Sanford – named after Peleg Sanford, an early Governor of Rhode Island – is a city in York County, Maine which is in the northeastern USA close to the border with Canada.
Located on the banks of the Mousam River, the land was originally bought by Major William Phillips, an important mill owner from Saco in 1661. The seller was Abeneki Chief Fluellin. Subsequently, the area became more settled and less hostile. By 1739, Sanford was a peaceful settlement and was incorporated three decades later.
Within the city boundaries, there are several lakes and forests which are great for those who enjoy an active outdoor life. If you want to visit, here are the 15 Best Things to do in Sanford, Maine.
1. Goodall Park
Goodall Park is the venue used by the Sanford Mariners Baseball Team, which plays in the New England Collegiate League. But this park is also much more than that; the original facility burned down, but the field is one of the few remaining baseball pitches where Babe Ruth played, having first opened in 1915.
It is also a public recreational area, where locals come to walk their dogs, picnic and get some fresh air with the family.
2. Sanford Springdale Art Association
While the gallery that was run by this Art Association located in Main Street has now closed, the association is very much active, ensuring that the work produced by local talent is on display for everyone to see.
If you are interested in art, why not talk to the team and join in one of the workshops, lectures or field trips that are run throughout the year? While painting is the most popular medium, there is much more on offer. The lovely local scenery will inspire you to get a little creative.
3. Pine Hollow Little Par 3 Golf Course
Pine Hollow Golf Course opens in the spring and remains open until winter returns. It is fun for all the family and a great place to practice your short game.
The facility is 60 years old and now under the supervision of a PGA Professional. The 18 holes vary in length from 30 yards to 80 yards, with grass bunkers and water hazards. If you add to that the mature trees, you will be presented with a real challenge – and shade on a really hot day.
4. Mountain View Golf Range
This driving range is the perfect place to practice your long shots. It opened over 30 years ago and is very family-friendly. Alcohol is not permitted so it never becomes rowdy.
The covered outdoor facilities are excellent, with tartan turf mats, grass teeing areas, and floodlights. The range balls are good quality and all the clubs are available for rent. You can practice your bunker play and plenty of seating is available for those just wanting to watch.
You can use your own clubs if you choose, and even enjoy a repair/regripping service.
5. Sanford Country Club
After visiting either the Par 3 or the driving range, you may be ready for a full-length game of golf. Sanford Country Club is a membership-only club but it does have tee-times for visitors.
The course – which opened in 1926 – was originally just nine holes, but was extended to 18 in the 90s. With four different sets of tees, you can play anything from just under 5,000 yards to an impressive 6,700 yards. Sanford has twice hosted US Amateur Qualifiers. It is a lovely setting and the Bent Grass Greens test even the best putters.
6. Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
It’s just a short drive to a lovely wildlife refuge named after a woman who devoted her life to conservation. Rachel Carson from Maine was a marine biologist and writer; she was well ahead of her time and died more than 50 years ago.
This large marsh and estuary region was established just after her death and remains an important stopping point for bird migration, as well as being home to deer and a number of smaller mammals. Nature lovers and hikers enjoy the refuge’s many trails – cyclists are not permitted.
7. McDougal Orchards
McDougal Orchards is a family farm specializing in apples. The orchards sell delicious apples and allow you to pick your own as well. Other local wholesale produce is also available, as fresh as it comes.
There is much more than simple shopping on offer; you can enjoy the picnic area, wagon rides, and the fairy village. Learn how to prune a tree and simply take in the atmosphere of a historic working farm, which belongs to the seventh generation of the same family.
Incidentally, you must try the apple donuts while you are there.
8. Gile’s Family Farm
York County is known for its apples and at Gile’s Family Farm, you can have a great day out with the family going through the orchards collecting your own.
If the kids are small, they will love being pulled around in a wagon picking ripe apples from the trees. Different varieties of apples are grown and the farm makes a very impressive cider that it sells by the gallon. The cider donuts are excellent as well. If you are around during the annual apple festival, better still.
9. Atlas Aero Scenic Biplane Tours
Taking a tour in this vintage biplane gives an entirely new perspective on Sanford and the surrounding region.
Flights are about an hour long with an experienced pilot able to explain everything about the biplane and the land over which you are flying. The coastline certainly looks dramatic from above and this experience is likely to be one of the highlights of your time in Sanford, Maine.
10. South Marine Aviation
This Aviation Company specializes in teaching people how to fly but also offers scenic flights and an early experience of flying, albeit with the pilot always in control.
Scenic flights for up to three passengers last around an hour, taking you down the coastline. If flying interests you, you can take a shorter flight one on one with the pilot. You will be permitted to take over the controls for a while under strict supervision. If you have ever thought of learning to fly, this is a good introduction that can help you decide whether to proceed.
11. Bowl A Rama
This family fun center in nearby Portsmouth is a place where the family will have a great day out, whatever the weather. It regularly offers specials for birthdays and other important events. If you are just passing through Sanford, you will be most welcome.
Whatever your age, you can enjoy Candlepin and Big Ball Bowling, with facilities including an arcade, food and a bar. The fun alley means that balls are not forever running down the gutters.
12. Alfred Shaker Museum
The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, commonly known as ‘’the Shakers,’’ settled locally in the 18th century; their museum is in nearby Alfred. The town’s official song, ‘’Simple Gifts,’’ was a Shaker composition written by Aaron Copeland in 1848.
They farmed and lived a simple life, respecting nature. A large community formed before merging with another sect – the Sabbath day sect – further north. The Museum remembers their time in Alfred; it is an old carriage house which also acts as an education center available to all.
13. Sanford Massage & Wellness
After a busy day, there are few better ways to pamper yourself than to visit a health center and have a relaxing massage.
Sanford Massage and Wellness offers a range of treatments to help you destress, relieving any aches and pains. Once any stress is banished, you will get a good night’s sleep and be ready for the next day.
14. De Wolfe & Wood Rare Books
The origins of this store date back to members of the Sabbathday Shaker community, who sought to collect old manuscripts, photographs, and books relating to their faith and the region in general.
The business actually opened years later in the 90s, with two floors of not only books but antiques as well. A number of antiques are bought and sold, some extremely valuable. The specific collection of Shaker items – generally simple household things – changes on a regular basis.
15. Lord’s Clam Box
Maine is known for its apples but also its seafood. You must sample the seafood while you are in Sanford. One place to try is Lord’s Clam Box; its menu offers seafood and much more. If your party includes a few people not especially keen on seafood, there is plenty on the menu that will appeal to them.
Soups and chowders, burgers and pasta, side dishes, sandwiches, beers, and soft drinks are all available alongside clams, shrimps, lobster, calamari and white fish. Lord’s Clam Box is located on Main Street and also provides a take-out service.