For my birthday this past year, we spent the weekend in Burlington, VT with kids. I’ve lived in New England for almost all of my life and even lived in southern Vermont for four years when I was little, but this was my very first trip to Burlington.
I wish we had more than a weekend, but we had a lot of fun with what little time we did have.
Whether you have a week or a weekend, this Burlington VT travel guide for family-friendly activities will help you put together an itinerary that will keep you and your kids busy and having fun.
What to do in Burlington, VT with kids
Church Street Marketplace
This outdoor marketplace will probably look familiar to you if you’ve ever been to the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado. There is a reason for that; they were both designed by the same design firm.
Located in the heart of downtown Burlington is the Church Street Marketplace, an open-air mall with a wide variety of restaurants and shops. It is a great place to grab a bite, do a little souvenir shopping, and is just a beautiful place to walk on a nice day.
ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
The ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is a fun little science center right on Lake Champlain. Here you will learn about the lake, its creatures, its history, and even some history about Champ, the sea monster that legend says lives in Lake Champlain.
There are many species of turtle, fish, frogs, and more that live at ECHO as well as special exhibits. Be sure to check their calendar to see what’s going on at the museum while you’re in town.
Hours and admission
ECHO Leahy Center is open year-round from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Toddlers (ages 2 and under): Free
Children (ages 3-17): $14
Seniors & students: $15
*Admission is free with the reciprocal admission discount available with your membership to another participating museum or zoo.
ECHO Leahy Center address
1 College Street
Ethan Allen Homestead Museum
Ethan Allen, a farmer, businessman, writer, politician, and Revolutionary War patriot was born in Connecticut and eventually made a home in Vermont, then known as the New Hampshire Grants. He lobbied for Vermont’s official state recognition.
The Ethan Allen Homestead Museum is a beautiful homestead in the Winooski River valley. The farm is now a living museum where you can walk the grounds, find out more about Ethan Allen, and see what life was like in the 1700s.
Hours and admission
The Ethan Allen Homestead is open May 1st to October 31st, Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The last tour is at 3:00 pm.
Children under 5: free
Students 5-17: $6
Ethan Allen Homestead address
1 Ethan Allen Homestead
More museums in Burlington, VT
- Shelburne Museum
- Fleming Museum of Art
- Perkins Museum of Geology (free admission)
- Birds of Vermont Museum
Lake Champlain Cruises
Take a cruise on Lake Champlain on the Spirit of Ethan Allen ferry. There are several different cruise packages from a general narrated scenic cruise to dinner cruises and murder-mystery tours.
The scenic cruise is a nice hour and a half cruise on the lake narrated with information about Burlington and even some stories of Champ the monster.
Cruise times and prices
Scenic cruises run daily from May 9 to October 18 at 10:00, 12:00, 2:00, and 4:00.
Check times and pricing for all other cruises.
Snacks, small meals, and drinks are available for purchase from the Ethan Allen Cafe.
Spirit of Ethan Allen cruise address
1 College Street
Where to eat with kids in Burlington, VT
When we woke up on our first morning in Burlington we looked online for places to get breakfast and saw that there were two highly rated diners in town. When it comes to breakfast, nothing beats a great diner so we went to Henry’s Diner since it is located downtown close to Church Street Marketplace. Let me tell you, it was one of the best breakfasts we had in a long time!
Henry’s has been serving breakfast since 1925 so they know what they’re doing! If you’re looking for an amazing breakfast, I highly recommend their omelets, but my youngest son will tell you that their french toast is the way to go. No matter what you order, you can’t go wrong.
Henry’s Diner address
155 Bank St
There are a lot of fantastic restaurants in Burlington, especially along the Church Street Marketplace, but many of them had long wait times. Since we had a hungry 8-year-old with us, we decided to just grab some pizza at American Flatbread.
I am a self-described pizza snob, and let me tell you, this pizza was so good! As the name implies, the pizzas served here aren’t traditional, but they are out of this world. Instead of a standard crust topped with cheese and stuff that is then thrown in an oven, American Flatbread uses creative topping combinations on top of a flatbread then cooks their pizza in a stone wood-fired oven.
As I mentioned above, I love a good diner. Since both of the diners in town were highly rated, we also couldn’t leave town without also giving the Parkway Diner a try.
Located a bit further away from downtown, Parkway isn’t as conveniently located as Henry’s. If you only want to try one diner, I’d recommend sticking with Henry’s. But if you’d like to try both, the drive out to Parkway Diner is worth it. I had the eggs benedict and it was delicious.
Parkway Diner address
1696 Williston Rd
South Burlington, VT
Ben & Jerry’s
Located in the Church Street Marketplace, no visit to Burlington is complete with an ice cream cone from the original Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop location where you can party like it’s 1978.
Ben & Jerry’s address
36 Church St
More family-friendly Burlington, VT attractions
- Shelburne Farms – visit the animals at this beautiful farm with walking trails and a children’s farmyard.
- Lake Champlain Chocolates – take the factory tour and buy some delicious local chocolate.
- Vermont Teddy Bear Factory – see where these iconic bears are made, visit the Bear Hospital, and create a new friend to bring home.
- Leddy Beach and park – take a walk, have a picnic, and dip your toes in Lake Champlain.
Covered Bridges near Burlington, VT
What visit to Vermont is complete without finding a covered bridge or two? There is something so charming and nostalgic about covered bridges. They are a reminder of a bygone era and are one of the most quintessential symbols of New England.
We visited three beautiful covered bridges in Charlotte, VT which is located about fifteen miles south of Burlington. While not typical kids’ activity, my kids thought these bridges were really cool to walk and drive through.
Seguin Covered Bridge, Charlotte, VT
The Seguin Covered Bridge is a beautiful bridge located off the beaten path, which seems to be most of Charlotte, Vermont. There is a pull-off where you can get out of the car and explore the bridge up close and personal. Surrounded by woods, this bridge would be breathtaking in the fall.
Holmes Creek Bridge, Charlotte, VT
Located right along Lake Champlain, the Holmes Creek Bridge is in a gorgeous place to pull over and look out at the water.
Quinlan’s Covered Bridge, Charlotte, VT
Drive through miles of farmland to get to Quinlan’s Covered Bridge. As with the other bridges, this one has an area to pull over though it’s not as well defined as with the other two. Quinlan’s bridge crosses a peaceful little stream and is located next to a large field of farmland. A quaint scene that is worth the drive.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do and places to visit near Burlington, VT with kids. Burlington is the perfect destination for outdoorsy families who like hiking, exploring, walking, and seeing how things work.
Consider Burlington, Vermont for your next family vacation if you are looking for a destination that is off the beaten path.