Sanford, located only 30 minutes from Orlando, feels like a world away. A quaint, yet happening small city, full of shops, restaurants, festivals, beautiful views, history, and intriguing architecture. There are so many great things to do! Here are some of our favorites, but there is so much more to discover – go for a day, and you’ll end up visiting again and again!
1. Historic Downtown
Picturesque First Street, the center of downtown Sanford, was revitalized to add historical elements such as a two-lane brick street and traditional light posts. The downtown is a vibrant commercial center with antique shops, restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, and art galleries. Visitors and residents can be seen seven days a week strolling the City’s downtown while enjoying the shops, boutiques, restaurants, and pubs. Events fill the weekends, and live music fills the streets nightly as locals and guests take in the glorious evening weather and the scenic views along the waterfront.
2. Museums and Galleries
If you love art, there are many galleries gracing the bricked sidewalks of downtown, including the nationally-renowned Jeanine Taylor Folk Art Gallery. Many of the artists shown are residents and can be found creating in their studios, which you are welcome to visit. The Albritton Art Gallery carries original art, clay, photography, silk painting, special arts, t-shirts, card lines, coasters, and placemats, as well as Sanford, themed clothing and print items. Then there is Little Fish Huge Pond. Filled with local art, this quirky Irish-American pub offers unique beers & live music in cozy digs.
If you are a history buff, Sanford has plenty to offer. There is the Sanford Museum that houses exhibits illustrating the history of the City of Sanford and the life and times of City founder Henry S. Sanford. Pathways to History is a series of tours that highlight the history and heritage of Sanford. The tours focus on the City’s development, architecture, African American history, technology, and military/veteran’s history. Pathways to History tours include Downtown Commercial Historic District, Old Sanford Residential Historic District, Waterfront Development, Military History/Veteran’s Tribute, and many more. There are even Haunted Walking Tours of Downtown so be sure to check those out!
3. Great Food & Great Brews
Treat your taste buds with some amazing eats with flavor profiles from American Bistro, Greek, Continental, Soul, Seafood and German cuisines. Sanford has become well known for all types of amazing cuisine. From boozy brunches at Tennessee Truffle or the Smiling Bison to some genuine southern barbeque at Fuel BBQ, there is something for everyone in Sanford. Check out Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café, which has been a staple in Sanford for years and the fabulous burgers and brews at Busters.
Sanford has also become a mecca of sorts for local breweries. The city features prominently on the Central Florida Ale Trail, so be sure to stop by Deviant Wolfe Brewing, Sanford Brewing Company, and WopsHops Brewing Company among others to sample some great suds.
4. Along The Waterfront
Sanford is situated along Lake Monroe, a 9,406-acre expanse of shining blue water, which borders the city on the north side. On breezy days, sailboats depart the Monroe Harbor Marina and dot the lake with their white sails and bright spinnakers. Check out the St Johns Rivership Co. and their fabulous old south style stern wheeler. Pedestrians enjoy the palm-lined RiverWalk with its gazebos and swinging benches while fishermen sit patiently on the water’s edge. With 35 parks located throughout the city, ranging from the Paw Park for our four-legged friends to Fort Mellon Park with a Splash Pad, Playground, Tennis and Basketball Courts, there are many ways to spend some fun-filled hours in Sanford.
If you’re looking for some unique shopping, some very cool stuff awaits you in the charming Historic Downtown! Antiques are on offer at Park & 2nd Antiques, Tree House, and Antiques & Dustibles, then its over to Maya Books & Music. Perhaps you are a comic connoisseur? In that case, be sure to check out SMASH! Comics and Games. Or have the local breweries inspired you? Sanford Homebrew Shop has supplies to create your own beer at home! Magpies Modern General Store has gifts and knick-knacks galore and there are many more stores offering musical instruments, gourmet popcorn, vinyl records, vintage clothing, art, crafts and the like.
6. Lots Of Events & Happenings
Sanford is thriving with events! The Saturday morning Farmers Market in historic Magnolia Square is a popular weekly fixture attracting visitors from a large area.
Alive after 5 is Central Florida’s largest recurring monthly street party in Historic Downtown Sanford. Festival goers come to celebrate the community and local artistry, and to partake in an evening of music, food, craft beers, and shopping. It takes place the second Thursday of each month, 5-8pm, rain or shine. The Sanford Art Walk is a juried art show in the Historic Sanford Welcome Center, and a walking tour of the art venues located in historic downtown Sanford. The event takes place from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM on the third Saturday of each month. The event at the Welcome Center will include live music and lots of ART!
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