I can’t say enough about our day at the Echo Aquarium in Burlington. It truly was a perfect day filled with memorable moments and experiences that confirmed our decision to move to the area. Chris had taken the car to work that day and it was just the boys and myself. We were staying at the Hilton, our regular choice when we visit Burlington. It is situated along Battery Street, the perfect spot to be without a car. Great views of the Lake and walking distance to the Echo Aquarium and Church Street. Literally a 5-minute walk with two 4-year olds, so without the boys you could walk there in 3!
I overestimated the time it would take to get there and arrived to closed doors 15 minutes prior to opening. We were dressed warmly but the aquarium sits directly on the waterfront and the wind coming off the lake can be much colder than the temperature. It really wasn’t worth walking back to the hotel and the boys needed to get some fresh air so we decided to wait it out. To my surprise, the kind lady opened the doors early so we could come in and get warm. It was much appreciated and it was the first of many kind and thoughtful acts from Vermonters that we encountered that day and throughout our trip.
The aquarium opens at 10 am and closes at 5 pm. It really is a perfectly sized aquarium for a mom with twin 4-year olds. It’s not overwhelmingly big and crowded, there were other families there but I never felt that worry of losing a child as they played and explored different areas. There really was so much to offer, mostly everything was interactive learning and hands-on. They could move and balance on a snowboard exhibit and climb aboard a sailboat in the preschool area, where we spent hours making new friends and acquaintances.
They offer a cafe at the aquarium but I was itching to get us some Skinny Pancake that day. The Skinny Pancake is right across the street from the aquarium and is one of our favorite places to visit when staying in Burlington. I ordered a much-needed coffee for myself and warm apple cider for the boys for beverages. Our crepes were the ‘Pooh Bear’ honey and cinnamon with powdered sugar and the ‘Apple and Brie’ with ham and a side salad. We sat at a table sipping our warm drinks via mugs and my sweet Julian takes a sip and looks up at me and says, “I love you mom”. Aside from great food, the skinny pancake offers a delightful restroom experience. I say experience because you need a code and have to walk down a beautifully muraled hallway that’s shared by a super cool Peace and Justice store.
After a great lunch and more cool learning experiences, we head back to the aquarium we literally spent the rest of the day. Both boys and I, immensely enjoyed not only the aquarium itself but the people and families we interacted with throughout the day. To cap off a great day, we headed back to the hotel to jump in the pool for a quick dip to relax and warm up our muscles. The boys were so happy and tired I was able to talk them into a peanut butter and jelly dinner, and bath. Warm and comfy in our pajamas, the boys got their first glimpse of The Wizard of OZ all snuggled in the hotel bed with mom. A perfect ending to a perfect day! If you’re staying a weekend with young kids in Burlington reserve a day for the aquarium. Some other worthwhile hits during winter months would be the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory in Shelburne, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory, and Stowe for the skiers!