Posted by: gregdugal | April 26, 2012

Is There Life Beyond Shopping?

No doubt about it – one of Maine’s premier shopping destinations is Freeport. Walking down Main Street is a bit like walking down the main concourse of a huge outdoor shopping mall. Not only are there over 160 shops, outlet stores and restaurants, but it is the world headquarters of retail giant L.L. Bean, and home to its several stores (the flagship store, with everything from clothes to camping gear, gifts and more), the hunting and fishing store, the Home Store, with furniture, home goods, etc., the Bike, Ski and Boat store, and, of course, the L.L. Bean Outlet. But what else is there to do in (or near) Freeport, Maine?

Whether you aren’t coming to Freeport to shop (is that possible?), or when you’d like to take a break from the shops and see a bit of Maine!

1. Bird Watching

There are several great spots for birding in, or near, Freeport. The Audubon Society’s Mast Landing Bird Sanctuary, providing a lovely property, perfect for walking, enjoying a picnic and bird watching. Not far away is another Audubon Society project, Gisland Farm Sanctuary, with nature trails winding through meadows, woods and estuaries. There are art exhibits and an extensive collection of mounted mammals and birds, representing Maine’s ecosystems. Some of the other locations mentioned below also provide excellent opportunities for birding.

2. Adventure

L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Schools, including their $20 Discovery Series, are a great introduction to outdoor adventures. There you can learn to fly fish, paddle a canoe or kayak, cross-country ski, snowshoe, practice archery or clay target shooting. They also have more advanced courses for the more experienced visitor.

3. Beaches

Yes, beaches. In Maine. Astonishing! And cold! In Freeport, there is Winslow Memorial Park, a lovely town park along part of Casco Bay. Most of the waterfront is grassy, and excellent for picnics and playing, but there is a small sand beach, as well.

Larger beaches are found at two State Parks, Popham Beach and Reid State Parks. Both are north on US-1 about 10 minutes from Freeport, then east about 15-20 minutes more to the end of their respective points of land, where there area beautiful large sand beaches, restrooms, and camping and picnic facilities. The scenery is breathtaking at both locations.

4. Visit Lighthouses

Of Maine’s 60+ lighthouses, several are not far from Freeport. Not far away, in and around Portland, there are Portland Head lighthouse and Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse (Two Lights), as well as several smaller lighthouses. Farther to the south are Goat Island Lighthouse and Cape Neddick Lighthouse (the Nubble). To the north are Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Marshall Point Lighthouse and Owls Head Lighthouse, as well as Rockland Breakwater Light, and several lesser known lighthouses offshore. And that is only if you’re willing to venture about an hour and a half north or south.

5. History

Visit historic Wolfe’s Neck Farm and see a 626 acre farm on the Maine coast dedicated to sustainable agriculture, environmental education, and community well-being. Also the Freeport Historical Society headquarters are in historic Harrington House in downtown Freeport, and they also Pettingill Farm, a 19th century saltwater farm on the Harraseeket River.

Nearby is Desert of Maine, a famous phenomenon, creating a desert in Maine (of all places!).

If you enjoy maritime history, the Maine Maritime Museum is in Bath, about 15 minutes from Freeport, and is filled with history about Maine’s maritime past and present. An outstanding collection of historic vehicles, from cars and motorcycles to aircraft and even snowmobiles is at the Owls Head Transportation Museum.

6. Golf

If you would enjoy a round of golf in a wonderful setting, there are several courses that would suit you nearby. Closest is the Freeport Country Club’s 9-hole track. Brunswick’s Brunswick Golf Club is a nice 18-hole course, and only about 10 minutes away. Fox Ridge Golf Club, past home to the Maine State Open, is not much farther away, and provides a real challenge to golfers of any ability. Other choices are only a bit farther away, near Portland or Boothbay Harbor.

7. Hiking and Nature

Two of Maine’s great State Parks, Wolfe Neck State Park and Bradbury Mountain State Park, are located within about a 10 minute drive. Wolfe Neck State Park is on Casco Bay and offers hiking trails in the woods and along the bay. Bradbury Mountain State Park offers fine views from its trails at higher elevation – these are particularly nice during fall foliage time.

8. Boating

Canoes and kayaks can be rented nearby for the self-powered explorer. There are also tour boats for everything from puffin or whale-watching tours and lighthouse tours to tours of Arctic explorer Admiral Peary’s Eagle Island home. Some are as close as 5 minutes from Freeport, while others are from 10 to 50 minutes away. Sails on an antique schooner are as close as Portland harbor, allowing you to combine history with your boating adventure.

9. Art Galleries

The Frost Gully Gallery, featuring 20 Maine artists at Maine’s oldest gallery, is just north of town on US-1. Browsing the shops in town you’ll find art and craft shops as well as galleries.

10 Antiques

OK, so hunting for antiques is a form of shopping. Still, it isn’t quite the same thing, is it? Just a few minutes up the road in Brunswick is the Fort Andross building, containing a large antique mall with a variety of dealers. Brunswick also has several independent antique dealers. A few more minutes up US-1 in Bath, there are several individual antique shops along the streets, and others along Route 209 toward Popham Beach.

Who said there was nothing but shopping in Freeport?

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