Hilton_Garden_Inn_FreeportHaving just returned from a brief hiatus, I needed a reentry that would help me gain back my sanity. I desperately needed some “me” time. Thank you Hilton Garden Inn! Sometimes things happen just when you need them to and Hilton Garden Inn’s invitation to check out the beautiful fall foliage and other countless activities at and around their Freeport, Maine property caught my attention.

Shhhhhhh. Don’t tell them this but they had me at hello! As a born and bred New Englander I’ve traveled to Freeport and other parts of Maine many times. I’ve also been an avid Hilton fan, having opted to stay at various properties during my business traveling days. Let’s face it, for me there is nothing like a good night’s sleep in a Hilton bed!

But it had been a few years since my last visit to Freeport. When I returned last weekend, I was reminded of the word that always came to mind when I visited the state – authentic. Everything about the area is authentic – the people, the atmosphere, the hospitality. Every state has its personality but there is just something special and NICE about Maine.

Freeport is also a place you can truly come and visit at your own pace, whether you want to get up and go explore at the L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery School – and what better time to kayak or learn to do archery or sporting clays than when the air is crisp, the sun shining, and the leaves turning brilliant hues of red, orange and yellow – or shop until you drop. I chose the latter.

Interestingly, I’m not usually big on shopping and stay away from malls. But what I have always loved about shopping in Freeport is how the area is set up like a village; most of your time is spent outdoors, walking about the quaint streets, and going in and out of shops. You have you usual store fronts like J. Crew, Jones New York, and North Face but there are also small shops like Cool as a Moose and the Mangy Moose.

isabella_2There are also plenty of choices for a quick meal without having to opt for fast food. For my morning energy burst, I made a stop at Isabella’s Sticky Buns Café. Though I managed to stay away from the incredible sounding ooey-gooey specialty, I did have the quick house recipe granola topped with fresh, healthy yogurt and fresh fruit. For a late lunch I opted for Amato’s and enjoyed a spinach and chicken calzone – lighter than most, filling but not overwhelming. Yum.

Of course, L.L. Bean dominates the landscape! After visiting the outlet store, I had to spend some time in the flagship retail store. Well, a LOT of time. I forgot it was open 24 hours a day so, too tired to grab a late night dinner at the nearby Gritty McDuff’s Brewery and Pub, I spent more time and money at Bean’s and then had a wonderful, healthy spinach salad and microbrew at the Jameson Tavern next door. The evening before I enjoyed dinner with a group at the Azure Café, another lovely dining establishment, where I savored the grilled bbq salmon with wild Maine blueberries. Different and delicious.

In between shopping, when my feet were sore and legs tired, I opted for a break in the hotel’s pool and hot tub. Some of you may recall earlier posts when I talked about pool amenities being among the most important for my travel needs. The Hilton Garden Inn pool area was clean and inviting. Big windows let the sunshine pour in. I had fun watching guests arrive for a wedding reception. What a perfect setting for celebrating October nuptials.

Getting to and from Freeport is achieved by way of Portland, Maine. The airport is easy to navigate and Freeport is less than an hour’s drive away. I was originally traveling roundtrip by air but Friday’s tropical storm that raged up the east coast put a damper on plans. Instead I needed to take the train one way, an Amtrak Acela from Connecticut to Boston, with an easy transfer by “T” to a commuter train from North Station to Portland. I am beginning to prefer train to plane when it makes sense. I had plenty of space, didn’t have to worry about paying extra to check bags, and had an electrical outlet conveniently next to me so I could plug in and work on the laptop.

Freeport, Maine is a terrific destination whether you are looking for a weekend away or a week’s vacation. The Hilton Garden Inn Freeport delivered what I expected: comfortable accommodations, a bed that snuggled me to sleep, great service and a delicious made-to-order breakfast buffet as well as convenient dining onsite. What were the down sides? Well, the NBC station in the television for some reason had no sound. But why would I turn on a TV with some of the best New England has to offer right outside the door?