Sanfordites LOVE their dogs, so it’s no surprise that Downtown Sanford is teeming with awesome places to spend time with your pup! From dog-friendly restaurants and bars to the hip, open-leash Paw Park, Sanford dogs might just have a fuller social life than their owners.

So where can I take my dog? Here’s a quick guide for Sanford dog owners mixed in with some expert advice provided by Judy of Sanford’s Pet Rescue by Judy

Photo by

Photo by


Most downtown restaurants allow dogs on their patios, including Hollerbach’s, La Sirena Gorda, the Breezeway, Corner Café, and Christo’s. While you grab lunch, your puppy can lounge happily by your feet. If you’re a messy eater like me, they will be positioned perfectly to help you clean up!

Expert Tip:

Judy (of Pet Rescue by Judy) says downtown restaurants is one of her favorite activities with her dogs. She says it’s easy to include the puppies when she’s relaxing with family and friends on any of the patios found up and down First Street.

Little Fish Huge Pond in Sanford is dog friendly

Carmen enjoying a concert at Little Fish Huge Pond on a Friday night in Sanford FL

Art and Nightlife

While you get your culture (or cocktail) fix, Fido can join right in! Many downtown merchants will let your dog accompany you inside their businesses (well behaved and on a leash, of course!). Stop into Maya Books and Music to say hello to Yvette’s dog Layla, and jump across the street to take in the artwork at String Theory Creations. When cocktail hour rolls around, you and your favorite four legged friend can learn about rare whiskeys at the Imperial or take an informal beer class at Buster’s Bistro. Catch up with your favorite Sanfordites outside Celery City Craft on your way to grab late night grub at the West End Trading Co. A bowl of your finest water, barkeep!

Making new friends with dogs is easy in Downtown Sanford - here in front of the Imperial on First Street

Making new friends with dogs is easy in Downtown Sanford – here in front of the Imperial on First Street


While you run errands, your dog can come too! Get your oil changed at Harrell and Beverly, shop for hardware at Ace, pick up fresh produce at Bagg’s, and grab a coffee at Rabbitfoot, and your dog never has to wait in the car.

Expert Tip:

Judy says one of the ways we can help make Sanford even more pet friendly is for pet owners to be courteous. Picking up after pets in public places, not leaving them outside, and educating them all help create a fun, safe environment for pet owners and non-pet owners alike, which builds tolerance and enthusiasm. She says we should treat pets like part of the family, which includes teaching manners!

Water bowl for dogs in downtown Sanford FL

Even at community events and street parties, like here at Alive After 5, people always remember our furry friends

The Riverwalk

Soak up the sights (and scents!) of Sanford with a jaunt on the Riverwalk that will entice your dog’s senses. With a beautiful view and plenty of people and pets to meet, you and your dog can explore the waterfront to your hearts’ content. Stop in at Ft. Mellon Park for water and a game of frisbee.

Dogs at Riverwalk by Dawn Thompson

Picture submitted by Sanford365 App user Dawn Thompson

Paw Park Sanford FLFor an exclusive dog spot, try the Paw Park between 4th and 5th on French Avenue, named the nation’s 2nd best dog park by Dog Fancy. Here, your pup can wander around leash-free while he socializes and plays with other dogs. It’s a great opportunity for your dog to get plenty of outside playtime and for you to meet other dog owners and chat about your pet experiences. If you feel like your dog could use a bath before getting back in the car, take him across the street to Paw Park Place, where your pooch will be pampered with a bath and (if you deem it appropriate), a home baked treat!

Doggie Events in Sanford FL


Pints ‘n Paws

Did you know that Sanford plays host to an event designed especially for dogs each spring? Pints ‘n Paws is a craft beer fest for dogs and their owners, with all of the proceeds going to pet charities like Dolly’s Foundation and Pet Rescue by Judy.

Pet a Palooza in Sanford FLPet-A-Palooza

Bring your furry friend to the annual Pet-A-Palooza at Seminole State College in Sanford (this year on Saturday, December 13th, 2014). You can enjoy a full day of live music and outdoor fun with your pet! Special activities include a free pet photo with Santa Claus courtesy of MetroPCS, the Banfield Take Me Home Zone, Pawfection agility course and more! Plus live music all day! Click here for more info!

Dogs About Town

Here are some of Downtown Sanford’s most prominent four legged citizens.



Magnolia Marie Flannery-Smith (aka Maggie)

Maggie is new to the City of Sanford, only existing for approximately seven months. She was rescued from the streets of Orlando and brought to live on Magnolia Avenue. She enjoys play time with mommy on her wrap around porch and late night bar dates with daddy at the Imperial at Washburn Imports. Her favorite walking spot is anywhere in the Historic District because that’s where she finds the best pine cones and acorns for eating!



Blazer’s ideal dog day in Sanford begins with a visit to the Paw Park or a stroll on the Riverwalk, then the Willow Tree for eats, crossing the street to the Imperial, then heading down to Buster’s and Wop’s Hops. (And yes, he has a minor drinking problem.)

Nautilus is a dog of simple tastes. He drinks St. Bernardus on the rocks at Buster’s, straight bourbon at the Imperial, and enjoys walks on the Riverwalk.





Scooter is a 7-year-old toy poodle, born in Deland and raised in Sanford. He enjoys being wherever his mom is. His most favorite thing to do is take a ride to Sal’s Italian Ice for a free doggie ice cream and treat, but he doesn’t mind a walk or ride to the Quiet Man Irish Pub either. Scooter also enjoys hanging out at the Imperial, Buster’s Bistro, the patio of Riverwalk Pizza, and the Willow Tree. One of his first car rides was to the dog park. When his parents go on vacation, he has a vacation of his own at Sanford’s Pet Paradise.

Nelson, Scooter and Christina Beverly

Scooter with his parents Nelson and Christina Beverly

Layla at Maya's Bookstore

Layla at Maya’s Bookstore

Layla goes to work every day with her mom at Maya Books and Music. While her mom’s idea of a great day would be walking on the Riverwalk and visiting friends, Layla would prefer to have cans of cat food opened for her all day long while she gets her tummy rubbed. Is that so much to ask?

So the next time you come to Downtown Sanford, bring your pup along! With a host of other dogs to play with and plenty of hot spots to see and be seen, your dog will have a ball.

Carmen, and her girlfriends at GNO in Sanford (Holiday Fest 2014)

Carmen, and her girlfriends at GNO in Sanford (Holiday Fest 2014)