12 Best Things To Do In Sanford, North Carolina

things to do in sanford north carolina
Molly
Molly
Updated

Sanford, North Carolina is a small town of only 28,000 residents nestled in the heart of the North Carolina countryside. Away from the hustle and bustle of all the major cities, this tiny oasis can provide a much-needed break from city life. Read on to learn about the best things to do in Sanford!

1. Priority Farm LLC

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

If you love animals, then a trip to Priority Farm LLC will definitely be a treat. Founded by Jim and Jackey in 2015, it aims to teach the children of single parents some practical skills and responsibilities through gardening and farming. Today, this 27-acre (10-hectare), faith-based and non-profit community farm is home to different crops and animals like alpacas. While at this Sanford tourist attraction, you’ll get the chance to see these animals up close and pet them or go sightseeing and trekking in the surrounding nature.

Priority Farm LLC

Address: 1042 Buckhorn Rd, Sanford, NC 27330, United States

Website: Priority Farm LLC

2. Smoke and Barrel

Brisketphoto
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Josh Evnin used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Food is always fun, so for your next visit to North Carolina, never miss the opportunity to chill and dine at Smoke and Barrel. Located in an aged classic country building around Steele Street, this popular barbecue joint features rustic and relaxed ambiance paired with classic smokehouse fare that guests come back for. The menu includes smoked brisket, chicken gyro, savory pulled pork, and flavorful southern sides. Ice-cold beer and brown spirits are also served, including the North Carolina draft.

Smoke and Barrel

Address: 120 S Steele St, Sanford, NC 27330, United States

Website: Smoke and Barrel

Opening hours: Mon - Wed: 11am - 9pm; Thu: 11am - 10pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 1am (closed on Sun)

3. Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Take your North Carolina trip to the extreme and enjoy an exhilarating round at the Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School. Proudly serving the people of central North Carolina for 30 years now, the shooting range offers different packages depending on which of their three courses you choose. You may avail of the Sporting Clays Course with 13 different shooting fields, the Wobble Deck with a 25-target practice field built around an international wobble trap, or the Shooting Pavilion with an 8-lane outdoor range. Set on a 65-acre (26-hectare) scenic woodland, you will truly have a worthwhile respite while enjoying a unique outdoor recreation.

Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School

Address: 284 Cletus Hall Rd, Sanford, NC 27330, United States

Website: Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School

Opening hours: Mon - Wed, Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm (closed on Thu & Fri)

4. Temple Theatre

TEMPLE THEATER; SANFORD; LEE COUNTY
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jerrye & Roy ... used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Originally built in 1925, Sanford has been home to Temple Theatre since just 3,500 people lived there. Today, the theatre serves as a cultural center and attraction. The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, Glenn Miller Band, and Red Clay Ramblers are just a few of the many performances that have graced this stage. The theatre is non-profit, and funds are used for maintenance and upkeep of this historic landmark.

Visitors will walk into ornately painted walls with wooden trim onto the original tiled floor. Above their heads, a large gold-accented crystal chandelier hangs, with staircases sweeping up either side of the room to the balcony. With just 334 seats, you can be assured of an intimate and unique viewing experience.

Temple Theatre

Address: 120 Carthage St, Sanford, NC 27330

Website: Temple Theatre

5. San-Lee Park

San-Lee Park is the go-to place for outdoor activities in Sanford. The park contains hiking trails, a mountain bike trail, picnic areas, campgrounds, a large open meadow, and two lakes. Paddle boats are rented seasonally and the lakes are kept stocked for fishing. Much of the infrastructure you will see was actually built by boy and girl scouts in the community as a part of various scout programs.

Kids can learn all about wildlife in the nature center, which houses live specimens of non-releasable wildlife native to the area. The center also houses injured and abandoned wildlife and helps with rehabilitation and release if possible. In addition, if any children have parents who do not fish or cannot afford fishing equipment, the park provides them with everything they need for free.

If hitting the trails is more your style, you will be in luck here. There are 4 miles (6.43 km) of beautiful hiking trails that wind along the two lakes, through the woods, and among wildflowers. The mountain bike trail is 12 miles (19.3 km) long and suitable for experienced riders, not beginners.

San-Lee Park

Address: 572 Pumping Station Rd, Sanford, NC 27330

Website: San-Lee Park

6. Sanford Antique Mall

Thorp Fruit & Antique Mall-Antiques 1
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Emason425 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Sanford Antique Mall has 18,000 square feet (1,672 sq m) of floor space and 75 dealer spots. It is located right in historic downtown Sanford and is a center of exciting local shopping for residents and visitors alike.

Their inventory is constantly being refreshed with dealers bringing in new merchandise, but you will generally find a good selection of quality hardwood furniture in styles ranging from Victorian to American Primitive to Mid-Century Modern. Smaller finds can include native pottery, depression glassware, vintage clothing, coins, collectibles, and books.

