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Visitor Guides Sanford

Sanford is a city in and the county seat of Seminole County, Florida, United States. The population was 38,291 at the 2000 census. As of 2006, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 49,124. An older agricultural and resort area, Sanford is home to the Delta Connection Academy, Seminole Community College and the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens. The city is situated beside Lake Monroe and the St. Johns River.

Historic clock in downtown SanfordThe Timucuan Indians once inhabited the shores of Lake Monroe, where the domain of Chief Utina extended to just north of Lake George. By 1760, however, war and disease had decimated the tribe, which would be replaced by the Seminole Indians. Florida was acquired by the United States from Spain in 1821, but the Seminole Wars would delay settlement. In 1835, the Indians burned the port of Palatka on the St. Johns River, then the major artery into Central Florida from the East Coast. Consequently, an army garrison was established upstream on the southern side of Lake Monroe near a trading post. Called Camp Monroe, the log breastwork was attacked on February 8, 1837. It would be strengthened and renamed Fort Mellon in honor of Captain Charles Mellon, the sole American casualty.

General Zachary Taylor had a road built connecting a string of defenses from Lake Monroe to Fort Brooke (now Tampa). The town of Mellonville was founded around Fort Mellon in 1842 by Daniel Stewart. In 1845, Florida became a state and Mellonville became county seat of Orange County, formerly called Mosquito County with its county seat across the lake at Enterprise. Orange groves were planted, with the first fruit packing plant built in 1869. In 1870, "General" Henry Shelton Sanford bought 12,548 acres (50.78 km2) to the west of Mellonville and laid out the community of Sanford. Believing it would become a transportation hub, he called it "The Gateway City to South Florida." Several groups of Swedes were imported as indentured servants to do the back-breaking labor of establishing a new town and clearing the sub-tropical wilderness in advance of creating a citrus empire, arriving by steamboat in 1871.[5] Incorporated in 1877 with a population of 100, Sanford absorbed Mellonville in 1883. The South Florida Railroad ran a line from Tampa to Sanford, where the Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railroad ran a line to Jacksonville, and the area became the largest shipper of oranges in the world. Arriving by steamer in April of 1883, President Chester A. Arthur vacationed a week at the Sanford House, a lakeside hotel built in 1875 and expanded in 1882.

In 1887, the city suffered a devastating fire, followed the next year by a statewide epidemic of yellow fever. When the Great Freeze of 1894 and 1895 ruined the citrus industry, farmers diversified by growing vegetables as well. Celery was first planted in 1896, and until 1974 the community would be nicknamed Celery City. In 1913, Sanford became county seat of Seminole County, created from Orange County. Agriculture continued to dominate the economy until 1940, when it proved cheaper to cultivate produce in frost-free South Florida.

In 1942, Naval Air Station Sanford was established, which conducted operational training in the PV-1 Ventura, PBO Hudson, F4F/FM-1 Wildcat and the F6F Hellcat. At its peak in 1943-45, NAS Sanford was home to approximately 360 officers, 1500 enlisted men and 150 WAVES. The base was inactivated and reduced to caretaker status in 1946, but was reactivated in 1950 in response to the Korean War and the Cold War. A major construction program ensued with NAS Sanford redeveloped as a Master Jet Base for carrier-based A-3 Skywarrior and later A-5A and RA-5C Vigilante aircraft. At its peak in the mid-1960s, the base was home to over 3000 personnel, comprising the air station complement, an Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department, the Navy Dispensary, the Marine Barracks, a Replacement Air Group/Fleet Replacement Squadron for the RA-5C and nine deployable Fleet RA-5C squadrons. NAS Sanford was closed in 1968 and its squadrons transferred to the former Turner AFB, renamed NAS Albany, Georgia. This resulted in a significant economic downturn for the City of Sanford and Seminole County with the departure of all military personnel and their families. The airfield was conveyed to the City of Sanford in 1969, renamed Sanford Airport and redeveloped as a general aviation facility. Subsequently renamed Sanford Regional Airport, then Central Florida Regional Airport, the airport commenced commercial airline service in 1995 and was renamed Orlando Sanford International Airport. The Navy's presence is commemorated on the airport by two historical markers and the NAS Sanford Memorial Park, which was dedicated in May 2003 and includes an RA-5C Vigilante on permanent static display.

