Free Things to Do in Orlando
You probably know all about the theme parks in Orlando. However, did you know there are plenty of free things to do in Orlando during your visit? There are! You can spend a fortune in Orlando, it’s true, but there are plenty of free activities in Orlando too!
Today, I am going to share many of the free things to do in and near Orlando. If you’re visiting Orlando for the theme parks, don’t worry, we’ve got lots of posts about those too!
Well, renting a car isn’t one of the free things to do in Orlando, but I do highly recommend it! Even if you plan to stay mostly at the theme parks, you’ll need a car to get around to do most of the things on this list.
I recommend renting a car from Discount USA Car Rental. I’ve rented cars through Discount USA Rental at Orlando and Sanford airports, and it’s been hassle-free every time. They offer the best rates on all types of rental cars and most of the local airports.
Free Things to Do in Orlando
Here are 50 of the best free things to do in Orlando, in no particular order.
Visit Disney Springs
You can easily visit Disney Springs as one of your free things to do in Orlando. This massive area is a must for Disney fans. It’s like a little town filled with stores, restaurants, and entertainment.
Free ferry rides to Disney Springs are also available from many of the Disney Parks.
It is always a good idea to download the map of Disney Springs before you go. Or grab a copy when you arrive. The map will help you find your way around.
If you want to save money on your theme park tickets, check out Undercover Tourist for specials!
Explore the Disney Resorts
You don’t need to be a guest to check out all the action at Disney Resorts. At the Polynesian, you can watch fire batons tossed in the air. Animals can be seen wandering around at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Learn more about Disney resorts in our post: the closest Disney resorts to the parks.
If you stay at a Disney Resort, you can also watch a Disney movie under the stars.
Explore Spook Hill
Exploring Spook Hill is one of the best free things to do near Orlando. This attraction is approximately one hour to the south of Orlando.
Spook Hill is an optical illusion of the land. Plus, it is said to be haunted. So much fun for free!
When you arrive at Spook Hill, there will be a section where you must place your car in neutral. At that time, your vehicle will still move down the hill.
Visit Old Town
Old Town is near Celebration. The entire area is set up to look like the towns in Florida used to in the past.
There are numerous events happening in Old Town each week. A couple of them are car shows, karaoke, live music, and a farmers market.
You will also find rides and games in Old Town, although there is a charge for those.
Visit Fort Christmas Historical Museum & Park
Fort Christmas Historical Museum & Park is one of the best free things to do near Orlando. This fort shares the history of the Second Seminole War.
The museum is full of artifacts. Outside, you can wander around historical houses and a schoolhouse. Don’t skip the playground. The kids always have a blast using it!
Wander Around the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts
If your kids love art, they’ll love the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts! But, if they don’t, that doesn’t mean you should skip this free thing to do in Orlando.
Everyone in the family should be able to handle an hour or so! Inside the museum, the exhibits share works by African American artists. The exhibits do rotate regularly, so there is always something new to see.
Visit the Sands Space History Center
The Sands Space History Center is about an hour from Orlando. It is located just outside the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
The entire museum focuses on the launch complexes and other aspects of space. Anyone interested in space will love this free thing to do near Orlando.
Check Out the Ducks at The Peabody Hotel
The Peabody Hotel in Orlando is now known as the Hyatt Regency Orlando. I used the Peabody Hotel name because that is where this tradition of ducks waddling through the hotel’s lobby began.
It all started down in the original Peabody Hotel in Tennessee. The manager started allowing ducks to swim in the hotel fountain more than 90 years ago. The tradition continued when the Peabody Hotel opened in Orlando.
You must be at the hotel a little before 11 am or 5 pm to watch the ducks make their grand entrance or exit.
The ducks begin their journey in their penthouse suite. They waddle to the elevator to ride it down to the lobby. They then walk down the red carpet to the hotel fountain. Their journey back to their penthouse is reversed.
If you cannot make it in time to watch the duck’s entrance or exit, you can at least visit the hotel during the day to watch them swim and play.
Have Fun at Lake Eola Park
You must arrive early in the day at Lake Eola Park if you want to score free parking on the East Side. If not, you will need to pay for parking.
This is still a fun place to visit and is a wonderful free thing to do in Orlando. The walking loop around the lake is one mile long.
During the week, you may be able to attend an art show, watch a dog show, or visit the farmers market.
Oh, and the swans in the lake are quite cute. You may want to break your vacation budget a little and purchase swan food from a stand. You will definitely have a few new swan friends for life!
Explore Disney’s Wilderness Preserve
There are more than 11,000 acres to explore at Disney’s Wilderness Preserve. This area has now been completely restored. In addition, you can explore 3 miles of walking trails.
As you walk, you can check out all the different animals and plants that are native to this area.
Explore the Town of Celebration
Exploring the Town of Celebration is one of the many free things to do in Orlando. I recommend taking a self-guided walking tour. This will allow you to see all the different buildings.
