If the name Freeport Maine doesn’t immediately resonate, think of the renowned retail brand L.L. Bean and your mind will take you there. Rugged yet regal, this town holds much history while offering modern-day shops and outdoor spaces waiting to be explored.
First-time visitors, avid outdoorsmen, and women can all experience the true spirit of Maine’s Vacationland moniker — all that and free parking. Plus, you might just see a famous 1813 ghost ship on the horizon, forever lost at sea but — legend has it — always trying to come home.
“No foot is on thy silent deck, Upon thy helm no hand;
No ripple hath the soundless wind, That smites thee from the land!
For never comes the ship to port, Howe’er the breeze may be;
Just when she nears the waiting shore, She drifts again to sea.”
– John Greenleaf Whitter, “The Dead Ship of Harpswell”
About Freeport Maine
Freeport Maine is the crowned jewel of Maine’s mysterious lure, offering a perfect pivot point to the Southern Maine beaches, the inland lakes and mountains, or a trip to Acadia National Park.
Freeport is just 20 minutes north of Portland Maine along the Southern Maine Coast with so many scattered islands that the outline looks like the final tug of a paintbrush stroke. Each scrape of land offers another Maine adventure where outdoor lovers live the L.L. Bean lifestyle.
Freeport’s history is a familiar tale along the Maine coastline, but it took several wars to build the Freeport that we know today. First a Native American stronghold, then as settlers arrived in the 1600s, the Drummer’s War between natives and the New England colonies began.
Then, Maine fell into Massachusetts territory under British command. During the War of 1812, Freeport Maine was a shipbuilding hub. A fast-moving schooner named Dash could blast through British blockades and keep commerce going in this section of Maine.
A Switch to Lumber & Textiles
Yet another war, the Civil War, squashed shipbuilding but laid the groundwork for a timber and textile economy. The Harraseeket River provided transportation for the lumber and textiles until the railroad (and tourists) arrived.
Maine became a state in 1820 as part of the Missouri Compromise, 31 years after Freeport and its villages were incorporated.
A Global Brand Emerges
In 1911, building off the popularity of the shoe industry in Freeport, a frustrated man wearing wet shoes after hunting took a step that changed American outdoor attire forever. When Leon Leonard Bean invented the Maine Hunting Shoe, he had no idea how global a brand it was to become.
L.L. Bean has evolved from dressing you for Maine’s outdoors to leading adventures through its Outdoor Discovery Programs.
Winters are bitterly cold and snowy in Freeport Maine, while summers are pleasantly warm. However, L.L. Bean attire will come in handy for the rainy climate.
The region gets 12 inches more rain than the average American city. Waterproof layers are essential, and since you’ll likely visit an island or two, you’ll want water shoes and duck boots.
Outdoor Things to Do in Freeport Maine
You’ll find more than a handful of excellent things to do in Freeport outdoors. No matter the season, you can experience activities on land, water, and the islands.
L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery Programs
L.L. Bean takes its love of the outdoors to the outdoors with various programs led by experts in the fields.
The Outdoor Discovery Programs range from a five-day first responder trip to hiking by moonlight to canoeing through the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Fishing, archery, and fat biking — if it can be done outside, the guides will help you do it.
Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & Environment
At a time when humanity is focused on saving the environment and living off the land, Wolf’s Neck Center offers an unprecedented tourism experience on a 60-year-and-running sustainable coastal farm.
You can hike, paddle, and bike through the farm, including stops at the barns, pastures, and vegetable plots. Admission is free, but the cafe and farm store have items for sale.
Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park
Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park abuts the farm and offers more trails through woods, marshes, and the craggy coastline. Guided tours on this osprey-loving island area are available seasonally.
Get a sample of the island in this incredible video from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry.
The island was the summer home of Admiral Robert E. Peary, who took many adventures to the North Pole — one of the high-profile trips that made L.L. Bean boots famous. You can tour the home on the island and explore the trails.
Desert of Maine
While it sounds like the beginning of a joke, there is a desert(ish) part of the Pine Tree State, and you can find it in Freeport Maine at the Desert of Maine. The 20 acres of sand dunes result from over-farming the once lush lands, leaving glacial sands behind.
