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Two hours north of Boston and just north of Portland lies the very charming town of Freeport, Maine—population 8,000—most famous as the birthplace of L.L.Bean and for the New England-friendly outlet shopping (think Brooks Brothers, Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo, Bass, and Cole Haan) that's popped up around it. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Freeport is situated on Casco Bay, rife with all sorts of outdoorsy activity, and home to a tourist curiosity called the Desert of Maine.
We'd heard things about this crazy L.L.Bean flagship: That it was huge—practically a campus; that it was open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; that you could buy just about anything and get it embroidered while you wait. But nothing prepared us for the size and scope of this mega-shop.
Located just off Freeport's charming main drag of retail, The Bean consists of several massive, cedar-clad lodge-like buildings situated around a lush courtyard filled with a rainbow assortment of Adirondack chairs and a massive fiberglass boot. In addition to the flagship there are separate stores for Hunting & Fishing, Bike, Boat & Ski, Home (more on that later), and an outlet. Trust, you can spend days.
Inside the flagship you'll find L.L.Bean's apparel (gripe: they do not carry Alex Carleton's L.L.Bean Signature line. This is a travesty and certainly cannot be for lack of space), shoes, bags, backpacks, hiking and camping gear (tents, giant frying pans, water bottles), and an adorable assortment of mostly Bean-branded souvenir merchandise including sugar cookies shaped like signature totes, pine-scented sachets, lobster and/or moose and/or whale everything, maple syrup, and all kinds of trail mix-inspired snacks.
Possibly more importantly, the massive space also houses an indoor trout pond, a photobooth, taxidermied moose in battle, more than one canoe, mini-exhibits of brand and Maine history, and an entire dedicated department for on the spot embroidery. Also, everyone is so friendly that we can almost forgive them for not stocking the Signature line.
· L.L.Bean [Official Site]