Posted by Aisha Coleman in Orlando, Home Building Industry

Updated May 2022

If you’ve been looking for a city with amazing food and shopping choices, along with a plethora of outdoor and cultural influences and amazing events, all in a location that’s easy to get to and from, then look no further than Sanford, FL.

Bordered by Lake Mary to the southwest, Lake Monroe and DeBary to the north, and about 20 miles northeast of Orlando, awaits one of Central Florida’s oldest incorporated cities. Welcome to the seat of Seminole County, known as the “Historic Waterfront Gateway City,” Sanford, Florida.

Sanford, FL Riverfront

Sanford’s stellar location, halfway between Orlando’s theme parks/attractions in one direction and the beaches in the other, is just the start of what makes this city a perfect place to visit or live!

If you’ve been wondering what to do in Sanford, wonder no more! But first, let's talk about how to get there.

Orlando Sanford International Airport

Getting around the Sanford area is super easy by train, plane, and automobile!

  • I-4 and SR417, both major highways, are both very accessible
  • Amtrak auto train will get you (and your car) where you want to go
  • Sanford SunRail Station is a short 2 miles from the downtown area, and there is a free shuttle between the SunRail and Amtrack stations to downtown!
  • Orlando Sanford International Airport will get you out of town for business or pleasure faster (and more convenient) than ever
Orlando Sunrail Station

Whatever it is you want to do in Sanford, getting there will always be effortless and convenient.

1. Parks in Sanford, FL

There are plenty of parks in the Sanford area to explore.

Enjoy everything from pavilions and playgrounds to sports courts and splash pads. There is even one with a neighborhood garden!

Sanford, FL Playground

Enjoy a leisurely stroll, get your heart rate up with a good run, pump up your bike tires, or strap on your skates to hit the pavement on one of the many trails in Sanford.

Other outdoor activities nearby:

  • Wekiwa Springs State Park is known for its beautiful water and nature (over 20,000 acres!) and offers hiking, camping, horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, and amazing wildlife.
  • Explore St. Johns River for a leisurely cruise with food, live entertainment, and Florida wildlife!
  • Get in a game of golf at the Mayfair County Club, one of the state’s oldest courses
  • Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is home to over 100 species, beautiful flowers, a splash pad/playground, a carousel, and even an aerial adventure course
Sanford, FL Nature Trail

There are also numerous recreational activities like canoeing, airboat rides, and more take in the beautiful Florida weather.

2. Shopping in Sanford, FL

If “shop till you drop” is your mantra, there’s no lack of opportunity in Sanford. You’ll find all the big box stores and conveniences here:

Seminole Towne Center

For fun boutique shops, and to support local makers, head to Downtown Sanford for something special:

  • Rustic & Pipe Décor – farmhouse/industrial/steampunk
  • Magpies Modern General Store – heartfelt gifts, housewares, and artisan soaps
  • The Rosie Lee Co. – all things tea
  • Board and Brush – a DIY wood workshop
  • Maya Books and Music

No matter what it is you’re shopping for, you are sure to find it in Sanford.

3. Restaurants in Downtown Sanford, FL

Head to Downtown Sanford where there are some fantastic restaurants. Whatever you crave, you’re sure to find it here:

  • Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café – German
  • The Original Christo’s – American
  • El Zocalo – Mexican
  • Zorba’s – Greek
  • Negril Spice – Jamaican food
  • Shantell’s – soul food
  • Sushi & Seoul – sushi and street food (in Celery City)
  • Buster’s Bistro – Belgian food
Sanford, FL Restaurants

Celery City Craft and Tuffy’s Bottle Shop and Lounge are super cool beer gardens with amazing cocktails, a vast beer selection, live music, open mic nights, and yummy bites to eat.

Henry’s Depot, another must-see spot, is an 8,000 square foot food hall with lots of restaurants, a cocktail bar, and a calendar full of live music and events.

If breweries are your thing, you’re in luck: there are a few to try. And to give brewing a try at home, stop by Sanford Homebrew Shop.

Sanford, FL Brewery

For dinner with a view, Sanford has a couple of awesome restaurants on the water. Be sure to check out:

  • St. Johns River Steak & Seafood
  • Gators Riverside Grille
  • Caffe Di Riverwalk
  • Otters On the River

For a stand-out experience check out St. Johns Rivership “Barbara Lee,” an authentic sternwheeler offering lunch and dinner cruises with live entertainment!

You’ll also find a plethora of dining options just outside the Downtown Sanford area, closer to the mall, so you’ll be set no matter which side of town you find yourself looking for a bite out.

4. Sanford’s Rich Culture

There are plenty of cultural things to do in Sanford as well. Besides the various art galleries, be sure to also check out:

  • Historic Welcome Center – learn about the history of the city as well as about all the things to see, do, and eat
  • Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center – built-in 1923, this community arts theater offers plays, musicals, concerts, and movies. Just wait till you see the character and charm of this place!
  • Sanford Museum showcases exhibits on city history, sports highlights, Sanford City Archives, a research library, and numerous photos, paintings, and personal objects of interest.
  • Goldsboro Historical Museum to learn “An American story of Hope, Freedom, and Independence”
Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center

5. Downtown Sanford, FL Events

The Downtown Sanford area hosts several amazing monthly events that bring the community together:

  • Sanford Food Truck Fiesta
  • Sanford Art & Jazz Night
  • Alive After 5 Street Party
  • Critical Mass Sanford Cycling Event
  • Sanford Avenue Block Party
  • Movie Classics at the Ritz Theatre
  • Sanford Art Walk

Be sure to add Ghost Tours, escape rooms, 5k and 15K races, and all the yearly events to your list of things to do in Sanford, FL.

So whether you are preparing to move to the area, are new to town, or have lived here for a while and just not had the chance to explore Sanford, get ready to fall in love!

Central Florida Zoo

As you can see, there are so many fun things to do in Sanford: the problem will be deciding what to do first!

I’m here to answer any questions you might have about living (or playing) in Sanford, FL. Contact me today!


Aisha Coleman

Have questions about interior design? Looking to take on a DIY home project? Interested in discovering new things to do in your hometown? Ready to learn about the new home construction process? Aisha can help! With over a decade of experience in her role as Internet Sales Manager in M/I Homes of Orlando, Aisha's ready to share a wealth of knowledge on all these topics and more. You can trust Aisha's insights as she is a Florida local and enjoys spending time with family by either traveling or relaxing at one of Florida's many beaches.

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