The Top 19 Free Things To Do In Orlando
Once you've splashed out to do all the amazing things at Walt Disney World or Universal Studios, you may well feel the need to reign in the expenditure on your Orlando vacation a little. Don't worry, it's not going to be as difficult as you might think.
There are so many great free things to do in Orlando that enjoying yourself, even if you're there with kids, doesn't need to be a costly experience. You can even get a bit more Disney magic without spending a cent or going to any of the theme parks.
There are free museums and art galleries in Orlando, some exceptional places for outdoor activities like hiking and picnicking, fascinating areas to explore on self-guided tours, and even some fun free things to do at night that will leave you smiling.
Whichever of the free things to do in Orlando you choose to do, you won't want to do it while carrying your baggage. A convenient, economical, and secure way of storing your bags is to deposit them at one of the Bounce luggage storage facilities in Orlando. They'll be safely stored in a security-tagged and insured locker so you'll have peace of mind to make the most of as many of the free activities in Orlando as you want to.
Best Free Things To Do In Orlando
You'll be surprised to discover that as well as theme parks there are free activities like hiking along nature trails, browsing markets, and exploring historic districts. There are free things to do with kids in Orlando that have that magical Disney wow factor too. Read on to find out all about those and the rest of the incredible things there are to do for free in this fantastic Florida city.
Doing Disney For Free
Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort is a Disney-themed mall with shops, restaurants, shows, and numerous activities. Obviously, not everything at Disney Springs is free, but there's no admission charge to enter and you can wander around as long as you like. Disney Springs is open from ten in the morning until eleven in the evening. Daytime is great, but evenings have a more special atmosphere.
What can you do for free at Disney Springs? The answer is lots. Take a selfie with the seven-foot-tall Coca-Cola Polar Bear then have a stroll around Exposition Park where the local food trucks will probably entice you to put your hand in your pocket. Watch the hot air balloon rise into the air, wave to the kids riding the Marketplace Train Express or the Marketplace Carousel then take in the Lake Buena Vista scenery at Waterview Park.
One place the kids will drag you into and won't want to leave is the Lego Imagination Center where there's a play and building brick area for them to get creative in.
If you go to Disney Springs during the evening, you'll find there's free live music at The Landing in Waterview Park and also in the Marketplace where as well as musicians there are Disney dance troupes doing their stuff.
For a real Coney Island-style holiday atmosphere, take a stroll along the Disney Boardwalk in the EPCOT resort area. There's no charge to get onto the boardwalk so unless you sit down at a restaurant it will be cost-free. During the evenings there's free live entertainment in the form of street performers on the boardwalk which are great fun to watch.
Disney's Free Ferry
You don't need to go into any of the attractions to be able to take a ride on the free Disney ferries of Walt Disney World. The paddle steamer-style ferries depart from Disney Springs and the EPCOT resort to the Magic Kingdom, one of the theme parks, at regular intervals from seven-thirty in the morning until the park closes. If you don't want to go into the park, just sit back, relax and enjoy the round trip.
Free Museums And Art Galleries In Orlando
To save your vacation budget from being overstretched, you plan your visit to many of the museums and art galleries in Orlando to coincide with their free admission sessions. Here are three of the best that you won't want to miss.
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is located on North Park Avenue in Winter Park and houses the most extensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
You do need to book a slot if you want to visit the museum during the free admission period on Fridays between four in the afternoon and eight in the evening. You can make a reservation on the museum’s official website. Do it well in advance as places are limited. Everyone wants to get a look at the amazing treasures created by the 19th-century artist.
The Rollins Museum of Art
The Rollins Museum of Art, previously known as the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, is on Holt Avenue in Winter Park. The museum offers free admission to all art lovers during its regular opening hours from Tuesday to Sunday.
The comprehensive collection at the Rollins Museum of Art covers many genres and dates from the Renaissance period right up to contemporary works of modern-day,
Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida
All visits to the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida are free of charge. This museum is not just about remembering the victims of past atrocities through documents and artifacts. It aims to educate and help create equality among diverse nationalities and religions.
Free Outdoor Activities In Orlando
There's definitely no shortage of free things to do in Orlando if you choose to do something outdoors. The city has some fantastic parks, great gardens, and even better hiking trails none of which cost a single cent to enjoy.
Lake Eola Park
One of the best spots to head for in Downtown Orlando for some free outdoor recreation is the beautiful Lake Eola Park.
Manmade Lake Eola is the central feature of the park and at its heart is a fountain that is illuminated at night. Daytime activities at the park include a gentle stroll or even a jog around the perimeter pathway of the lake, bird watching, or having a picnic on the grass.
Lake Eola Park is also where you'll find the Walt Disney Amphitheater where, as well as many free festivals, you can catch some free entertainment like a movie, music concert, or dramatic act.
Loch Haven Park
Loch Haven Park is a cultural park on Princeton Street which is around ten minutes drive north of Downtown Orlando.
