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Burlington, Vermont

By Brad Tuttle updated by Budget Travel Editors
January 12, 2022
Gautam Krishnan Hjr Fng Zn Yy4 Unsplash
Gautam Krishnan / Unsplash
The chill-out capital of the Northeast has fresh air and fresh beer: If you went to school there, you wouldn't leave, either.

After Birkenstock sandals, the most common accessory in Burlington is the coffee cup. Every third store on Church Street, the four-block pedestrian area up the hill from Lake Champlain, seems to be a coffee shop. If people aren't sitting and sipping, they're walking, riding extra-long skateboards, or even pedaling bicycles with java in hand.

The thing about Burlington is, all that caffeine apparently never kicks in. No one ever seems in a hurry. Droopy-eyed shopkeepers, artists, and college kids always have the time to chat, play Hacky Sack, pet somebody's dog--or grab another coffee.

The most popular coffee comes from Speeder & Earl's. The tiny Church Street branch offers around 10 brews that change daily, often with three or four from Central America alone. The roasting takes place at a bigger location a few blocks away. As with Bartles & Jaymes, there's no real Speeder or Earl; the name derives from a 1950s song by the Cadillacs. But the company's logo is a sort of metaphor for Burlington's split personality. On every cup is a cartoon of two men: a thin dude with slick black hair and a leather jacket, and a David Crosby type with a mustache and long hair. The mountain-man beard is alive and well in Burlington, but the town also has its edgier side--perhaps the result of the five area colleges, which attract tons of out-of-state students. You'll spot a fair share of tattoos and black clothing.

Good music and good food are priorities, and big reasons why so many students stick around for years after graduation. On any given night, a handful of bands will take stages within a few blocks of Church Street, playing anything from Allman Brothers covers to hip-hop originals that are more hippie than gangsta. Red Square, a labyrinth of a place with multiple interconnected rooms, and Nectar's, stomping grounds for the jam band Phish, score points for reliably talented musicians who experiment to keep things interesting. For lunch, the Red Onion (moved to Charlotte, VT) Cafe's signature sandwich--hot turkey, thin apple slices, tomato mayo, smoked Gruyère, and red onion on your choice of homemade bread--is legendary. Vermont Pub & Brewery serves excellent bar food and the best pints in town. There's even homemade root beer.

It seems like a waste to visit Vermont and not take in fresh air, green mountains, and lakes. Knock out all three by renting a bike at non-profit Local Motion, and go for a ride on the converted rail path that borders the lake. To really escape into the country, bring your bicycle on the scenic hour-long ferry and explore the winding mountain roads across the lake in Port Kent, N.Y. The country vibe continues back on the Vermont side at Willard Street Inn, despite the fact that the converted mansion is just four blocks from Church Street. Guests wake to breakfast in a handsome room with a piano and checkered marble floors, overlooking evergreens and a huge garden dotted with Adirondack chairs.

For more information visit Vermont Vacation site.

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There’s never been a better time to visit Alaska

