Freeport, Maine A Great Place to Live
Located just 20 minutes north of Portland on the north shore of Casco Bay, Freeport, is a popular tourist spot in Maine. Each year over 3 million visitors flock to this world class outlet and boutique shopping destination. In fact, Freeport often ties or beats the popular Acadia National Park for most visitors. Freeport’s Main Street is alive with pedestrian traffic year-round – spurred by the presence of the famous L.L.Bean Flagship Store. For over 100 years, L.L.Bean has occupied the same spot on Main Street. It is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and has been since 1951 when it’s founder Leon Leonwood Bean “threw away the keys!”
Today, you’ll find a wide-array of specialty boutiques, great dining options, food stands, live entertainment and more, all centered around Freeport’s downtown hub. Yankee Magazine has named Freeport as “Best Shopping Town in New England.” Commuters take note, the Amtrak Downeaster operates every day between Freeport and Boston.
Freeport is a great place to visit and a great place to live, with a vibrant, engaged community, dynamic schools, an historic harbor front, scenic coastline,and abundant outdoor recreation. With nearby Portland and Brunswick just a stone’s throw away, one can truly enjoy the best of small town living, with the amenities of the larger cities nearby. Don’t be fooled though, there is plenty to do and see in this friendly, exceptional village without ever leaving town.
Good Eats & Brews
DuBois Realty Group is passionate about supporting local businesses, and our choices in Freeport are limitless. One of our favorite locally-owned restaurants is Azure Cafe, serving delicious, locally-sourced food in the farm to table tradition. The recipient of many culinary and community service awards, in 2003 Azure founded an Annual Freeport Community Thanksgiving Dinner providing a free meal to the public each Thanksgiving. We love that.
Some of our other top picks include: Tuscan Brick Oven Bistro, where chef Christopher Geer’s creations are delicious, sourced locally and focused on craft butchery – taking a “nose-to-tail” approach for many of his specials. Lobster is definitely on the menu in Freeport, located downtown you’ll find The Lobster Cooker and Linda Bean’s Maine Kitchen and Topside Tavern – especially cozy on summer nights with outdoor seating and firepits.
Situated at a working fishing harbor just 10 minutes from town is Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster. Featured on Rachael Ray, and in Downeast Magazine and New England Magazine, this local landmark is popular with residents and tourists alike. From May to October, diners enjoy lobster and other seafood fare outside under a covered awning, watching boats bringing in their daily catch – the the seafood couldn’t be any fresher. Shain’s of Maine Ice Cream will nicely finish whichever dish you choose! Landlubbers will appreciate Buck’s Naked BBQ and Gritty McDuff’s Brew Pub and Restaurant, Petrillo’s Food and Drink, Antonio’s Pizzeria and Isabella’s Cafe and Bakery.
There are a few eateries and breweries that stand out in a class of their own. Always on our must visit list:
World-class luxury lodging, award-winning dining, sustainable green practices, locally-sourced foods, elegant and comfortable rooms, meandering organic gardens – the Harraseeket Inn has it all. Located on Main Street, the Inn is a statuesque presence for those entering town from exit 22 off I-295. It features an indoor heated pool, 23 rooms w/fireplaces, pet-friendly accommodations, a patio with an outdoor fireplace and outstanding event venues. Both of the inn’s restaurants are winners – Maine Harvest Dining Room offering classic dining, breakfast buffets and flaming desserts and the Broad Arrow Tavern with its open-concept dining room and brick-oven pizza – we highly recommend the wood-fired mussels and homemade breads.
Maine Beer Company operates a brewery and popular tasting room on US Route 1. The small-batch beers come with inspired names such as Tiny Beautiful Something, Zoe – named after the founder’s daughter – and Woods and Waters in honor of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
Maine’s only “ground to glass distillery – Maine Distilleries|Cold River Vodka – can also be found on US Route 1. They specialize in just three spirits – Cold River Vodka, Blueberry Vodka and Gin. Tours happen afternoons, Monday – Friday.
The historic Jameson Tavern, built in 1779 and designated as the “birthplace of Maine” by daughters of the American Revolution, is located in the heart of downtown. You will find options for traditional dining in its main dining room featuring Maine lobster and seafood, as well as pub classics offered in the original Tavern. Fun fact: It is the oldest operating tavern in Maine.
