Burlington comprises three distinct areas: the UVM campus atop the hill, the central downtown area flanking the popular Church Street Marketplace, and the waterfront strip along Lake Champlain.

University of Vermont -- Founded in 1791, and funded by a state donation of 29,000 acres of forest land across 120 townships, the university now has grown to accommodate some 8,000 undergraduates and more than a thousand graduate students, plus a few hundred medical students. The campus is set on 400 acres atop a small hill overlooking downtown and Lake Champlain to the west; it also has a glorious view of the Green Mountains to the east. The campus is large, with more than 400 buildings, many of which were designed by noted architects of their day, including H. H. Richardson, and McKim, Mead, and White. (By the way, it's UVM, not UVT; the initials stand for Universitas Virdis Montis, or University of the Green Mountains.) A controversial new student center opened in 2007, dwarfing some of the surrounding buildings with both its size and boxlike design, but it's here to stay. What UVM doesn't have is the usual college neighborhood of beery bars, bagel shops, and bookstores immediately adjacent to campus. Downtown serves that function, 5 blocks away, connected via College Street. In fact, a free daily shuttle that looks like an old-fashioned trolley runs along College Street between the Community Boathouse on the waterfront and the campus, year-round from 11am to 9pm. Use it.

Church Street Marketplace -- Downtown centers on the Church Street Marketplace, a pedestrian mall alive with activity throughout the year. This is the place to wander without purpose and watch the crowds; you can always find a cafe or ice-cream shop to rest your feet. While the shopping and grazing is good here, don't overlook the superb historic commercial architecture that graces much of downtown either. A number of side streets radiate from Church Street, with a mix of restaurants, shops, and offices.

The Waterfront -- The waterfront has benefited from a $6-million renovation centered on Union Station at the foot of Main Street. The renovation includes some newly constructed buildings such as the Wing Building, an appealingly quirky structure of brushed steel and other nontraditional materials, blending in with the more rustic parts of the waterfront. Next door is the Cornerstone Building, with a restaurant and offices, offering better views of the lake from its higher vantage point. Nearby, the city's Community Boathouse is an inviting destination on a summer's day . Bear in mind that Burlingtonians accept a fairly liberal definition of the adjective "lakeside." In some cases, it can mean a shop or restaurant 300 feet away.

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