With COVID-19 vaccines readily available across the US, there’s never been a better time to cross off your Alaska bucket list trip than now! Alaska is HUGE and that can be intimidating for visitors planning a trip. We’ve put together a handy guide to help you plan your Alaska vacation, using the beautiful Anchorage, Alaska as the best place to organize your adventure. credit: JodyO.Photos, Visit Anchorage Getting there Flying: Anchorage boasts the biggest airport in Alaska, supporting around 240 flights each day from all around the world. Direct flights to Anchorage are available from most major airports across the US. A floatplane soars over Anchorage. Credit: JodyO.Photos | Visit Anchorage When to go Summer and winter offer very different experiences! Anchorage is so far north that in summer, the sun doesn’t set until midnight! Summer in Alaska leaves plenty of daylight hours to pack in as much outdoor adventuring as possible. Winter provides some great opportunities to see the northern lights, go dog-sledding, and experience the snow. We recommend at least a 7-day stay to fully appreciate the variety of things to do. Where to stay Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city, and is our favorite jumping-off place for a ton of Alaska adventures. The city promises to offer plenty of things to do for city-dwellers, nature lovers and families. Anchorage combines the wild beauty of Alaska with all the convenience of urban comfort. Budget travelers can find affordable accommodations in several local hostels, and motels. There are also quite a few hotels and resorts for those who want to splurge or book with points. Hikers enjoy the view of Portage Glacier from Portage Pass Trail outside Anchorage. Credit: JodyO.Photos, Visit Anchorage. Getting Around Anchorage is the central point for air travel in Alaska. Air travel is such a common way to get around this huge state, that there are more pilots per capita than anywhere else in the USA! Taking a sightseeing plane from Anchorage is the best way to visit Alaska’s national parks. The Alaska Railroad is also a great way to see the expanse of Alaska! The railroad operates year-round (though service varies seasonally), and connects almost 500 miles of track from Seward in the south to Fairbanks in the north. Seasonally themed routes will show visitors the aurora borialis, or tour the glaciers that formed so much of the landscape. Watching a late summer sunset on the Coastal Trail. In summer, Anchorage gets up to 22 hours of sunlight per day. Credit: Roy Neese, Visit Anchorage What to do Alaska offers so many varied activities that it’s impossible to list them all! Using Anchorage as a jumping off point to explore the best that Alaska has to offer. Anchorage features 60 glaciers within 50 miles of its downtown core, six mountain ranges, and 300 miles of wilderness trails for outdoor adventurers to explore. Visitors can see bears, whales, and other native wildlife. In the summer, there is an urban salmon stream for some of the best fishing opportunities. In winter, go dog-sledding and see the aurora. Take a scenic drive into the mountains or down the coast to see some of the best views Alaska has to offer. The Chugach Mountains are Alaska’s most accessible natural area. Several of its top trailheads are located within a 20 minute drive from downtown. This huge mountain range is one of the largest state parks in America, and offers 9000 square miles of outdoor adventures. You can go hiking, rafting, biking, kayaking and fishing. Denali National Park contains the highest peaks in the USA. Credit: Ashley Heimbigner, Visit Anchorage National Parks Did you know that Alaska has more than half of all of America’s national park land? With over 33 national parks and wildlife refuges, it’s nearly impossible to see them all! Anchorage offers a way to see 4 of the 5 major National Parks in Alaska. Take a sightseeing trip to Denali National Park, the home of North America’s highest peak. See the glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park. Visit the fat bears of Katmai National Park (but don’t get too close!). Take a seaplane to the remote wilderness of Lake Clark National Park. Last but not least, explore the massive Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, which is bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island! In summer or winter, there's never been a better time to visit Alaska! This content was produced in partnership with Visit Anchorage.

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Eight things you didn’t know about Hawaii

