Jason and I recently returned from our longest road trip to date. I had read travel pieces over the years that mentioned Burlington, Vermont as an up and coming area with shops and restaurants. Originally we wanted to combine visiting there with a few days in Montreal, Canada. Unfortunately the Covid pandemic shut down the US-Canada border. Not knowing when it would reopen (we began planning our trip at the end of winter once we were vaccinated), we decided instead to add on visiting Wolfeboro, New Hampshire after coming across it on a “best small towns” list.
Sunday morning we showered, ate breakfast and left home around 6:30am. I drove the Rav4 as far as Jermyn, a small town just north of Scranton that we lived in for a few years. We had a second breakfast at Wayne’s Family Diner, a spot we used to frequent often. Then we drove through the other small towns around Scranton to see what was the same and what had changed since we lived there. Jason handled the driving from Scranton to Burlington. The drive was a bit long, but uneventful. We made a few quick stops for pee breaks, gas and take out lunch from Jersey Mike’s.
We arrived at out hotel, DoubleTree by Hilton Burlington Vermont, around 5:30pm. Its location was beside the University of Vermont and about 1.5 miles from downtown Burlington. Walking is never an issue for Jason and I, so we had chose to save money by staying there vs a lakefront location. The room was very spacious with a comfy king sized bed, dresser, desk, two chairs and a mini fridge. I had made a special request for a microwave (something I personally feel should be in all hotel rooms) which I was told wouldn’t be available until the next day. After settling in with our luggage we got back into the car to head out to dinner. Jason had picked The Gryphon for our first meal. Having not made reservations we took seats at the bar. I ordered a mixed drink and Jason had a local beer. Still feeling full from my Jersey Mike’s sub I only ate a bowl of white bean soup while Jason had a full meal of a pork schnitzel sandwich and fries. We were too tired to do any exploring, so we went back to the hotel to relax for the night.
Having slept very well we set out Monday morning to find a spot for breakfast. August First was our choice, a bit more expensive than we expected for breakfast sandwiches, but a healthy option to start the day. Then we walked to the lakefront to take in our first views of Lake Champlain. We sat on a bench along the short boardwalk to view boats coming and going before heading north on the Island Line Trail. There were fitness stations set up along it and we passed a skateboard park as well. We walked as far as North Beach which was rather empty before turning back to grab a lakeside lunch at Splash at the Boathouse. Nothing can make someone feel more on vacation than indulging in a drink while watching the water. We bought “creamies” (soft ice cream cones) at a nearby stand for dessert. The rest of the afternoon we explored the Church Street marketplace; several blocks of shops and restaurants blocked from traffic. By the time we walked back to the hotel we had covered about 12 miles and my feet were definitely spent for the day.
Part of North Beach
After a rather warm and humid Monday (warmer than I anticipated for being so far north), we awoke to rain Tuesday morning. We considered taking advantage of the hotel’s gym, but ended up relaxing in the room watching TV and doing a crossword puzzle instead. After hawking several weather reports we decided to head out trusting that the rain would be finished for the day. On our way downtown we ducked under a tree as a short, light shower passed, but fortunately the umbrella wasn’t required the rest of the day.
Wanting to explore more of the Island Line trail we rented bikes from Local Motion. We biked the entire length of the trail out through a development and park to the causeway. That crossed part of Lake Champlain and provided an option to take a bike ferry over to the other part. We had looked up the island the previous night, and not finding enough to peak our interest decided to make that our turn around spot. We turned our bikes in just before the 4 hour mark after logging about 20 miles, and headed back to the Church Street marketplace for a late lunch/early dinner. The miso ramen at Gaku Ramen filled our ravaged stomachs and was as good as the first ramen we ever tried during our trip to Palatine, IL. It had been good to be off my feet by biking, but I went to bed equally tired that night.
Island Line trail
Causeway across Lake Champlain
Enjoying our bike ride
Church St Marketplace
Jason wanted to go out to breakfast Wednesday morning, and found a diner for us to check out. Believing it was in Winooski, the town just north of Burlington, we chose to take the scenic route through Centennial Woods which was behind our hotel. Our trail navigating skills were tested and we popped out on a road that we weren’t expecting, but we ultimately made it across the river to Winooski. It was that point that Jason realized Athens Diner was a bit further away, in the next town of Colchester. We certainly had worked up an appetite until we arrived, but my plate of scrambled eggs, french toast, ham and a biscuit had me filled up in no time.
We took our time walking back through Winooski, enjoying the views of its river and sitting alongside it with some Canadian geese. Assuming we could reverse our route in the woods we headed back to the hotel. Somehow we must’ve missed a turn because we ended up right back at our starting point! I’m not an avid trail runner for many reasons, and my sense of direction in the woods is proof of that! We took the roads back through the University of Vermont’s campus and had a short reprieve in our room before venturing out once more.
The previous evening the hotel manager had told us about nearby Mt. Philo, so we decided to drive down to the state park and hike it. It was only about 30 minutes away and a nice drive. I was surprised that the park charged a $4 per person entry fee as state parks in Pennsylvania don’t charge fees. The park ranger asked if we planned to drive or hike to the summit and directed us to the appropriate parking lot. The trail was “beginner friendly” though some rain had made the rocks wet, so I was extra cautious to watch my footing. At one point we weren’t sure of where to go but eventually found our way and then saw a sign directing us to the summit. There were two lookout points, the first of which I was able to hold onto the railing and take a picture with Jason before quickly returning to the trail. The second lookout I didn’t walk up to the railing as it was even higher and my fear of heights was pushing me to a near full blown panic attack. While I appreciated the views it was hard not to think about falling to my death. After calming myself down and wiping away a few tears we began the descent of the trail. There was another trail called Devils Chair that I told Jason to go explore and I would wait for him. About 15 minutes later he returned; he didn’t explore the whole trail but had fun and assured me it was best I had stayed put as the trail was very technical. I slowed us down returning, watching every step I took to ensure I wouldn’t fall, but we made it back to the parking lot with no incidents.
View from Mt. Philo
View from Mt. Philo
Summit of Mt. Philo – I was smiling but scared!
Back at the hotel we showered and dressed to head back to Winooski. We axed the route through the woods and stuck to the roads. Despite not being able to make online reservations for the time slot we wanted, we were able to get a table at Waterworks with the promise we wouldn’t stay beyond 75 minutes. Our table was in an enclosed porch which was perfect since a short but heavy rainstorm began not long after we were seated. We watched some kayakers go down the river while enjoying a very tasty dinner. On our walk back we passed by the local baseball team playing a game. We strolled through Greenmount Cemetery, the burial location of Ethan Allen, and had fun reading the unique last names that weren’t common to our area. I wasn’t even able to keep my eyes open to read before bed that night after putting in about 17 miles of walking that day. It was bittersweet going to bed knowing we had to leave a wonderful city, but curious to see what New Hampshire had to explore!