As I mentioned in my previous article, my time in Burlington has come to a close. There are a number of factors, not the least of which is my insatiable wanderlust. My girlfriend and I will be moving to the MidAtlantic, where I plan to continue the momentum I’ve developed up here. Argilla Monthly will be returning, assuming the brew pub still makes crazy monthly pizzas. Northern Delaware isn’t exactly a tourist hub, though, so I’ll be looking into day trips up and down the BosWash. For now, I bring to you an overview of the Queen City, the largest in Vermont, and my home for much of the last six years.
The only interstate that runs through Burlington connects the Canadian border (on the way to Montreal) with Bow, New Hampshire—which I’d never heard of before researching this article. In Bow, however, I-89 meets I-93, which has its southern terminus in Boston. For those of us that aren’t already in New England, however, I recommend going through the Adirondacks. It’s an incredibly beautiful drive, and although there’s no cell service, the route is easy enough that with nothing but a list of road code names in your hand, the drive is fun and relaxing—and much quicker than going around. The list of code names starting from the point where you enter Adirondack State Park on I-87 is as follows: I-87 N to NY-74 E (exit 28) to NY-9N N to NY-22E (which starts at 9N and ends at the Bridge); on the other side of the Crown Point Bridge, you’ll take VT-17 to VT-22A N to US-7 N. Seven will take you right into Burlington, and back into cell service before that. Some notes about this route: Following “Bridge to New York” signs are a pretty good rule of thumb once you get off I-87. The spurs of US-9 in New York are labeled like New York routes of the same number, but as they’re spurs, they’re given different letters (not numbers) to mark them as all looping off and on to the same route; that’s how “New York 9N North” can be a proper name. It is unwise to enter the Adirondacks without a full tank of gas.
Now that we’ve arrived, what is there to do? Searching “Burlington” in that top-right search bar will give you a place to start. You’ll find an outdoor mall, a vegan cafe, and a place to jump (from height) into a river named “crazy,” just for starters. These three things begin to tell you, but are far from fully explaining, what culture in Northern Vermont is like. Hippies, hipsters, farm folk, and sportsmen all love Chittenden County (in which sits Burlington), and for overlapping reasons. The landscape is stunning, with the Green Mountains to the east and Lake Champlain—and then the Adirondacks—to the west, which makes it a great place to go outside (for any reason). The social atmosphere is incredibly laid back; people don’t care what sort of person you are, so long as you don’t care about what they’re doing. Waiting tables on Church Street, I saw a table of locals fall deep into conversation with a tourist couple at the next table over, and at a glance they didn’t look like people who’d usually mix. Skiing in the winter and watersports (sailing, SCUBA, snorkeling) in the warmer months—not to mention at least three different companies that will take you skydiving—ensure that the thrill seekers have something to do. Beer lovers and foodies will find Burlington almost endlessly entertaining, both of which are further deepened by the area’s culture of “localvoreism,” a sort of sustainability where everyone sources ingredients from producers that are in their same geographical area.
Those that love the outdoors but don’t need a serious adrenaline rush every time they step out of their comfort zone will also find a great deal of enjoyment in and around Burlington, and at hardly any cost to them. Mt. Philo State Park is of particular note on this front, as it’s both a fun, solid day hike and so close to Burlington proper it only takes up half a day. Really, though, there’s little need to leave Burlington if a walk in a beautiful place is what you’re after. The city itself is endlessly lovely, with sunsets behind the Adirondacks across Lake Champlain and Victorian architecture dominating most corners of the town. Situated as it is on a hill of decent grade (I skied down Maple street just after a blizzard one year), one must plan walks a bit to avoid the steeper sections of the city, but it’s absolutely possible.
For lovers of food, lovers of the open road, or lovers of the open sky, Northern Vermont is not a place to miss. It’s a place of unique beers and delicious (sustainably sourced) food, mild summers and beautiful sunsets, and wilderness comfortably close to a city center. Mild summers and wintry winters make it my kind of place year round (though it does tend to get quite cold), not to mention the beautiful colors of the autumn. Burlington is one of my favorite places in our great nation, and though I no longer live there, I’ll never stop returning.