For most people on the mainland, a trip to Hawaii feels like an international escape. The environment is different, the scenery is nothing like anywhere else in the states, and the culture is unique. So even though it’s a part of the union, it’s not quite like any other place you know. Speaking of things you know, here are seven interesting facts about Hawaii that you probably didn’t. Courtesy of the Hawaiian Tourism Authority 1. A culture of 'leave no trace' Before traveling to Hawaii, this is one of the most important things to know. Natural elements like plants, animals, stones, and flowers carry spiritual significance in Hawaiian culture and beliefs and require respect. Leaving no trace comes from the idea that people are guests and should not disturb the land. This includes cultural sites like volcanos and temples. Do not take stones and do not touch the wildlife. Touching endangered wildlife is not only extremely disrespectful it’s also illegal. So if you come across a Hawaiian sea turtle basking in the sun, steer clear. 2. Hawaii is the only state with a royal palace The Hawaiian Monarchy formed in 1810 when King Kamehameha united all of the islands under one rule. The kingdom only lasted 80 years when American businesspeople and sugar farmers plotted a coup against Queen Liliuokalani in 1893. The entire kingdom dissolved over the next few years as it became a US territory and eventually the 50th state in the union. Liliuokalani was kept in Iolani Palace under house arrest after attempts to resurrect the Monarch. Iolani Palace, located on Oahu, is the only official palace in the United States that belonged to a royal family. The first two floors are available to tour. The interesting and unique history of the Kingdom provides insight into the darker colonial story in Hawaii. The rules of succession in the Hawaiian Kingdom were quite progressive. The monarch recognized any children and adopted children of the ruling families could be eligible rulers. Centuries later, many Hawaiians could be considered eligible successors. 3. Hawaii is the only state to grow coffee and chocolate commercially It’s the only state that falls within “the coffee belt,” where the warm temperature makes it suitable to grow. A Spaniard colonist planted the first coffee plant in 1817 that failed to take but inspired the Hawaiian Monarchy to pursue it again in 1825. Over the next 50 years, experimental coffee growers explored the different islands, finding Kona the most promising. Kona’s rich volcanic soil nourished the plants, so they thrived in the valley sheltered by volcanoes. While coffee production remained steady, it barely compared to the number of colonial sugar plantations. Over the years, Kona coffee continued to grow, drawing more and more attention for its unique flavor. The secret, they say, is love. Everything made in Hawaii must be done with Aloha. Photo of island chickens provided by Kylie Ruffino 4. You'll see tons of wild chickens Tourists may be surprised by the number of chickens just walking around random parts of the islands (especially Kaui), but locals aren't. In fact, it's kind of a sore subject. The local legend has it that 1992 Hurricane Iniki destroyed much of Kaui's farmland including crops... and chicken coups. The chickens escaped into the wild and no one was able to tell who's chickens belonged to who. Some speculated that the domestic chickens used for farming started breeding with the jungle fowl brought to Hawaii a thousand years ago. National Geographic proved both correct. Their genetic testing showed how the wild chicken population grew so much. It's definitely a shock to walk around market streets and just see chickens, but when you're interacting with locals, it's better to keep your surprise amongst yourselves. It's not a particularly pleasant topic and they hear about it a lot. 5. It has its own language: Pidgin Hawaii is the only state to have two official languages. English and Hawaiian are both recognized but don’t be surprised to hear a third, informal language called Pidgin. Though the language can sound foreign, it comes from the communication between Hawaiians, plantation owners, and international laborers. It’s a mix of English, Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Portuguese words. You’ll see Pidgin the most among signage and hearing local slang. For example, “We Stay Close” is Pidgin for “Closed.” Any traveler knows that learning local languages can enhance your trip. In Hawaii, learn Pidgin. It’s a culmination of mixing words, cutting words out, or saying things in a different pretense. 6. There are roughly ten million visitors a year When a state’s population is less than 1.5 million people, bringing in 10 million visitors like they did in 2019 is impressive. In 2019, the islands could expect over 200,000 tourists walking around on any given day. Visitor spending was over 17 billion dollars in 2019 and supported 200,000 jobs. While tourism in Hawaii remains down by 60% since COVID, the Hawaiian Tourism Authority last month noted a 1.1% increase in visitors compared to March 2020. The first increase in a year. They also report bringing in some international travelers, including Japan and Canada, but it still doesn’t compare to the millions in past years. Despite the obvious importance of travel for Hawaii’s economy, the disparity between locals and tourists can strain the culture and environment. Hawaiian tourism is hoping to use insights gained by COVID and the ability to control how they open up travel to set more intentional tourist practices. Hawaiian beaches courtesy of the Hawaiian Tourism Authority 7. Hawaii has 14 different climates to explore In fact, they have ten of the world’s 14 climates across the islands. Eight of them exist on the Big Island. The Koppen Climate Classification System, the most accepted method by climatologists, helps categorize the world’s climate zones. It’s kind of crazy to think that so many can be found on an island that is only 4,000 square miles. Many of the ten zones found in Hawaii are tropical climates, including Tropical Continuous Wet Zone, Tropical Monsoon Zone (which is actually quite rare), Tropical Winter-Dry Zone, and Tropical Summer-Dry Zone. Some of the more unusual climate zones in Hawaii are the Periglacial Climate Zone and Desert Climate Zones. The first one describes the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The temperatures reach below freezing, with a treeless, tundra-like landscape. Some areas near certain beaches qualify as desert zones with hot, year-round temperatures and less than ten inches of rainfall. 8. You can send coconuts in the mail Let me repeat. You can MAIL coconuts. While you can mail them from any post office in Hawaii, a few things need to be noted. You can’t mail a coconut you find on the side of the road or in a supermarket because that interferes with agriculture inspections. Don’t worry, several shops around the island will sell decorated coconuts that are ready to mail. In theory, you can send it anywhere in the US, but Postmasters in Hawaii are more familiar with coconut mail than your average USPS.

