Orlando is an exciting destination, with no shortage of fun-filled attractions, theme parks and activities. But spending time at all these fun spots can start to wear on the wallet, especially for families. Thankfully, there are many enjoyable things to do and places to see in Orlando that don’t cost a dime! Check out our list of 10 free things you can do when you’re in Orlando.
Arts, Museums and History
Located on the campus of Rollins College, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum hosts a wonderful collection of art, including Cosimo Roselli’s Madonna and Child Enthroned and J. B. Leprince’s The Seasons, as well as pieces by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Thomas Moran and more. Admission is free for students with a valid student I.D., but even if you’re not a student, it’s a mere five dollars.
The Grand Bohemian Gallery boasts two locations: one in downtown Orlando and another in the Town of Celebration. At both venues, you’ll discover a variety of local, contemporary art, including stunning jewellery pieces, glass works and sculptures, along with 19th century European paintings.
Explore Orlando’s natural beauty
Located in the heart of downtown Orlando, Lake Eola Park is a 43-acre recreational area where visitors can enjoy a relaxing picnic along the lake shore, feed the swans, or take in one of the many free concerts or plays at the park’s amphitheatre. It offers great views of the city’s skyline, and on Sundays you can visit their wonderful farmers’ market for inexpensive, fresh, local produce.
At Harry P. Leu Gardens, visitors can enjoy attractions including a tropical steam garden, a butterfly garden, bamboo and palm gardens, and a museum that has roots in the 1880s. The park offers free admission from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the first Monday of every month through January 2, 2017.
Food and drink
Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards is Florida’s largest, sitting on 80 beautiful acres just north of Orlando. The winery offers free tours and tastings daily. About every 20 minutes, there’s a short film about the vineyard’s history, followed by a tour of the picturesque vineyards, and a stop in the tasting room. It only takes about 45 minutes, and you can buy a bottle of your favourite wine to take home. They also offer an array of free family-friendly festivals and events throughout the year.
The Orlando Brewing Company is Florida’s only certified organic brewery and taproom, and one of only a handful in the entire USA. Located near downtown Orlando, they offer free brewery tours at 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with free live entertainment on the weekends – even free Wi-Fi. And while the grownups can enjoy the local flavours, there’s also stuff for families to do, including darts and board games.
Theme park areas that are free
Universal Orlando Resorts City Walk is the area of Universal that’s free to access. You can enjoy all kinds of movie-themed sidewalk attractions without having to pay entry into the amusement park. Get there early if you want the free parking.
Disney Springs (formerly called Downtown Disney) is where you can go to catch the Disney magic without the theme park entrance fee. Kids (and willing grown-ups) can play in the incredible interactive fountains, and then visit the
LEGO Imagination Center – 4,400-square feet of LEGO heaven with an outdoor play zone with heaps of LEGO blocks where kids can let loose their creativity while giant LEGO sculptures of dinosaurs and sea serpents keep watch. There are also various areas where musicians perform for free.
Disney’s BoardWalk is another attraction without an entrance fee. It’s a quarter-mile promenade alongside Crescent Lake – a charming re-creation of a 1930s-style seafront esplanade – where visitors can enjoy free live street entertainment in the evenings, such as musicians, comedians, magicians and other performers.
You don’t need to pony up for Walt Disney World to enjoy the spectacular nightly Disney Fireworks. One way to get to a good vantage point is to hop on the free tram that takes you to the park’s Transportation and Ticket Center. But you can also get a good view of the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from other places. If you’re staying at one of the Disney-operated resorts, the free monorail can take you to the park entrance where you can see the show for free.
Bonus tip: the Kids Eat Free Orlando card
If you do go to the theme parks, you can save some money by getting your little ones’ meals for free. Valid for up to 90 days at more than 100 theme park restaurants in Orlando, kids 11 and younger eat for free with the purchase of an adult meal. The card costs $27 CND, but if you spend any time in the theme parks with a couple of kids in tow, it’ll help keep your expenses down.