Freeport is a small town located in Maine, United States. Situated on the north shore of Casco Bay, it is just 20 minutes from Portland. Freeport consists of four villages: Mast Landing, Porter’s Landing, South Freeport, and Freeport Corner. All are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Freeport is known for being a world-class outlet and boutique shopping destination, with tourists swarming this little town to fulfil their shopping needs. This town consists of hundreds of national retailers, name-brand outlets, locally-owned businesses, and more. It was also selected as the Best Shopping Town in New England by Yankee Magazine. Additionally, it is home to the very famous, internationally-known L.L. Bean, which opens 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Aside from shopping, Freeport also offers activities and food delicacies at affordable prices that will make the non-shopaholics still enjoy their stay here. In fact, Freeport Maine is so much more than just a shopping destination. Here we have a list of the best things to do in this little town that will make you understand why a small town can attract over three million visitors annually!
Splurge on outlet shopping
Known for being one of the best shopping destinations in the USA, Freeport has hundreds of stores that will delight everyone, not just the avid shopaholics. Freeport is home to L.L. Bean, a retail company that was founded by Leon Leonwood Bean, a hunter and fisherman, in 1912. L.L. Bean specialises in outdoor recreational clothing and equipment. In 1912, L.L. Bean was just a humble retail store selling only one item: the Maine Hunting Shoe, a waterproof boot developed by the owner himself that became popular with the hunters. Due to the popularity of that product, the boot was sold through a four-page mail-order catalog nationwide.
Today, L.L. Bean operates in a 220-thousand-square-foot (20439-square-meter) retail store and is open 24/7, welcoming 3 million visitors annually. It is also the biggest shopping store in Freeport and is part of the reason why the town became a shopping destination, as other companies are drawn to the area to make business. L.L. Bean also offer outdoor activities, classes, and events all year round.
Apart from L.L. Bean, there are a whole bunch of other stores and outlets that range from jewelry to boutiques and apparels. Most of the stores are located within Main Street, but be sure to not just limit yourself to one area!
Tour a chocolate factory
Wilbur’s of Maine is a family-run business that started in 1983 by husband and wife, Tom and Catherine. It first started as a retail store on Bow Street selling confectionery. Shortly after, the company started coming up with more chocolate varieties, which increased production rapidly. Since 2008, the company’s factory has been situated on 174 Lower Main Street. They currently have two stores, one in Main Street and the factory store at Lower Main Street, which features a selection of Maine-made foods and products aside from confectionery. Their must-tries include the Meltaway truffles, which were developed by the son of the owners. The Mexican Meltaway is made up of dark chocolate with a hint of spice while the Mud Puppy is a piece of peanut butter goodness coated in caramel and topped with toffee bits.
Wilbur’s of Maine has also been voted “Best Maine Chocolate” and “Best Maine Candy Shop” for 6 years running. They organize tours that only cost 3.50 USD where people of all ages will be guided through their factory and can see first hand how their chocolate is made. Guests will also enjoy sampling the chocolates and at the end of the 30 minute tour will receive a chocolate souvenir.
Visit Bradbury Mountain State Park
Bradbury Mountain State Park is located in Pownal, Maine. Established in the 1940s, this park is one of Maine’s original 5 state parks. It is a 730-acre (295-hectare) recreational area and is known for its not-so-high hill that, rather surprisingly, offers panoramic views of Casco Bay. This park is one of the more well-known parks in the state and consists of over 21 miles (33.8 kilometers) of multi-use trails that can be used for hiking, snowmobiling, and horseback riding. Mountain bikers can also be commonly spotted in the park, where most trails are suitable for them. It is also the only park in the state to offer mostly shared-trails. On the Knight Woods Trail, there are many interpretive panels that describe the history of forests, animals, and the land.
Head over to the park if you’re looking for a more relaxed day, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Hiking is suitable all year round but do note that as these trails are mostly shared, it is important to abide by the proper trail etiquette so as to have an enjoyable and safe experience.