For more than 100 years, this tourist attraction has drawn people to explore the “desert,” and there’s an 1800s farmhouse open for tours. Mine for gems, play mini golf, search for secrets in a sandbox, and explore the fossil dig — there’s something for everyone.
Mast Landing Audubon Sanctuary
As you wander through the tall trees, you might hear a faint, ghostly “Timber!” as trees were once cut from here to become masts on massive ships.
The Mast Landing Audubon Sanctuary land is now protected from such activities and so pristinely preserved that even dogs aren’t allowed for fear of disrupting the wildlife. Four short trails weave through the preserve on the Harraseeket River estuary.
HEADS-UP, HIKERS: Explore other trail options in Freeport Maine through the Freeport Conservation Trust.
One of the historical treasures of Freeport Maine is Pettengill Farm, a saltbox farmhouse surrounded by trails on three sides and the Harraseeket River on the fourth.
The fragile nature of this 200-year-old home only allows tours during significant events — like Pettengill Farm Day, which is a festival straight outta the 19th century.
Bradbury Mountain State Park
Just 6 miles from Freeport Maine, you can finally get some elevation by climbing Bradbury Mountain State Park. Eight hundred acres of land await, and the climb isn’t extreme with the summit rising just 485 feet above sea level but still offering top-of-the-world views.
The trails here are among the best in the nation for mountain bikers. Winter brings snowshoers and tubers to enjoy the slopes too.
BROWNTAIL MOTH WARNING: May and June are prime months for the caterpillar phase of the Browntail Moth, which is a toxic critter that discharges poisonous hairs. Follow all safety steps to avoid getting a rash or respiratory issues.
Indoor Things to Do in Freeport Maine
Whether Freeport is below freezing or you want to escape a summer storm, there are great indoor options to explore between your outdoor adventures. Consider some of these favorites.
L.L. Bean Breakdown
Visitors have five L.L. Bean locations in Freeport Maine, each offering different experiences but all in the same general area:
- Flagship Retail Store
- Bike, Boat & Ski Store
- Hunt & Fish Store
- Home Store
- Outlet Store
Are you confused about whether or not you’re in the right place? A massive 16-foot-tall signature brand boot is in front of the flagship store. Every store except for the outlet is on the perimeter of Discovery Park. The outlet store is across the street in the main section of the outlet mall.
Freeport Village Station
The outlet stores of Freeport Village Station are open year-round with free parking underground. The mall is open-air but not so large that you’ll spend a lot of time in the elements.
While the L.L. Bean outlet store is located here, there are many other national and local brands to explore. Check the website for coupons for even deeper discounts.
Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Factory Tour
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Wilbur’s of Maine with traditional favorites and seasonal specialties. Take a tour of the factory on Lower Maine Street without worrying about Willy Wonka’s oddities. Grab some Maine Mud (chocolate sauce), or stick to your diet with Paleo or Keto almonds.
The Harrington House serves as a historical marker and museum on Main Street. The house was built in the 1830s but still holds its stately charm with 14 acres of gardens surrounding it. Grab a map of the Freeport Heritage Trail to find other historic locations to visit.
Local performances — from murder mysteries to song-filled musicals — are offered throughout the year by the Freeport Players. This group allows local amateur actors to show off their talents in a community space. Most of the performances are held at the Freeport Performing Arts Center.
Additional Attractions Near Freeport Maine
Freeport isn’t a big town, but it’s a major transportation stop, opening a world of possibilities for your Southern Maine Coast getaway.
The Amtrak Downeaster train runs from Brunswick and down through Portland into New Hampshire and Massachusetts, with the end of the line in Boston. The METRO BREEZ bus has express service from Freeport to Portland, Yarmouth, and Brunswick.
Head about 20 minutes east to visit Bath Maine — the City of Ships where Maine’s First Ship is open for tours. Also, learn more about the importance of shipbuilding communities like Bath and Freeport at the Maine Maritime Museum.
About a 20-minute drive south, Freeport Maine feels more like a suburb than a separate city of Portland. A quick drive or boat trip can take you to lighthouses, the iconic Old Port, a bustling downtown, or the beachfront Eastern Promenade.
The deepest lake in Maine is only about 45 minutes from Freeport at Sebago Lake. The water here is naturally as clean as drinking water. You can take a ferry trip to the lake’s Frye Island.
