Freeport, Maine, beckons visitors with small-town charm, outlet shopping, and outdoor fun along the beautiful Atlantic coast.
By Cathryn McCann
Aug 04 2022
Please note that many establishments throughout New England have modified their hours and/or operations in response to COVID-19. Always check for the latest information before making travel plans.
Tucked between Falmouth and Brunswick along the Maine coast, Freeport is a lovely town most famous for its plentiful retail outlets and shops, including the flagship outpost of that classic New England brand, L.L. Bean. But its oceanside location affords visitors plenty of recreational opportunities, too. The 200-acre Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is just a five-minute drive from the shopping district, plus there are hiking and walking trails developed by the Freeport Conservation Committee all over town. In other words, Freeport, Maine, is an inviting coastal town on Casco Bay that offers the best of both worlds.
Intrigued by this coastal town that offers premium shopping and premium outdoor activity? Here are some of our favorite places to eat, things to do, and places to stay in Freeport, Maine.
A desert in Maine? How is that possible? It’s a rare phenomenon, to be sure — and that itself is reason enough to visit this 40-acre swath of sand, minerals, and glacial silt that was created about 11,000 years ago when a glacier slid through the area. Visiting the “desert” and touring the museum is a fun and educational outing for the whole family.
Everything from kayak paddles to cocktail party togs can be found 24 hours a day in the flagship store of L.L. Bean, the legacy of Leon Leonwood Bean and his ingenious outdoor boots. But this is much more than a shopping experience: Bean’s guides lead all manner of adventure pursuits, and its “Summer in the Park” programs bring yoga, concerts, and movies to downtown Freeport.
Need a respite from the shopping crowds? A short drive from downtown will bring you to Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, which offers white pine and hemlock forests, salt marshes, and rocky shorelines for endless exploration. Your quality outdoor time here could include watching for ospreys over a picnic lunch, walking the Casco Bay Trail along the coast, or signing up for a guided nature program.
Freeport has become famous as a top New England shopping destination. With its blend of premium international and local brands, the downtown area has something for everyone. You can easily spend all day (or two, or three) wandering the Freeport Village Station, shopping, eating, and maybe even catching a movie at Nordica Theatre.
If you’re in the mood for a cold one, what could be better than a local brew? Stop by this independent craft brewery off Route 1 for a view of the operations and a tasting of the eight beers on tap. There are snacks available from local vendors, plus beer and merchandise for sale.
Featuring rustic bistro decor and a commitment to using fresh, local ingredients, Tuscan Brick Oven Bistro also boasts an executive chef who’s a Freeport native and knows how to cater to locals and visitors alike. The pizza dough, breads, pasta, and pizza are made from scratch every morning.
This locally owned favorite has garnered attention for its culinary excellence and farm-to-table philosophy. The wine selection and seasonal cocktails (or mocktails) complement the creative, seafood-heavy menu that showcases local, seasonal ingredients.
If you’re in the mood for some slow-cooked barbecue, Buck’s Naked is the place to go. Originally opened in a small garage, this restaurant expanded to the 8,800 square foot Freeport location in 2008 thanks to its ever-growing and loyal customer base. That’s a testament to the food here – where the meats are smoked in an Ole Hickory Pit with locally sourced hardwoods like Oak, Apple, and Shag Bark Hickory.
For some tasty takeout, make tracks for Li’s Place (formerly Li’s Chinese Express). Widely considered to have some of the best Chinese food around, this warm and inviting little eatery offers a range of dishes prepared fresh and loaded with flavor.
You can’t leave Maine without having a whoopie pie — it’s the official state treat, after all! A good place to cross this tasty task off your bucket list is Wicked Whoopies, where these chocolate-cake-and-cream-filling “sandwiches” are the tried-and-true specialty. From the classic version to many interesting variations thereof (maple, gingerbread, strawberry, peanut butter), this shop has a whoopie pie for every palate.
A day at this gracious bed-and-breakfast, situated in a restored 19th-century Queen Anne, might begin with a three-course gourmet breakfast and end with some relaxing in Adirondack chairs on the beautiful porch. Just three blocks from the shopping district, Brewster House has seven well-appointed rooms and historical touches throughout.
With two restaurants, 23 fireplaces, an indoor heated pool, some pet-friendly rooms, and a location just minutes from the Freeport outlets and L.L. Bean, this 93-room luxury inn has all you could wish for, including a full buffet breakfast and afternoon tea. It also has a number of townhouses available for those planning a longer stay.
Traveling with your furry friend can be difficult, but not if you stay at the Candlebay Inn. The quaint inn is decidedly dog-friendly, in addition to offering all the comforts of home. Originally built in 1853 as a shipbuilder’s home, the inn has a long New England history that guests can soak up as they settle into their rooms.
Each room has its own style at the White Cedar Inn Bed & Breakfast, located within strolling distance of downtown. The Casco Bay Room, for example, is done in nautical blue and white and decorated with local artwork and postcards, while the Chart Room is adorned with framed nautical maps (and offers a toasty gas fireplace, too). For breakfast, look forward to a fresh-cooked entrée, locally roasted coffee, real Maine maple syrup, and homemade jam.
You can’t beat the beauty of waking up and looking directly out toward the Maine coast. So if you’re willing to forgo some of the modern luxuries of a hotel or inn, Recompence Shore Campground —with its acres of oceanfront farmland and forest — can provide you with an ideal home base for exploring Freeport’s great outdoors.
Have you ever been to Freeport, Maine? Tell us about it!
This post was first published in 2017 and has been updated.