Having visited my sister in the Orlando area several times, I already had a good idea of the variety of places to be found in central Florida when I moved here a couple of years ago. Contrary to what some may think, the landscape is not dominated by theme parks; nor do throngs of gray-haired retirees clog the streets. There is history here. One of my favorite things to do is to explore some of the smaller communities that surround Orlando. Sanford is one of those communities.
According to the Wikipedia article, Sanford was “incorporated in 1877 with a population of 100.” Today, it has a population in excess of 50,000. Though Sanford is certainly within easy driving distance of Orlando, it is far enough north of the city to have escaped becoming a major tourist attraction. A walk through downtown Sanford reveals an eclectic assortment of art galleries, antique shops and restaurants but none of the worst of the resort-wear boutiques or souvenir shops that dot the trendier tourist destinations. The downtown area has a well-worn appearance that speaks of its age. Visiting there feels a bit like wearing a very comfortable pair of old shoes.
Sanford sits on Lake Monroe. As you move away from the town center towards the lake, you find more new residential construction as well as a busy marina. But if you walk far enough along the lake shore, you will also find the remnants of an old pier, now overtaken by a thriving population of Double-crested Cormorants. There is a lot of beauty by the lake shore though I will say that the newer residential buildings did little to stimulate my photographic eye.
All in all, Sanford is an enjoyable place to visit. You can see the work of local artists, have a good lunch (check out the German restaurant, Hollerbach Willow Tree Cafe, if you are in the mood for fun rather than intimacy) and take a stroll along the lakefront.
Here are a few photos from my most recent visit there. Granted, I tend more towards the artsy than the documentary with my photos but I think these will still give you a feel for the place. (And I do hope the folks of Sanford will forgive my fascination with the details of age when photographing their lovely town.) Enjoy!