Freeport, Maine, home to L. L. Bean’s flagship store and dozens of other retail outlets, is a shopaholic’s fantasy. But even those without a tad of interest in shopping will enjoy a weekend visit to this tidy town on the shores of Casco Bay. If you’re seeking active adventures for a bargain price, you’ve come to the right place. Mother Nature shines in these parts and admirers of the great outdoors will appreciate the region’s beauty. Foodies looking for the next culinary “it girl” are flocking here to sample a tantalizing array of sweet and savory goodies. Freeport’s compact nature and walkability factor make it a pedestrian’s delight. With so much to offer in all four seasons, you’ll quickly see why this town attracts over three million visitors annually.
Unleash your inner shopaholic
If you think L.L. Bean is all about Oxford shirts, boat shoes and moccasins, think again. Sure, you can purchase these preppy staples 24/7 at the flagship store, but New England’s best bargain attraction is the L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools, where for $25 you can learn a new sport or perfect an old favorite, with expert instruction and all equipment included. In summer, try your hand at standup paddle-boarding, fly fishing, canoeing, or archery. In winter, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular options.
Get back to nature
Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is a place of solitude and pristine beauty. Groomed trails provide glimpses of coastal scenery. Hike or just meander and soak up the sweeping views and fresh air.
Splurge on local favorites
You’ll find generic outlet stores such as Gap, J. Crew and Banana Republic here, but don’t miss the unique local boutiques and shops. Wilbur’s Candy sells rich and delish Maine-made confections. Casco Bay Fibers is the place to purchase yarn, fabric, beads and other crafty supplies that should appeal to do-it-yourself types. Maine Wicked Goods Mercantile is packed with heirloom and artisanal items representing the best products this Yankee state can muster.
Foodies, rejoice! Check out these great local restaurants
Portland swipes Maine’s epicurean spotlight, but Freeport is garnering plenty of its own accolades. Chefs are drawn here for the abundance of high-integrity seafood, collaborative food community and relatively low overhead costs.
New on the dining scene is Stirling & Mull. Modeled after a German beer garden, the selection of craft brews and wine-by-the-glass is varied. Chef Anthony pleases patrons with casual bar food like fish and chips with an oatmeal crust and homemade soft pretzel bites. Bring the family; the kids can romp in the playground while the grownups relax with a drink by the fire pit.
The Harraseeket Inn’s Broad Arrow Tavern’s authentic New England cuisine is mouth-watering. Don’t miss the award-winning Maine lobster stew or the flaky chicken pot pie. The Sunday buffet brunch is a scrumptious showstopper.
One bite and you’ll understand why Azure Cafe’s Chef Christopher Bassett was named Maine Chef of the Year. He’s inspired by Italian, Spanish and French cooking traditions but not bound by them. He serves only seafood that is found in abundance, so expect local lobster and sustainably harvested Pollack.
The sugar fairy has blessed this town with an assortment of sweet treats, so leave your diet at the state border. Frosty’s Donutsare hand-cut daily. Locavores won’t be disappointed with the maple or blueberry varieties, while purists can chow down on a chocolate frosted.
Whoopie pie is Maine’s official state treat. If you’re not familiar with this Northern staple of two soft cookies with a creamy filling, it’s time to get acquainted. Wicked Whoopies sells the classic chocolate sandwich version as well creative takes like red velvet, Creamsicle and coconut. If you find yourself in need of a fix, they do a brisk mail order business and ship anywhere in the U.S.
If you’re proclivities lean towards the liquid, Maine Craft Distilling uses local agricultural products to make small batch spirits that taste like New England in a bottle. Gin, whiskey and rum are all produced using farm to-flask methods for a distinct flavor profile.
Stay at a lovely B&B
The Harraseeket Inn offers some of New England’s finest lodging and friendliest service. Book one of the 93 luxury rooms directly through the hotel’s website and a generous breakfast and lavish fireside afternoon tea are included in the rate. If you prefer a Bed and Breakfast, the cozy White Cedar Inn is located right on Main Street. Innkeeper Rock’s morning meal is a fortifying way to start the day.
How to get to Freeport
Freeport is enticing visitors without cars thanks to Amtrak’s Downeaster stopping in the center of town. If you’re driving, it’s twenty minutes north of Portland. To plan your trip, go to www.freeportusa.com and www.visitmaine.com.