT
- 20 Most Amazing Covered Bridges in Vermont
- Top-rated winter jackets: Expert Review
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