Sustainable. Farm to table. Slow food. From Austin to Brooklyn, Melbourne to Copenhagen, these are the food buzzwords you’ve been hearing at trendy restaurants around the world the last few years. Some places embrace this casually, using seasonal produce from local vendors if possible. For others, if they can’t forage or source products locally, it doesn’t end up on the menu at all. And then there are places that have focused on handcrafted products all along. It’s a way of life that extends beyond fruit, vegetables, and grass-fed beef. It’s a place like Burlington, Vermont.
Located in between Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains, Burlington is only 45 miles from the Canadian border. Vermont’s largest city would only be considered a town in most states. It’s home to Ben & Jerry’s and the University of Vermont, artists and hippies, liberals and free spirits. And it comes alive during the summer, when everyone wants to be outside.
Get up early and head to the Burlington Farmers’ Market in City Hall Park. Fill a reusable bag with maple syrup, honey, and fresh cider donuts. A cup of coffee at Uncommon Grounds and an Early Riser breakfast crêpe at The Skinny Pancake should prepare you for a day full of outdoor activities. Pedal along the waterfront bike path. Learn to sail on the calm lake. Jump in the water at North Beach for a quick, chilly swim. Or head into the mountains. Hike the easy Mount Philo trail or climb Camel’s Hump for amazing views of the valley.
Your grumbling stomach will dictate your return to the city. Try mango gazpacho at Stone Soup or summer squash tacos with a margarita at El Cortijo. Then sample a flight of beer at the Vermont Pub & Brewery. Or tour the brewery and sample the seasonal beer at Magic Hat. Wander through shops of the four-block, pedestrian-only Church Street Marketplace. Your favorite stop might be Lake Champlain Chocolates for truffles. For sunset, choose between cruising the lake on The Spirit of Ethan Allen or cocktails and the raw bar at the Shanty on the Shore. Both provide views of the sun dipping behind New York’s Adirondack Mountains in the distance. Move to the outdoor beer garden at the Farmhouse Tap & Grill for Jasper Hill cheese and free-range turkey burgers. And end the night at Nectar’s, where Phish started playing years ago. You might be listening to the next big jam band.
After eating, drinking, and buying local all day, the last thing you need is a room at a big hotel chain. From the wood to the marble, Hotel Vermont was built with materials from within 600 miles of Burlington. Rooms have views of the lake and ice buckets that look like sap buckets. The bedtime menu includes Vermont Teddy Bears, Lunaroma aromatherapy products, and flannel pajamas, but hopefully you won’t have to use them this time of year. Though it could be chilly enough in the fall. Just in time for apple picking and leaf-peeping season.