By Heather Turk
Located approximately 45 minutes from Orlando, Sanford may be close to the Theme Park Capital of the World, but the charming Central Florida city feels worlds away.
Offering guests plenty of things to do, from awesome outdoor adventures to shopping in its quaint downtown, Allegiant passengers are sure to fall in love with the historic, waterfront gateway city. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a frequent guest, no trip to the area is complete without stopping by the Historic Sanford Welcome Center downtown, a Visit Florida Partner/Certified Travel Information Center.
The Sanford Tourism Office opened on Dec. 2, 2017, as a way to help visitors find fun things to do while visiting the city. Not only can guests pick up various brochures on the many things there are to do in Sanford—including maps for the city’s free self-guided Pathways to History heritage and cultural walking tours—but they can also ask the helpful representatives on site for dining, shopping and attraction recommendations based on their personal interests. Additionally, guests can connect to free Wi-Fi and safely leave their luggage if they want to explore the city before their hotel room is ready. Complimentary trolley service is offered, too, from the Historic Sanford Welcome Center to other stops around downtown, as well as Sanford’s Amtrak Auto Train and SunRail stations, making it easy for guests to get around town. The Welcome Center is also a place that Amtrak AutoTrain passengers can use to safely leave their luggage if they want to explore the city before the AutoTrain departs. Free Wi-Fi is also offered to all visitors of the Welcome Center.
Guests visiting the area will also want to download the free Sanford365 app, which provides users with a complete calendar of events right at their fingertips. The city is constantly hosting special events, like the Sanford Art Walk held every third Saturday of the month from 6 to 9 p.m. The event begins at the Historic Sanford Welcome Center with exhibits and art demonstrations that change monthly featured in nearby galleries and businesses. A juried art show inside the Welcome Center typically features 15 to 25 pieces of art on display that tie into that month’s art walk theme.
February also marks the return of the popular Love Your Shorts Film Festival. Taking place at the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center Feb. 8 through 11, the eighth annual event will feature 80 short films from 10 countries competing in seven categories (Comedy, Drama, Animation, Documentary, Sci-Fi/Horror, Florida Flavor and E for Everyone), with moviegoers having a hand in picking the best film in each category. The winning films will then advance to the finals on Sunday night, where a panel of film experts will select the Best of the Fest. Previous films screened at the event have gone on to win Oscar and Emmy awards. Guests can also attend free workshops, a filmmaker panel, screenings of student films and more during the festival, making it a real hit with cinema fans.
Given how popular the arts are in downtown Sanford, it should come as no surprise that the area is also home to one of Central Florida’s most impressive bookstores. A favorite with Sanford shoppers for the past 15 years, Maya Books & Music on East 1st Street is an independently owned used bookstore that boasts more than 75,000 carefully selected books in all subjects. The quirky shop also features more than 5,000 vinyl records, CDs and eclectic gift items, with hundreds of unique items put into stock each week.
Once guests pick out a selection from Maya Books & Music, they can head over to The Rosie Lee Co. One of downtown Sanford’s newest treasures, the nearby tea shop sells close to 100 loose leaf teas as well as a variety of unique gifts—everything from British-themed items to all-natural soaps from around the world. The shop also plans on opening a tea bar sometime in February and recently joined forces with local day spa Antidote Apothecary & Spa to offer its soothing, all-natural services in the back of the shop.
For more adventurous travelers, guests can take sailing lessons at U-Sail of Central Florida on the tranquil waters of Lake Monroe. The award-winning sailing school next to Sanford’s Monroe Harbour Marina offers extensive multi-day courses for those in town for a while, as well as a 2-hour Introduction to Sailing course that’s perfect for vacationers in a time crunch. Guests can participate in the experience as much as they like or simply sit back and enjoy the breathtaking ride. Either way, they’re in for an unforgettable experience!
Truthfully, no matter what visitors decide to do, their trip to Sanford is sure to be memorable. For more on the Seminole County city—including some of its can’t-miss attractions and craft beer spots— visit sanfordfl.gov.
Book your next vacation to Sanford, Florida at allegiant.com.