The opening of Walt Disney World in October 1971 shifted the economy of Central Florida further toward tourism and residential development, the center of which is Orlando. But because of Sanford's former preeminence as a trade center, the city retains a significant collection of older commercial and residential architecture, on streets shaded by live oaks hung with Spanish moss. Its location on Lake Monroe and access to the navigable waterway of the St. Johns River has made it Central Florida's additional center for numerous marinas, allowing access for pleasure boats and commercial vessels to and from the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway via Jacksonville and Mayport to the north.

Sanford has been the setting for several recent movies, including My Girl (1991), Passenger 57 (1992), Rosewood (1997), and Monster (2003).


Sanford has a humid subtropical climate, with mild weather during winters and hot weather during summers. High temperatures average 64 to 91 °F (18-33 °C) throughout the year. High heat indices are not uncommon for the summer months in the Sanford area. High temperatures can reach mid to high 90s with heat index ranges of 105-115 °F. The highest recorded temperature in Sanford was 103°F in July 1998. It is common for daily thunderstorms to erupt during a standard summer afternoon. These are caused by the heating of the land and water, combined with extremely high humidity.

During winter, the area can experience hard freezes during the night. Such cold weather is usually short lived, as the city averages only 15 nights below freezing. The coldest temperature recorded in Sanford was 19 °F on January 21, 1985, a day that still holds the record cold for many locations in the eastern half of the US. Even rarer in Sanford than freezing temperatures is snow. When snow does fall, it usually melts before touching the ground, or upon making contact with the ground.

Sanford has suffered less damage from hurricanes than most other east coast cities. Sanford has experienced hurricane or near-hurricane conditions more than a dozen times due to storms passing through the state from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, or passing to the north or south in the Atlantic and brushing the area. Rainfall averages around 50 inches a year, with the wettest months being June through September.
Get in

By plane

You can fly into Orlando-Sanford International Airport (IATA: SFB) [2] on Allegiant Air [3]. Some international flights from Europe (mainly the British Isles) also use Sanford as an entry point to the United States.

By train

Route of AutotrainSanford is the southern terminus of the Amtrak Auto Train which carries passengers and automobiles between Sanford and Lorton, Virginia, effectively serving as a car-rail link from Florida to the Washington, D.C. Metro Area. The Sanford station is not as elaborate as its Lorton counterpart. Passengers currently board the train on two tracks in Sanford; however, Amtrak and the State of Florida are working on plans to replace the older station with a new terminal that can accommodate large numbers of passengers more comfortably. The station is also projected to be a stop on the proposed Central Florida Commuter Rail system.

By bus

Greyhound Bus Lines [4], 1300 West Airport Blvd., Phone: 407-688-9725. Station is open from 8 am to 10 pm, 7 days a week, including holidays. Greyhound offers bus connections to Jacksonville, Orlando, and other cities throughout the U.S.

Sanford is located at the intersection of Interstate 4 and Florida State Road 417.

By bus

Lynx offers public transportation for Sanford.

Art Galleries

Gallery on First, 211 East First Street. Phone: +1 407-323-2774. Working artist studios.
Jeanine Taylor Folk Art, 211 East First Street. Phone: +1 407-323-2774. Art from the Deep South.
Riverhouse Pottery, 118 Palmetto Avenue. Phone: +1 407-323-9272.

Cameron Wight Park, 5502 Old Geneva Road. Phone: +1 407-788-0405 [6]. This is a 3-acre park used as a boat launching facility into the beautiful St. Johns river basin. It is located 5 miles east of US 17-92 on State Road 46 at the Lake Jesup Bridge. This park is open daily 24 hours. It has a pavilion, lighting, and paved parking.

