Bellwethr Magazine

Music, Mountains, and Maple Syrup

Beside the waters of Lake Champlain, Burlington, Vt., offers sustainable stays, farm-to-table eats, and a vibrant music scene.

WORDS BY Katrine Dermody // ART BY Katrine Dermody

Tucked away in Vermont’s northwest corner, Burlington has a population of approximately 42,000. And while this city would be considered small in almost any other state, it is Vermont’s largest, which is part of its charm. From its teeming farmers markets and cozy bed and breakfasts to the city’s many farm-to-table restaurants and vibrant music scene, Burlington offers visitors a rustic but refined spot to kick back, relax, and explore.

 

STAY:

Burlington Hostel

Looking for an environmentally friendly place to stay? Look no further. While the Burlington Hostel doesn’t skimp on the necessities (complementary Wi-Fi and waffles), it does save where it counts – on its energy footprint. Using natural skylights instead of electrical ones during daylight hours, the Burlington Hostel provides calming natural light. Located one block from the bike path and three blocks from the bustling Church Street Marketplace, it’s also a safe and convenient lodging option for visitors on a budget. At $40 per person per night, the Burlington Hostel offers clean and communal accommodations, complete with 24 bunk beds, linens, free lockers, and private showers.

Pro tip: Be sure to swing by the hostel’s common area, where you’ll find comfortable armchairs, books, magazines, and even a piano ready for playing.

Info: Burlington Hostel | 53 Main Street | 2nd floor | 802.540.3043

Hotel Vermont

Hotel Vermont is as hip and homey as Burlington itself. Located in the heart of downtown, Hotel Vermont is Burlington’s newest eco-friendly independent hotel. Between its sand-colored stonework, reclaimed wooden accents, contemporary furniture, and clean, geometric window designs, Hotel Vermont creates an environment that is at once modern and homespun. At roughly $200 to $250 a night, Hotel Vermont is a pricey option, but its waterfront location and locally sourced amenities, such as Lunaroma toiletries, help justify the cost. Valet ($12 per day) and on-site parking ($8 per day) is available for all guests, and for their greener visitors, electric vehicle plug-in is available free of charge.

Pro tip: Stop in to Juniper, the hotel’s local ingredient-driven bar and restaurant, for a pre-dinner cocktail or a custom-made nightcap. Juniper features indoor and outdoor seating, so pull up an Adirondack chair to the patio fireplace and enjoy an evening out with friends.

Info:  Hotel Vermont | 41 Cherry St. |  855.650.0080

Made Inn Vermont

This bed-and-breakfast is located in the upscale Hill Section in downtown Burlington. With it’s wide-plank hardwood floors, rod-iron chandeliers, sliding French doors, and warm brick fireplaces, the Made Inn Vermont is comfy enough to make any weary traveler feel right at home. Smaller than a traditional hotel, the Made Inn Vermont offers a handful of unique rooms ($250 per night), each with its own private bath located down the hall with lock and key. The Made Inn also features local artists’ original work throughout the inn — and most of it is for sale. So if you’re an art lover, keep your eyes peeled. Beyond the lovely interior aesthetics, the Made Inn also boasts an intimate patio garden, complete with a bubbling fountain, a hammock, reclining deck chairs, and a secluded hot tub.

Pro tip: Made Inn Vermont has one room that can accommodate a pet staying with its owner. Be warned, though, there’s an extra $35 charge per night per animal.

Info: Made Inn Vermont | 204 S. Willard St. |  802.399.2788

Kountry Kart Deli

For 20 hours a day, 363 days of the year, this food cart turned brick-and-mortar deli offers burgers, hotdogs, sandwiches, salads, and other munchies (try the special Cajun fries). But they’re perhaps best known for their famous Rise and Shiner ($4.25 for a small), a colossal breakfast sandwich constructed out of bacon, ham or sausage, golden hash browns, cheese and a fried egg all served piping hot on a toasted roll. Kountry Kart Deli is a great way to jumpstart your day – or end a wild evening.

Pro Tip: Kountry Kart serves breakfast all day – and well into the night. But if you’re not craving greasy spoon deli food at 2 a.m. on the weekend, pop in to Ahli Baba’s kabob shop located right next door for some falafel to go.

Info: Kountry Kart Deli | 155 Main St. | | 802.864.4408

Misery Loves Co.

Foodies, rejoice. Misery Loves Company is a farm-to-table gastropub located in Winooski, Vt., just two miles from downtown Burlington. Dedicated to showcasing Vermont’s many local farms and food producers, Misery offers a small but inventive menu featuring everything from lavender-infused fresh cheese to aged raw beef and tempura fried softshell crab. While the food may change with the seasons, there are some things that remain constant: attentive service, a quaint dining atmosphere, and, of course, delicious entrees. On top of this, Misery serves perhaps the finest fried chicken north of the Mason-Dixon Line (six generous pieces with three sides for just $32), so if you’re someone who appreciates a mix of fine dining with a down-home, locavore twist, then Misery Loves Company is the spot for you.

Pro tip: As the name suggests, this restaurant loves it when you share. So while you can come and enjoy a solo dinner, they offer mostly small plates, making it optimal for small groups or a romantic date.

