A former vaudeville house, the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (153 Main St., 802/863-5966, www.flynncenter.org ) was restored to its art deco grandeur in 2000. It now serves as the cultural hub of the city, with musicals, dance performances, and shows by mainstream jazz and country acts from Diana Krall to Pink Martini.
Grab a homemade beer and some local color at the state’s first brewpub, the comfortable Vermont Pub & Brewery (144 College St., 802/865-0500, www.vermontbrewery.com ). The pub pours all-natural brews like its award-winning Burley Irish Ale and Handsome Mike’s Smoked Stout that are unfiltered, unpasteurized, and—many Burlingtonites claim—unparalleled. Their latest experiment: Flower beers, such as Blue Nile, a rye beer brewed with Egyptian blue lotus flowers. Occasional live entertainment—usually rock or folk—and pub noshes are also on offer.
And speaking of music, Nectar’s (188 Main St., Burlington, 802/658-4771) has made its name on it, primarily as the spot that gave the band Phish its first following. Just as it did back then, the pub-cum-club spotlights nightly live music, weekly pool tournaments, lots of bar food, and has earned the love of local regulars for all of it.
Burlington  is home base each summer for the Mozart Festival (802/262-7352 or 800/639-3443, www.vtmozart.com , July–Aug.), a classical music festival that brings Amadeus outdoors to various locations in the valley.
If you notice people stumbling down the streets, it’s probably just the weekend of the Vermont Brewers Festival (802/244-6828, www.vermontbrewers.com , $5–125, July), a waterfront boozefest featuring Long Trail, Otter Creek, Magic Hat, Harpoon, and two dozen other beermeisters from around New England.
Burlington’s biggest festival, the Champlain Valley Fair (105 Pearl St./Rte. 15, Essex Junction, 802/878-5545, www.cvfair.com , late Aug.–early Sept.) has been bringing amusement rides and agricultural exhibits to the area for more than 80 years.