My favorite time to visit Celebration is during the holidays. Snow falls from the sky every single night!
Visit the Cornell Fine Arts Museum
This is another fine arts museum in Orlando that is free. An hour or two is all your family will need to see ancient artifacts, contemporary art, and European Old Master paintings.
Wander Around Universal City Walk
Wandering around Universal City Walk is free all day long. However, parking isn’t free until 6 pm, so keep that in mind if you are truly going for all the free things to do in Orlando.
Walking around will keep you busy especially when you check out the shops and the menus of the restaurants.
Visit the Orlando Fire Museum
The Orlando Fire Museum is located inside a restored red brick firehouse. It is near the Orlando Science Center.
This museum is on the smaller side. However, it is the perfect place for children who love checking out fire trucks. The staff is all retired firefighters. So they know how to answer all your kids’ questions.
Walk Along Disney’s Boardwalk
Disney’s Boardwalk is within walking distance of Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The boardwalk is Coney Island style. You can easily take one of the free ferries to the boardwalk from many of the Disney Parks.
While at the boardwalk, watch as much free entertainment as possible. There are comedians, fire-eaters, jugglers, and more.
You might also want to check out 25 Free Things at Disney World.
Play a Little Tennis at the United States Tennis Association National Campus
It is always free to play a game of tennis at this facility. You can choose between 100 different courts that light up at night. You must pre-register for one of the courts. Small price to pay for a little free tennis!
Bike the West Orange Trail
The West Orange Trail is just over 20 miles long. It goes from Winter Garden to Apopka.
I know you might not have bicycles with you on vacation in Orlando. No worries! You can rent them for this family adventure.
Hang Out at Icon Park
It never costs anything to hang out at Icon Park. I recommend arriving just before the sun sets, so you can watch the 400-foot-tall observation wheel light up.
There is a charge to ride the observation wheel and do other things within this park. However, relaxing is the one thing you can always do for free here!
Watch Free Movies Under the Stars
You can’t always watch free movies under the stars in Orlando. But when you can, it is one of the best things to do in Orlando for free.
Over in Lake Eola Park, you can watch free movies on the last Friday of the month during the months of April through August.
The second Thursday of the month is the day to watch movies over at Winter Park.
Explore the Lake Nona Sculpture Garden
This sculpture garden is 50,000 square feet. The sculptures include works of art by Henry Moore, Philip Jackson, Fernando Botero, and more.
Wander Through the Kraft Azalea Garden
Winter Park has a secret garden. It is the Kraft Azalea Garden. This gorgeous garden is just over 5 acres. It is on the shores of Lake Maitland. As you wander around, take a little downtime under the massive cypress trees. The trees offer shade from the hot sun in Florida.
Explore the University of Central Florida Arboretum
Walking along nature trails and seeing the different plants will be a fantastic experience at this arboretum. There are eight different ecosystems with more than 600 plant species.
If you don’t feel like walking around the 80 acres, feel free to bring a rental bike to ride.
Explore CityArts Factory
The galleries within the CityArts Factory create the largest art center in Orlando. Local and international artists have works of art displayed in the five galleries.
Depending on the timing of your visit, you may be able to watch an artist at work.
Walk Through FleaWorld
FleaWorld is the largest Flea Market in the country. It is free to walk around and check things out. But if you see something you like, which is possible with 1,700 vendors, you will need to spend a little money.
Visit the Harry P. Leu Gardens
There is usually an admission fee to enter these gardens. Admission is free. However, if you choose to visit on the first Monday of the month. Keep this in mind if you want the Harry P. Leu Gardens on your list of free things to do in Orlando.
Photo is the property of Harry P. Leu Gardens.
Attend a Sing-a-Long at the Chip n’ Dale’s Campfire
Over at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, you can attend a sing-a-long at the Chip n’ Dale Campfire for free. Then, sing as many Disney classic songs as you wish before returning to your room.
Or choose to stay for a Disney movie under the stars.
Wander Around the Winter Park Farmers Market
Yes, purchasing anything at this farmers market will not make this a free thing to do in Orlando. But walking around the Winter Park Farmers Market won’t cost you a dime. And if you buy food, it could always come out of your vacation food budget!
This farmers market is open on Saturdays from 7 am until 1 pm. Simply seeing how everything is set up inside a historic train depot is worth the visit.
Go Skating at Cocoa Beach Skate Park
One of the free things to do near Orlando is to visit Cocoa Beach. While there, your kids may want to do a little skating at the Cocoa Beach Skate Park.
Don’t forget to check out Cocoa beaches and other nearby beaches in the 20 Best Beaches near Orlando for Families.
Tackle the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive
I recommend tackling the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive if you have a nature-loving family. This drive takes approximately one hour. Heading out early in the morning almost guarantees the opportunity to spot plenty of birds, alligators, and other native wildlife.
