Burlington, with an estimated population of 39,000 (2000 U.S. Census) is part of a larger metropolitan area consisting of the towns of Colchester, Essex, and Williston and the village of Essex Junction and the cities of Burlington, South Burlington, and Winooski, Vermont. With a combined population of approximately 204,000 (2003), the city of Burlington is the core of this thriving urban center. Notable businesses and employers in the area include IBM, Lake Champlain Chocolates, The Magic Hat Brewing Company and the corporate headquarters of Bruegger's Bagels. The famous Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream was established here in 1978. Started in a renovated gas station, this business is not only famous for funky ice cream flavors, but for its work in progressive social and environmental activism.
The University of Vermont, Champlain College, Burlington College and the Community College of Vermont all call Burlington home. The large concentration of students and professors in the area fuel Vermont's art galleries and events like the South End Art Hop, The Firehouse Gallery and Pine Street Art Works. A popular publication arts-centered publication is the weekly Seven Days.
Burlington's downtown shopping sector is anchored by the Burlington Town Center Mall where over 75 specialty shops are located, as well as fine dining establishments. The Burlington Waterfront on the shore of Lake Champlain is a multi-use outdoor recreation area with walking and bike paths, as well as bench swings to rest and enjoy the view of the lake and the nearby Adirondacks. Other attractions in the area include the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, the first building in Vermont to be a certified LEED Green Building.