As a mom to two wonderful but also hard to tame boys (4 and 6 years old), I am constantly looking for fun outdoor activities so they can run off all their energy. Of course, I try to keep the fun local whenever I can! Here is my go-to list for outdoor fun in Sanford.
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
The Sanford Zoo is definitely a place where I can take the boys anytime. We have been passholders since Nicolas was just under 2 years old. Their favorite spots are without a doubt the splash pad (and honestly, with the nice covered patio full of colorful Adirondack chairs, it is a very relaxing place for us mommies too). Ever since the children’s garden with its huge sand box opened, the splash pad got some competition. My boys have played hours in the sand box digging for treasures and they love all the water activities in the garden as well. Last but not least, the playground and petting zoo are two other fun spots we seek out every time we visit the zoo. Lately the boys have also developed an interest in the animals (I was surprised how long it took them, but then again, since there are so many other cool things to do at the zoo it is understandable). Just like Perla’s grandchildren whenever they visit from the Dominican Republic, have to stop each time to watch and sometimes feed the giraffes and of course say see you later to the alligator and huge crocodile before exploring all the snakes in the Herpetarium (did you know that the Zoo hosts the Southeast’s largest collection of venomous snakes and non-venomous reptiles?).
We also like to attend the Zoo’s outdoor story time which is free to attend, and best of all there’s always an animal the kids can admire.
Not much time to visit the zoo? Just buy some train ride tickets ($2/person) at the main entrance and take the little ones on a ride with the Little Florida Coast Line Train.
The list of playgrounds in Sanford is long. Our favorites are Ft. Mellon Park (600 E First Street) and Park on Park (800 Park Avenue). We love the shade of the beautiful oaks at Park on Park and the fact that the playground is fenced in. Ft. Mellon Park has lots of fun playsets and slides so the boys never get bored. But when they get hot we just walk over to the splash pad for some water fun ($2/child, free on first Friday of the month). Another favorite of ours is Derby Park (2199 Oregon Avenue). At this huge fenced in park the kids even get to ride their bikes, scooters and play cars down the soap box derby slopes.
Other Playgrounds in Sanford:
Bentley – Wilson Park, 701 Orange Avenue
Coastline Park, 900 W. 9th Street
McKibbin Park, 1201 W. 25th Street
Zoom Air (www.zoomair.us)
Located just outside the Sanford Zoo is Zoom Air, the fun zip lining adventure. Kids ages 4 and up and at least 36” can participate and explore the world from above for just over $20. Zoo members receive a 10% discount on tickets and there is even an annual pass available. Perla’s grandchildren loved this unique attraction and plan to visit again when they back in town!.
Sanford Rock Hunting (& Painting)
Sanford Rock Hunters have been spotted all over town and it’s a blast for kids. Just imagine the excitement in their eyes when they find another one of these colorful rocks. This fun free activity will get them exploring the town and keep them active – and it might inspire them to get creative and paint their own rocks before hiding them for others to find. Host a Rock Painting Picnic at the park: Bring in some “blank” rocks to color as you sit down on the lawn or one of the pavilions.
Movie in the Square
We look forward to outdoor movie nights every year. The setting couldn’t be more perfect right in the heart of Downtown Sanford on Magnolia Square. Just bring your blankets and lawn chairs along with your favorite drinks and snacks or buy fresh food from one of the local vendors and cozy up under the stars at this free family friendly event.
Hike the Black Bear Wilderness (FloridaHikes.com/black-bear-wilderness-walk)
I love taking the boys out in the “wild” and am so happy that, unlike mommy, they are not afraid of insects. They do however have respect for reptiles which is great. We love to take the very manageable 2-mile (round trip) hike to an overlook on the St. Johns River. Since you are walking in the shade of the trees it doesn’t even get too hot. Just be sure to wear closed shoes and bug spray.
Canoeing and Kayaking (KatiesLanding.com)
At Katie’s Landing in Sanford you can take the kids out kayaking or canoeing! They even offer horseback riding at Rock Springs Run Reserve and the Cross-Florida Greenway.
Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park, 262 Wekiva Park Dr, Sanford, FL 32771
Hidden Palms Ranch
My half Colombian rancheros have been around horses since they were babies so for them anything that involves horseback riding is right up their alley. Since we do not have horses here we are very thankful for places like Hidden Palms Ranch. The boys recently participated in a horse experience and loved it. These 1 hour long “mini lessons” all about horses are geared towards kids ages 3 and up and of course also include time on the saddle!
Pick fruits and herbs at White’s Red Hill Groves
Picking fresh strawberries (or whatever is in season), looking at the chicken and exploring all the goodies at the store is so much fun but the best treat was the vanilla and orange swirl ice cream that we got to eat on the swing under the big oak tree.
Dog for a Day
We recently had the wonderful experience of spending a day with one of Judy’s pet rescue puppies. Jamie was such a sweet dog and the boys had a blast walking her through downtown Sanford and taking her for lunch to Celery City and the Food Truck Bazaar. This is definitely a win-win activity because your kids get to spend time with a pet and take care of it for a day (or even keep the pet overnight) and the pet gets to go outdoors to explore Sanford!
Rent Pontoon boat at the Boat Tree Marina
Pontoon boats can be rented at the Boat Tree Marina (4370 Carraway Place) at the Port of Sanford and will make the perfect location for a chilled playdate. Up to 10 people can board the boat. Explore the St. Johns River and wildlife. The boat can be rented for half a day (I’d recommend that with younger kids) or for the very brave, the whole day.
Claudia is a local realtor who has literally been selling Sanford for over 10 years. An avid blogger, she has grown a following of over 10,000 with her website Sanford365.com where she actively promotes and portrays her beloved Sanford as the great town it is. Due to her extensive background in PR and social media she recently also became part of Sanford’s tourism committee.