Freeport has a full schedule of annual events and festivals hosted by community groups, its active downtown merchants and L.L.Bean. Some of the most popular include:
L.L.Bean Summer Concert Series – Kicking off on July 4th each season, L.L.Bean brings world-class artists to Freeport each Saturday evening throughout the summer. Enjoy a memorable outdoor concert in the park outside the L.L.Bean Flagship Store. Past performers include Bruce Hornsby, Sara Evans, The Indigo Girls, Chris Isaak and Andy Grammer.
Chowdah Challenge – An annual favorite every October, local restaurants compete for the title of Freeport’s Best Chowder. Visitors are treated to a scrumptious array of clam and seafood chowders, hosted at the L.L.Bean Home Store. Proceeds from the challenge support Freeport Community Services.
Freeport’s Fall Festival – local artists and craftsman gather each year on the campus of L.L.Bean and throughout the downtown area. A great place to find the perfect piece for your collection or for early holiday shopping.
Sparkle Weekend & Northern Lights – During the holidays, Freeport is aglow with thousands of lights and lit sculptures along Main Street and L.L.Bean’s campus. There are weekend events, a tree lighting, reindeer in the park, everything you can imagine in a winter wonderland.
Arts & Entertainment
Freeport Performing Arts Center, located in the Freeport High School, features a 500 seat theater, lobby and professional sound and theatrical lighting. Offered to the community for a wide-variety of performances, the theater is professionally managed. The arts center is the primary venue for Freeport Players, a community-based, high-quality, amateur theater group. Freeport Players are dedicated and talented and their productions are professional grade.
Outdoor lovers will appreciate all the area has to offer. From kayaking and fishing, to boating, hiking or mountain biking, you’ll never run out of options in your own backyard. Throughout Freeport you’ll find abundant preserved green space courtesy of private and public entities, miles of hiking and biking trails, and a variety of places to launch a boat or put-in a canoe or kayak. For those who want to try their hand at something new – fly fishing, kayaking, clay shooting, for example, L.L.Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Programs make it easy. Register for your program online, many day trips embark from the store or the nearby center, and you’ll be off on a new learning adventure with gear provided.
Winslow Memorial Park Campground on Staples road is a great place for a day at the beach, reunions and events. It has 100 campsites, a boat launch and wooded trails with vistas of the harbor.
In nearby Pownal you’ll find Bradbury Mountain State Park with a variety of trail options for longer and shorter hikes. Although the summit is less than 500’ high, it offers stunning panoramic views of Freeport to the sea. Trails are multi-use, so you may find yourself sharing your trek with a horseback rider or two. Kid friendly, the park has a playground and picnic tables at its entrance.
Just minutes from Main Street, you’ll find the unique and beautiful Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park. You can hike along trails throughout the 230-acre preserve with miles of rocky shoreline, an estuary and views to surrounding islands. Be sure to pack a lunch – Bow Street Market – has a delicious take-out menu – and picnic in this serene and tranquil environment located on the shores of Casco Bay and the Harraseeket River.
To see a comprehensive list of trails, check out the recommendations of Freeport USA.
In a Class of Its Own
Desert of Maine, a 300-acre geological anomaly, was discovered when the Tuttle family, local farmers in the late 1700’s, failed to rotate their crops properly. This combined with clearing and overgrazing of the land exposed the once hidden “glacier desert.” It is not actually a desert, but a large swath of glacial-silt that was deposited in the area eons before and was just below the topsoil. As the erosion of the land continued, the desert continued to grow. The family eventually abandoned the property and what is left behind is now a one-of-a-kind tourist destination.
- Poets Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier and 14th President of the United States, Franklin Pierce all stopped at Jameson Tavern on their way To Bowdoin College in Brunswick.
- Admiral Donald B MacMillan, Arctic Explorer was raised in Freeport. You can visit the Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum at nearby Bowdoin College.
- Leon Leonwood Bean opened his now famous L.L.Bean Flagship Store in 1912 in the basement of his brother’s apparel shop at Freeport Corner. He made one product – the Bean Boot (Maine Hunting Shoe). Legend has it, he sold 100 pair and 90 came back. He replaced all 90 pairs, making good on his now standard bearing 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. The rest is history
Economy and Quality of Life
Freeport’s economy is brisk, According to Sperling’s Best Places, with a below average unemployment rate, an educated population and a robust real estate market. Freeport’s school system has an excellent reputation and outspends the national average per student. With Portland just 20 minutes away, headquarters for IDEXX Laboratories, Fairchild Semiconductor and L.L.Bean within a 20 minute drive, and some of Maine’s most beautiful beaches and outdoor destinations nearby, Freeport is a great place set down roots.
Photography: ©johnkenealyphotography.com – Wolfe’s Neck State Park & Freeport Village Station