15 Best Things to Do in Sanford (Maine)

Written by Trishia Bourgoin
Updated on
Our travel recommendations are based on our personal experiences and research, written by locals and travel experts with deep familiarity with the destination. When you book a hotel or tour that we link to, we may earn a commission.

I have marveled Sanford, a city in York County, Maine, named after Peleg Sanford, an early Governor of Rhode Island. It’s situated in the northeastern USA, close to the border with Canada.

One of the notable features of Sanford is its location on the banks of the Mousam River. The land was originally purchased by Major William Phillips, an important mill owner from Saco, in 1661. The transaction took place with Abeneki Chief Fluellin as the seller. Over time, the area became more settled and less hostile. By 1739, Sanford had transformed into a peaceful settlement and was officially incorporated three decades later.

Exploring its wonders, this place offers great opportunities for an active outdoor lifestyle, thanks to the presence of several lakes and forests within the city boundaries. If you’re planning to visit, I can recommend the 15 Best Things to do in Sanford, Maine.

1. Goodall Park

Goodall ParkSource: en.wikipedia.org
Goodall Park

I loved spending time at Goodall Park. It’s not just the venue for the Sanford Mariners Baseball Team, who are part of the New England Collegiate League. This park holds a special place in history as well. Although the original facility was destroyed in a fire, the field itself has a remarkable legacy. It’s one of the few remaining baseball pitches where Babe Ruth himself played, and it has been open since 1915.

Beyond its baseball significance, Goodall Park serves as a wonderful public recreational area. It’s a favorite spot for locals to bring their dogs for a walk, have picnics, and enjoy some quality time with their families while breathing in the fresh air. The park offers a perfect blend of history, sports, and leisure for everyone to enjoy.

2. Sanford Springdale Art Association

Sanford Springdale Art AssociationSource: Sanford - Springvale Art Association / facebook
Sanford Springdale Art Association

I used to frequent the gallery on Main Street that was managed by the Art Association. Unfortunately, it has closed down now. However, I’m happy to inform you that the association itself is still very active and dedicated to showcasing the incredible work of local artists.

If you have a passion for art like I do, I encourage you to reach out to the team and participate in one of their workshops, lectures, or field trips. Throughout the year, they organize various events that cater to different artistic interests. While painting remains a popular medium, there is a wide range of options available for you to explore. The charming local scenery serves as a wonderful source of inspiration, igniting your creativity and allowing you to express yourself artistically.

3. Pine Hollow Little Par 3 Golf Course

Pine Hollow Little Par 3 Golf CourseSource: pinehollowlittlepar3.com
Pine Hollow Little Par 3 Golf Course

During my stay, another place that stood out to me is the Pine Hollow Golf Course. From spring to winter, it’s the perfect place for the whole family to enjoy and for me to work on my short game.

With a history spanning 60 years, this facility is now under the expert guidance of a PGA Professional. The course features 18 diverse holes, ranging in length from 30 to 80 yards. It offers a fantastic mix of challenges, including grass bunkers, water hazards, and the presence of mature trees. Not only does this add to the overall beauty of the course, but it also provides much-needed shade on scorching hot days.

Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a beginner looking to improve your skills, Pine Hollow Golf Course offers an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. I highly recommend paying a visit and immersing yourself in the wonderful atmosphere and exciting challenges it has to offer.

4. Mountain View Golf Range

Mountain View Golf RangeSource: Mountain View Golf Range / facebook
Mountain View Golf Range

I’ve found the perfect spot for practicing those long shots – the driving range nearby. It has been serving the community for over 30 years, and I must say, it’s incredibly family-friendly. What’s even better is that alcohol isn’t allowed, so it never gets rowdy or disruptive.

The outdoor facilities here are top-notch, with a covered area that provides protection from the elements. They offer a variety of options for practicing, including tartan turf mats and grass teeing areas, ensuring you have a comfortable experience. Plus, the range is well-lit with floodlights, allowing you to keep honing your skills even after sunset.