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A guide to each of the Hawaiian Islands

Are you still having that dream about Hawaii? The one where you’re at the beach sipping a Mai Tai? Hawaii is a rich and beautiful place with unique nuances between each island. Read more for a breakdown of what makes each island special, what the individual policies are for COVID and safe travel, and other essential things to keep in mind when picking your destination. Kaua'i Island Known for: Kaua'i is also known as "The Garden Isle" because of the tropical rainforest blanketing most of the land. Kaua'i is small at just 25 miles long and 33 miles wide, with roughly 77,000 locals, but represents the land of discovery for Hawaiian culture and the spirit of aloha. The iconic island scenery appears as the backdrop to several movies, including Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blue Hawaii, and Lilo & Stitch. "The oldest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain is draped in emerald valleys, sharp mountain spires, and jagged cliffs aged by time and the elements. Centuries of growth have formed tropical rainforests, forking rivers, and cascading waterfalls! Some parts of Kauai are only accessible by sea or air, revealing views beyond your imagination." COVID policies & restrictions: The county of Kaua'i manages its own inter-county travel quarantine processes due to its at-risk population. Transpacific travelers are still exempt from a 10-day quarantine if they receive an approved, negative test result within 72 hours of arrival. No tests are available when you arrive. Travelers may also start the Kaua'i Resort Bubble Program, where you are required to wear a wrist tracking device and stay within resort bounds. Within, you can explore and relax freely. Masks are required. Things to do: Kaua'i is full of small towns like Hanapepe and Koloa, where visitors can taste local cuisine and culture. Because of some exclusive access points, it's a great destination for water activities and sky tours like kayaking the Wailua River or ziplining across the valleys. Other activities include snorkeling, horseback riding, and hiking. Things to note: Most of the Kaua'i hiking trails require a permit. To obtain, call the State Parks Office at (808)-274-3444. To learn more about Kaua'i trails, go to their website. Major regions: North Shore (Princeville), East Side (Coconut Coast), Lihue (Kalapaki), South Shore (Poipu), West Side (Waimea). Airport: Lihue Airport, LIH with services from Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines Oahu Island courtesy of the Hawaiian Tourism Authority Oahu Island Known for: The heart of Hawaii is also known as "The Gathering Place," which is home to the capital city of Honolulu and the majority of Hawaii's diverse population. This melting pot fuses cultures from the East and West with the values and traditions of Native Hawaii. Oahu is the third-largest island with world-famous surf, Waikiki beach, historic China Town, and Pearl Harbor. "It's this fundamental contrast between the ancient and the modern that makes discovering Oahu — from bustling city life to laidback surf towns — so enjoyable. Oahu, the child of Papa and Lua according to one tradition, is honored in this chant composed by Kumu Hula Manu Boyd and performed by Kumu Hula Snowbird Bento." COVID Policies & Restrictions: The standard COVID policies apply. You must have a negative COVID test before departure and enroll in all the necessary platforms. Things to do: Oahu's bustling from Honolulu's affluent culture where you can dine at farm-to-table restaurants, visit historic destinations, experience hula. Beyond learning to surf, you can explore the ocean by taking a group outrigger canoe ride off Waikiki Beach. Things to note: Oahu is the most affordable island for travelers. The competitive prices offer up the ideal budget vacation between the abundance of hotels, activities, city life, and attractions. Major regions: North Shore, Honolulu, Central Oahu, Windward Coast, Leeward Coast Airport: Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, HNL. Also known as the Honolulu International airport. Molokai Island courtesy of the Hawaiian Tourism Authority Molokai Island Known for: Hawaii's fifth-largest island is only 38 miles long and 10 miles across its widest point, making it easily accessible by foot, bike, or car. The highest sea cliffs in the world populate the island and the longest continuous reef. The majority of Molokai's population preserves the island roots of rural lifestyles. "Whether you're led by a guide along the cliffs leading to Kalaupapa National Historical Park or discovering Papohaku Beach, one of Hawaii's largest white-sand beaches, Molokai is truly an island of outdoor adventure where Hawaii's past comes alive!" COVID policies & restrictions: Molokai Island is part of Maui County and follows the safety protocols of Maui. Things to do: The best thing to do in Molokai is to explore the deep jungles, cathedral