Play outside with L.L. Bean in Maine and Maryland

Kayaker in the morning (courtesy FreeWine at Flickr CC)I’ve been a fan of L.L. Bean products for years (I wore out one of their River Driver’s Shirts.)

When we lived in New England, we took several road trips to Maine that included the obligatory stop at their flagship store in Freeport, Maine, established in 1912.

If you go to Maine, don’t miss the L.L. Bean outlet store there in Freeport, but remember that, like most outlets, the best buys are often out of season.  My wiggly kids always thought I was nuts when I had them try on coats at the outlet in July, but we had the last laugh when they donned their new finery in November.

Store founder Leon Leonwood Bean was an avid outdoorsman and the store’s products and general vibe reflect that, but many don’t know that you can also go kayaking, biking and camping with the L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools.

I knew about the School in Maine, of course, but learned recently that there is a branch in Maryland with plenty of island-hopping kayaking in the Chesapeake Bay and fly fishing near Columbia, Maryland and Front Royal, Virginia.

The offerings in both Maine and the mid-Atlantic seem to be mostly geared to the novice and mid-range adventure traveler, but for the semi-hard-core they also offer multi-day excursions and certification courses like Wilderness Advanced First Aid.

You can also experience short, half-day $15 “Walk-On Adventures” (kayaking, flycasting and “GPS Techno Treasure Hunts”) in many L.L. Bean stores across the US, including stores outside New England like Center Valley, Pennsylvania and Tyson’s Corner, Virginia.

Naturally, the company hopes that after a scenic day of kayaking with them, you’ll be inspired to, well, go buy an L.L. Bean kayak, but it’s certainly not required (although they do offer a 10% off coupon for select gear and apparel to those who register for a course.)

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