The quality of range balls provided is excellent, and if you don’t have your own clubs, they offer rentals for all types. They’ve truly thought of everything here – even providing a space for practicing bunker shots. And if you’re not in the mood for swinging, there’s plenty of seating available for those who simply want to watch.

If you prefer using your own clubs, you’re more than welcome to bring them along. Additionally, they even offer a convenient repair/regripping service to keep your equipment in top shape. It’s truly a one-stop-shop for all your practice needs.

5. Sanford Country Club

Sanford Country ClubSource: Sanford Country Club / facebook
Sanford Country Club

If you’re looking to graduate from the Par 3 or driving range and tackle a full-length golf course, I highly recommend considering Sanford Country Club. While it is primarily a membership-only club, they do offer tee-times for visitors like us.

Originally established in 1926 as a nine-hole course, it underwent a significant expansion in the 1990s, transforming into an impressive 18-hole layout. What’s great about Sanford Country Club is that it caters to golfers of all skill levels, thanks to its four different sets of tees. This means you can choose to play a round that spans just under 5,000 yards or go all the way up to an impressive 6,700 yards.

The course itself is not just a scenic delight, but it also boasts a rich golfing history. Sanford Country Club has had the honor of hosting US Amateur Qualifiers on two separate occasions. The Bent Grass Greens present a formidable challenge, even for the most skilled putters, putting their abilities to the test.

6. Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

Rachel Carson National Wildlife RefugeSource: Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge / facebook
Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

Just a short drive away, there’s a breathtaking wildlife refuge named after a remarkable woman who dedicated her life to conservation. Rachel Carson, a renowned marine biologist and writer from Maine, was truly ahead of her time. Even though she passed away over 50 years ago, her legacy lives on.

I’m referring to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, a vast expanse of marshes and estuaries. Established shortly after her death, this refuge serves as a vital stopover for bird migrations and provides a home for deer and various smaller mammal species. It’s a true haven for wildlife.

Nature enthusiasts and hikers, like myself, are drawn to the refuge’s many picturesque trails. It’s a fantastic opportunity to immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature, surrounded by lush vegetation and diverse wildlife. However, it’s important to note that the refuge is reserved for pedestrians only, as cyclists are not permitted within its boundaries.

Exploring the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge is not only a chance to connect with nature but also a way to honor the remarkable legacy of Rachel Carson. I highly recommend visiting this stunning refuge and experiencing the serenity and natural wonders it has to offer.

7. McDougal Orchards

McDougal OrchardsSource: Pick Your own at McDougal Orchards / facebook
McDougal Orchards

I absolutely adore visiting McDougal Orchards, a delightful family farm that specializes in apples. Not only do they offer a wide variety of delicious apples for sale, but they also give you the opportunity to pick your own. It’s a truly wholesome and authentic experience.

But the farm has much more to offer than just apples. They also provide other locally sourced wholesale produce that is as fresh as can be. It’s a paradise for food enthusiasts and those who appreciate the farm-to-table experience.

What sets McDougal Orchards apart is the array of activities and attractions available. You can enjoy a delightful picnic in their designated area, take wagon rides that offer a charming glimpse of the farm, and explore the enchanting fairy village. Additionally, they offer lessons on tree pruning, giving you valuable insights into the art of orchard care.

As you stroll through the farm, you can soak in the atmosphere of a working farm with a rich history. It’s fascinating to know that McDougal Orchards has been passed down through seven generations of the same family. This truly adds to the authenticity and charm of the place.

By the way, while you’re there, you simply must try their famous apple donuts. They are an absolute treat for the taste buds and a must-try for any visitor.

8. Gile’s Family Farm

Gile’s Family FarmSource: GIle's Family Farm / facebook
Gile’s Family Farm

I can say that the Gile’s Family Farm in York County is a must visit. It is known for its fantastic apple orchards. It’s the perfect place to spend a wonderful day out with the family, picking our own apples straight from the trees.

One of the highlights, especially for the little ones, is the wagon rides. It’s such a joy to see their faces light up as they’re pulled around in the wagon, eagerly plucking ripe apples from the branches. The farm cultivates various apple varieties, offering a diverse selection to choose from. And let me tell you, their cider is absolutely divine! It’s so impressive that they even sell it by the gallon. And don’t even get me started on their cider donuts – they are pure bliss!

