The Embarrassing Stain of Quaint Downtown Burlington


One of the things I love the most about living in Vermont is downtown Burlington.

On our first visit here, we had lunch and a walk on the cobblestone streets of this most adorable downtown scene. We were hooked. We didn’t end up living right in Burlington, but we find ourselves hanging out there almost every weekend.

When family or friends come to visit, our first stop on the wheel of Vermont tourist spots is downtown Burlington. We have lunch, walk the waterfront, and gorge ourselves over a shared Vermonster.

The problem with taking guests to this quaint must-see is that downtown Burlington has an embarrassing stain on its quaint charm.

No, I’m not talking about drug problems or the unacceptable level of homelessness that sometimes fill the picturesque streets. My complaint is much more shallow than that.

It’s the nasty stairs and elevator in the parking garages.

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I mean seriously, have you been in there? Here we are all walking along so proud of this adorable little state of ours and we bring our visitors into this scene from a scary movie. There’s usually some sort of decaying food scraps on the floor and those doors and windows just make me cringe.

Every time we head down there with the kids it’s the “don’t touch that, don’t lean on there, for the love of God don’t put your face on the glass” song and dance.

The easy answer is “just park on the street” or “park at the waterfront” but we all know the chances of an open spot are often slim to none when the weather is nice and there is an event happening.

I know, it’s a public space that can be hard to keep clean. I get it. Even my windows are sometimes smeared with stuff that I can’t explain. Vermont is mostly lovely and clean and charming. Downtown Burlington is a delightful spot for fun, food, and entertainment.

I suppose you learn to take the good with the bad when you’ve fallen in love with an imperfectly lovely city.


  1. Tasha, thanks for your blog post.

    I’m seven months in as the Director of Public Works — the City department responsible for the municipal garages. We hear your issue and we’re working on it.

    We’re partnering with the Burlington Business Association, the Regional Planning Commission and others to launch a ‘Downtown Parking Improvement Initiative’. Simply, we are working to improve the customer experience for those parking downtown. More info here:

    Stay in touch. Share your ideas. Thank you again for the feedback.

  2. oh my word. There have been countless times I ponder the thought of just getting a whole bunch of volunteers together and clean those stairwells. Perhaps I just should.


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