Burlington is blessed with numerous city parks. Most popular is Leddy Park on North Avenue, with an 1,800-foot beach, tennis courts, ball fields, walking trails, and handsome indoor skating rink. North Beach (tel. 802/862-0942), at 60 Institute Rd., also has a long sandy beach, plus a pricey campground with nearly 140 sites for those looking to pitch a tent or park an RV. The sites cost $23 to $31 per night.
On the downtown waterfront, look for the Community Boathouse, a modern structure built with Victorian flair. A lot of summer action takes place at this city-owned structure and along the 900-foot boardwalk. You can rent a sailboat or rowboat, sign up for kayak or sculling lessons, or just wander around and enjoy the sunset.
One of Burlington's hidden but beguiling attractions is the Burlington Bike Path, running 9 miles along an old rail bed fronting the picturesque shores of Lake Champlain. It allows for an easy and quiet trip as you ride through parks, past backyards, and along sandy beaches. You start near the boathouse and head north toward the Winooski River; it's worth packing a lunch and exploring for a few hours on a sunny afternoon. From the north shore of the Winooski, pedal northward, picking up the Causeway Park trail, which lets you seemingly skim across the lake's surface by bike. (A demonstration ferry has been established across Colchester Cut, a boater's break in the causeway that prevented bikers from making through-trips, but you can't count on it being open -- in 2007, it operated for only 4 weekends of the year and asked a suggested $5 donation. Check ahead about its status.)
Bike rentals are available downtown at Skirack, 85 Main St. (tel. 800/882-4530 or 802/658-3313; www.skirack.com), from 4 hours to an entire day. Skirack also rents in-line skates, commonly used on the bike path as well. North Star Sports, at 100 Main St. (tel. 802/863-3832), rents bicycles at comparable rates.
When at the bike shops or the chamber of commerce, ask for the free map Cycling the City, which will help you plot a course around town.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.