to be Sanford

I’m sure we all know about the George Zimmerman case, as the media has not stopped covering it.

Jury selection started today for his 2nd degree murder trial, and it was televised. I’m 100% certain that jury selection will not be the only thing that is televised during this trial/media circus.

There was a TV movie playing a few days ago about the case and Sanford.  To be honest, it is weird to see a place that I know very well being thrust into the spotlight, especially since the attention that it is receiving is quite negative.  So, instead of joining in the speculation of what happened, I am going to show you another side of Sanford.  The side that I know, and I hope that you will know. So without further ado. . .

Welcome to Sanford, FL.

Sanford is located on lovely Lake Monroe. The city was one of the first in Central Florida and, according to a tour guide I had on a carriage ride, was the first to have a post office (yay mail!). Sanford was known for its celery, and you can still see the influence that celery has had, like Celery Street that I drove past today.

Sanford today may not be the nicest suburb of Orlando, but it has charm.  Let’s look at some of my favorite places, in list form, of course.

1. Willow Tree Cafe– Willow Tree is home to some of the best German food in Central Florida.  The owners of Willow Tree were able to plant the seeds of this great restaurant and help it survive and thrive- something that rarely happens with restaurants in that region.  Whether it be the awesome food, or the laid back atmosphere (You can often find the owner greeting customers in his pajama pants), this place is worth a visit.  If singing is your thing, there is normally live, traditional music playing that, as the sun goes down, turns into the restaurant into drunk sing-a-long.

2. The Riverwalk- Okay, so we all know that Lake Monroe is NOT a river, but go with it; Lakewalk doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well. The Riverwalk is an awesome place for photography, fishing, strolling, or relaxing on one of the swinging benches.  Riverwalk is home to a Veterans Memorial Walk, which offers a grassed pier that is perfect for reflecting on the price of freedom, or for a lighthearted game of frisbee.

3. The Sanford Zoo– While this zoo is certainly tiny, I love it.  Boardwalks take visitors through the zoo, which, according to the history books, is where I spent a lot of time perfecting my walking skills as a toddler. Another feature of this zoo is ZOOmAir, a zip line/ropes course that isn’t the most scenic (you go over a parking lot), but still an outdoor adventure.

4. The shops- If you eat at Willow Tree, be sure to stroll the street.  Here you will find a collection of mainly antique stores, but there are some stores that stand out, such as Washburn Imports.  Washburn is like stepping into the Silk Road.  At Washburn, you are introduced to furniture from all across Asia. It’s awesome, for lack of a better word.  They are always changing out the innovatory, so every time you go in, there is something new to be seen.

5. LaSpada’s– When living in Central Florida, it can be nearly impossible to find a local, family owned place to eat. We had begun to loose hope when we dropped in on LaSpada’s one day after a spin class.  LaSpada’s is home to Philly cheesesteaks.  The service was slow, but the food and atmosphere were authentic, almost enough to make you forget that you were  in a strip mall on the side of State Road 46.

6. The people- Sanford, like most other Florida cities, is made up of a million different types of people.  Rarely you find someone who was born and raised in Sanford, but you will find a family that moved here from Chicago, a retired couple wanting to be near the beach, the German family that founded Willow Tree, the young woman who is starting her own spinning studio, the Publix worker who always strikes up conversations about vegan ingredients, the dog walker who you see every day, the fishers that pulled out a bicycle from Lake Monroe, the man tending his boat, the runners running in support of Pet Rescue by Judy. I could go on forever about everyone that you meet in this place.

It is a special place, as I’m sure most places are.  We are not perfect, however, but no city is. We are a group trying to do the best we can.

But at the end of the day, we are Sanford.


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