1 Perfect Burlington Walking Tour 1
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1 Perfect Burlington Walking Tour

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Greetings Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, author of the famous travel memoir Get Lost, and welcome to a perfect Burlington walking tour. Some people might think that the best reason to spend 24 hours with a Burlington Walking Tour is to hang out with old hippie gentlemen.

After all, Bernie Sanders was once the Mayor of Burlington. And even to this day, one of the most popular things to do in the city is chow down on Cherry Garcia at Ben and Jerry’s.

But Burlington, Vermont has so much more to offer than just fellows past retirement age who never brush their hair. With 24 hours to enjoy your Burlington Walking Tour, you can explore Vermont’s fascinating Colonial history, take a nap by a river, and eat at one of the best restaurants in the country.

Want to cut right to the chase, Internet Stranger? The best activity in Burlington is this fantastic beer tour with tons of five-star reviews!

Plus we’ll even learn about the secret war between Vermont and my home state of New York.

burlington walking tour

As a side note, I came down with a horrible stomach bug immediately upon arriving in Burlington. Yet I did not let that stop me from exploring the city, as I was determined to write the best possible itinerary for you. So you could also use this as a “24 hours with a Burlington Walking Tour with the Devil’s Own Tummy Flu Guide”, if so needed.

Burlington Walking Tour

Burlington Walking Tour

Morning: Ethan Allen Homestead

I began this blog post by invoking famous Vermonters like Senator Bernie Sanders and Mssrs. Ben and Jerry. But the greatest Vermont hero of all time might very well be Ethan Allen. Don’t get confused by the name and think I’m talking about a furniture store. Ethan Allen was perhaps the greatest advocate the state of Vermont has ever had.

That’s why we’ll be spending the morning of our Burlington Walking Tour at the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum. A free video, admission to the museum, and a docent tour of Ethan Allen’s home are included with the price.

Like basically every attraction in northern New England that doesn’t involve skiing, it’s only open during the summer months. But if you’re in Burlington between May and October, you need to come here to learn about the man, the myth, the Vermonter. I’ll help you get started with…

three fun facts: ethan allen

burlington walking tour
1) why is ethan allen famous?

Ethan Allen was actually from Connecticut, not Vermont, but he has become a legend in the Green Mountain State. (That’s Vermont’s nickname because Vermont means Green Mountain in French.) Ethan Allen first won fame leading the American forces to victory against the British at Fort Ticonderoga at the beginning of the American Revolution.

Some rude people say that Allen won because the British were taken by surprise, not because Allen was very skilled. But I wouldn’t say that to Allen’s face because he was an exceptionally tall man and he might squish you with his giant feet.

burlington walking tour

Later during the American Revolution, Allen was captured by the British and languished in prison for years.

But Allen ended up turning this to his advantage because he had success with his memoirs about his time in prison, A Narrative of Col. Ethan Allen’s Captivity, which he wrote when he was older. Let it never be said than Ethan Allen missed the opportunity to burnish his own legend.

burlington walking tour
2) but why is ethan allen famous in vermont?

Even before the American Revolution, Ethan Allen was the leader of a rag tag group of misfits known as the Green Mountain Boys. Some people might wonder, when reading a list of the original 13 colonies, why Vermont isn’t on that list.

The short answer is that Vermont used to be a weird, amorphous territory between New York State and New Hampshire. At that time, Vermont was confusingly known as the New Hampshire Land Grants, even though it was separate from New Hampshire.

burlington walking tour

New York State didn’t like this State of affairs, and insisted that the New Hampshire Land Grants belonged to them. Many Vermonters took exception to New York telling them what to do. So some of them formed a militia called the Green Mountain Boys. Ethan Allen was their fearless leader. Their mission? Resist New York at any price!

The Ethan Allen Homestead Museum is quick to point out that the Green Mountain Boys didn’t actually kill people. And they did eventually get what they wanted because Vermont was soon admitted to the union as the 14th state.

But it’s still funny for me, as a New Yorker, to think of Vermont going to war with us. Like nowadays Vermont is just full of stoners, snowboarders, and cows. So I think we could pretty easily take them if armed conflict broke out.

burlington walking tour
3) what’s special about this house?

First off, it was the actual final home of Ethan Allen. He was no fancy gentleman farmer; he actually built the home himself. And he ran the farm himself. The farm still works to this day. Our guide showed us how they grow flax on the property and can turn it into linen. It’s a very complicated process. Much easier for me to just go to Uniqlo and buy a shirt nowadays.

