Burlington, a lively college town, is the largest city in Vermont and the site each September of Vermont Gay Pride. Although Burlington has no exclusively gay bars, a number of hangouts in this small, progressive city, as well as a few spots in the surrounding region (Middlebury, Stowe, which hosts Winter Rendezvous Gay Ski Week each January, and Waterbury), have a following with the region's sizable LGBT community. Read on to learn about the best bars and nightclubs in the area for LGBT visitors, plus a few gay-popular restaurants and cafés.
The Farmhouse Tap & Grill opened in May 2010, serving burgers, various entrees, and plenty of craft beer. The eatery's Taco Tuesdays in the beer garden led to the opening of a sister restaurant, El Cortijo, in December 2011. Since then, Farmhouse has added two more sister restaurants: Guild Tavern and Pascolo Ristorante. Farmhouse Tap & Grille is a part of Burlington’s farm-to-table restaurant scene, with a menu showcasing Vermont grown, raised, and produced ingredients.
Visited by U.S. presidents, once traded for a farm, formerly home to a railroad company’s offices, site of a grand dance hall and base for regular Lowell Thomas broadcasts, the Green Mountain Inn has a rich history and is even on the National Register of Historic Places.
The inn has undergone a number of renovations over the years, most recently in 2013 when its year-round outdoor pool was replaced with a brand new pool with expanded seating, an in-ground spa, kiddie pool, and fire pit. During the spring of 2014, the Whip Bar & Grill restaurant also underwent a major renovation.
Another of Vermont’s well-known farm-to-table eateries, Shelburne Farms Restaurant's menu items are built around what’s being harvested in its Market Garden or from area farms. Staples like its farmhouse cheddar, seasonal lamb and pork, and other farm products round out the menus.
After you eat, tour beautiful Shelburne Farms on which the restaurant is located. The 1,400-acre working farm, forest, and National Historic Landmark are operated as a nonprofit organization, which strives to help build a healthy future for the community and the planet.
Leunig’s Bistro opened in 1980 and proved an instant hit among Burlington’s original hipster crowd, serving local artists, business professionals, and youth. Leunig’s remains the place to see and be seen and is considered one of the best restaurants in Burlington. Leunig’s serves thousands of locals and tourists alike, seven days a week, 363 days each year with what it calls the “Panache of Paris and the Value of Vermont."
Born, raised, and trained in Switzerland, the restaurant's eponymous chef/owner Michael Kloeti dreamed of enriching his classical education with that of other cultures. Shortly after meeting his wife, Laura, working in a Swiss kitchen, they relocated to New York City. The decision to raise their family in Vermont led them to the eventual opening of Michael's on the Hill Restaurant in 2002. Michael's is a member of the Vermont Fresh Network, Local First Vermont, Farm Plate, and Slow Food, and uses local, organic products to create its menu items.
Piecasso’s owner, Eduardo Rovetto, learned the pizza business at a young age from his Sicilian-born parents at their upstate New York restaurant. Rovetto decided to bring traditional, hand-tossed, pizza to Stowe, Vermont in 2000. Piecasso thrived in its tiny location at the Gale Farm Center in Stowe for over five years, then bought the old Grill 108 building across the street and expanded into a full restaurant, bar, and lounge, which opened in 2006. If you visit, try the locals’ favorites: an assortment of slice pie offerings, fried calamari, garlic knots, the daily fish sandwich special, or the Treehugger pizza.
Radio Bean is a full-service bar and restaurant that features live music, a lamp lounge, craft cocktails, street food, and bills itself as a "bohemian utopia" in Burlington. Radio Bean actually operates two bars and offers live music every night. Expect to pay a cover charge every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. If you plan to eat at one of the bars, Radio Bean offers a full dinner menu on Sunday through Wednesday and a limited selection from Thursday through Saturday.
Red square was voted a gay-friendly bar finalist in 2017 as well as Burlington's best pickup bar in the same year. One customer recently remarked of Red Square:
"It's a nice place to sit and relax while having a drink. They do not serve food but you can bring food in from many of the area grab and go food options. It's not a bad place to go if you want to kill some time and listen to live music as you are walking along Church Street."
Signal Kitchen is a live-music venue with a video-production house, recording studio, and an onsite art gallery. "Creativity is the king of our jungle," the establishment says of itself. "We hunt with those who create, design, define, and do because we understand that brilliant artistry is not an individual effort." If you love Bernie Sanders and like eclectic, live music, Signal Kitchen is your kind of spot.
Prior to opening the Vermont Pub & Brewery, Greg Noonan enlisted the aid of Bill Mares, then a state legislator, to seek changes in the existing legislation governing the on-site sale of manufactured beer. Together, they rewrote the current language of the law to allow manufacturers to sell their malt beverages on-site. And to this day, that's what the pub and brewery offers—an eclectic mix of craft beers and a pretty full menu of pub and brewery fare.