Bradbury Mountain State Park
Address: 528 Hallowell Rd. Pownal, ME 04069
Contact: (207) 688-4712
Visit the Desert of Maine
Consisting of 40 acres (16.2 hectares) of exposed glacial salt, the Desert of Maine is located near Freeport and is surrounded by a pine forest. As it receives a high amount of precipitation and is surrounded by vegetation, the Desert of Maine is not considered to be a true desert. The Desert of Maine started with the Tuttle family, when they purchased the site in 1707 and began farming. It is said that they failed to rotate their potato crops, which, when combined with other factors such as land clearance and overgrazing by the sheep, resulted in soil erosion, leading to the exposure of glacial silt, a sand-like substance. What started from a small amount of sand eventually started to spread and cover the whole farm. The farm was purchased by Henry Goldrup for 300 USD after it was abandoned by the Tuttles in 1919. He then converted the farm into a tourist attraction in 1925. Today, the Desert of Maine has welcomed visitors every single day and includes a sand museum, a gift shop, and a farm museum. They also organize guided tours that depart every half an hour, every day from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
The Desert of Maine
Address: 95 Desert Rd. Freeport, Me. 04032
Contact: (207) 865-6962
Website: The Desert of Maine
Learn about the history of Freeport at Freeport Historical Society
The Freeport Historical Society started in 1941 by Freeport’s judge and historian, the Honorary Hillbert R Johnson, with the help of many other individuals from the town. However, in 1944, the society closed down due to WWII and a hurricane that caused severe damage to the building. It was only 20 years later in 1961 that reestablishment of the society resumed. The society was then recreated with the aim of preserving, securing, and displaying the artifacts and disseminating the rich past and history of Freeport. The Reception Room of the four-floored, civil-war-era baymen’s cottage is where artifacts that showcase Freeport’s character are displayed, including a thirteen-star flag from 1777 and items from the Grand Army of the Republic and the American Revolution. There are also kitchen utensils, period fashions, transportation exhibits, and toys on display throughout the museum.
Apart from that, the museum also hosts a variety of informative and entertaining programs that include craft fairs, parties, tours, art shows, and antique fairs. Admission is free.
Visit a nineteenth-century salt-water farm
Penttengil Farm is a salt-water farm that originates from the 19th century and is owned by the Freeport Historical Society. This farm, which consists of 140 acres (56.7 hectares) of fields, woods, apple orchards, and salt marshes, includes a saltbox house that, up till today, exists without plumbing, central heating, and electricity. It is also listed under the National Register of Historic Places. The lilacs, wild roses, and other plants that are found around the house contain some native American species that were found by colonists on arrival to the area. The gardens, fields, and forest trails are open to the public 24/7, while the farmhouse is only opened by appointment or on Pettengil Farm Day, which falls on the first Sunday of October.
Address: 45 Main St. Freeport, Maine
Website: Penttengil Farm
Take a train ride
The Amtrak Downeaster provides you with easy, comfortable, and car-free access from Maine to Boston and everywhere in between. They offer 5 round-trips every single day! The Amtrak Downeaster got its name from the term used to describe sailing vessels that were created by the Maine shipbuilders during colonial times. The vessels were also dubbed as the finest sailing vessels ever built. This train offers business class seating where you’ll be able to enjoy exclusive amenities such as complimentary beverages, premium digital newspapers, and leather seating that comes with footrests.
The stations and stops are located near retail shops, offering convenient shopping opportunities. Along the route, you’ll come across historic colonial cities that boast stunning beaches, arts, entertainment and culture, world-class shopping, and dining opportunities, including “the best seafood in the world”.
When are you coming to Freeport, Maine?!
Freeport, Maine is really not just about shopping! Do not underestimate the size of this town, with hundreds of shopping stores, overwhelming recreational activities, and a brilliant amount of dining opportunities, this small town exudes so much charm and character that you will be guaranteed to enjoy your stay here, no matter what your travel purposes are. Also, Freeport offers so many things at affordable prices, which makes it an ideal destination for budget travellers as well!
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