Sanford is located in Seminole County, Florida next to Lake Monroe and the St. Johns River. As of 2006, the population was 49,124. This quiet town is near the Seminole State College and is home to the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. Sanford is conveniently located just minutes away from Orlando and Daytona. This gives Sanford residents the small-town feel they are looking for with the convenience of businesses, employment, and entertainment from the two major metropolitan areas close by. Sanford is a quiet, rural community welcoming visitors and newcomers at every opportunity.
The Sanford area was the site of an U.S. Army post named Fort Mellon during the Seminole Wars of the 1830's. When settlers started to move into the area, the town of Mellonville was established. The town became a distribution point for goods essential for the growth of Central Florida with the commercial steamboat service. When Orange County was created in 1845, Mellonville became the county seat.
Henry Shelton Sanford purchased the land west of Mellonville in 1870. He planned a new city called “The Gate City of South Florida,” which he believed would become the transportation hub for southern Florida. The city of Sanford was incorporated in 1877 and Mellonville was annexed six years later. By 1884, Sanford was a prosperous town with wharves, a railroad station and a large hotel. Henry Sanford’s greatest interest in Florida was the development of Belair, which was a citrus grove and experimental garden near Sanford. More than 140 varieties of citrus, including the Valencia orange, were tested for adaptability to the Florida climate. During the winter of 1894, the citrus industry received a serious blow when freezing temperatures destroyed the year’s entire crop. Many citizens left the area.
In 1913, Seminole County was officially established with Sanford as the county seat. From 1942 to 1968, the Sanford U.S. Naval Air Station drew many residents away from agriculture and brought new people to the city.
Sanford is home to many beautiful parks and recreational locations. Many of the parks feature picnic shelters, play areas, grills, play equipment, tennis courts, basketball courts, and more. Come spend the day with your family and friends at one of Sanford’s many breathtaking parks and relax!
• Picnic Shelter - (reservation basis - seats approximately 100)
• 3 Individual Picnic Shelters
• BBQ Grills
• Play Equipment and Tot Lot
• Sand Volleyball Courts (2)
• Soap Box Derby Race Track
• Multi-purpose Play Area
• Fitness Area
Fort Mellon Park
• Picnic Shelter (reservation basis - seats approx. 125)
• Picnic Tables
• BBQ Grills
• Unlighted Baseball Field
• Horeseshoe Pits
• Lighted Basketball Courts
• Drinking Fountains
Lee P. Moore Park
• Picnic Shelter (reservation basis - seats approx. 100)
• BBQ Grills
• Tennis Courts
• Basketball Court
• Handball Courts
• Play Equipment
• Shuffleboard Courts
• Ball Field (reservation basis)
• Children's Play Area
• Vita Course (approx 2/3 mile)
• Drinking Fountain
Sanford offers many fun events perfect for the whole family. Come take the Candlelight Tour of the luminaries in the residential historic district. You won’t want to miss out on these fun experiences!
Alive After 5 Street Party
Visit the charming downtown Sanford and enjoy a taste of wine, food and live entertainers on the second Thursday of every month.
27th Annual Holiday Tour of Homes – Candlelight Tour
Take the luminary walking tour of homes in the residential historic district with carolers, entertainment and reception. Tickets sales are available at the Sanford Historic Welcome Center.
The attractions in Sanford are endless! Come experience true Florida by swimming with the manatees or visiting the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Sanford has many education and enjoyable activities perfect for a day with your family or friends.
The Barbara Lee Paddleboat
The Barbara Lee carries hundreds of passengers daily on the historic St. Johns River and immerses you in an adventure of dining and dancing while you enjoy Florida's natural splendor. If you're looking for an attraction that allows you to experience Florida the natural way, look no further.
Fun 2 Dive Scuba, Snorkeling and Manatee Tours
Fun 2 Dive Scuba specializes in full day adventures with the manatees.
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
Nestled in lush tropical foliage, the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens is home to over 400 animals, 23 acres of native gardens, an Insect Zoo and Reptile House, and live animal encounters. There are also behind-the-scenes elephant encounters and many educational opportunities and demonstrations.
Lower Wekiva River State Preserve
18,000 acres of preserved land in central Florida provide refuge to many plants and animals such as the Florida black bear, river otter and American alligator.