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Situated in Chittenden County, Burlington is Vermont's biggest city and a lively and creative university town with a growing tech industry. Ideally located on Lake Champlain's eastern shore between the Adirondack and Green Mountains, the city contains galleries, museums, historic architecture, top-class shopping and a host of outdoor activities.
Originally one of the leading ports in the country, with steamboat traffic on the lake boosting the local economy, the city was also the site of an important military hospital and army post during the War of 1812. Burlington continues to be one of the USA's top cities to live in, and has a friendly, college-town atmosphere drawing millions of visitors a year.
Attractions in Burlington include historic sites, food and craft markets, lake cruises and chocolate shops. The city has a beautiful riverside setting and surrounding landscapes invite all kinds of outdoor recreation. As one would expect from a city that is home to tens of thousands of students, Burlington has a vibrant nightlife, undoubtedly the best in Vermont, making it a fun destination for youngsters in search of a party atmosphere. The village of Shelburne, which has essentially become part of Burlington as the city expands, is a hotspot for tourists, and the well-loved ski resort of Stowe is only a short drive away.
In capturing Fort Ticonderoga during the Revolutionary War, and as a militia leader, Ethan Allen secured his position as a folk hero and founder of Vermont. A man of many talents, he was a statesman, philosopher and deist, publishing Reason the Only Oracle of Man. Visitors to the homestead can wander through the faithfully restored 18th-century home and gardens. The house itself is a small frame house built in the Cape Cod style, existing for many years in complete obscurity. In addition to historical interest, the house's grounds provide lovely trails for hiking and picnicking.
Lake Champlain Chocolates encompasses a handful of dedicated shops and a factory. Indeed, what could be more tempting than the thought of delicious, handmade chocolates and the chance to enjoy free samples. The line of chocolates and other products produced at the factory includes the famous truffles, caramels, hot chocolate, Five Star Bars, organic chocolates and novelties. Lake Champlain Chocolates are all made on location in small batches where visitors can see how they're made and enjoy the tastes and aromas at the factory.
Travellers can enjoy a trip out to the Ben and Jerry's Factory in Waterbury and get a chance to see how the famous treats are made and sample their mouth-watering flavours. Tours include a short documentary on its history, a trip to the factory floor to observe the ice cream production and finally a sampling of the flavour of the day. During summer, visitors can stroll through the cow pasture and can also bring a picnic along to enjoy on the picturesque grounds. It is worth noting that ice cream is only produced from Monday to Friday, so on weekends, a short movie is screened instead.
Burlington's climate is moderate in comparison to the rest of the state, with temperatures modified by Lake Champlain. Winters (December to February) are cold with snowfall, while summers (June to August) are warm and humid. The city is one of the cloudiest in the country, and rainfall occurs throughout the year, although August tends to be the wettest month. Snowfall is common, and averages 85 inches (216cm) per year. Temperatures in Burlington range from an average minimum of 10°F (-12°C) in January to an average maximum of 81°F (27°C) in July. Festival season picks up during May to October, as do temperatures, making this time of year particularly pleasant.
Burlington is a pedestrian-friendly city that is easy to negotiate on foot. Walking is also the best way to enjoy the beauty of the city and its surrounds. Car rental agencies are available in the city and at the Burlington Airport. Traffic is heavy at peak hours. The Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) runs the public bus system and buses tend to be reliable and affordable, at $1.25 per trip. Hiring a bicycle is also a good option, particularly if one takes advantage of the Burlington Bike Path situated on the picturesque waterfront.
Burlington has many identities: a historic early American city, a vibrant college town, a lakeside holiday resort, and an important commercial centre. With all these features, it's easy to see there is plenty to see and do in Burlington.
Perched on the shore of Lake Champlain, many popular attractions and activities revolve around the tranquil lake. Kayaking, sailing, water skiing, dinner cruises, and other pursuits are a great way to enjoy Burlington's summer weather. The waterfront area is surprisingly non-commercial, and is home to bike paths, the ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, and a promenade perfect for enjoying sunset views.
An excellent way to make the most of the city's beautiful views is to hire a bicycle and follow the Waterfront Bike Path, a seven-and-a-half-mile (12km) route that runs from Oakledge Park at the southern end of town to the northern end at the beautiful Winooski River.
Historic Burlington can be explored through a few excellent museums, including the Ethan Allen Homestead, the Fleming Museum of Art, and the Shelburne Museum, nine miles (14.5km) south of Burlington.
Downtown Burlington is a vibrant area full of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants; the heart of which is the Church Street Marketplace. In good weather the square is filled with buskers and street performers, food and craft vendors, and most of the town's population.
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