L.L. Bean and Freeport, ME: The Gateway to Your Maine Camping Adventure

May 9, 2010

ll-bean-boot-freeport-maineA camping trip in Northern Maine isn’t complete without first stopping in the historic coastal town of Freeport, ME. Though it was once the center of a flourishing shipbuilding industry, Freeport has reinvented itself into one of the most visited outlet shopping destinations on the East Coast.

The transformation began in 1912 when Leon Leanwood Bean open his name sake retail store (LL Bean) along Main St. in the heart of what has become known as Freeport Village. Thanks to iconic designs such as the Maine Hunting Shoe, and a legendary 100% satisfaction guarantee, LL Bean’s flagship store now welcomes over 3 million visitors a year.

With LL Beans success, a number of other companies began converting nearby residences into retail spaces of their own. Present day Freeport has over 100 specialty retail stores all within walking distance of the center of town. Polo Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, GAP, Brooks Brothers, and many more labels now fill centuries old Federal and Greek Revival Colonials that proudly span throughout the area.

Things To Do in Freeport, ME

As mentioned above, the village in Freeport has something for just about everyone. If you’re looking for fun Maine souvenirs check out “Cool as a Moose” on Bow St just off Main St. down the hill from the Polo Ralph Lauren store. You’ll also find J. Crew, The North Face, Nine West, Abercrombie and Fitch, Nautica, and Wilson’s Leather Goods, among others, all within a 5 minute stroll of the intersection of Main and Bow.

With the recent completion of “Freeport Village” and associated parking garage, visitors have access to even more stores and the parking situation that has been challenging in years past is greatly improved! 

Along the northern side of Main St. (which is also part of the famous US Rt. 1) is the sprawling campus of LL Bean. Plan to spend several hours covering everything in the LL Bean store alone. If you need a break to catch your breath, their is a fantastic Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream stand situated right on the front patio steps of the main entrance to LL Bean. Also, be sure to go around to the side entrance of the store and have your picture taken with the giant LL Bean Boot! In the summer time there are concerts, and live product demonstrations on the green on the west side of the flagship store.

There are other outlet stores further down Rt. one including the Chocolate Factory, and Carter’s Children’s Wear but these are out of walking distance for most visitors’ tastes.

Wolf’s Neck Farm
Take a trip out to Wolfe’s Neck Farm. The farm is an historic 626 acre farm on the Maine coast dedicated to sustainable agriculture, environmental education, and community well-being through the enjoyment of the natural landscape. Visitors are invited to visit the farm and enjoy the sights and sounds of the area. If you’re making an extended stay in the area you can enroll your children in one of their day camp programs, where children learn about taking care of the animals and living on a self sustaining farm. Their is an excellent campground on the farm if you’re in the mood for more “adventurous” accommodations.

There are two golf courses in the immediate area. The Freeport Country Club and Brunswick Golf Club. The casual golfer will enjoy the great value of the 9 hole course at the Freeport Country Club. Serious golfers, or those seeking a more upscale golfing experience will prefer the plush beauty that is the Brunswick Golf Club. You can read a complete collection of my Maine golf reviews here.

Where to Eat

There is no shortage of wonderful places to eat in the Freeport area. In the center of the shopping center you’ll find delicious fresh lobster and lobster rolls at the Lobster Cooker Restaurant. For pub fare you can try Gritty’s McDuffs Brew Pub which is located about a half mile south of LL Bean down Rt1. on the left hand side I highly recommend the haddock sandwich, and brown ale (brewed on the premises). Gritty’s is a fun place to be after dinner as well, with a great crowd and atmosphere.

The Jameson Tavern is also on Main St. and offer delicious seafood and pub fare. Local legend has it that the tavern served as the state declaration signing spot when Maine separated from Massacheusetts in 1789. For this reason, some locals refer to the tavern as the “Birthplace of Maine”.

For an elegant dining experience try the Azure Cafe. Though the Azure’s decor is upscale and our waitress was spectacular, the lobster dinner was priced very reasonably and billed as the “least expensive” in town.

For you Italian lovers try Antonia’s Pizzeria next to Gritty McDuff’s Brew Pub. We recently spent a great afternoon here listening to live music from a local musician and getting our fill of some of the best pizza around!

Where to Stay in Freeport, ME

If you plan on staying a day or two in Freeport before continuing on with your camping trip to Acadia National Park, or the North Maine Woods. There are a variety of lodging (and camping) options.
Bed and Breakfasts
Like Bar Harbor, there are a variety of lodging options available in the Freeport area. One of the most popular options is staying in one of the beautiful bed and breakfast establishments that line route 1 as you are heading North out of the village. there are a variety of lodging options available in the Freeport area. One of the most popular options is staying in one of the beautiful bed and breakfast establishments that line route 1 as you are heading North out of the village. Check out James Place Inn, the Brewster House, Freeport Clipper Inn, and the White Cedar Inn among others.

There are a variety of hotels in the area as well. The Hilton Garden Inn is nearby and a good option. The Harraseeket Inn is an exceptional establishment and recommended for any family seeking a more luxurious experience. The Inn is a favorite destination of honeymooners and was listed as one of the Top 50 resorts in the US in 2005 by Conde’ Nast.

Rental Properties
One of the best ways to experience the best of this area is to rent a vacation home for a week or two. Renting has become a popular alternative to hotels in the area, especially for traveling families that need the extra space. For about the same price of a week stay in one of the areas many hotels, you can rent out a larger more intimate vacation home from which to stage your family vacation. There are a wide variety of homes in the area to meet every taste and budget.

There are a couple beautiful campgrounds in the area as well for those families seeking more adventurous accommodations.  Try Wolfe’s Neck Farm a short drive from the village.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna August 16, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Thank you for that fully loaded information, I’ve got tips on camping and I also got ideas on where to go camping. I love the suggested place and there is no more question I could ask because everything is here. The only concern i have now is when can I camp? Need to save more I guess! :)

Wendy September 3, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Thank you very much for the information. Everything I need to know is already here so I cannot say anything but thanks. Maine has always been my dream adventure place and this time is my time to head to this place. :) Here I come!

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