Sanford Antique Mall

Address: 118 S Moore St, Sanford, NC 27330

Website: Sanford Antique Mall

7. Old Gilliam Mill Park

GILLIAM PARK COVERED BRIDGE, LEE COUNTY, NC
Source: Photo by user Jerrye & Roy ... used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The original Sanford mill was built in 1850 and ran for 20 years until it was sold to Alexander McIver. In 1890, John and Jessie Gilliam, for which the mill is now named, bought the mill and owned it until 1928 when it was destroyed by a flood. The current mill was completed in 1979 and is a full reproduction of the original mill built in 1850.

The mill sits on a piece of picturesque property and is open for the public to view. Visitors can see the mill and walk around and enjoy the surrounding landscape. Once a year, on the weekend after Mother’s Day, they crank up the old equipment for demonstrations. You can see an old sawmill, whiskey still, and motor driven log splitter during this once a year extravaganza.

Old Gilliam Mill Park

Address: 4717 Carbonton Rd, Sanford, NC 27330

Website: Old Gilliam Mill Park

8. White Pines Nature Preserve

White Pines Forest State Park rock formations2
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user IvoShandor used under CC BY 2.5

Located just outside of Sanford, the White Pines Nature Preserve is an exhibit in the biological diversity of North Carolina. Here you can see the tree for which the preserve was named, which is extremely rare this far south. A cooler microclimate creates conditions here which are up to ten degrees cooler than the town just ten miles (16 km) to the north.

As you hike through the miles of trails, you will be able to see white pines and wildflowers as well as potentially spotting any of the wild turkeys, hawks, thrush, kingfishers, deer, beaver, foxes, and muskrats that inhabit the area. This Sanford attraction offers many guided hikes, nature talks, and educational programs for children. Signing up for river floats or deep river trips are some of the things to do near Sanford.

White Pines Nature Preserve

Address: 548 S Rocky River Rd, Sanford, NC 27330

Website: White Pines Nature Preserve

9. Depot Park

Empty Bench
Source: Photo by Flickr user Donald Lee Pardue used under CC BY 2.0

Depot Park was envisioned in 1997 as a place in downtown Sanford for the community to come together. It includes the Railroad House, Depot, and surrounding lands, and contains picnic tables, benches, and fountains.

There is plenty to do in Depot Park. Besides offering a place to relax and enjoy the sunshine, the park features an interactive splash fountain, a historic locomotive that children can play inside, and the Railroad House, a historic museum.

Every Thursday at 7 pm during the summer, a free concert is held in the park. Featured genres include rock, country, and bluegrass, and local food trucks and beer vendors come to delight the attendees.

Depot Park

Address: 106 Charlotte Ave, Sanford, NC 27330

Website: Depot Park

10. Historic downtown walking tour

DOWNTOWN SANFORD HISTORIC DISTRICT; LEE COUNTY
Source: Photo by user Jerrye & Roy ... used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This self-guided tour includes a map and audio, which can be acquired at the Chamber of Commerce. You will see 18 buildings, all within a few blocks of each other. All of the buildings were built in the late 1800s-early 1900s, and highlights include City Hall, the Passenger Depot, and the Coca-Cola Building. A historic tour is one of the memorable and fun things to do in Sanford.

Downtown walking tour

Address: 115 Chatham St, Sanford, NC 27330

Website: Downtown walking tour

11. Tobacco Road Golf Club

TobaccoRd 16
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Joe Gay used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Tobacco Road Golf Club gets its name from the land it was born on – the lands formerly cultivated by tobacco farmers. With rolling terrain and panoramic views, this course will test your skills and delight your senses. It is currently listed as #50 on the top 100 golf courses in the world according to Golf Course Architecture.

Tobacco Road Golf Club

Address: 442 Tobacco Rd, Sanford, NC 27332

Website: Tobacco Road Golf Club

12. Carolina Trace Country Club

Oak Island Golf Club–18th Hole
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Francisbausch used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

If you can’t get enough luxury during your vacation, make a stop at the Carolina Trace Country Club. They have two major golf courses designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. – one for lower handicaps and one for higher. The club also includes swimming and tennis facilities, as well as stunning views of Lake Trace and the surrounding woods.

Carolina Trace Country Club

Address: 2100 Country Club Dr, Sanford, NC 27332

Website: Carolina Trace Country Club

Take a break from city life

Sanford, NC is just a few hours away from all the major cities in North Carolina and can be a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Spend some time there and see why it is such a beloved place.

Frequently asked questions about things to do in Sanford, North Carolina

1. What are the best outdoor activities in Sanford?

Plenty of exciting outdoor activities are found in Sanford. Some of them are firing at Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School, touring the historic downtown area, and playing golf at Tobacco Road Golf Club.

2. What are the top attractions to visit in Sanford?

The best attractions in Sanford, North Carolina are Temple Theatre, Old Gilliam Mill Park, White Pines Nature Preserve, and Depot Park. Don’t forget to include these places on your list!

3. What are the most popular things to do in Sanford with kids and family?

Sanford is an ideal destination for families traveling with children. Take your little ones to San-Lee Park for an educational day at the nature center. They can also meet alpacas at Priority Farm LLC!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Molly is a technology marketing and sales professional. She earned a Bachelor's degree from Baylor University and has been writing for many years. Currently, she is a contributor at trip101.com...Read more

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