Restaurants in Freeport Maine
Freeport’s restaurants range from grab-and-go to candlelight glow and offer all the seafood that you can imagine in between. Check out some of these top-notch spots.
Casual & Family Restaurants
Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine Kitchen & Topside Tavern
Linda Bean (or should we call her L. Bean?) is the proprietor of Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine Kitchen & Topside Tavern. Lobsters, clams, mussels, and oysters fill the menu, but her grandfather, L.L. Bean himself, has a baked haddock recipe among the most popular menu items.
Indoor and outdoor seating across the flagship store make this a casual but convenient option. In a rush? Grab a lobster roll at the service window outside the L.L. Bean Bike, Boat, & Ski store.
Other Family Spots
While most restaurants rest along Highway 1, Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster Company offers dockside casual Maine fare, like lobster rolls and whoopie pies. If you’ve had enough lobster, though, there are plenty more options from all around the world:
Freeport Fine Dining
Since Freeport Maine attracts so many people, the culinary scene is pretty casual. However, there are a few options if you want to make it more romantic or splurge.
Broad Arrow Tavern
The Broad Arrow Tavern at Harraseeket Inn has a menu that spans from casual sandwiches to a duo of roasted duck and other unique items.
The Jameson Tavern is where the final papers were signed to give Maine its statehood, which is why it’s called the Birthplace of Maine. From birth to death, there’s also an undeniable (so they say) presence of ghosts — one being a man in a tall top hat and another being a playful young girl named Emily.
Tavern employees can tell you their ghostly stories. Oh, yeah, they serve food too. Even famed Bobby Flay came with Food Nation to learn the seafood cooking secrets.
Coffee, Sweets, & Ice Cream
Isabella’s Cafe & Bakery
The morning pick-me-up and the afternoon staple of Maine can be found here in Freeport at every turn. Isabella’s Cafe & Bakery serves all the carbs and breakfast that you can handle — with Coffee By Design, a Maine brand, offered along with iced coffee.
The Met Coffee House
The Met Coffee House became such a New Hampshire treasure that it needed to expand to Maine, and Freeport was the chosen town. Teas, smoothies, hot chocolate, and baked goods round out the menu in this spacious shop meant for savoring every sip.
Do you need a big breakfast with your caffeine rush? The Freeport Cafe offers jumbo pancakes and awesome omelets alongside Downeast Coffee options and a unique Iced Blueberry Coffee to try. You can also order some of the best lunch burgers in town.
Mainley Custard has the standard flavors of chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and strawberry, but you’ll never know what seasonal specialties are available until you show up. Vegan ice cream is also served.
Whoopie pies are a Maine tradition, and Wicked Whoopies will wow you with options. Pick a variety pack, minis, or massive jumbo sizes to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Breweries in Freeport
Maine is known for its vibrant beer scene, and Freeport Maine gives nearby Portland some competition for great options.
Brickyard Hollow Brewing Company
Brickyard Hollow Brewing Company is built on the love of the Yarmouth community, and its popularity spread the franchise to nearby Freeport. Beer isn’t the only thing crafted here — pizzas are as well.
Maine Beer Company
The owners of Maine Beer Company are as dedicated to the environment as they are to making great beer. IPAs and pale ales are their specialties.
Mast Landing Brewing Co.
It makes sense that Mast Landing Brewing Co. was built on the ground where many great ships were once built. Look for events like open mic night and Sunday brunch.
Gritty McDuff’s Brew Pub
Gritty McDuff’s Brew Pub is part of a three-location business, but its Freeport Maine location is where the beer is brewed. Try the Maine Maple Porter for a hint of syrup right from Maine’s forests.
Even cider is a special blend near Freeport, where Portsfield Cider boasts artisan cider made from apples and fruits harvested on-site to make the best — not the most — cider in the state.
Hotels in Freeport Maine & Other Lodging
Every type of accommodation from camping to classic luxury awaits in Freeport with options for every budget. In a region as beautiful as the Southern Maine Coast, there isn’t a bad place to rest your head.
Even the standard rooms are anything but, and options range from deluxe rooms to townhouses to the L.L. Bean guesthouse. Breakfast is free for those who book through the website or call to make reservations.
For families who want a more intimate bed and breakfast experience, Candlebay Inn could be the right choice (including for dogs).
