Much of the current prosperity of Freeport, fifteen miles north of Portland, rests on the invention by Leon L. Bean, in 1912, of a funky-looking rubber-soled fishing boot. That original boot is still selling (there's now an enormous replica at the entrance), and L.L. Bean has grown into a multi-national clothing conglomerate, with an enormous clothing store on Main Street that literally never closes. Originally, this was so pre-dawn hunting expeditions could stock up; in practice, though, the late-night hours seem more geared toward high school students, who attempt to fall asleep in the tents without being noticed by store personnel. L.L. Bean is now more of a fashion emporium (it's Maine's most-visited destination) and Freeport has expanded to include a mile-long stretch of top-name factory outlets (such as the Gap, Banana Republic, and Cole Haan), most of which do give genuine reductions on the standard retail prices.
Freeport is not an ideal place to stay – everything falls quiet once the shoppers have gone home – but if you need accommodation, the Harraseeket Inn at 162 Main St (Tel:207/865-9377 or 1-800/342-6423, Web: www.harraseeketinn.com ; Price: From $201) is a wonderful clapboard B&B inn with some eighty rooms. There is also the Applewood Inn, 8 Holbrook St (Tel:207/865-9705, Web: www.applewoodusa.com ; Price: From $161), a great B&B just behind L.L. Bean. A few miles north of town, the lovely Maine Idyll Motor Court, at 1411 Rte-1 N (Tel:207/865-4201, Web: www.maineidyll.com ; Price: $51–130), provides basic but romantic cottages in a pretty, woodsy setting.
The best food in Freeport is south of town at Conundrum Wine Bistro, 117 Rte-1 S (Tel:207/865-0303); most people come for the swanky martinis, then they get hooked on the fresh, eclectic seasonal entrees, such as butternut squash ravioli with sage cream sauce. Right downtown, the Mediterranean Grill, 10 School St (Tel:207/865-1688) has really good authentic Lebanese food (like gyro kebabs) at lunch and dinner. For a scenic change of pace, head a mile south of Freeport (on Rte-1) to the sea, where the Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster Co (Tel:207/865-4888), extending on its wooden jetty into the peaceful bay, makes a great outdoor lunch spot.