Head to Burlington, VT
Summer is the high tourist season in Boston, which means big crowds at all the best attractions. Why not take a couple of days away and explore the rest of the northeast? Burlington, Vermont, is fewer than four hours from Boston, and there are lots of quaint, New England towns to visit along the way. Burlington is also a college town, so you can be sure it's vibrant and full of life on the banks of Lake Champlain. And, if you want to road trip even further, it's under an hour to the Canadian border.
Fuel Up On The Way
Just over halfway into the trip from Boston to Burlington, there sits an old railroad town that's now a hub for good food, great drinks, and the arts. White River Junction, Vermont, is just past the New Hampshire border and has forged a new identity for itself since the depot closed.
After a few hours on the road, it's time for a pick me up. Head to Piecemeal Pies for a coffee and sumptuous baked goods. The coffee, lattes, and espresso are reasonably priced, and the pastries are some of the best around. If you're really hungry, the savory English pies are filling and come in traditional flavors like rabbit and bacon, smoked trout and fennel and curried lamb.
If you started a little later in the day and are planning on a lengthier stop, a cheeky drink might be in order, and Wolf Tree is the best game in town. The handcrafted cocktails here rival those in the best cocktail dens of Boston and New York City. The clean lines and minimalist interior are perfect for a romantic evening, and the outdoor patio is great for enjoying the fresh air. While to-go drinks may be the norm in bigger cities, it's a novel concept in the Upper Valley. Wolf Tree offers all of its cocktails in single or large format portions for take-home consumption. Thursday-Saturday, dine-in guests can order wood-fired pizzas to soak up the expertly made cocktails, and locally sourced meats and cheeses are available any night of the week.
Broadway may still be closed, but Northern Stage has been converted into an outdoor theatre to keep the magic of theatre alive. This summer, check out "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged." This raucous comedy smashes more than 30 of the Bard's works into a 97-minute laugh fest. If you don't have time to stop for a show, check out Northern Stage's podcast "Portraits of the Pandemic." The director of education invited the young actors in the community to participate in a writing workshop.
Each week he'd send writing prompts, and then the students would meet via Zoom to discuss what they'd written. The distilled-down versions of the hundreds of pages they created are the basis for this moving, heart-warming podcast.
Fuel Up In Town
A day of driving can undoubtedly work up an appetite. Thankfully, Burlington has no shortage of places to fill your tank. Hen of the Wood is one of the most celebrated restaurants in town, and it's now open for indoor dining and takeout. The menu changes daily depending on what's in season, so eating here is constantly a surprise. Favorite menu items have included swordfish with Lebanese cucumbers, dill aioli and roasted asparagus or the 16-ounce ribeye for two.
Two names have become synonymous with Burlington, those of Ben and Jerry. The unapologetically progressive ice cream company has its flagship ice cream shop on Church Street. Step back into your childhood with flavors like Americone Dream, Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey and Phish Food.
Are you feeding the whole family? Farmhouse Tap and Grill has a little something for everyone and a casual, family-friendly atmosphere. This spot is the place in town to go for burgers, seafood and a fresh raw bar. Slurp down oysters with a local brew in hand before ordering one of six burgers on the menu, and that includes two vegetarian burger options.
Adventure In Town
After strolling along the shores of Lake Champlain, how could you not want to get out on the water? Whistling Man Schooner Co. offers cruises all summer long. It has been in operation for 25 years and has logged more than 5,000 cruises. Public cruises usually have six to 10 guests aboard but can accommodate private cruises and large groups of up to 18. Licensed captains and deckhands take care of everything, so all you need to do is sit back and relax. Each cruise is BYO for food and drink, but there are plates, utensils, glasses and an icebox available for your use.
Where To Stay
There are various accommodations for every traveler, from familiar chains to independent properties and plenty of vacation rental options. Whether you're looking for a comfortable place to sleep at night or hoping for something more equipped, you're sure to find a stay that will suit your needs and travel style in Burlington.
108 Dorest St., South Burlington, 802.863.7000
870 Williston Rd., South Burlington, 802.865.6600
76 W. Lakeshore Dr., Colchester, 802.655.6371