Good, Clean Fun: Nonalcoholic Activities In and Around Burlington | What's Good | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Good, Clean Fun: Nonalcoholic Activities In and Around Burlington 

Published August 25, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated August 29, 2017 at 4:34 p.m.

click to enlarge Esc4pe - FILE: OLIVER PARINI
  • File: oliver parini
  • Esc4pe

You don't have to belly up to the bar to socialize or unwind in Burlington — there's more to our nightlife than creative cocktails and craft brews. Whether you're straight-edge, sober, underage or just need a night off from the club scene, we think you'll enjoy our recommendations for booze-free hangouts.


Escape rooms are all the rage recently, Burlington included. At Esc4pe, you'll get an hour to figure your way out of one of three themed "Esc4pe" rooms by solving a series of physical and mental puzzles — like, for example, why you agreed to be locked in a room with total strangers or what the "4" in "Esc4pe" is all about.

Fore! Play

Navigate the challenging, nautical-themed 18-hole mini-golf course at the Essex Family Fun & Entertainment Center. Iron out the kinks in your real golf swing at the driving range. And let's not forget about the batting cages, which feature baseball and softball pitches at speeds ranging from slow to Chris Sale. When the weather turns, try the elaborate indoor mini links at South Burlington's Pizza Putt. Or check out the immersive golf simulators at SoBu's Gonzo's HD Sports and (virtually) travel to famed real-life courses such as Pebble Beach or St. Andrews. Not a duffer? Gonzo's boasts a variety of sporty sims, from baseball and hockey to rugby, cricket and — wait for it — zombie dodgeball.

Say High

click to enlarge Get Air Trampoline Park - COURTESY OF GET AIR TRAMPOLINE PARK
  • Courtesy Of Get Air Trampoline Park
  • Get Air Trampoline Park

Everybody had that one friend with a trampoline when they were kids, right? Well, the Get Air Trampoline Park in Williston is what happens when that friend grows up, buys a warehouse and fills it with thousands of square feet of trampolines. You can bounce for hours. But why not also play an elevated game of dodgeball or work on your 360-tomahawk slam dunk on the basketball court?

Reel World

Got a student ID card? Flash it on the regular for discounts at Merrill's Roxy Cinemas. This family-owned downtown theater plays a mix of mainstream and art-house flicks, from Alien: Covenant to Nine Lives — Cats in Istanbul. The screens are smallish, but the popcorn is the best around. For the true blockbuster experience, check out Williston's Majestic 10 or the monstrous T-Rex Theater at Essex Cinemas. And in the warmer months, you can't beat the throwback vibe at Colchester's Sunset Drive-In Theatre.

Rack 'em

click to enlarge Van Phan Billiards & Bar - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Van Phan Billiards & Bar

One of our favorite bar pastimes is shooting pool. But you don't have to wait until you're 21 to scratch that itch — or the eight ball. Van Phan Billiards & Bar features 14 tables and plenty of room to maneuver so that you're not jostling with other patrons while making shots. Whatever you do, don't get cocky and challenge pool hall owner Van Phan — unless you're a glutton for punishment. She's a former Vermont billiards champion and has competed nationally.

Start Your Engines

Channel your inner Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the Essex Speedway & Action Center, the only indoor go-kart track in Vermont. If the slow lane is more your speed, try the bumper cars, the bounce area or the arcade.

Roll With It

click to enlarge Spare Time Family Fun Center - JOHN JAMES
  • John James
  • Spare Time Family Fun Center

The dude abides. And so can you at either of the area's two bowling alleys. Spare Time Family Fun Center in Colchester is huge and glitzy (as bowling alleys go), and home to an arcade and sweet laser tag arena. For those who prefer bowling in the kind of joint Jeffrey Lebowski would frequent, Champlain Lanes in Shelburne is a mom-and-pop alley with entertainment on the weekends. You can even roll on Shabbos.

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About The Author

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles is Seven Days' assistant arts editor and also edits What's Good, the annual city guide to Burlington. He has received numerous state, regional and national awards for his coverage of the arts, music, sports and culture. He loves dogs, dark beer and the Boston Red Sox.

About the Artist

Matthew Thorsen

Matthew Thorsen

Matthew Thorsen was a photographer for Seven Days 1995-2018. Read all about his life and work here.


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