Bringing Burlington to You: Top 5 Must-See Spots for First-Years

Want to know what your first-year experience will be like going to college in Burlington, VT? Look no further than our Top 5 must-see spots.

There are many ways to spend the perfect day in Burlington, Vermont—after all, CNBC named Vermont as the “#1 Best State to Live in America.” The city is packed to the brim with activities for just about everyone—just check out our Top 5 lists for hubs for artists and must-see locations for gamers to see what we mean. But as a new resident of Burlington and with so many venues and destinations to see, how do you know where to start your Burlington experience? 

As an incoming or prospective student, we think there are a few classic spots that will give you a well-rounded glimpse at what life is like as a Champlain student in Burlington, VT. Here’s our list to get you started on your four-year journey. 

5. Burlington Farmers Market

Every Saturday in the summer, the Burlington community gathers at the best farmers market in Vermont. Either grab lunch at your favorite stand or do some farm-to-fork grocery shopping.

No summer in Burlington is complete without a trip to the Burlington Farmers Market. Located down on Pine Street, the Farmers Market has dozens of local farms, farm-to-fork food vendors, and Vermont-based artists that gather every Saturday from May to early fall. Not only can you get amazing organic locally sourced food (the Vermont way of eating), people head to the market with friends to listen to live music, meet new people, and pet the many dogs that famously come every Saturday. 

The Burlington Farmers Market doesn’t just have food. Live music, activities, and dogs ready to play are all something to look forward to at the market.

We can’t think of a better weekend than eating Vermont food, hanging with friends, and petting some good dogs. (Insider Tip: You must have the scallion pancakes from Green Mountain Potstickers, and if you eat meat, the sausage hotdog with mustard and sauerkraut from Does’ Leap.) 

4. Pine Street

Champlain students gather at Art Hop on Pine Street. Art Hop offers chances for students to interview artists, connect with the local community, and eat great food.

The Farmers Market isn’t the only attraction on this street. Pine street is the central location for the Burlington arts district. On this street alone you can find music venues like ArtsRiot; gallery spaces like the S.P.A.C.E gallery, Soapbox Arts, and the Soda Plant; and even studio spaces like Burlington City Arts (BCA) where you can take art classes. Plus, every first-year should go to the South End Art Hop on Pine Street—the biggest art festival in Vermont where students can get involved and show off their work.

Champlain students gather to listen to live music on Pine Street. Between the Friday food trucks and ongoing events on the street, every weekend feels like a community block party.
Students find ways to perform at the many Pine Street venues. From reading their work at Art Hop to displaying the art they made at the BCA, Pine Street has something for every creative.

In addition to its creative vibe, Pine Street has some of the best food in Burlington. On this street alone, you can get coffee at Speeder & Earl’s, the best bagels in town at Feldman’s, and a maple pizza at Pizza 44. Every Friday night in the summer, all of the Burlington food trucks park at ArtsRiot on Pine Street for a weekly block party. As a first-year, this is a street you’ll be spending a lot of time on—and having a bunch of fun while you do it. 

3. Shelburne Orchards 

As a first-year tradition, students go to Shelburne Orchards for Vermont fall fun.

Apple picking in Vermont is an absolute first semester must. Vermont is a state of fresh and organic foods, so what better way to do as the locals do than pick your own apples? Many first-year residence halls take you and your friends out to Shelburne Orchards in early fall. At the orchard, people hang out with their hall mates, fill their baskets, drink apple cider, and eat Vermont cider donuts. 

Do as the Vermonters do and pick your own food in your college hometown of Burlington, VT.

Going to the orchard is such a Champlain classic, many students make it a tradition to go every year they are at Champlain. When going to school in Burlington, Shelburne Orchards will be a fall treat you’ll always look forward to. 

2. Burlington Waterfront & Boardwalk

Burlington, VT sits right on the beautiful Lake Champlain. As a Champlain student, you have to walk down to our boardwalk to watch a BTV sunset.

A Champlain first-year experience is not complete without heading down to the Burlington Waterfront to watch a Vermont sunset. Vermont is known for its natural beauty, and the waterfront shows it off at its best. Grab some friends and a blanket and you won’t be disappointed. We’ll let the pictures do the talking. 

Bikers on the Burlington Greenway stop to look at the Adirondack Mountains.
A classic BTV sunset—a view every Champlain first-year gets to enjoy.

Watch the sunset from one of the many waterfront beaches like Oakledge or North Beach, or walk along the Burlington Boardwalk. On the boardwalk, you’ll get a great view of boats on Lake Champlain, find many green spaces to throw a frisbee or kick a ball, and even some ice cream stops like Ice Cream Bob’s. As a first-year, anything by the water should be on your to-do list. 

1. Church Street 

Church Street is the heart of Burlington. As a Champlain first-year, you’ll only be steps away from this cant-miss marketplace full of food, music, and year-round fun.

Of course Church Street is our number one spot! You can’t go to Burlington without seeing Church Street. As a first-year, there’s so much to explore here. Church Street is a marketplace that has been closed off to cars, making foot traffic the only kind of traffic you’ll see here. The street is lined with shops, restaurants, street performers, and in the summer even festivals like the Jazz Festival and the Festival of Fools

The Burlington community gathering for a performance at the yearly Burlington Jazz Festival. Between Jazz Fest and daily street performers, there’s always something to see on Church Street.

Our students can often be found in Quarterstaff Games, grabbing a coffee at Muddy Waters, taste-testing at Lake Champlain Chocolates, trying something on at the Vermont Flannel Company, or browsing for books at the Crow Bookshop. No matter what you like, chances are, Church Street has it. As a first-year, you and your friends will lose track of time wandering this Burlington staple. 

Want to learn more about what going to college in Burlington is like? Check out our Burlington info page, and even more in our Bringing Burlington to You series on The View. 

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