Lake Dot Park, 100 Lake Dot Drive. Phone: +1 407-788-0405. This is a 15 acre park with benches and a fishing area located at the south end of Sanford. From Sanford, go south on U.S. 17-92, left onto Fairmont Dr., and right onto Lake Dot Dr. It is open 8:00 a.m. to sunset daily.

Lake Jesup Park, 5951 South Sanford Avenue. Phone: +1 407-788-0405. This park is a 6-acre park primarily used as a boat launching facility into Lake Jesup. The park is located 4 miles south of State Road 46 at the end of Sanford Avenue. There is a pavilion and paved parking available under shade from the many oak trees. The park is open 24 hours daily.

Lake Jesup Wilderness Area, 5951 South Sanford Avenue. Phone: +1 407-665-7352. Wildlife lovers will find three miles of trails in the 490-acre Lake Jesup Wilderness Area where lakeside benches provide a great viewing platform for spotting bald eagles and alligators.

Lake Monroe Wayside Park, 4150 N. West US Highway 17-92. Phone: +1 407-788-0405. This is a 3.5-acre park used as a boat launching facility into Lake Monroe and the St. Johns River basin. This park is located 1 mile north of Interstate 4 on State Road 17-92 on the St. Johns River. This park has pavilions and a historical swinging bridge used as a fishing pier. It is open 24 hours daily.

Paw Park, 427 South French Avenue. Phone: +1 407-330-5688. The oldest off-leash dog park in Central Florida is well shaded with mature oak trees. Features include a small dog alternative play area, a time-out area, bag dispensers for disposal of dog waste, park benches, dog showers, self-watering bowls, historic lighting, and a community bulletin board.

Sunland Park, 180 Collins Drive. Phone: +1 407-788-0405. This is a 15 acre park located 1/2 mile south of Lake Mary Boulevard on US 17-92. There is a ball field, tennis & basketball court and playground available for public use. The hours of the park are from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily.

Sylvan Lake Park, 845 Lake Markham Road. Phone: +1 407-788-0405. This park is located 5 miles West of I-4 off State Road 46 on Lake Markham Road. This is a 126-acre park with a 188-acre lake adjacent to the park known as Sylvan Lake. Sylvan has become a soccer lover's delight, with a sport training facility and 6 soccer fields.

Wilson's Landing Park, 387 Malekean Trail. Phone: +1 407-788-0405. Wilson's Landing is a 19 acre facility developed in 2004 that includes a small pavilion, overlook pier of the Wekiva River, restrooms, and paved parking. This park is located in the Northwestern corner of the County off S.R. 46 on Malakean Road. Hours of operation is 8 a.m. to sunset seven days a week, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Museum of Seminole County History, 300 Bush Boulevard. Phone: +1 407-665-2489 [15]. The Museum highlights Seminole County, the historical gateway to interior Central Florida via the St. John's River. All artifacts housed in the Museum have been graciously donated.

Sanford Museum, 520 East First Street. Phone: +1 407-302-1000. The museum collects and exhibits items dealing with the development of the city of Sanford from the time Florida became a U.S. territory to the present and to perpetuate the memory of Henry S. Sanford, founder of the city.

Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens, 3755 NW Highway 17-92. Phone: +1 407.323.4450 [16]. The Central Florida Zoo is a resource center for wildlife and conservation education. Experience a living classroom where visitors can explore wildlife.


Bill's Airboat Adventures, East Road 46 at Cameron Wight Park. Phone: +1 407-977-3214. Guided nature tours leaving from the St. Johns River; daily by appointment.

Central Florida Airboat Tours, 4650 East State Road 46 at the Geneva Bridge. Phone: +1 407-321-0753. Operating out of Jolly Gator Fish Camp, you can board an airboat and travel into the heart and soul of Lake Jesup and Lake Harney.

Fun Maritime Academy, 531 N. Palmetto Avenue, 'A' Dock. Phone: +1 407-330-0633. Offers boat rentals and sailing lessons.

Rivership Romance, 433 North Palmetto Avenue. Phone: +1 407-321-5091. Offers daily riverboat cruises along the St. John's River. Climate controlled. Reservations required.


