Strolling Down Church Street Marketplace: Burlington, Vermont

by Cie McCullough Buschle on June 9, 2012

in Travel Ideas

Stuck in a too small hotel room with two kids and two dogs? Not a problem in Burlington, Vermont!

Looking South on Church Street, Burlington, Vermont

Part shopping mall, part street festival, Church Street Marketplace  is one of the best reasons to visit Burlington Vermont. Four blocks of Church Street, right in the center of town, have been closed to vehicular traffic since 1981, allowing space for kiosks, street performers and more outdoor restaurant seating. The storefronts are full of eclectic shops, usually open until 9pm on every day but Sunday, and the store windows provide interest even if the store is closed.

John Stork performing, Church Street Marketplace, Burlington Vermont

We visited on a Friday night, after some delicious burgers at Bread and Butter Farm. It was an ideal place for entertaining all our senses, as well as providing our dogs with some much needed stretching and sniffing time. At about 7pm, people were just finishing dinner, or sitting down to share drinks with friends. No worries – the atmosphere all along the street is open and inviting.

We were first tempted with the sights and smells of the wonderful kiosks. We stopped at the Skinny Pancake cart for some desert crepes, and stood listening to a young violinist as we ate them. Further down we heard the sounds of guitar strings. Everyone smiled at our dogs, who gave some friendly tail wags in return.

As we reached one end of the Marketplace there was a shrill whistle in the air: a call to come watch the performance of Church Street staple John Stork, who mixes humor and fire juggling all while standing atop one table and five chairs. Stork has been a street performer for six years, working with circuses such as Circus Smirkus before that. He has performed all over the US, but loves Church Street, “even more than Harvard Square”, saying “The audiences are kind, fun, and generous, and they’ll usually even laugh at my dumb jokes. Usually…”

Playing with Fire - John Stork, Church Street Marketplace, Burlington Vermont

John also gave me the inside scoop on some of the acts we didn’t catch:

“… there are always lots of great entertainers and musicians on Church Street. Some are local and some are just rolling through town for a day or two which is always exciting. Acts that I’d say visitors should be sure to catch are Guy Collins, a fellow professional variety entertainer and amazing juggler/comedian, John Holland, the guitarist and original folk-singer/songwriter (with lots of great classic covers as well!), and of course Tree on the didgeridoo, who creates an atmosphere all his own. I think he may have the most unique routine on Church Street!”

After John climbed down from his perch and the crowd watching his show had dispersed, we headed back to the car, but stopped for a cuppa at Dobra Tea. Like most every restaurant, Dobra Tea has some tables outside, which suits the dogs perfectly well. The tea was delicious and was the perfect ending to our stroll.

Hot tea at Dobra Tea, Church Street Marketplace, Burlington Vermont

Go Visit!

Burlington, Vermont, is on the Northern Shores of Lake Champlain. The four blocks of Church Street run north/south, and are bordered between Pearl Street on the north and Main Street on the south. Finding a parking spot can be difficult; I opted for the Marketplace Garage on Bank Street. The rates are extremely reasonable: First 2 hours free, $1.00 per ½ hour next 2 hours and $1.00 per hour after 4 hours, with a daily maximum rate of $8.00.

Elsewhere in Vermont:

Quintessential Vermont: Burger Night at Bread and Butter Farm
Say Cheese! in Cabot, Vermont
Have a Blast! at Rock of Ages Granite Quarry, Vermont 

| Cie McCullough Buschle lives with her dog Einstein and a cat named Burton Guster. She is a lifelong traveler and enjoys researching history through holidays, toys, and everyday objects. Cie is a sculptor and co-owns The Creative Chameleon, a place where kids and adults can create, paint, celebrate, and just have a lot of fun. Sometimes you can find her time traveling back to the Middle Ages as part of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Sandra Foyt June 10, 2012 at 7:25 am

What a fun place to visit! Reminds me of the village square in Olde England – the kind I’ve read about, but never seen.

Cie McCullough Buschle June 10, 2012 at 11:18 am

Sandra, it actually made me think more of the Mexican town squares, were something was always happening!

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