For those of us living closer to Orlando’s urban core, we typically don’t find ourselves taking excursions to some of the less hustling-and-bustling outlying areas of Central Florida.
Unbeknownst to some, historic downtown Sanford continues to expand and add some beloved businesses, making city slickers think twice about ignoring our 1-4 corridor neighbors.
Here are a handful of our favorite Sanford stops:
It’s not every day that a local maker gets recognized by the likes of Oprah and Martha Stewart
, but that’s just how good these marshmallows are (pictured above). Though you can buy them online as gifts or an indulgence for yourself, if you visit their shop in downtown Sanford, you get to enjoy the whimsy of the brand – toasted on sticks, sandwiched in s'mores or in a cup of hot chocolate or Lineage coffee – you choose how to devour your marshmallow. The shop also has flavors not available online.
Sanford Home Brew Shop
If you're ready to take the step into home brewing, but aren’t sure where to find the equipment and the ingredients, the locals who own Sanford Home Brew Shop have you covered. They offer a full line of grains, hops, yeast, spices, additives, finings, chemicals and more so you can make this a one-stop shop.
If brewing your own beer isn’t your passion, they’ve still got you covered for making your own cheese, yogurt, kefir, mead and kombucha! They host classes on Sundays, so if you are into DIY, check out their class calendar.
Donuts to Go
Before you enter the historic downtown Sanford strip, you can treat yourself to round (or square) morsel of goodness. While those living closer to the center of Orlando have other options to satisfy their doughy sweet tooth, Sanford answers with Donuts to Go, a modest shop off State Road 46.
They’ve been located here for four years, and their current claim to fame is being featured on the Food Network’s Donut Showdown
. While they don't appear to have the largest variety of flavors, compared to other shops, they do offer seasonal flavors, cronuts and the standard classics.
Set back off the main drag is Boxelder, a small locally owned gift shop. Here you can find a pretty nice mix of gifts, and owner Kyle Perry does his best to stock predominantly American-made focused items. I found myself entering instant shop-mode, thinking of the different people in my life for whom I could easily purchase something as I pursued his selections – stationery, candles, kitchenware and barware. I even bought myself some double-walled tea mugs.
Habibis International Market
Brand new to the downtown area is Habibis International Market. Imagine your old-fashioned butcher shop with locally sourced meats and vegetables, but with the twist of international foods available as well. They carry fresh, never-frozen halal and non-halal meats that are coming straight from farms in Ocala on a regular basis.
This family-owned shop cares passionately about sourcing local, 100 percent grass-fed meat, and they wanted the people of Sanford to have that necessity without having to drive into Orlando.
If you live closer to Orlando, in the Ivanhoe Village area to be exact, you might list the Imperial as one of your watering holes. Their second location can be found in downtown Sanford with an added cocktail menu, for those who don't want to limit themselves to just beer and wine. With restaurants nearby, this is a great spot to grab drinks before or after dinner.
Coffee and music lovers can unite at Rabbitfoot Records on Second Street. You definitely feel the grungy, hipster vibe at this spot. Locals can look through a modest record collection, relax on couches while they sip their lattes, or grab a seat at the bar and order from a limited menu. Prices are reasonable, with a standard cup of joe running you $1.99 or up to $3.99 for a mocha latte.
Check out their events
page for info on open mic nights or poetry readings. Also, FYI, they can cut CDs onto custom vinyl. If you are looking for where the “cool” people are hanging out in Sanford, this might be your best bet.