Freeport, Maine Vacation Guide
L.L. Bean put Freeport on the map, but the story of this town does not begin with the Maine Hunting Shoe, otherwise known as the Bean Boot, which was first launched in 1911, but with Jameson’s Tavern, the place in Freeport where the documents were signed that officially certified the split between Maine and Massachusetts and granted Maine statehood. The next time you descend on this outlet village and scour the sales racks at Anne Klein, Polo, North Face and Ralph Lauren, running amok with your debit card like it is Black Friday, be thankful that you are not in Massachusetts (known as Taxachusetts in the northeast) and that you at least found a place to pahk the cah. Traffic in Freeport is legendary.
Freeport may be defined by outlet shopping, but there is more to do in this town than consume retail like it is Godiva. Freeport is composed of four distinct sections: Mast Landing, Porter’s Landing, South Freeport and Freeport Corner. They are all part of the National Register Harraseeket Historic District. Most visitors, their eyes alight with bargain basement discounts, fail to recognize that Freeport is in fact a coastal community. South Freeport looks more like a traditional Maine fishing village than a prepackaged outlet community. However, chances are if you have come to Freeport, then you have come to shop, but after the shopping bags are put away and the dollar signs have stopped firing like euphoric synapses, go for a ride and see what else the town has to offer.
Attractions, Places of Interest & Special Events
In Freeport, art and history collide with retail and commerce. Part museum, part market, the Freeport Square Gallery is a platform that helps local artists find their footing in Freeport’s saturated consumer market. A stroll through the gallery is not only a welcome distraction from the crowds at the outlet stores, but an opportunity to discover new artists and support a more unconventional community.
The Freeport Historical Society has exhibits, free walking maps of the village and tours. However, it also operates the Pettengill Farm. Located on 140-acres of salt marsh, fields and gardens, the farm is composed of an 1810 saltbox home and four extensive walking trails. Tours of the home are available by appointment only, but the walking trails are open to the public. The place abounds with deer, fox and birds. The natural beauty and historic solitude is worth the trip.
Whether it is a haunted covered bridge, a paper house or an American Stonehenge type of landmark, it seems every town in the northeast has a peculiar tourist site. Freeport is no exception. Driving on the north side of town, it is easy to pass the sign for Desert Road. If Weird U.S. is your type of book, then keep a close watch for this surreptitious sign. Known as the Desert of Maine, this site was once a 300-acre farm. The farm was overgrazed, and the topsoil eroded away. A sandy base was discovered underneath. Today, the place is a rolling dunescape that looks like something out of the Sahara. It is kitschy, sure, but it is fun. The gift shop will set you up with all the Desert of Maine souvenirs you could ever want.
The Freeport Shakespeare Festival’s inaugural season began in 2010. Today, it is one of the premier special events in the area. Performances are held in the summer at an outdoor theater pavilion in downtown Freeport. The Shakespeare Festival runs for a week, and the performances are free. The company’s mission statement is to bring cultural richness to Freeport and the surrounding communities.
It is ironic to think that a village known for its 24-hour L.L. Bean anchor store and subsequent retail explosion would have so many state parks, sanctuaries, farms and hiking trails. However, when you really start analyzing, it all makes sense. Leon Leonwood Bean got his feet wet on a hunting trip. So, not being happy with his footwear, he designed his own. L.L. Bean needed to get those feet wet somewhere, and the natural beauty that surrounds Freeport is a likely culprit.
Freeport has a trio of excellent parks. The largest is Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, which spans over 230-acres. In South Freeport, there is a small beach and a picnic area known as Winslow Memorial Park. The 140-acre Mast Landing Audubon Sanctuary is a well-respected birding destination. Hiking, biking and walking trails are scattered throughout all three parks. If you venture slightly out of town, you will find the Bradbury Mt. State Park in the town of Pownal.
Lodging & Dining
The lodging and dining scene in Freeport is standard for Maine. It is a popular area, so there is an abundance of accommodations. From Greek Revival inns to budget-conscious motor courts, just remember to save some money for your weekend shopping spree. The menus in Freeport attempt to satisfy every possible cuisine niche. Seafood baskets, flatbread wraps, burgers, steaks and pizza are all available, as well as organically grown products and upscale dishes like Atlantic salmon with wild Maine blueberry barbecue sauce.
Freeport Area Directories
Visit the following directories to find lodging, dining, attractions, shops, services and recreational activities in the Freeport, Maine area.