It is now a suburban industrial town at the junction of the Boston-Merrimack corridor, but for most of its history it was almost entirely agricultural, selling hops and rye to Boston and supplementing that income with small shoe-making shops. Early railroad expansion passed the town by (although the town was serviced by the Middlesex Turnpike), limiting its early development, and Burlington continued to cure hams for the Boston market and produce milk, fruit, and vegetables.
This picture changed drastically, however, as soon as Route 128 was built. The highway kicked off an enormous expansion, and between 1955 and 1965 Burlington was the fastest growing town in the state. In one five-year period, its population tripled as residential and commercial retail development exploded creating the town's present character.
Burlington's public schools have recently graduated many prominent athletes, including four Olympians, and others who have gone to have successful careers the NHL, NFL, and Major League Baseball. In addition, Burlington is home to national champion Pop Warner cheerleading teams and also won States in Men's Gymnastics and Wrestling. The High School Varsity Cheerleading team has also won states every year so far starting in 2004 as well as the NCA Nationals in 2007 making them the first team from New England to win at that competition. The football team is the Burlington Red Devils.
The Burlington Town Common and Simonds Park are in the center of town and there are multiple parks and public recreation facilities throughout town which have basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball fields, soccer fields, gymnasia, an indoor skating rink (Burlington Ice Palace) and a skatepark.
The Burlington Public Library is on Sears Street adjoining the Town Common.
The Burlington Historical Museum
The Meeting House of the Second Parish in Woburn is on Lexington Street, just off of the Town Common.
The Mill Pond Conservation Area is in the eastern part of town bordering Woburn and Wilmington. The largest conservation area in Burlington, the Mill Pond Conservation Area includes over 140 acres (0.57 km2) of rolling and steep terrain. Numerous marked and unmarked trails cross through the conservation area. These trails allow for long enjoyable hiking or biking experiences. The land has numerous access points, including the corner of Winter and Chestnut Streets, through a gate at the end of Hansen Avenue, and through a gate at the end of the offshoot from Town Line Road.
The Mill Pond located within the Mill Pond Conservation Area. Fishing is allowed with special permit. The pond is feeding one of the two water treatment plants in Burlington. The Mill Pond Water Treatment Plant has been upgraded in 2007 and has the capacity to treat up to 6 million gallons of water per day. On the pond's island there's is a rope swing, an attraction for many locals.
The Burlington Landlocked Forest, also known as the Burlington Landlocked Parcel, consists of 270 acres (1.1 km2) spanning the borders of Burlington, Bedford, and Lexington, and contains 12 miles (19 km) of hiking/mountain biking trails, vernal pools, abundant wildlife, historic stone walls and other structures, meadows, and old growth forest. The majority of the land is owned by the Town of Burlington which has kept it as open space since acquiring it by eminent domain in 1985. It borders Route 3 in Burlington to the east, Route 62 in Bedford to the north, conservation land in Lexington to the west and Route 128 to the South. The main trail head to the Forest is located at the intersection of Routes 3 and 62 in Bedford. A secondary trail head can be found on Turning Mill Road in Lexington, under the power lines at the site of the future West Lexington Greenway. The Landlocked Parcel is currently not protected land and there were discussions in 2008 between the Town of Burlington and Patriot Partners to sell the land to the developer who would develop part of the forest to build a large biotechnology complex. A citizen group, Friends of the Burlington Landlocked Forest, has been organized to prevent this sale and to make the Forest designated conservation land.
The Mary Cummings Park was envisioned as one of the great public parks of Greater Boston, however it fell into great neglect. This over 200-acre (0.81 km2) public park on the Burlington-Woburn border was created by Mary P.C. Cummings 1927 and was entrusted to the City of Boston to be kept forever open as a recreational park. In recent years, the City of Boston has tried to discourage public access and has investigated selling the park to fund the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The Burlington RC Flyers maintain a field in the park.
The Kevin James movie Mall Cop was filmed in the Burlington Mall and scenes from the Ben Affleck movie The Company Men were filmed in an office building off of Wall Street, near Route 128.