But the Ethan Allen Homestead is also famous for something called the Black Snake Affair that took place years after Allen’s death. President Thomas Jefferson, for reasons that are too complicated to get into now, declared an embargo on Americans engaging in overseas trade. “Trade wars are good and easy to win,” he did not say.

burlington walking tour

Of course some Americans ignored this, and a group of smugglers were caught in Vermont. A shootout ensued, and some customs agents were killed in the fight. Ethan Allen’s son served on the jury for one of the smugglers. (The smuggler was convicted and became the first person executed in the state of Vermont.)

Our docent said that a group of Homeland Security Agents, the modern equivalent of the customs agents, had come to the Homestead in costume to honor their fallen brethren. I would not have thought the Homeland Security Agents were into cosplay! It just shows life can always surprise you.

burlington walking tour

Burlington Walking Tour

Afternoon: Explore Burlington

Now that we’ve enjoyed our time at the Ethan Allen Homestead, it’s time to continue our Burlington Walking Tour. Now, Burlington is Vermont’s largest city, but keep in mind that being Vermont’s largest city looks very different than being the largest city in New York.

In fact, Burlington is the smallest largest city in the United States. So we’ll still be in touch with a tremendous amount of nature and beauty.

Also, keep in mind that I had a horrific gastrointestinal bug the entire time I was exploring Burlington, so that might affect my thoughts a bit. But I still managed to record the…

approximately top 5: Burlington Walking Tour

burlington walking tour
1) mckenzie park

The Ethan Allen Homestead is located in an especially lovely part of Burlington. So after your visit and tour of the home, I suggest going for a relaxing walk in the area. You want to make your ways to McKenzie Park and then from there to Intervale Community Farm.

Keep in mind that there are no public toilets in the area, not even if you are maybe dying from stomach bug, so use the facilities before you leave the Ethan Allen Homestead.

burlington walking tour

One of the reasons McKenzie Park is so lovely is that it’s located on the banks of the Winooski River. Occasional flooding from the river puts the “vert” in “Vermont”.

But if you’re doubled over in pain from stomach cramps, you can lie down besides the Winooski River and take a pleasant nap, using your bag for a pillow. Vermonters are very pleasant people and will not draw a fake mustache on you while you are sleeping.

burlington walking tour
2) Hong’s Chinese Dumplings

At this point on our Burlington walking tour, you’re going to want to have lunch. It’s way too far to walk back to downtown Burlington, so either drive or call an Uber to take you to Hong’s. This place started as a food truck, but it’s now got a proper building where you can sit down and eat some awesome dumplings or take them to go.

They have four different dumplings, and I suggest getting one of each. They are veggie, pork, crab cream cheese, and chicken cheese. I was certainly excited about getting so much cheese in my dumplings because it was a new experience.

But since Vermont is so famous for cows and dairy, maybe they are legally required to use dairy in their recipes. It’s the Ben and Jerry’s law.

I got a side of cold noodles with my dumplings, and while they were tasty, I didn’t quite need so much food for one person. This would have been a good amount to split with someone else.

burlington walking tour
3) Greenmount Cemetery

It always feels a little strange suggesting that someone visit a cemetery on vacation. However, Greenmount Cemetery is a lovely place to go for a walk when the weather in Burlington is fine. On top of that, it’s where Ethan Allen is buried! We visited his house this morning, so we might as well visit his grave this afternoon.

burlington walking tour

Hello, Ethan! Wow, they weren’t kidding when they said you were tall!

burlington walking tour
4) Visit Winooski

So, I know I said Burlington was small. However, even I was surprised that it’s so small that you can walk from downtown Burlington to the next town over pretty easily.

That town, Winooski, which I assume is named after the river, is much smaller than Burlington, but it still has a few shops where you can buy jewelry and gifts and other cute little Vermont objects.

burlington walking tour

My favorite place in Winooski was Four Quarters Brewing, a craft brewery that serves locally-made beer. I tried the Phaze, which is their specialty. It’s a hazy IPA and it packs a lot of flavor.

If you prefer something with a little less punch, I suggest the Dolla Dolla Pils, which, as you can probably tell from the name, is a Pilsner.

burlington walking tour

After the beer, you can stroll down the part of the Winooski River that separates Winooski Town from Burlington. I was almost run over by a little boy on his scooter, but then he apologized to me by giving me a very sweet hug. So I hope you have an equally lovely experience.

burlington walking tour
5) church street marketplace

You can’t spend 24 hours in Burlington without visiting the Church Street Marketplace. This is a pedestrian-only shopping street that’s also an excellent place to just hang in the afternoon. Some of my favorite stores on Church Street include the fair trade store Ten Thousand Villages and Frog Hollow Craft Center.

