SoloFriendly Burlington, VT
If you live east of the Mississippi and are looking for an easy getaway to kickstart your solo travel experiences, I can’t think of a better place than Burlington.
It’s beautiful, it’s safer than most cities, and it’s just the right size for getting around easily. It also regularly receives accolades for being a great place to live or visit. I have lived here for 20+ years and have gone out alone a LOT. So I feel very well qualified to speak to Burlington’s solo-friendly qualities.
Because Burlington is a college town, there are a fair number of coffee shops, bars and a surprisingly good selection of restaurants. There are a wide variety of activities that can be enjoyed by anyone–including solos. Trust me when I say, Burlington won’t intimidate a newbie solo traveler nearly as much as say, New York City. For our purposes, I’ll be focusing on activities, restaurants, etc. that I think solos can enjoy.
Best times to visit
I recommend May through the end of December (Church Street is especially beautiful when decorated for Christmas). Only come here January through March if you have a perverse love of subzero temperatures or want to go skiing (but if that’s the case, you’d probably base yourself at a ski mountain, not in Burlington). Everyone wants to visit Vermont in the fall, when the foliage brightens the landscape, but you’ll be competing for lodging with hundreds of other “leaf peepers”, so book well in advance.
If you plan to visit in May, be aware that there are several area colleges graduating students at that time, and lodging establishments are highly booked on those weekends. I think summer is the best time to visit–the weather is about as perfect as it ever gets in Vermont, and there so many activities to enjoy–including some fun festivals.
Getting Here and Getting Around
Burlington is a pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly city and has a decent public transportation system (CCTA). Taxis are available (I recommend Green Cab.) You can get here by car, by train (the Amtrak Vermonter, stopping in Essex, VT), by plane (Burlington International Airport), and by ferry (Lake Champlain Transportation). Megabus has a couple of buses that run between Boston and Burlington and New York and Burlington.
If you fly in and want to rent a car, there are car rental companies located at the airport, and Thrifty, located less than a mile from the airport (they also have an airport shuttle). I highly recommend this particular Thrifty outlet; they have treated me very well over the years. (Before I bought my car, I rented from them on a regular basis.)
Click on the links below for my recommendations for solo-friendly activities, restaurants, lodging and nightlife in Burlington, VT.