If you happen to be in the area during the annual apple festival, you’re in for a treat! It’s an event not to be missed, where you can immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere and experience all things apple-related in full swing.

9. Atlas Aero Scenic Biplane Tours

Atlas Aero Scenic Biplane ToursSource: www.seacoastonline.com
Atlas Aero Scenic Biplane Tours

I also had the incredible opportunity to take a tour in the vintage Atlas Aero Scenic Biplane here in Sanford, and let me tell you, it completely transformed my perspective of the area and its surroundings.

The flight lasted for about an hour, allowing me ample time to soak in the breathtaking views from above. What made the experience even more memorable was the presence of an experienced pilot who guided us through the journey. They shared fascinating insights about the biplane itself and provided captivating explanations about the land below us.

Seeing the coastline from a bird’s-eye view was absolutely awe-inspiring. The dramatic cliffs and stunning shoreline took on a whole new dimension when seen from above. I can confidently say that this experience became one of the true highlights of my time in Sanford, Maine.

10. South Marine Aviation

South Marine AviationSource: Southern Maine Aviation, LLC / facebook
South Marine Aviation

While the South Marine Aviation Company specialty lies in flight instruction, they also provide incredible scenic flights and an early taste of flying, with the pilot always ensuring our safety.

The scenic flights, accommodating up to three passengers, lasted for approximately an hour, taking us along the picturesque coastline. It was a mesmerizing journey, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. However, what caught my attention even more was the opportunity to take a shorter flight, one-on-one with the pilot. This unique experience allowed me to have a hands-on encounter with flying. Under the strict guidance and supervision of the pilot, I was permitted to take control of the aircraft for a brief period. It was an exhilarating feeling that ignited my passion for flying.

For those who have ever contemplated learning to fly, I highly recommend considering South Marine Aviation Company’s introductory flights. It provides an excellent opportunity to gauge your interest and aptitude for aviation. You can truly immerse yourself in the experience and make an informed decision about pursuing flight training in the future.

11. Bowl A Rama

Bowl A RamaSource: Bowl A Rama, Sanford / facebook
Bowl A Rama

If you’re looking for a fantastic family day out, rain or shine, I highly recommend visiting the Bowl A Rama family fun center in nearby Portsmouth. It’s a place that guarantees a memorable experience for everyone, and they often have special offers for birthdays and other important celebrations. Even if you’re just passing through Sanford, you’ll be warmly welcomed.

No matter your age, there’s something for everyone at Bowl A Rama. They offer both Candlepin and Big Ball Bowling, ensuring that you have options that suit your preferences. The facility goes beyond bowling, featuring an exciting arcade, delicious food options, and a welcoming bar area. Plus, they’ve taken care of a common frustration in bowling by implementing a fun alley design, so those pesky gutter balls won’t be a constant concern.

Bowl A Rama truly understands the importance of providing a fun-filled atmosphere for families to bond and create lasting memories.

12. Alfred Shaker Museum

Alfred Shaker MuseumSource: Alfred Shaker Museum / facebook
Alfred Shaker Museum

The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, affectionately known as “the Shakers,” played a significant role in the local history of our area. In the 18th century, they settled here and left a lasting legacy. Today, you can explore their fascinating history at the nearby Alfred Shaker Museum.

The Shakers were known for their commitment to a simple and harmonious way of life, deeply rooted in their respect for nature. They farmed the land and embraced a minimalist lifestyle that valued communal living and hard work. Over time, a thriving community formed, and they eventually merged with another religious sect, the Sabbath day sect, which was located further north.

To commemorate the Shakers’ presence in Alfred, the Alfred Shaker Museum stands as a testament to their heritage. Housed in an old carriage house, the museum not only preserves their history but also serves as an educational center open to all. It offers a unique opportunity to delve into the Shakers’ beliefs, practices, and the impact they had on our local community.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the town of Alfred has a special connection to the Shakers through its official song, “Simple Gifts.” This beloved composition, written by Aaron Copeland in 1848, is a beautiful testament to the Shaker values of simplicity, humility, and gratitude.

