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Sep 21, 2010 12:04 PM

Private party options in Burlington, VT?

Boston CH here. I have a son graduating (fingers crossed!) from UVM in the spring and am trying to help organize a dinner for a group that would include graduates and parents, siblings and maybe some grandparents. I'm hoping the number won't go north of 30, but let's say 40 to be safe. Any creative suggestions out there for a fun place to host a private dinner? Good caterers that might be able to suggest a venue? I'm told there are 'party boats' on the lake. Any experience/warnings with those? It probably makes the most sense to pick a location in downtown Burlington since that's where the housing for all will be. Many thanks!

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  1. You want something indoors, for sure. The weather in the spring around the typical graduation dates is unpredictable, at best.

    Do you want private catering in a specific location? Or would you prefer a restaurant venue?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Morganna

      I think our first choice would be to find a venue and a caterer. But a restaurant that could provide a casual, buffet-style meal rather than a sit-down would likely work as well.

    2. My cousin lives in Burlington and when he and his wife got married they treated everyone to a dinner cruise on Lake Champlain after the ceremony. It was beautiful. We got to watch the sunset over the Lake and mountains. The food was pretty good too. They served buffet style but then everyone sat down at formal tables. If the weather is chilly folks can just stay inside, as that is where they set up the dinner anyway. Even inside you can look out and see nice views. Check out "Lake Champlain Cruises" by phoning 802-864-9669 or see their website at:

      1. Hi -

        My husband and I own August First in downtown Burlington, and we offer private flatbread pizza parties at our place. We're a bakery/cafe, just 2 blocks from Church Street. Feel free to drop a line:, and check us out online: or And if it doesn't work, I can recommend other options too. Congratulations!

        1. Memt, UVM faculty here, so thank you! Outdoors is SUPER iffy that time of year. August First would be a terrific venue. If the weather's good, it's mid-way between the lake and the hub of downtown. Plus, there's on-street parking. They do excellent work.

          Other options would include Penny Cluse. You'd about fill their space. It's downtown, but marvelous food.

          Finally, when my partner and I had a big commitment ceremony in 2003, we had our 'rehearsal dinner' on the Lake Champlain ferry. Not the excursion boat: the ferry. You can go the excursion-boat route, but I can't speak to that (or rather, I've done it, but wouldn't suggest it).

          Anyway, we had a caterer make up a bunch of great stuff, which we loaded into our station wagon. Then, we bought foot-passenger tickets for our guests, which we distributed. We then loaded up on the boat, greatly enjoyed the crossing (it's about an hour and ten minutes each way, so about 2.5 hours, total). You have the whole ferry to wander, which means that there are plenty of spots for people to mingle. Afterward, those who wanted to could trundle up the hill to Church Street, or whatever.

          It's a bit weather-dependent, but, if you're the sort who'd like to do some of this yourself, then it's a really neat way to go about this. Plus, barring a rainstorm, it's the most poetic way to approach Burlington, and you would have marvelous photo-ops.

          One way or another, though, UVM commencement is really a very special event and I hope you and your family enjoy it. I gladly serve as a Marshal, and I look forward to it!