Info: Misery Loves Company | 46 Main St. Winooski, Vt. | 802.497.3989

Radio Bean

Just a block from Church Street, Radio Bean may not get as much natural foot traffic as other shops on the main drag, but this funky little java house is definitely worth the (tiny) detour. With its exposed brick walls, fringed lampshades, metallic streamers, velveteen couches, and handwritten chalkboards, Radio Bean feels like a wonderful mix between an art student’s living room and a gritty dive bar. Beyond its eclectic décor, Radio Bean offers a cozy spot to enjoy coffee, tea, or the occasional cocktail with a side of live jazz, soul, or folksy acoustic tunes seven days a week.

Pro tip: Feeling adventurous? Try Radio Bean’s famous “5 Dollar Shake” – an inventive blend of Wolaver’s Oatmeal Stout with a shot of espresso and a little bit of maple syrup to sweeten the deal. And yes, it’s only $5.

Info: Radio Bean |  8 N. Winooski Ave . | 802.660.9346

 

DAYTIME:

Burlington Summer Farmers’ Market

Burlington’s Farmers’ Market provides a fun and welcoming outdoor venue for visitors and locals alike to see, taste, and shop all things made and grown in Vermont. Located in City Hall Park in the heart of downtown Burlington, the market offers an embarrassment of local riches – from homemade honey and maple syrup to beaded jewelry, watercolor paintings, organic meats, fresh produce, and even artisan popsicles. Short on cash? No problem— most of the vendors at the Burlington Farmers’ Market accept debit cards. The market operates from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays from May to October.

Pro tip: Throughout the summer months, there’s often live music being performed on the lawn. So buy some bread and cheese, roll out a blanket, and enjoy the show (and lunch), al fresco.

Info: Burlington Vermont Summer Farmers Market | Every Saturday May-October |  8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. | City Hall Park

Oakledge Park & Beach

Located lakeside in Burlington’s South End, Oakledge Park features 2,400 feet of waterfront that’s perfect for swimming, beach picnics, and watching spectacular sunsets. Oakledge is also home to a playground, tennis and volleyball courts, two softball fields, a multi-use field, walking trails, grill-equipped picnic pavilions, and is a setting for a number of intramural sports leagues. In fact, every Monday and Thursday night throughout the summer, you’ll find some fun-loving and sometimes rowdy, young adults playing in a not-so-competitive kickball league. And while glass bottles and beer kegs are not permitted in the park, alcohol can be consumed from cans between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Pro tip: Squeeze in some exercise while taking in Vermont’s beautiful scenery by trying stand-up paddleboarding. Paddle board rentals and private ($30/hour) and group lessons ($20/hour) are available. More information available here.

Info: Oakledge Park  | 2 Flynn Ave

Crow Bookshop

Located at the top of Church Street in downtown, Crow Bookshop has served as Burlington’s resident independent bookstore since 1995. In addition to its rustic hardwood floors, red leather couches, and the calming scent of old paperbacks, Crow Bookshop offers customers another notable incentive to stop and shop – discounts. Yes, at Crow’s physical location, new hardcovers are discounted 20 percent, all the time, and most used titles sell for about 50 percent of the original cover price.

Pro Tip: Crow happily accepts “gently loved” used books in exchange for store credit to be used toward the purchase of other used books.

Info: Crow Bookshop  | 14 Church St. | 802.862.0848

 

NIGHT SCENE

Red Square

Red Square is one of Burlington’s most popular nightclubs, offering live music, DJs, a full bar, and intimate booth seating. True to its name, Red Square features red mood lighting on the dance floor, at the bar, and even shining into its outdoor seating area. Dancy, cool, and just a little bit loud, Red Square is a great spot for young people looking to dance the night away.

Pro tip: There’s usually a small cover at the door ($3 to $5) so bring cash with you when you go.

Info: Red Square | 136 Church St. | 802.859.8909

Nectar’s

Nectar’s has been bringing live music to Burlington, Vt., since 1975. So its motto, “Fresh Music Served Daily,”couldn’t be more accurate. However, Nectar’s boasts a hopping and long-lived live music scene – a repertoire that includes big names like Phish and Grace Potter. It’s also a popular destination for tasty late-night pub fare, especially from its famous “Fry Window.” Open every Friday and Saturday night from 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m, it’s the place to stop and grab some hot gravy fries for your walk home.

Pro tip: Regular patrons say that the Nectar’s chicken wings – available in 14 different flavors, ranging from traditional buffalo to Ghost Pepper Vindaloo – are a delicious addition or alternative to Nectar’s famous gravy fries.

Info: Nectar’s  | 188 Main St | 802.658.4771

Monkey House

Offering live performances seven days a week, the Monkey House is one of Burlington’s most beloved music venues. While not the largest music spot in town, it may just be one of the most fun and affordable places to see a show. This laid-back tavern offers a full bar and  pool table and attracts artists with a big sound to their small stage. From rock ‘n’ roll groups to bluegrass bands and burlesque troops, the Monkey House has something to please even the most discerning ears. So take a seat at the bar, order a pint, and settle in for a night of tunes at the tap.

Pro tip: The Monkey House is flanked on both sides by several renowned restaurants – so if you’re going to make the quick trip to Winooski to see a show, make a night of it by grabbing a bite to eat before you rock out.

Info: Monkey House | 30 Main Street, Winooski, Vt. | 802.655.4563

Burlington, Vt. has everything you'll need for a good time from dusk to dawn.
Burlington, Vt. has everything you'll need for a good time from dusk to dawn.
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