Burlington Harbor's Department of Parks and Recreation is responsible for managing facilities in Burlington Harbor. Burlington Harbor boasts that its four-season waterfront is the single most important community asset, attracting residents and visitors alike.
The Burlington Harbor Waterfront Revitalization Plan was completed in 1998, and the Harbor Management Plan was done in 2000. These plans included physically linking the Burlington Harbor waterfront to downtown and the creation of user zones so that the number of boat slips could be increased and marine services could be improved.
There is a long waiting list for slips at the Burlington Harbor marina, and the port has to turn many transient boaters away. The city hopes to add up to 300 more boat slips and storage to existing facilities to encourage tourism and increase potential revenues.
Operating since 1826, the Lake Champlain Ferry Company is one of the United States' oldest ferry services. Burlington Harbor hopes to move the ferry terminal to free up space for a more dynamic mixed-use waterfront. Burlington Harbor's Waterfront Park is a popular location for civic, cultural, and athletic events every year.
The centerpiece of the Burlington Harbor waterfront is the Burlington Community Boathouse. The Boathouse is a full-service marina offering water, power, showers, and pump-out facilities. It is also the location of Splash Café and Catering, registrations to dive at local wrecks, and charters.
Boat slips are available from mid-May through mid-October. Hourly and overnight docking is available on a first-come first-served basis. Reservations should be made in advance, and boaters should know there is a waiting list. The Boathouse offers slips from 6.7 to 12.2 meters (22 to 40 feet). Perkins Pier docks range from 6.1 to 7.9 meters (20 to 26 feet).
The Spirit of Ethan Allen III is docked at the Boathouse in Burlington Harbor. It is Vermont's biggest floating restaurant and cruise ship. With capacity for 363 passengers, the vessel has three heated/air conditioned dining decks. The cruise service operates from April through November. Buffets and plated menus are prepared by a skilled executive chef. Visitors to Burlington Harbor can choose from a variety of cruises aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen III that include scenic tours; lunch, brunch, and themed dinners; and late night events.
Operating Lake Champlain Sailing Cruises, the Whistling Man Schooner Company offers daily cruises and full- and-half day private chargers from late May through early October. The classic sloop Friend Ship sails from her slip next to the ECHO Center at the Lake Champlain Leahy Center on College Street in Burlington Harbor. The sloop has been built across New England for more than a century and was used by fishers and lobstermen, moving cargo, and recreation. This Burlington Harbor cruise company offers two-hour cruises every day in season.
Burlington Harbor's Let's Go Sailing! offers wonderful cruises on Lake Champlain. Passengers can take two- or four-hour as well as half- and full-day cruises. Trips include journeys to Juniper Island, across Lake Champlain, the Four Brothers Islands, and Willsborow Point.