It might be home to the University of Vermont and the birthplace of Ben & Jerry’s, but Burlington, Vermont, is much more than a crunchy college town.
The northern retreat is just a short jaunt from New York City—hop on a plane and touch down in an hour. Spend the weekend climbing, biking, or sailing with panoramic views of the Adirondak Mountains, then take in some music while sipping a local microbrew. It’s the perfect fall escape.
Explore like a man…
Tackle challenging indoor climbing routes or brave the rope-free boulder passes at Petra Cliffs. A beginner package includes climbing shoes, a harness, a day pass, and belaying orientation—basically, everything you need to get going except a buff upper body—and will only set you back $25 bucks.You can also skip the man-made rock walls and scale some outdoor obstacles. Head up into the Adriondaks for mountaineering lessons; call ahead for reservations.
Want to zip along the waterfront? Rent a bike from North Star Sports for just $28 per day. Ambitious sightseers can download a map of local paths and plan out a route ahead of time. You can’t go wrong with the 7.5-mile Burlington Bike Path, which passes six waterfront parks.
You can also get out on the water with boating lessons or rentals. Sign up for an intro class at The Community Sailing Center, where experienced skippers can rent keelboats, dinghies, canoes, and kayaks by the hour.
Next: Where To Eat & Sleep
Eat like a man…
For breakfast, fuel up with a coffee and pastry at Muddy Waters. The café’s exposed brick and beams have a woodsy, log-cabin feel. The cozy tables are a great place to pour over a cheap paperback from Crow books, an indie shop that specializes in quirky, rare, and used titles.
Refuel at lunch with flatbreads and artisanal beer. Burlington Hearth cooks organic thin-crust pizzas in a wood-fired oven for a deliciously smoky flavor. Top yours with maple-fennel sausage and fresh goat cheese.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with some fudge from Lake Champlain Chocolates. If you’re eating with buddies, head up the street to Ben & Jerry’s and demolish the epic Vermonster: a behemoth 20-scoop sundae piled high with hot fudge, bananas, cookies, and brownies. (FYI, fit guys: The Mini-Vermonster delivers a more modest sugar binge.)
You’ll have no shortage of dinner options on restaurant-packed Church Street. Leunig’s serves solid bistro fare, and the $15 dinner special is a great deal. Line up at early-bird hours or again post-dinner rush to nosh on steak frites or tomato sesame-crusted salmon.
Sleep like a man…
The chill Burlington Hostel has a Zen vibe that will help you catch some much-needed z’s. Crash here after paying homage to the nabe’s music scene. Stop by Nectar’s to rock out to reggae and funk. (Sate your late-night cravings with a heaping plate of their famous gravy fries.)
If jazz is more your jam, head to Radio Bean, where you can also guzzle the Five Dollar Shake, a genius combination of stout, maple syrup, and espresso. The hostel is just a few blocks from the nightlife action. Delicious bonus: gratis Belgian waffles each morning.