13. Sanford Massage & Wellness

Sanford Massage & WellnessSource: Sanford Massage & Wellness / facebook
Sanford Massage & Wellness

When I needed some well-deserved relaxation and rejuvenation, one of my favorite places to visit in Sanford is the Sanford Massage and Wellness center. Trust me, after a busy day, there’s nothing quite like treating yourself to a soothing massage.

At Sanford Massage and Wellness, they offer a diverse range of treatments that are specifically designed to help you unwind and alleviate any built-up stress or tension. Whether you’re experiencing body aches or simply want to melt away the worries of the day, their skilled therapists are there to provide the ultimate pampering experience.

The benefits of a revitalizing massage go far beyond the immediate relaxation it brings. By relieving your body from stress and tension, you’ll find yourself enjoying a restful night’s sleep, waking up refreshed and ready to take on whatever the next day brings.

14. De Wolfe & Wood Rare Books

De Wolfe & Wood Rare BooksSource: De Wolfe and Wood / facebook
De Wolfe & Wood Rare Books

As an avid book lover and enthusiast of history, stumbling upon the De Wolfe & Wood Rare Books store was like discovering a hidden treasure trove. This captivating store has a fascinating backstory that traces its origins back to the Sabbath day Shaker community.

The Shakers had a deep appreciation for their faith and the local region, prompting them to embark on a quest to collect rare manuscripts, photographs, and books that resonated with their beliefs. Their passion for preserving their history and heritage paved the way for the establishment of De Wolfe & Wood Rare Books years later, in the 90s.

Stepping inside the store, I was immediately captivated by the two floors of literary wonders and unique antiques. The collection of books was truly impressive, spanning various genres and time periods. But what sets De Wolfe & Wood apart is the integration of antique trade within the store. It’s not uncommon to find rare and valuable antiques that hold a captivating history of their own.

While exploring the store, I couldn’t help but notice the ever-changing collection of Shaker items. These simple household objects provide a glimpse into the daily lives of the Shaker community and serve as a testament to their dedication to simplicity and craftsmanship.

15. Lord’s Clam Box

Lord’s Clam BoxSource: Lord's Clam Box / facebook
Lord’s Clam Box

When it comes to experiencing the delightful flavors of Maine, one cannot miss indulging in the delectable seafood that the region is renowned for. During your visit to Sanford, I highly recommend immersing yourself in the coastal culinary delights that await you. And there’s no better place to start than Lord’s Clam Box.

Located on Main Street, Lord’s Clam Box offers a diverse menu that showcases the best of seafood and so much more. As you peruse their enticing menu, you’ll discover an array of options that will surely satisfy every member of your party, even those who may not be particularly keen on seafood.

From comforting soups and chowders to mouthwatering burgers and pasta dishes, Lord’s Clam Box caters to a variety of tastes and preferences. Their side dishes perfectly complement the main courses, and their selection of sandwiches is a delicious alternative. And fear not, they have a range of beverages available, including beers and soft drinks, to accompany your meal.

Of course, for seafood enthusiasts, Lord’s Clam Box is a true haven. Delight in the fresh flavors of clams, shrimps, lobster, calamari, and white fish prepared to perfection. Each bite is a testament to the exceptional quality and care that goes into every dish.

For those on the go or looking to enjoy their meal in the comfort of their own space, Lord’s Clam Box also offers a convenient take-out service.

15 Best Things to Do in Sanford (Maine):

  • Goodall Park
  • Sanford Springdale Art Association
  • Pine Hollow Little Par 3 Golf Course
  • Mountain View Golf Range
  • Sanford Country Club
  • Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
  • McDougal Orchards
  • Gile’s Family Farm
  • Atlas Aero Scenic Biplane Tours
  • South Marine Aviation
  • Bowl A Rama
  • Alfred Shaker Museum
  • Sanford Massage & Wellness
  • De Wolfe & Wood Rare Books
  • Lord’s Clam Box