Admission to the park is free, but not to all of the attractions it contains. In the park you'll find the Orlando Museum of Art which does have free entry art days and the Orlando Science Center which is free if you're a member. There are also several other museums and two theaters in Loch Haven as well as summertime free concerts on the outdoor floating stage.
From the park you can walk to the Novel Ivanhoe Village which is one of Orlando's upcoming trendy districts renowned for its Bohemian atmosphere, great restaurants, and craft boutiques.
Other Great Free Parks In Orlando
Icon Park – Icon Park is an entertainment complex on International Drive with free admission. Other than the dancing fountains and spectacular light shows, the rides and attractions inside are not free of charge.
Big Tree Park – Big Tree Park is somewhere to go to get an unusual photo for your social media. The park contains some of the oldest cypress trees in Orlando and they are huge.
Kelly Park – Kelly Park is a popular spot in Orlando for tubing so if you want some free fun on the water this is the park to head for. The park has limited visitor capacity so it's recommended to get there early.
Hikes, Gardens, and Forests
Orlando Urban Trail
There really is no excuse for not getting some exercise while you're staying in Orlando. The perfect place to put your best foot forward is the Orlando Urban Trail which is part of the Orlando Trail Network.
The Orlando Urban Trail is a paved hiking and cycling path running from Lake Highland near Downtown Orlando to Mead Garden in Winter Park. It's a pretty level three miles with several connections leading off to various lakes along the way where you can stop off and spot some of the Florida wildlife.
Mead Botanical Garden
If you do walk the Orlando Urban Trail you'll want to stop off to take a look around the Mead Botanical Garden located in Winter Park before you make the about-turn and head back to Downtown Orlando.
Amid the fifty acres of tranquil greenery in the Mead Botanical Garden is the ideal place to stop and contemplate the beauty of nature that surrounds you.
After you've recovered sufficiently from your hike there, start to explore and you'll discover thousands of plants, a butterfly garden, a superb nature trail, and you'll have the opportunity to do some geocaching.
West Orange Trail
One of the best hikes in Orlando is the West Orange Trail. The paved trail is a multi-use path stretching across the Florida countryside for twenty-two miles.
If you don't want to complete the entire length and then have to walk all the way back, join the trail at the Winter Garden Station. If the walk sounds too daunting, while they're not free, you can hire an e-bicycle at the station so you can go a lot further with a lot less effort.
University of Central Florida Arboretum
If you're not planning on trekking the Orlando Urban Trail or going to Winter Park, you can still lose yourself in nature by visiting the University of Central Florida Arboretum.
This 80-acre patch of urban countryside accessible from Scorpius Street contains over 600 different plant species set out in gardens rather than growing wild. You can wander along the pathways intersecting the gardens at will or pre-book a docent tour if you want to discover more about the plants.
Ocala National Forest
When you want to make an escape from the urban spread of Orlando try heading for the Ocala National Forest. The forest is around an hour's drive north of Downtown Orlando so not exactly within easy reach, but the effort you'll make to get there will be fully compensated.
The forest covers a vast area where there are lakes with swim beaches and rivers for canoeing or kayaking. You can see Florida wildlife at its best including manatees in the waterways.
Free Things To Do At Night In Orlando
You don't need to flash the cash to get well and truly entertained in Orlando. Check out the free nights at these venues for some great comedy and music.
The Drunken Monkey
The Drunken Monkey on North Bumby Avenue is primarily a craft coffee shop, but on Fridays and Saturdays, they open the doors at 8:30 PM for comedy open mic nights.
Entrance is free, but you're expected to drink or eat something which is not a bad deal when you're getting free entertainment. The Drunken Monkey also serves as an art gallery for local artists so not only will you have a good laugh, you'll get to browse some great artwork too.
Downtown CREDO on North Orange Avenue in Orlando's North Quarter Market is also a craft coffee shop that likes to keep its clients entertained. The free Diverse Words events are hosted by Orlando's resident poet laureate, Shawn Welcome, and happen in Downtown CREDO on a Tuesday night between 7:30 PM and 10 PM. They concentrate on the more literary so if you feel the need to wax lyrical while in Orlando, this is the place for you.
East End Market
East End Market on Corrine Drive in Orlando is where many artisans ply their wares. It's also a place where local musicians go to show off their talents and grow their fan base.
Free live music at East End Market usually happens on a Friday or Saturday night in the Green Courtyard. Artists change weekly, but you can check who's playing on the market's official website.
From Downtown Orlando to the Disney resort areas there are so many free things to do in Orlando that they'll make you think twice about putting your hand in your pocket to do anything else.
Hopefully, you'll find it comforting to know you won't need to restrict yourself to a free Tuesday somewhere, the Winter Park History Museum or the Winter Park Farmers Market to find something free to do while you're in Orlando. There's a lot more choice than that so make the most of it and enjoy your time in Orlando.