With the rain still pouring on gloomy Day 5 of my vacation, I was happy to find another place where I could hide from the weather, but still see something interesting. The home of Maine’s most famous retailer, L.L. Bean, provided the perfect place.
Freeport, Maine was packed with tourists during my visit, and I imagine it’s that way on just about any day of the year. There are plenty of outlet stores, but L.L. Bean dominates downtown with several immense stores.
On your way in, admire the oversized boot. It’s a larger-than-life version of the “Bean Boot” — the original product made by Leon Leonwood Bean back in 1912. He designed a waterproof boot that was a big hit with hunters, and so the business began.
… there’s a map of the entire Bean complex. The flagship store has most of the basic items, like clothing, shoes, camping gear, etc. Other buildings nearby are devoted to home products (furniture and decorative items), biking, boating, and skiing, and hunting and fishing. A maze of free parking lots are behind the stores, and you’ll probably have to drive around for a while to find a good spot.
I spent a little while wandering through the stores, but the truth is, I didn’t see anything extraordinary. If you’ve seen the L.L. Bean catalog, you won’t find any surprises here. It’s the same stuff that’s available online and by mail, there’s just a whole lot of it. And, it all seemed to be offered at the same price you’d get if you ordered from the catalog.
Visiting the other outlet stores in Freeport required a jog through the rain. Just about every major brand you’d expect to find at an outlet mall is here: The Gap, Patagonia, Wilsons Leather, Brooks Brothers, Nine West, etc. They’re all lined up on Main Street, US 1, which loops back to I-295 once you’ve crawled through the downtown traffic.
Leaving Freeport, continue north on I-295. Just before reaching I-95, turn onto US 201 for the drive into Augusta, Maine.