5 Family-Friendly Adventures in Burlington

Heading up to Mount Philo's peak along the House Rock Trail
Heading up to Mount Philo's peak along the House Rock Trail Suzanne Loring
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It’s hard to continue the pre-kid lifestyle once kids come into the picture. Getting out for a good run, a full-day out on the bike, a multi-pitch climb (just one?), relaxing at the beach, or even just hanging out with friends for dinner can be a challenge at times. But, now, you have no more excuses, at least while you’re in Burlington. Here are five family-friendly outdoor adventures that will not only get you out, but your kids as well, and the sooner you get them started, the sooner you’ll have a running partner, a rope gun, or a child who rides like the wind.

1. Mount Philo

Climbing on boulders and skipping over roots trailside
Climbing on boulders and skipping over roots trailside Suzanne Loring

The hike up Mount Philo is great for many reasons. It’s located in Charlotte, not 20 minutes from downtown Burlington. It’s a short 2.1-miler with little elevation making it perfect for little legs to make it all the way to the top by themselves. There are plenty of rocks, boulders, and bridges for the kiddos to bounce off and climb up. The top of the mountain is a 168-acre state park complete with a campground, facilities, and picnic areas. The view of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks is astounding, one of the best in the local Burlington area. And if that's not enough, there’s an auto road, which allows people to drive up, so if there is anyone in your family unable or uninterested in hiking, they can still join you for the views and a picnic at the top. And sometimes, if you're lucky, there's live music at the peak's pavilion. Please note, as this is a state park, there is a fee for parking.

2. Catamount Outdoor Family Center

Riding the trails around Catamount Family Outdoor Center in Williston, VT
Riding the trails around Catamount Family Outdoor Center in Williston, VT Rajan Chawla

Jonesin' to get back out on the mountain bike, or at least a little more often? Then get the littles on their bikes and out on the trails. The Catamount Outdoor Family Center , located 15 minutes outside of Burlington in Williston, is just the spot. Grab your bikes and head over anytime to ride around on the 20 miles of trails, both single and doubletrack with a range of beginner and more advanced options. And the views from the trails are stunning. If you don’t have bikes with you, no worries, you can rent them at Catamount’s main desk. If you would prefer something more challenging or group oriented, come to the Wednesday night Mountain Bike Series , where adults and older kids can take part in a 5-20k race, kids under 12 can compete in either 2.5k or 5k races, and those under eight have a shorter race all their own. It is a pay-to-play, so day passes for riders are $8 for adults, $4 for kids 13-17, $3 for kids 6-12, and children under six are free. Race costs are $10 for adults, $7 for ages 13-17, $4 for the 5k race, $3 for the 2.5k race, and children under eight are free.

3. Waterbury Reservoir

Cruising off the beach at the Waterbury Reservoir
Cruising off the beach at the Waterbury Reservoir Jenna Bisset

There is a wealth of activity happening along the shores and in the waves of the 850-acre Waterbury Reservoir . Surrounded by Little River and Waterbury Center state parks, evergreen forests, and private lands, this is a perfect spot to spend the day swimming at the beach, picnicking under the sun, or kayaking and stand-up paddling. The beach, which is mostly a grassy area with a thin strip of sand near the water, is located right at the park entrance and offers tables, hibachis, a boat ramp, concessions, and restrooms. Umiak Outfitters of Stowe rents kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards daily on the shores of the beach. Grab a boat or board for a few hours or a full day. When your time in the sun is done, hit the Ben and Jerry’s Factory on your way out. You have to pass it anyway, so may as well pull in and stop for a tour and a scoop of Chunky Monkey. Your kids will think you're the coolest.

4. Trapp Family Lodge

Running the trails at Trapps
Running the trails at Trapps Trapp Family Lodge

Not that kids need any more incentive to run around during the summertime, but Trapp Family Lodge  provides just that. But don’t fret, it's great motivation for grown-ups too! Every Wednesday night in July and August is trail running race night for adults and kids. Starting at 6pm, kids will run a 0.5k race that is followed up by a 5k for adults. The race follows the Luce Hill Loop singletrack and the Telemark and Sugar Trail doubletracks. Runners of all ages are treated to the beautiful views surrounding Trapps, and for the kids, a little candy and some snacks as well. The best part? Trapp's staff will watch the kiddos while the adults are off and running. (Just make sure you head back to the finish and don’t find yourself lost in your freedom running over to the Trapp Lager Brewery for a quick pint instead of completing your 5k.) The race is $6 for adults and $3 for kids, unless there is a racing adult, then the kids are free.

5. Bread and Butter Farm Burger Night

Getting the kids excited about music at Bread and Butter Farm
Getting the kids excited about music at Bread and Butter Farm Courtesy of Bread and Butter Farm

What better way is there to spend a Friday night in the summer than sitting outside, eating great food, listening to music, and hanging out with friends? There aren't many. And, that’s what makes Bread and Butter Farm’s Burger Night such an awesome event. Every Friday night during the summer, the farm, located just minutes from downtown Burlington in Shelburne, invites the community in to enjoy a wonderful meal made solely from the food grown and raised on the farm—salad, grass-fed beef, rolls, and veggies. And the live music from bands like the Grammy-winning Okee Dokee brothers , Francesca Blanchard, The Irregulars, and the Cider House Boys, aids the digestion and eases the soul after a long week. The cool thing about this is that there are a ton of kids around playing, laughing, and having a good time together. So, not only will you be able to finish the conversation you started with your friend sitting next to you on the picnic blanket, but you might actually be able to eat your burger before it gets cold.

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