Sitting on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, about 45 miles (75 km) south of the Canadian border, is the city of Burlington VT. With a population of almost 45,000 people, it is the states largest city, and serves as home to three colleges.
|First Universalist Unitarian Society|
Burlington was founded in 1785, and served as a small manufacturing center along the lake. This was especially true after the Champlain Canal, Erie Canal, and Chambly Canal opened up in the early 1800’s. Together they provided a continuous link for shipping between New York, Montreal/Quebec, and the Mid-West. Burlington became a major shipping point for northern New England.
The city has maintained many of the houses and factory buildings that date back to the early 20th century. Walking around Burlington is a wonderful trip through its history, and a great look at where it is today.
One place to visit in Burlington is the Ethan Allen Homestead. This house, and its farm, is where Ethan Allen (1738-1789) lived the last two years of his life. He returned to Vermont in 1787, with Frances, his second wife. Together, they built a home, and cleared the land. After his death, in 1789, the house was sold, and remained part of the Van Ness family holdings until 1862. It passed through several families before being certified as the original house in 1975. During the 1980’s the house and land were turned into a park and museum. Today you can tour the house and its garden. There is also a recreated Abeknabi village that is being maintained in partnership with Alnôbaiwi an inter-tribal organization.
Another place to visit is Burlington’s Waterfront. With an 8-mile bike path, kayaks for rent, and lots of green space, Waterfront is a great place to spend a day. Make sure that you stop in at ECHO: The Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. ECHO is a science museum, aimed mostly at children, that focuses on the weather, geology, and ecosystem of Lake Champlain.
Of course, no visit to Burlington would be complete without a stop at the Church Street Shopping District. This pedestrian mall in the center of downtown is the place to go to find art galleries, clothing stores and good restaurants. I visited during Burlington’s annual Jazziest, and watch several bands, including the local middle school jazz band.
Burlington is a wonderful place to stay in Vermont. There is a lot to do there, and it offers a great base for the rest of the state.