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A TANK AWAY

Freeport, Maine, has grown into a destination

HILARY NANGLE FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

Brahms Mount in Freeport sells blankets and throws woven on antique shuttle looms.

By Hilary Nangle Globe correspondent 

Leon Leonwood Bean put Freeport on the shopping map in 1912, when he began retailing his hunting boots. Today more than 150 stores crowd the downtown and beyond. Thanks to the expansion of Amtrak’s Downeaster service, it’s possible to reach Freeport, notched into the coastline just north of Portland, without a car.

Stay

Arctic explorer Admiral Donald MacMillan once lived in the 19th-century White Cedar Inn (178 Main St., 207-865-9099, 800-853-1269, www.whitecedarinn.com, from $130 with breakfast), a family-friendly inn with seven rooms and a suite. The 84-room Harraseeket Inn (162 Main St., 207-865-9377, 800-342-6423, www.harraseeketinn.com, from $145 with breakfast and afternoon tea) pampers guests with two restaurants and an indoor pool. Some rooms have fireplaces and hot tubs, and one is decorated with Thomas Moser furnishings. Pets are permitted in some rooms for $25, which includes a bed, a small can of food, and dishes. Children 12 and younger stay free, and free transportation is provided to and from the Amtrak station. The James Place Inn (11 Holbrook St., 207-865-4486, 800-964-9086, www.jamesplaceinn.com, from $139 with breakfast and afternoon refreshments), a late-19th-century Victorian located on a quiet side street, has seven rooms, including four with whirlpool tubs and one with a fireplace. The Brewster House (180 Main St., 207-865-4121, 800-865-0822, www.brewsterhouse.com, from $189 with breakfast and afternoon refreshments) pampers guests with little extras, such as ironed sheets, custom-made soaps, and a choice of pillows. South of downtown, Casco Bay Inn (107 Route 1, 207-865-4925, 800-570-4970, www.cascobayinn.com, from $79 with continental breakfast) has a pine-paneled lounge with a fieldstone fireplace and spacious motel-style guest rooms, some with a refrigerator and a microwave.

Eat

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Go light, mixing selections from antipasto, insalate, and zuppa choices, or savor the heartier entrees ($15-$32) at Azure Italian Cafe (123 Main St., 207-865-1237, www.azurecafe.com). Italian also flavors the menu at Petrillo’s (15 Depot St., 207-865-6055, www.petrillos
freeport.com, $8-$21), a family-friendly spot with a kids’ menu. The Harraseeket Inn has two restaurants: In addition to a wide-ranging menu, the woodsy-themed Broad Arrow Tavern (162 Main St., 207865-9377, 800-342-6423, $10-$30) serves a midweek all-you-can-eat lunch buffet ($18). The Maine Harvest dining room (dinner entrees $22-$38) showcases farm-to-table fare; the Lobster Sunday Brunch ($30) is a must. Jacqueline’s Tea Room (201 Main St., 207-865-2123, www.jacquelinestearoom.com) serves a cream tea, comprising two scones with jam, devon cream, and lemon curd, for $12.95, and, by reservation, a four-course afternoon tea, for $29.95. Grab a slab of cheese pizza for $2.79 from Derosier’s (120 Main St., 207-865-6290 www.freeportpizza.com), under fifth-generation ownership or, if the weather’s fine, pick up a quick lunch at Li’s Chinese Express Food Cart (corner of Middle and Bow streets, 347-323-5341). South of town, Conundrum Wine Bistro (117 Route 1, 207-865-0303, $14-$38) offers more than 500 wines by the bottle and 40 by the glass and a menu that ranges from burgers to roast duck.

During the day

Shop! Sure, you can find most of the big national names here, but you’ll also find high-quality Maine stores and outlets. The biggie is L.L. Bean (95 Main St., 207-865-4761, 800-341-4341, www.llbean.com), hub of the known universe in these parts. For Maine-made textiles, including blankets and throws, shop Brahms Mount (115 Main St., 207-869-4026, www.brahmsmount.com) and Maine Woolens (124 Main St., 207-865-0755, www.mainewoolens.com). Find the perfect white shirt at Jill McGowan (56 Main St., 207-865-0909, www.jillmcgowan.com). Sea Bags (6 Bow St., 207-865-6174, www.seabags.com) handcrafts totes from recycled sails. Exquisite Maine-made craft fills Edgecomb Potters
(8 School St., 207-865-1705, www.edgecombpotters.com) and Georgetown Pottery (148 Main St., 207-865-0060, www.georgetownpottery.com). Thos. Moser Furniture Showroom & Art Gallery (149 Main St., 207-865-4519, www.thosmoser.com) has earned a national reputation for classic, handcrafted cherry furnishings. Get bejeweled at Brown Goldsmith’s & Co. (11 Mechanic St., 207-865-4126, www.browngoldsmiths.com). Pig out on bread at When Pigs Fly (21 Main St., 207-865-6006, www.sendbread.com), savor chocolates at A. Wilbur’s Candy Shoppe (11-13 Bow St., 207-865-4071, www.wilburs.com; ask about tours of the chocolate factory), and satisfy a sweet tooth at Wicked Whoopies (32 Main St., 207-865-3100, www.wickedwhoopies.com).

Tour Maine Distilleries (437 Route 1, 207-865-4828, www.coldrivervodka.com), the nation’s only ground-to-glass distillery, and enjoy a tasting of its Cold River vodka, blueberry vodka, and gin. Prefer beer? Maine Beer Co. (525 Route 1, 207-221-5711, www.mainebeercompany.com) has a tasting room with views of the brewery.

L. L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery School (888-552-3261, www.llbean.com) offers free clinics, demonstrations, and talks at the store and classes in activities including cross-country skiing or snowshoeing for $20. For more exercise, hit the trails lacing 233-acre Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park (Wolfe’s Neck Road, 207-865-4465, www.parksandlands.com, $4.50 nonresident adults, $3 Maine resident adults, $1 children ages 5-11) or 140-acre Mast Landing Audubon Sanctuary (Upper Mast Landing Road, 207-781-2330, www.maineaudubon.org, free)

HILARY NANGLE FOR THE GLOBE

The boot that grew into an icon also worked as a magnet to attract shops to Freeport.

After Dark

Sink into a rocking glider seat and catch a flick on one of six screens at stadium-style Nordica Theatre (1 Freeport Village Station, 207-865-1868), www.nordicatheatre.com). Gritty’s Freeport Brew Pub (207-865-4321, www.grittys.com) has live acoustic music on Friday and Saturday nights. L.L. Bean’s mothership is open 24/7; visit during the wee hours and you might see rock stars and celebs.


Hilary Nangle can be reached at hilary@hilarynangle.com.