Poor Sanford’s reputation has taken a beating over the last year and a half, and the merchants of the city’s super-cute historic downtown are the ones who’ve felt the brunt of it. We’ve heard from several that business was depressed as the city tried to get out from behind the shadow of the Zimmerman trial. But here’s the thing: Sanford has a really cool, vibrant downtown. It has eclectic bars (hey there, Little Fish Huge Pond) and restaurants, some of which are run by Orlando businesspeople who saw the potential in the city’s main street (we’re looking at you, Imperial Wine Bar & Beer Garden) and opened northern outposts there. It has a monthly Alive After Five street party and frequent pub crawls. It has an awesome book and record store (Maya Books and Music) and folk art gallery (Jeanine Taylor Folk Art). Add to that a handful of antiques shops, the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center, a kickass authentic German beer hall (Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café) and a coffee/dessert shop (Taste of Thyme Café), all in one compact downtown area. And did we mention that it’s located along the shores of beautiful Lake Monroe? Yeah, that, too. It’s by far the best downtown experience to be had in these parts.