valleys, beaches, and one of the most remote settlements in the world. The ancient Halawa Valley features one of Hawaii's most iconic landscapes. Anglers and divers celebrate Molokai for its diverse underwater landscapes. Things to note: This island is considered the "getaway" for inter-island travelers, with some of the most deserted beaches among the Hawaiian islands. Major regions: West End, Central Molokai, East End Airport: Hoolehua Airport, MKK. Mokulele Airlines services inter-island flights from Oahu or Maui. Lanai Island courtesy of the Hawaiian Tourism Authority Lanai Island Known for: This is the smallest inhabited island open for travelers to Hawaii. Located only nine miles away from Maui, yet it feels like a whole other world. Visitors can indulge at luxurious resorts or take a 4-wheel-drive to explore hidden treasures. Lanai is known for its serenity, adventure, and privacy. "Take the rocky road to Kaiolohia (Shipwreck Beach) for dazzling views of Molokai and Maui, go horseback riding amid lush valleys and ironwood forests near Lanai City, amble the Munro Trail through the lush rainforest to Lanai's highest point at 3,370 feet—the opportunities for adventure on Lanai are endless." COVID policies & restrictions: Lanai Island is part of Maui County and follows the safety protocols of Maui. Things to do: There are 400 miles of dirt roads, hiking trails, and 18 miles of secluded beaches. With that, the world is yours. You can hike, explore the parks and gardens, ride horses, go clay shooting or enjoy an archery adventure. Get on the water at sunset for a romantic boat ride or go whale watching. Things to note: Some of the best whale watching can happen in the ocean channels between Lanai, Maui, and Molokai when humpback whales travel to Hawaii in winter and spring. There are only a few ways to get here, and it's from another island. Major regions: North Lanai, Central Lanai, South Lanai Airport: Lanai Airport, LNY. Local flights services inter-island travelers from either Oahu or Maui. Maui Island courtesy of the Hawaiian Tourism Authority Maui Island Known for: Maui is the second-largest island in Hawaii and is affectionately called "The Valley Isle." The island is loved for its world-famous beaches, the sacred Iao Valley, and the magnificent sunrise and sunset from Haleakala. Haleakala National Park encompasses the island's tallest peak, volcanic Haleakala. "It's not surprising Maui has been voted "Best Island in the U.S." by Condé Nast Traveler readers for more than 20 years." COVID policies & restrictions: On top of the Hawai'i Safe travels program Maui posted its new Public Health Emergency Rules. As of April 9, trans-Pacific travelers who arrive with a negative COVID-19 test result may also be required to take a second COVID-19 test, which would be administered and paid for by Maui County. Things to do: Whether you choose the spa route or the adventure route, there is a lot to do. Choose from 14 courses (several of which are ranked at or near the top of the "world's best" lists). One local tourist spot is the Haleakala Ecotours, an authorized concessionaire for Haleakala National Park. The scenic Hana Highway can take you all along the island's 30 miles of beaches, including golden-crescent Kapalua, sheltered from strong currents by lava-rock promontories. Major regions: Maui comprises five regions known as West Maui, Central Maui, South Maui, Upcountry, and East Maui. Airport: Kahului Aiport, OGG or the regional, private airport Kapula Aiport, JHM on the west side of the island. The Big Island courtesy of the Hawaiian Tourism Authority Island of Hawaii Known for: “The Big Island,”' is the largest and the youngest in the Hawaiian chain. It's nearly twice the size of all the other islands combined with four different climate zones, including a polar tundra resulting from the shielding effects of its massive volcanoes. "The island of Hawaii is an unrivaled expression of the power of nature. However you decide to experience the island, it is sure to leave you humbled!" COVID policies & restrictions: Both inter-island travelers and transpacific are expected to either quarantine for ten days, get a quarantine exemption, or take a pre-test within 72 hours of arrival. Things to do: Travelers can ride horses along waterfalls trails or explore the Hawaii Volcanoes National park, which offers plenty of hiking trails like the Nahuku (Thurston Lava Tube) or the Devastation Trail. You can stargaze on the mountain tops, tour a coffee farm, or hang out on the beach. There's more beach here than any of the other islands. You can even go on a Manta Ray dive at night. Things to note: Make sure you read up on safe hiking practices on the island trails. Some can be pretty difficult or unsafe. Don't hike alone and tell someone where you are going. Don't drink any of the water on the trails or wade in with open cuts. For more information, go here. Major regions: Kohala, Hamakua Coast, Hilo, Puna, Kohala, Kona, Kau Airport: Kona International Airport, KOA.