Ten Thousand Villages has items from all over the world. I bought a box made out of cinnamon from Vietnam that still smells delicious. And at the Frog Hollow Craft Center they have pieces by artists from all over Vermont. I bought a painting of cows from the artist himself.

He even signed the back for me. Also, the artist looked just like Bernie Sanders in disguise but that could have been the stomach flu talking. Or it could just be that all old guys in Vermont look like Bernie Sanders.

burlington walking tour

But of course the most famous place on Church Street is the giant Ben and Jerry’s. Step inside to find flavors that are only available in the store. You can even get Ben and Jerry’s lip balm here.

I got Chocolate Therapy to see if it’s possible for me to have a stomach bug that makes me too sick to want to eat ice cream. (Spoiler Alert! It’s impossible! I always want ice cream.)

burlington walking tour

Burlington Walking Tour

Evening: Dinner at Hen of the Wood

Hen of the Wood is not just the most famous restaurant in Burlington. It also shows up on lists of the best restaurants in the United States. You have to make reservations well in advance to dine here. I was so excited for my reservation and then devastated to find that I was violently ill on the day of.

But that would not stop me from doing my best to review the restaurant for you, my Internet Strangers! And what higher praise can I give a restaurant than saying I liked it despite the fact that my internal organs were turning themselves into knots as I dined?

Hen of the Wood is a small plate restaurant, so I would suggest ordering three dishes when dining alone and then get dessert. The menu changes frequently, so I can’t guarantee anything I order will be on the menu. However, if it is, you should get it.

burlington walking tour

Hen of the Woods is famous for their Parker House rolls, so I appreciate that they allowed me to order just one. You should get one for each person in your party–they’re definitely worth it.

burlington walking tour

I visited Burlington in the late spring, and you could definitely tell from the produce on the menu. I started with the halibut crudo with rhubarb vinaigrette, asparagus, and zucchini. I loved the sweet and sour flavors in the dish, as well as all the crunch from the fresh vegetables. It tasted like a cool spring day.

burlington walking tour

Next I had the cucumbers with pickled rhubarb and lardo. This had a lot of the same vibe as the previous dish, but it was richer with the use of lardo instead of the halibut crudo.

And we get even richer with roasted asparagus with poached duck egg and green garlic. After the first two courses, the roasted asparagus felt almost meaty, so this was the perfect progression of dishes. Listen to your waiter and see what she suggests, then do it!

burlington walking tour

Of course, nothing is more appropriate for dessert in Vermont than a maple tart. That’s just science. In fact, I was here in Burlington to celebrate an early birthday, so this was my ideal birthday cake. Thanks Hen in the Woods!

1 Perfect Burlington Walking Tour 2

Burlington Walking Tour

Where to Stay?

I spent several weeks in the summer traveling to every single state in New England. At this point in my life, I’ve taken a trip to all of the continental 48 states. So I can confirm that New England is the most expensive region in the country, hotel-wise.

If you’re looking for the best value for your Burlington Walking Tour, I recommend the Best Western Plus Windjammer Inn and Conference Center. It’s not located right in Downtown Burlington, but it’s easily reachable from there by car/Uber.

The rooms were clean and comfy, and there was a free breakfast spread every morning with many good options. Plus there were free cookies in the evening! I think I would have enjoyed the cookies more if I hadn’t had a stomach bug, but it’s the thought that counts.

If you’re looking for a great deal on this hotel, click here.

If you’d rather explore great deals on other hotels in Burlington, click here. This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay as the base for your Burlington walking tour. With hundreds of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

24 hours in burlington

That’s a Perfect Burlington Walking Tour!

What would you do on a Burlington Walking Tour? Should New York State declare war on Vermont just because it can? And have you ever toured an entire city while doubled over in pain from a terrible virus? Please email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours with a Burlington Walking Tour.

Try 24 hours in Burlington Vermont. Add a one day in Portland Maine itinerary. Go for 24 hours in Portland Maine. Find the best attractions in Portsmouth NH. Enjoy the best things to do in Downtown Portsmouth NH!

1 Perfect Burlington Walking Tour 3

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