Mayfair Country Club, 3536 Country Club Road. Phone: +1 407-322-2531. 18 holes over 6,400 yards with a par of 72 (Public).


ATMs can be found throughout Sanford. Usually larger hotels and convenience stores will have a "generic" ATM machine available; however, be forewarned about hidden service fees.


China Star, 4585 St. Johns Parkway, +1 407-302-1901. The menu at China Star features entrees, sides and quick bites. The restaurant is conveniently located right off of I-4 near Rinehart Road and adjacent to the Seminole Town Center.

Colorado's Prime Steak, 3863 South Orlando Drive, +1 407-324-1741. Steaks and prime rib are on the menu here. There are also ribs, fish and shrimp on the menu and an array of sandwiches to choose from too.

Corky's Hot Dogs, 4004 Orlando Drive, +1 407-323-8447. At this low-key Sanford dog shop, all hot dogs are not the same. With 12 different types of weiners not to mention Italian beef, Corky's has a solid selection of Vienna Beef hot dogs and quality sausages. Add to that nine topping combos that are less than $3 each and this wiener is a winner.

El Potro Mexican Restaurant, 3639 Orlando Drive, +1 407-328-9433.

Luigino's Pasta & Steak House, 201 West 1st Street, +1 407-333-2847.


Jason's Martini Club, 300 Sanford Avenue. Tel.: +1 407 322-6678.

Little Fish Huge Pond, 309 East First Street. Tel.: +1 407 321-2264 [21]. Little Fish Huge Pond is a combination bar, art gallery and live music venue, with local acts ranging from reggae to rock and everything in between. They also host special events like drag and fashion shows.

The Alley, 114 South Park Avenue. Tel.: +1 407 328-0700. Unique biker bar with a cozy 1930's atmosphere and live blues every Friday and Saturday.

Emerald Hen Pub, 118 South Park Avenue. Tel.: +1 407 268-9447. English pub where you can share a pint, or join in on a game of darts, pool table, and a variety of games including Monopoly, Cards, Checkers, Chess, Scrabble and the list goes on.

Wolfy's Riverdeck Bar n' Grill, 530 North Palmetto Avenue. Tel.: +1 407 322-2150. Key West-style bar and grill located on Lake Monroe and the St. John’s River. Enjoy the old-style Florida cooking and live music on the river deck.

Hotels and Motels

Budget Inn, 3200 South Orlando Drive. Phone: +1 407-321-0690.

Comfort Inn & Suites, 590 Ava Court. Phone: +1 407-585-1580.

Days Inn, 4650 West State Road 46. Phone: +1 407-323-6500.

Fountain Lodge, 2706 South Orlando Drive. Phone: +1 407-323-8840.

Holiday Inn Express, 3401 South Orlando Drive (US 17-92). Phone: +1 407-320-0845.

SpringHill Suites Sanford, 201 North Towne Road. Phone: +1 407-995-1000.

The Palms Island Resort and Marina, 530 North Palmetto Avenue. Phone: +1 407-323-1910. Located on Lake Monroe, the hotel offers waterfront rooms, event space, onsite dining and more.

Slumberland Motel, 2611 Highway 17-92. Phone: +1 407-322-4591.

SpringHill Suites Seminole Towne Center, 201 North Towne Road. Phone: +1 407-444-5921.

Super 8 Motel Sanford, 4750 West State Road 46. Phone: +1 407-323-3445.
Bed and Breakfast

Higgins House Bed and Breakfast, 420 South Oak Avenue. Phone: +1 407-324-9238.

Ten digit dialing is in effect for local calls in Sanford. The local area codes are 407 and 321. For calls within the US or Canada, dial 1+area code+number. There are some public pay phones scattered around the city, but they are becoming increasingly rare with the predominance of cell phones. It is not safe to assume you will be able to find a pay phone at any given time.

All ZIP codes in Sanford begin with 327.

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Discount Sanford Van Rentals

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Travel out of state is permitted with your Sanford Van Rental
Sanford Scooter Rentals and Sanford Wheelchair Rentals