Each of the seven air-conditioned rooms holds its own charm, and nightly quiet hours ensure that you get a good night’s rest for the free breakfast the next morning. The owners offer bag pickup if you’re scouring sales at the outlet stores.
Heron & Osprey Cottage Vacation Rentals
Trade shopping for ships as you cozy up in the Heron Cottage on Casco Bay. The one-bedroom, one-bath version offers a wall of kitchen windows that frame the harbor and open to a shared wooden porch with stunning dockside views.
If you need more space, the two-bedroom Osprey Cottage is just steps away with the same stunning views.
Cozy Rock Cabin
Soothe your soul with forest sounds as you cuddle in the Cozy Rock Cabin. The 750-square-foot space is put to great use with a loft, bedroom, kitchen, and living room with a fireplace. Outside, a hot tub, fire pit, and grill await for you to soak in the sounds of nature under market lights.
Wolfe’s Neck Oceanfront Camping
There’s a good chance that you’ll fall in love with the shoreline views at Wolfe’s Neck Oceanfront Camping, so why not just stay in one of the 150 campgrounds along the rocky shoreline?
Three oceanfront cabins are available, and you’ll have access to the wonders of nature and more than 600 acres to explore. There is even a farm and restaurant on-site.
FAQs About Freeport Maine
Is Freeport Maine in the path of totality for the 2024 Solar Eclipse?
On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will sweep across America — from Mexico to Canada. A large chunk of Maine is in the Path of Totality but mostly the inland mountains, lakes, and Aroostook County.
Freeport Maine will experience 96% of the eclipse. Communities like Houlton have already begun planning for this major event.
How can I see the ghost ship Dash in Freeport Maine?
Dash was a successful schooner that performed what one author referred to as “legalized piracy.”
It was successful at every task it was assigned — from speeding to the West Indies and back with supplies to bamboozling British ships during the War of 1812 to capturing British ships.
The only task it didn’t complete was returning home on what would be its last race against another speedy schooner in 1815.
Sightings have been reported at Pumpkin Nob, Crab Island, and up Harpswell Sound. As the legend goes, she only appears when a relative of a ship member dies to take them to their resting place at sea.
Is L.L. Bean really open 24/7 in Freeport Maine?
Leon Leonard Bean realized how many people drove in the dead of night for their sporting activities to get started at dawn.
This notion and his dedication to exemplary customer service drove him to open the store around the clock with the statement, “We have thrown away the key to the place.”
These hours are only applicable at the flagship store in Freeport Maine, not all L.L. Bean stores.
Is L.L. Bean still alive in Freeport Maine?
Bean was born in 1872 in Greenwood (about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Freeport Maine) and died in 1967 in Pompano Beach Florida. But, the family still runs the business, and his relentless spirit of customer service is still followed.
“I do not consider a sale complete until goods are worn out and the customer still satisfied. We will thank anyone to return goods that are not perfectly satisfactory. Above all things we wish to avoid having a dissatisfied customer.” – L.L. Bean as written in his first mailing
As an aspiring note for those entrepreneurs out there, Bean sold his first 100 pairs of boots in 1912. Ninety of them were returned for poor quality, but he didn’t give up.
Instead, he issued refunds, got back to work on better boots, and kept advertising them. In 1920, he got his first patent, bringing us the Bean Boot, Duck Shoe, or however your region refers to them. Isn’t that inspiring?
Is a winter trip to Freeport Maine a good idea?
The holidays in Freeport Maine are second-to-none with a Northern Lights celebration sponsored by (guess who?) L.L. Bean.
The L.L. Bean Northern Lights celebration brings the city to a Christmas-lit wonderland with live reindeer, performances, and great shopping discounts.
Outside the holidays, you’ll find that Freeport Maine is one of the best year-round Maine locations that doesn’t shutter up in the off-season since so many people pass through and stop to shop.
Discover All of Freeport Maine
Freeport might seem like it’s all about L.L. Bean, but it offers so much more that makes Maine great. The rocky coastline, island adventures, river routes, and charming city center bustling with shops of all kinds make it a tremendous location for tourists.
The town is ranked as one of the fastest-growing travel destinations, and that’s in addition to the 3.5 million people who visit here already.