Sure, you can have lunch or dinner in Freeport and fight for a seat amidst the shopping hordes–best bets are Mediterranean Grill, on School Street; Broad Arrow Tavern, in the Harraseekett Inn (about two blocks north of Bean’s mothership) and Azure, a stone’s throw north of Bean’s (I had a fabulous chicken wrap there, fresh, moist, delicious; seating is outdoors and inside on two levels). Or you can pray for a parking space at Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster, in South Freeport. OR, you can escape the crowds with a picnic.
Stop at Old World Gourmet (Route 1 by the Big Indian; you’ll know it when you see it) for fresh made sandwiches and salads or try Royal River Foods (Route 1, about a mile south of the exit 20 intersection), a natural foods store for premade sandwiches and salads (in the cooler to the far left as you enter the store). Now head for a park.
Freeport is wealthy with parklands. Closest to these two sandwich spots is Winslow Memorial Park, a town park with a sliver of beachfront–best at low tide; big grassy lawns, picnic tables under the trees and by the waterfront, a few trails and a playground. Plenty of space to let little ones run. Great place to watch the boat traffic in Casco Bay. Turn east at the Big Indian and follow signs.
Another waterfront choice is Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, off Lower Flying Point Road. Nice picnic grounds, both on a field and on the water. Even better, if you’re traveling with someone who has mobility issues, there’s a wheelchair accessible path along the waterfront to a spot overlooking an osprey’s nest; for the best view, bring binoculars. There also are hiking trails lacing the woods and shorefront.
Probably the least-busy option, but also free and with the fewest picnic tables and closest to downtown Freeport, is Maine Audubon’s Mast Landing Sanctuary, with trails snaking through the woods and an orchard.
After an hour or so at any of these, you’ll be recharged for shopping… or guaranteed a nice siesta with cool breezes and perhaps lapping water as background music.