By Dana Freeman
Burlington consistently lands itself on annual lists of best places to visit, and for a good reason. With a thriving art scene, live music, museums, great food, local breweries, and boutique shops, the Queen City deserves all of the accolades it regularly receives. Not only is this unique city great for adults, but it is the perfect playground for families to explore as well. And although it is a great spot to visit year-round, these are some of the best things to do with kids in Burlington this spring and summer.
ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
Photo Courtesy: Brett Simison - ECHO Leahy Center
Located just steps from the bike path directly on the waterfront,
ECHO should be the first stop for family fun in Burlington.
Lake Champlain is Vermont's largest natural resource, so it is only natural that Burlington has an interactive science center dedicated to everything you need to know about our lake. This innovative science museum has 100+ interactive exhibits to check out, plus 70 different fish species, reptiles, and amphibians, such as snapping turtles, a black rattlesnake, and pumpkinseed fish so kids will never be bored. The youngest in your group will love playing around in Champ Lane with its treehouse climbing area and animal care kids lab.
Photo Courtesy: Dana Freeman
Despite being the birthplace of
Ben & Jerry's, soft-serve ice cream, known as a creemee in these parts, dominates the frozen treat scene here. Creemees can be found at snack shacks, roadside stands, and gas stations all over Vermont, and they're all excellent; however, some of the best can be found right in town.
Get your kid a cone from
Beansie's, a retrofitted yellow school bus parked and open seasonally at the edge of Battery Park in the Old North End. A Burlington establishment, it has been serving Michigan hot dogs, burgers, fries, and creemees out its side window since 1944.
Little Gordo uses fresh, local organic ingredients like maple syrup, honey, strawberries, and peaches in the creemees it serves from its small seasonal stand on Union Street. Take your creemee experience to the next level. Try a wizard or their Little Gordo Creemee inside a donut!
Photo Courtesy: Vermont Lake Monsters
Enjoy America's favorite pastime at Centennial Field, one of the oldest baseball parks still in use today. Opened in 1906, it is home to the
Vermont Lake Monsters, a wooden bat college league. Take the kids on a summer evening to the park to cheer on the team and laugh at the team's mascot, Champ, who provides plenty of entertainment in between innings.
Photo Courtesy: Burlington Parks
Located just off the bike path, directly on the shores of Lake Champlain,
Oaklege Park offers families plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors. It has two sandy beaches for easy access to the water, plus Paddlesurf Champlain rents standup paddleboards and gives lessons. In addition to the tennis, bocce, and volleyball courts, it has one of the best-hidden gems for kids in Burlington. The Forever Young Treehouse is a unique wheel-chair-accessible hideaway that kids will love.
Photo Courtesy: Burlington City Arts
Keep your cool and let the kids soak up some summer fun at the Splash Pad in
City Hall Park. While this spray pad is open daily in the summer from 10 am to dusk, they like to turn it up a notch on Friday and Saturday. So for good vibes and fountains of fun, bring the kids to Splash Dance, Burlington City Arts' weekly DJ-fueled dance party, to boogie along with some of Vermont's best DJs.
Photo Courtesy : Dana Freeman
What kid doesn't love pizza? Although there are many places in Burlington to grab a slice,
Folino's is one of the best. Located downtown, just behind City Market, this small BYOB pizzeria serves uniquely flavored, wood-fired pizzas slightly charred. The Buff Chik, Pesto Bomb, and the BK Special pies are just a few of the local favorites.
Photo Credit: Vera Chang & Shelburne Farms
Less than 15 minutes from downtown Burlington and located on the shores of Lake Champlain,
Shelburne Farms is one of the most magical places in al of Vermont. This Nonprofit Education Organization and National Historic Landmark has a children's farmyard which houses, sheep, goats, pigs, donekys’’, and more. Kids can learn to milk a cow and look for eggs in the chicken coop as well. There is even a bakery and cheesemaking facility there as well. Shelburne Farms is a great place to walk around, with miles of spectacular walking trails that take you through the property and right down to the waterfront.