While many New Englanders refer to the entire east coast of Maine as”Down East”, it’s actually just one particular coastal region of the state (from Penobscot Bay to the Canadian border) – either way, though, Maine is such a lovely state to visit. Ever since I was a kid, I have had a love for Maine and have always said that if I didn’t love Massachusetts so much, I would be living up in Maine.
My husband Chris & I recently spent a day in Freeport, Maine and our ride up to the pine tree state was nothing short of comfortable on board the Amtrak Downeaster.
**Disclosure: I received two complimentary round-trip tickets, in addition to a stipend for our daytrip in order to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**
The Amtrak Downeaster strives to provide exceptional rail service to connect the New England communities in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. With five round-trips daily between Boston and Portland, and now two round-trips to Freeport and Brunswick, the Amtrak Downeaster is your car-free connection to exciting Maine destinations all year long.
The Amtrak Downeaster leaves from North Station in Boston (at the Garden) and can be accessed from the green & orange lines on the T, certain Commuter Rail lines or you can drive in & park at one of the many garages in that general area. Chris & I took the T in to North Station on the day of our trip.
About 10 minutes or so before the train was set to depart, the track number was announced (on the board and it was announced over the intercom) so we knew exactly where to go to get on the correct train.
There are two types of seats on the Downeaster: Coach and Business class.
Coach Class: Enjoy comfortable reclining seats with lots of legroom and plenty of space to move around. Fold-down trays, overhead reading lights, free Wi-Fi and electrical outlets are available at every seat. Each coach car is equipped with luggage racks and a restroom, and has at least one set of 4-seat chairs, which give friends and family the chance to enjoy the trip together.
Business Class: For only an additional $9, each Downeaster train offers a small business class section, which includes perks such as extra-spacious fully reclining leather seats, complimentary newspapers, and a free non-alcoholic beverage delivered to your seat. The business class section is conveniently located at the end of the train, adjacent to the Café. The next time you ride, ask about a business class upgrade!
Chris and I sat in coach seats and were very comfortable. There was plenty of leg room and most importantly, there were two outlets so we could each charge our phones on the way and again on the return trip.
Oh, did I mention that all Amtrak Downeaster trains have free wireless internet? That made for a very happy blogger, believe me.
Another thing I really loved about the Downeaster is the Downeaster Café. They have one on every train and they offer snacks, light meals (like burgers & hot dogs), soft drinks and alcoholic beverages at a very reasonable price. Many local and regionally made products are featured, such as Amato’s Italian Sandwiches, Wicked Whoopie Pies, Shipyard Microbrews, and more. The menu offerings change often to reflect seasons and special events.
It was pretty cool being able to get a burger, chips & a cold Diet Pepsi for lunch on the way up to Maine.
The ride from Boston to Freeport, Maine was about three hours. Once we arrived in Freeport, the conductor handed all the passengers getting off of the train a map of the area. We chose Freeport because going car-free is really easy to do there. The Freeport train platform is literally just steps away from hundreds of national retailers, name-brand outlets, and locally-owned boutiques. Plus there are a variety of restaurants within walking distance of train, too.
And in case you didn’t know, Freeport is home to world famous L.L.Bean flagship store. Actually, it’s a whole campus of stores and they are only a block away from the train platform – and they are open all the time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Our first stop of the day was Wilbur’s of Maine because Chris & I were both itching for something sweet & what’s better than a family owned candy store? We got our fix alright…..
I think I have to say that the most interesting thing we saw all day was this McDonald’s:
McDonald’s bought the property that the 1850’s Greek Revival colonial (apparently a former sea captain’s house) sat on and had planned on tearing it down until preservationists intervened. Instead, the fast food chain gutted the house, but left the historic exterior intact and is a working McDonald’s to this day.
As we were walking, a sign that said “Wicked Whoopies” caught both of our eyes. I have heard of Wicked Whoopies Whoopie Pies, but had never had the opportunity to try one before, so I was excited to happen across one of their two retail shops while we were in Freeport. They make over 20 different varieties of Whoopie Pies, including the jumbo ones that Chris is pictured next to down below.
Chris and I each got a Whoopie Pie and they were only $1.75 each – what a bargain. I almost wished I had gotten
We spent a good long time exploring the shops & outlets in Freeport. After all, we had a lot of calories from Whoopie Pies and candy to burn off…..
When it came time for dinner, we decided on eating at the Jameson Tavern. The Jameson Tavern is one of the oldest operating Taverns in Maine. Whether you are looking for the traditional Maine Lobster or a burger with one of their local micro brews, Jameson Tavern aims to please.
I am more of a burger & micro brew kinda gal, so that’s what I got – along with some homemade blueberry pie for dessert. Yum.
The Jameson Tavern is located right beside the L.L. Bean retail store and they are open for lunch and dinner 364 days a year. They have Happy Hour daily starting at 2:30 p.m.
Speaking of L.L. Bean, Chris and I spent a while in their flagship store just looking around & having a little fun checking out some of the displays. If you are an outdoorsy type of person, you would be in heaven at the L.L. Bean campus in Freeport. There are four separate stores (apparel, home, ski & and outlet store).
Once it got dark, it was time for LL Bean’s Northern Lights Celebration. Trees around their campus, including their giant Christmas tree, were decorated with thousands of colored lights and synchronized with holiday tunes to create an amazing display. You can catch the musical holiday light show nightly, 5 p.m.-9 p.m. (every half hour) from now until Christmas.
On Saturdays only, you can also see some Carolers and even catch a horse drawn wagon ride.
Spending the day in Freeport was a great decision. There was so much to see and do all within walking distance of the train station and we were never lacking for something to do the whole time we were up there.
I have to say that it was really nice to be able to get from here (Boston) to there (Freeport) with no stress and no hassle in comfy, spacious seats on the Amtrak Downeaster. Chris and I loved being able to explore all that Freeport has to offer all day and then be able to relax with a glass of wine from the Downeaster Café on the ride home.
The Downeaster has options for everyone like monthly commuter passes, ten-ride passes, college 6TIX, corporate share pass, and $5 Black Friday fares. Their newest promotional tickets are Take 5 – Pay $5. Gather your group on Tuesdays and Thursdays through the end of 2015 and take advantage of their Take 5 – Pay $5 promotion. Buy one full-price ticket and bring up to 5 companions for $5 one-way.
They are also offering the Train to Maine BOGO deal. All you have to do is buy one full price ticket and you get to bring a friend for free! This promotion runs until December 31, 2015 and tickets must be purchased three days in advance of travel to take advantage of this discount. Offer valid on select trains.
For more information, please visit http://traintomaine.com/deals.
Do you want to get away to Maine, too? Well then you’re in luck because I am giving away two (2) round-trip tickets on the Amtrak Downeaster to one (1) lucky reader!
Winner will be chosen at random on December 13, 2015 and will be notified via email. Good luck!
Update: Congratulations to #129, Nannypanpan!