Bringing Burlington to You: Top 5 Socially Distanced Spots for First Years

Wondering what there’s to do in Burlington this fall? Look no further than our Top 5 must-see, socially distanced spots to visit.

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— to see what we mean, check out our Top 5 lists for artist hubs and must-see locations for gamers. But with the pandemic making it unsafe to explore as usual, 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 of what life is like as a Champlain student in Burlington, even now. Here’s our list to get you started on your journey while remaining safe and socially distanced. 

Be sure to maintain six feet from others and wear your mask when exploring these must-see Burlington spots!

5. Burlington Farmers Market

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. The market’s outdoor location makes it a relatively aerated stop, but Vermonters and visitors alike are required to wear masks or cloth facial coverings over their nose and mouth to ensure safety for all.

Not only can you get amazing organic, locally sourced food (the Vermont way of eating), but people also head to the market with friends to experience the atmosphere and see the many dogs visitors bring. 

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

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. Photo: From the archive.

4. Pine Street

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. Although many of these spaces are not currently hosting crowds due to COVID-19, Pine Street has many other offerings that are still available. Thirty Odd, a purveyor of “Good art and art goods,” is open with limited capacity so shoppers can safely enjoy looking at the odds and ends it has to offer—including masks!

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, amazing handmade wraps at New World Tortilla, and a maple pizza at Pizza 44. Don’t forget to stop by Great Harvest, too, a Champlain alumni-owned bakery and cafe!

Pine Street is also host to one of Burlington’s biggest art festivals: The South End Art Hop! A normal year’s Art Hop includes food trucks, interactive art exhibits, and creativity of all kinds.

While the 28th annual Hop will look a little different this year, there will still be a few activities happening safely for families, kids, and the community from September 11-13 on Pine Street.

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. 

Students hang out during Art Hop every fall on Pine Street. Photo: From the archive.

3. Shelburne Orchards 

Apple picking in Vermont is an absolute first semester must, and a great social distancing activity. 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 friends, fill their baskets, drink apple cider, and eat Vermont cider donuts. 

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

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. 

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

2. Burlington Waterfront & Boardwalk

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 few blankets for a socially distanced picnic and you won’t be disappointed. We’ll let the pictures do the talking. 

Bikers on the Burlington Bike Path stop to look at the Adirondack Mountains.

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. 

A classic BTV sunset—a view every Champlain first-year gets to enjoy.

1. Church Street 

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 a typical summer, even festivals like the Jazz Festival and the Festival of Fools

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. 

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. Photo: From the archive.

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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