Walking in Downtown Sanford

Historic District Sanford FL

By Sumalee Eaton of Sanford-Centric

Walking through Downtown Sanford FLI get mixed reactions from people when I tell them that I walk everywhere. For me, this is the best thing ever. I hate driving, so never getting in the car and never spending money on gas rocks. A lot of people agree with me and even say they’re a little jealous, whereas other (older) people give me that look of pity, that look of “you poor person, I bet you also don’t have a golf membership”.

Walking through Downtown Sanford FL

And there’s the rub. Growing up in Central Florida, I was taught that only vagrants and drug addicts walked anywhere. The only reason for a person to walk in a metropolitan area full of four lane highways is that they can’t afford a car of their own. When I lived up north, I saw an entirely new perspective. Everyone walks everywhere. Cars are both a commodity and a pain in the ass. Public transit can get you almost anywhere worth going, and no one thinks worse of you for trekking three blocks from the station to get to a restaurant or doctor’s appointment.

I feel that Sanford residents often suffer from Central Florida’s anti-pedestrian mentality, so I present you with three benefits of walking in Downtown Sanford.

Walking through Downtown Sanford FL

1) Expand your understanding.

Downtown offers the opportunity to think smaller, to think more local. You would be amazed how your repertoire of “things to see and do” explodes when you limit your scope to “all of the things I can see and do within walking distance”. Pounding the pavement between specialty stores, restaurants, and bars reveals not only what each individual business has to offer, but also how they complement and connect with each other. Don’t forget, this isn’t a collection of brands and products in a strip mall, it’s a complex ecosystem of people and ideas.

Walking through Downtown Sanford FL

2) Build your connection to the community.

I never think of walking five blocks as a nuisance, but as its own experience. It’s a chance to observe the landscape and notice even the smallest adjustments to the rhythms of small town life, from a new “coming soon” sign in a storefront to the growing number of regulars sitting outside a coffee shop. In a world where everyone in our life is available at the touch of a screen, the novelty of physically meeting neighbors en route to another place is exhilarating. The exchange of news or gossip becomes genuine, immediate, and sacrosanct. The personal connection is all part of living in a small town, so during your walk, perk up, make eye contact, and say hello!

Walking through Downtown Sanford FL

3) Take ownership.

As a child, I was taught to view a lone person walking as exposed and defenseless. Now that I am fortunate enough to walk everywhere, I feel empowered. The ownership I feel about my neighborhood comes from my ability to traverse it freely, without fear. As a Sanford resident, you should feel the same! These are our streets, our neighbors, our historic district, and walking through them reminds us of everything we have to work on and everything we have to be proud of.

The next time you’re in Downtown Sanford, I invite you to walk the extra blocks to your favorite haunt and experience a whole new side of town: fresh, exciting, and completely unique.

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Author: Sumalee Eaton

Sumalee is a single gal living, working, and playing in Historic Downtown Sanford. Growing up in the heart of the commercial district fed her passion for small town life, and today, Sumalee spends as much time exploring Sanford's possibilities as she does eating, drinking, working, and sleeping. She writes about her personal Sanford adventures on her blog, Sanford-Centric.

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4 Comments

  1. Good for you. I have lived in Central Florida for 30 years and I still can not get use to driving every where. That has to be the worst thing about living here.

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    • I agree! I notice now when I have to drive anywhere that I’m irritated and anxious the whole day. Walking brings me a lot of peace, and I wish more of Central Florida was pedestrian friendly, like Downtown Sanford. Next time you need an escape, come up this way!

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  2. I agree whole heartedly, we recently moved to down town Sanford so that we could walk to all our favorite destinations. We used to live in Europe and happily lived for years without ever owning a car. Sanford has almost everything within a ten minute walk. Wonderful restaurants, parks, entertainment, groceries and much more. We intend to move our son into daycare nearby so that he will not even step in a car.
    Walk on and live longer!

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Dean, Sanford also always reminds me of my childhood and growing up in Europe (Germany). I’m so glad to hear you like it and I think more and more people are starting to appreciate the urban lifestyle with all its benefits. I miss walking and biking everywhere but I am hopeful that one day I will be able to live that lifestyle again – at least to some degree 😉

      Post a Reply

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