The Burlington  branch of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (The Lyman Building at Perkins Pier, 802/475-2022, www.lcmm.org , May–Oct., 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Wed.–Sun., free), has a small exhibit on the history of the Burlington waterfront that includes some artifacts of the shipwrecks in the lake. It also serves as home base for the Lois McLure, an 88-foot, painstakingly reconstructed replica of an 1862-class canal schooner open for free tours. (Call ahead to find out whether the craft will be docked in Burlington or at the LCMM’s main museum in Basin Harbor.)
To get out on the water, board the Spirit of Ethan Allen III (Burlington Boathouse, College St., 802/862-8300, www.soea.com , 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. daily May–Oct., $14–99 adults, $5–86 children 3–11), a 141-foot luxury cruise ship that conducts narrated cruises of the lake during the day as well as dinner and sunset cruises in the evenings.
On the east side of town, the University of Vermont (194 S. Prospect St., 802/656-3131, www.uvm.edu ) educates some 10,000 students on a campus overlooking the lake. Chartered in 1791 by a group of Vermonters including Ira Allen, it was the fifth college in the country (after Harvard , Yale , Dartmouth , and Brown ).
For visitors, its prized attraction is the Robert Hull Fleming Museum (University of Vermont, 61 Colchester Ave., 802/656-0750, www.uvm.edu/~fleming/ , noon–4 p.m. Tues.–Fri. and 1–5 p.m. Sat.–Sun. May–early Sept.; 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Fri. and 1–5 p.m. Sat.–Sun. early Sept.–Apr., $5 adults, $3 students and seniors, $10 family, children 6 and under free), an art and archaeology museum with mummies, Buddhas, Mesoamerican pottery, and other artifacts from all the world’s great civilizations, presented in an up-to-date style that avoids the paternalism of many archaeology museums. It also has a small collection of American and European paintings.
Contemporary art with a Vermont  theme is the purview of the Firehouse Gallery at the Firehouse Center for the Visual Arts (135 Church St., 802/865-7166, www.burlingtoncityarts.com/fcva , noon–5 p.m. Sun., Tues., and Wed., noon–8 p.m. Thurs.–Sat. in summer; 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., noon–5 p.m. Sun. in winter, free), which pushes the envelope with multimedia and interactive exhibitions in oversized gallery spaces. Some of its shows are more successful than others; all are provocative. A recent exhibit, for example, looked at perspectives from Iraq–vets-turned-artists working in media including U.S. currency and flags and their own uniforms to come to grips with their experiences in war.
There’s no pretension at Magic Hat Brewing Company (5 Bartlett Bay Rd., South Burlington, 802/658-2739, www.magichat.net , tours 3:30–5:30 p.m. Thurs.–Fri. and noon–4 p.m. Sat. late Jan.–late May, 3–6 p.m. Wed.–Fri. and noon–4 Sat. Jun.–Dec.), just good beer. The brewery is justly famed for its No. 9, a subtly fruity ale found on tap all over New England.
If you’ve ever dreamed of getting a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s, stop in at Lake Champlain Chocolates Factory Store and Café (750 Pine St., 802/864-1807, www.lakechamplainchocolates.com , tours hourly 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Mon.–Thurs.; free chocolate tasting hourly 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Fri.; store/café hours 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat. and noon–5 p.m. Sun.), where tours of the chocolate-making operation are enough to send any chocoholic into a swoon. The company has been producing gourmet chocolates for more than two decades, incorporating sweet cream from Vermont cows and other local ingredients such as honey and maple syrup.
Tours take in huge chocolate-filled melting tanks, a chocolate bar assembly line, and the chocolate waterfall that douses hand-fashioned truffles in velvety goodness. Free samples, of course, are available.