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10 best LGBT+ bars across the United States

June is dedicated to Pride month in the United States and around the world to honor and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. Get in on the festivities at these 10 best LGBTQ+ bars in the country where queer people can be free to be themselves year round. Support these businesses to help maintain safe spaces for queer folks to gather and celebrate as they please. Unfortunately, lesbian bars have been closing up shop lately. In the 80s there were about 200 lesbian bars in the U.S., today there are fewer than 25. The Lesbian Bar Project aims to support the remaining lesbian bars across the U.S. Queer women and non-binary people need dedicated bars where they can be themselves since they may not always feel welcome at traditional gay bars geared towards men. The Stonewall Inn - New York City Pride honors the Stonewall Riots, a series of protests led by Black and Latinx trans women including Marsha P. Johnson, Zazu Nova, and Sylvia Rivera in June of 1969 after NYPD raided the gay bar The Stonewall Inn. The uprising was a catalyst for the modern gay rights movement. Today, the iconic gay bar partners with The Brooklyn Brewery to create The Stonewall Inn IPA which benefits The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative. The Lipstick Lounge - Nashville, TN What could be more fun than singing karaoke surrounded by queer women and non-binary people? All that magic and more can be found at The Lipstick Lounge in Nashville, TN. Karaoke kicks off every night at 7 p.m. Other weekly events include live music, trivia, and more.Stacy’s @ Melrose - Phoenix, AZ No list of LGBTQ+ bars would be complete without at least one epic spot for a drag queen show. Stacy’s at Melrose in Phoenix, AZ is often hailed as the best gay bar in town. The friendly neighborhood spot is known for the happy hour drag show Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. A League of Her Own - Washington, DC The U.S. capital is home to one of the most celebrated lesbian bars, A League of Her Own. Located in Washington D.C.’s queer-friendy Adam’s Morgan neighborhood, there’s never a cover at this queer drinking hole. Cubby Hole - New York City New York City’s Cubby Hole is a gay bar frequented by lesbians and queer women with a laid-back atmosphere. The epic happy hour special includes half off beer, wine, and well drinks Monday through Saturday until 7 p.m. The Loft - San Diego, CA Located in San Diego, CA, The Loft was rated the best gay bar in the country in 2019. It’s a relaxing spot to sit outside and enjoy the southern California weather with a few ice-cold beers and great company. Big Chicks - Chicago, IL Big Chicks in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, IL is a quirky spot adorned with artwork from local artisans. If you’re looking for a dance floor, go on the weekend when a DJ spins the best songs to groove to with your queer pals. Chill Bar - Louisville, KY As the name says, this relaxed gay bar in Louisville, KY is a chill spot to unwind offering trivia nights, show tune sing-alongs, and more. Chill Bar is also decked out with a beautiful mural declaring to everyone who walks by that love is all we need. The Stable - Providence, RI One of the best gay bars in Providence, RI is The Stable. Don’t miss the Sangria Sunday drag show from noon to 7 p.m. Ripcord - Houston, TX The second oldest gay bar in Texas is also the state’s oldest leather bar. Houston’s Ripcord has been the spot for gay men to gather and mingle since the 80s and is located in the LGBTQ+ friendly Montrose neighborhood.