Burlington, Vermont

Champlain Toasts

Vermont City Marathon, Burlington

Vermont City Marathon, Burlington     Photo: Ben Sarle

786 (3.6%)

Stop us if this sounds familiar: a college town anchored by a left-leaning ­university, with enough bars in a four-block radius to slake the thirst of an army of frat boys and a pedestrian-only main drag full of crepe vendors, retail outlets, locally sourced restaurants, bike racks, and street ­performers. We thought so. But what sets Burlington apart from other U-towns is its ­affordability and, more ­important, its Green Mountain State sensibility. What’s that mean? Smart grassroots ­organizations like the alt-transportation group Local Motion; great local food and beer like the pizza at Flatbread American, Farmhouse Tap and Grill, and (of course) Ben and Jerry’s. And there’s one really, really big lake.

Staying Power:
Burlington’s waterfront has been revitalized in the past two decades as the city cleaned up derelict industrial sites to make way for parks, restaurants, a seven-mile rail-to-trail bike path, and the city’s Community Sailing Center. The recession took a toll on Vermont’s economy, but Burlington ­businesses, such as Web developer Dealer.com and Green Mountain Roasters, ­continue to expand. On the food front, there’s an ­innovative cooperative that allows citizens to own a stake in a 350-acre farm outside of town.

Thirty minutes from downtown, you’ll find a backcountry ski paradise in Bolton Valley, with its ­famous Bolton-Trapps trail. The ­rolling roads outside the city are perfect for cycling, while Stowe, home to one of the eastern United States’ best ski resorts and a growing ­network of mountain-bike trails, is only 45 minutes away. Then there’s Lake ­Champlain and the city’s sailing center, the perfect place to base your catamaran, canoe, or sea kayak and launch for the 30-minute paddle north to Lone Rock Point.

The Voters Speak:
“Halvorson’s Upstreet Cafe on Church Street, still one of the best places to grab a beer and a burger after a day outside.” “I love the fact that people cross-country ski to work ­after a big snowfall.” “Brew pubs, boating, biking, blue skies, Ben and Jerry’s. It ain’t B-Town for nothing.”

From Outside Magazine, Oct 2011 Get the Latest Issue

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