When visiting the Maine coast, many travelers only find time to shop once. Trouble is, there are two significant outlet centers on the southern coast—Kittery and Freeport. How to choose? Here’s my quick take:

Generally speaking, Kittery, located at the southern edge of Maine, is best for the name-brand shopper who wants to hit a large volume of places in a short time. It boasts more than 100 outlets, which flank U.S. Route 1, in more than a dozen strip malls.

It’s easier to do Kittery more quickly than Freeport because of the side-by-side arrangement of the various stores and the malls. Price tags tend to be lower in Kittery, too.

The trade-off is the blandness of the experience: Each of these side malls offer vast parking lots and boring architecture, and you cannot safely walk from one mall to another—you need wheels.

In Kittery, the malls are clumped along Route 1 just a couple of miles north of the New Hampshire border (and 4 miles south of York). Though the area appears at first glance to be a conglomerated, single huge mall, in fact there are five or six distinct areas with separate entrances. Choose carefully before you make your turn. Among the best places to try among the various complexes are a Gap outlet, a Calvin Klein, a small but elegant Coach store, Polo Ralph Lauren, J. Crew (good prices on sweaters), an Orvis sporting goods outlet, and a useful Crate & Barrel outlet. The pioneer-themed Kittery Trading Post is not all it’s hyped up to be, but at least prices are low.

Information on current outlets is available from the Kittery Outlet Association. You can also call tel. 888/548-8379 (which spells KITTERY, by the way).

There are also a couple of good places to eat here, including Bob's Clam Hut (click here for full review), or, for a sit down meal, the Weathervane, a small New England fish-house chain that delivers value at moderate prices and is an excellent choice for families. In the mood for brewski? The Kittery outlets have also added two taprooms of late: Definitive Brewing Company, which has a snack menu, and Woodland Farms Brewery, which has a relaxed coffeeshop feel (think board games and couches) and some great non-alcoholic options.

Near the outlets proper is the Stonewall Kitchen’s flagship store, on Stonewall Lane (tel. 207/351-2712)—just behind the huge tourist information complex at the corner of Route 1 and the access road leading to and from I-95 and the Maine Turnpike. You can sample from among the company’s delicious jams and spreads before tucking into a soup-and-sandwich special from the on-site deli. Then, hunger and birthday lists both satisfied in one fell swoop, keep browsing through a good selection of handy kitchen accessories: knives, lobster bibs, graters, and the like. Staff is friendly and helpful. It’s open daily until 8pm; the cafe, though, closes at 3pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.