Skip to main content

Willa Cather North by Northeast

Cather Related Site-Seeing North of New York City and East of Ohio

Burlington, Vermont: The Cather / Dorothy Canfield Fisher Correspondence

Tour written by Sherrill Harbison

The Five Colleges, Amherst, Massachusetts

A visit to Burlington is a pleasure in its own right: it is a handsome city, with splendid views over Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks, excellent restaurants, and a lively commercial, artistic, and recreational life. (See Sherrill Harbison's, On the Martyrs' Trail tour, for lake-related activities.) Stay a while if you can.

The University of Vermont's Bailey Howe Library, situated in Burlington, houses one of the most important collections of Cather letters, those from her five decades of friendship with Dorothy Canfield Fisher. (See Mark Madigan's, Arlington, Vermont tour.) Allow two days for the collection.

Special Collections, Bailey/Howe Library University of Vermont Burlington, VT 05405 (802) 656-2138 Fax (802) 656-4038

Manuscript curator: Jeff Marshall, email:

Library hours are 9-5 weekdays, 1-5 weekends check for summer and holiday variations General library information. Dorothy Canfield Fisher collection. Campus directions to the library.

Historical attractions in the greater Burlington area include the Ethan Allen Homestead, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum at Burlington and Basin Harbor, and the open-air Shelburne Museum (with its world-famous collection of folk art, quilts, Americana, period houses, paintings, historic structures, and more—including the 220-foot lake steamboat, the Ticonderoga). Read more about Burlington's other attractions.

Note: from Montreal, Burlington is 100 miles; from Boston, 215 miles; from New York City, 290 miles; from Albany, 145 miles.


Burlington has the usual assortment of chain motels, mostly along Rte 7 (Shelburne Rd.) or Rte 2 (Williston Rd.). Rooms can be booked at or the Burlington & Lake Champlain Area Lodging. Below are recommendations.

The Historic Inns of Burlington consist of three elegant Victorian B & B's with fine chefs and big-city prices, all under the same capable management. Two—Lang House and Willard Street Inn—are in Burlington (the third, Heart of the Village Inn, is in Shelburne).

Lang House, 360 Main St., Burlington, VT 05401 (877) 919-9799, (802) 652-2500. Queen Anne style "cottage," a ten-minute walk to UVM campus or downtown.

Willard Street Inn, 349 So. Willard St., Burlington, VT 05401 (802) 651-8710, (800) 577-8712. Beautifully restored mansion has handsome gardens and lake views. 20-25-minute walk to UVM campus, 15-minute walk to downtown.

Hartwell House B & B, 170 Ferguson Ave., Burlington, VT 05401 (802) 658-9242. Unpretentious but pleasant house with pool, gardens, reasonable rates.

Radisson Hotel & Suites. 60 Battery Street, Burlington, 05401. 800-333-3333, (802) 658-6500. Set downtown, right above the lake. Dining. Ask for a west-facing room.

Sheraton Burlington Hotel and Conference Center, 870 Williston Rd, Burlington, VT 05401 (802) 865-6600, (800) 325-3535. Dining. Convenient to the Interstate and the University of Vermont.

Eating out

Leunig's Bistro, 115 Church St., (802) 863-3759. Hip and good.

"O" Restaurant, 112 Lake St., (802) 264-4700. Artful seafood dishes featured.

NECI Commons, 25 Church St., (802) 863-6324. This is one of two excellent restaurants run by apprentice chefs from the New England Culinary Institute. Lunch and dinner; reserve evenings.

Single Pebble, 133 Bank St., (802) 865-5200. Classic Chinese cuisine.

5-Spice Café, 175 Church St., (802) 864-4045. Multi-Asian.

Stone Soup, 211 College St., (802) 862-7616. Good lunch deli.

Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop, 36 Church St., (802) 862-9620. This isn't their original scoop shop, which was on the south corner of Cherry St. and So. Winooski Ave.—but the new location is better for foot-traffic.

Al's French Frys, 1251 Williston Rd., (802) 862-9202. A local favorite for hot dogs, burgers, creemees, and the best french "frys" ever—be sure to try them with vinegar.

Windjammer, 1076 Williston Rd., (802) 862-6585. Voted best salad bar in Burlington.

Tour written by Sherrill Harbison, The Five Colleges, Amherst, Massachusetts - 2003

Sponsored by the Cather Project, 2003