Sanford is part of one of Maine's most celebrated regions. The southern coastal area, which includes many miles of sandy beaches, is Maine at its best. It's where Maine was first settled in the mid-1600s, and where Mainers have preserved hundreds of 17th and 18th century buildings and sites in homage to their founders. Yet there is a contemporary feeling here reflecting the influx of professionals, artists and others who have come here for the quality of life.

The coastal towns of Kittery, York, Ogunquit, Wells, Kennebunkport and Kennebunk look out on the beautiful Atlantic. Thousands of people visit every summer for the chance to walk the beaches, sail the ocean, enjoy fresh seafood at ocean side restaurants and soak up the charm of the shops in historic gems like Dock Square in Kennebunkport, Perkins Cove in Ogunquit and York Beach. This area is known for its art galleries, its grand old resort hotels and for fine restaurants.

Just a few miles inland, Sanford and its village of Springvale, the three Berwicks, Arundel, Alfred, Waterboro, Shapleigh and Acton - – all possess a distinctive identity marked by their own histories. Sanford, for example, has been shaped by its history as a leader in the textile industry for much of the 20th century. It's a city that has traditionally attracted hard-working people and today remains a destination for industry. It is a service center for much of southern Maine. Yet the area still has a rural feeling as it is blessed with rich farmland, and in its outlying areas and neighboring communities, farms stretch into the gentle hills. Many apple orchards and pick-your-own farms thrive here. Day-trippers come to these inland towns to poke among the antique stores and see beautifully restored homes and farms. Because of the lakes, ponds and rivers that curve through and around these communities, vacationers also come here to spend their summers.

Alfred, the county seat, is a perfect example of the mix found in these small towns. In its center are small shops and historic homes; a few miles down the road, vacationers enjoy Bunganut Lake. On the other side of the road, shoppers browse the farm stand at Giles Orchards, or drive up Shaker Hill to pick apples from an orchard that features a breathtaking view of hills and forest. The Shaker museum nearby offers a look at the community that once flourished in Alfred. The White Mountains are an hour away; the ocean is a half hour away. What could be better?

This southern region of Maine, so colorful and alive, is truly Maine at its best.