Explore the Oakland Nature Preserve
The Oakland Nature Preserve can be found alongside the West Orange Trail. There are quite a few nature trails that are under one mile. That means you can hike a few of them during your visit.
I recommend going into the Welcome Center to learn more about the preserve. Don’t forget about the wooden boardwalk, either. It will lead you right out to Lake Apopka.
Go Hiking at Lake Lotus Park
Lake Lotus Park is in Altamonte Springs. Inside the park is a 1.7-mile hiking trail. You can easily spot native wildlife as you walk this trail.
Make sure you check out the wildlife exhibits too. They are very informative and share what you will see while on the trail.
Go on a Mural Tour
Over in The Mills 50 District, you can head out on a mural tour. You may want to check out the list online first, so you can plan your route. But honestly, there is nothing wrong with simply heading out and seeing what you can find.
Wander Through the Mead Botanical Garden
Above, I mentioned a secret garden at Winter Park. Well, there is a not-so-secret garden there as well. The Mead Botanical Garden is a wonderful place to spend a day in Orlando.
You can hike the trails. Walk along the boardwalk. Check out the butterflies in the butterfly garden. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the garden.
The possibilities are endless in this gem of a destination!
Take a Bike Ride Along the Orlando Urban Trail
The Orlando Urban Trail is a wonderful 3-mile trail that connects many cultural hotspots in the area. It begins in Ivanhoe Village, goes through The Mills 50 District, and ends in Winter Park.
You can also walk this trail to see Orlando from a different vantage point.
Visit Blue Springs State Park
I know this list of free things to do in Orlando. Well, Blue Springs State Park is not quite in Orlando, and it’s not entirely free, but it’s so close that I had to include it! It’s only $6 per car to enter, so it’s almost free. Also, if you’re visiting during the winter, you’re almost guaranteed to spot some manatees.
They’re even around during other times of the year, but remember that they are wild animals, so you can’t be sure. On our last visit, we saw a baby alligator!
Check out the 12 best places to see manatees in Florida to learn more.
Take a Self-Guided Tour to Check Out the See Art Orlando Public Sculpture Community Project
There are plenty of places to see art in Orlando. However, I recommend this self-guided tour if you want to check out the art in the least likely places. You can download a free map online to make the most of this tour.
Enjoy a Picnic Lunch at the Park
There are so many parks in Orlando for enjoying picnic lunches. It may be best to try a few different parks and then choose your all-time favorite.
I recommend Lake Lily Park, Kissimmee Lakefront Park, and Winter Park to get you started.
Listen to Live Music at East End Market
On Saturday afternoons, between 2 and 5, head to the East End Market to listen to live music. You can check out the vendor booths at the same time. Or sit and relax while the music plays in the background.
Play Disc Golf at Barnett Park
Your entire family will love playing disc golf at Barnett Park. This park has an 18-hole course. It’s a great way to try something new outside Florida.
Visit the Jack Kerouac House
If you time your vacation in Orlando just right, you can visit the Jack Kerouac House. This cottage home is located inside College Park. It has been recently refurbished. Unfortunately, it is not open to the public all the time. But free events, as well as readings, are held throughout the year.
Watch the Sunset at Cranes Roost Park
One of the best free things to do in Orlando is walking along the boardwalk at Cranes Roost Park at sunset. The boardwalk is a mile long. So, leave enough time to reach the end before the sun sets if you want to be down there to see the magic.
There are a few other free activities held inside this park in Orlando. Depending on when you visit, you may be able to attend an outdoor festival or watch an outdoor movie.
Attend Casselberry Art and Music in the Park
Once a month, Casselberry Art and Music in the Park is held at Lake Concord Park. Vendors include food trucks, artisans, and local businesses. There is no charge to walk around and watch the live entertainment.
Head Out to Hontoon Island State Park
Out of all the state parks near Orlando, Hontoon Island State Park is the most fascinating. This state park is an actual island, despite being in the center of the state!
You can only access this island by ferry. Once you are over on the island, you can enjoy a picnic or head out on a hike.
Go On a Historic Walking Tour of Downtown Orlando
If you want to learn more about the history of downtown Orlando, I recommend going on a free walking tour. These tours are held on the first Friday of the month during the months of October through May.
Head over to the Downtown Orlando Info Center shortly before 9:30 am for the tour. These tours last approximately one and a half hours.
Enjoy a Day Swimming at Dinky Dock
You don’t need to drive to the shore to enjoy a little swimming. Instead, you can easily swim at Dinky Dock in Orlando. This small beach park can be found within Winter Park.
There are picnic tables and grills near the swimming area. That makes it the perfect spot for a daylong adventure.
Check Out the Ruins at St. Anne Shrine in Lake Wales
Ruins aren’t easy to find in Orlando, but you can find some over in Lake Wales.
The St. Anne Shrine was built in 1920. Much of the shrine is in ruins. However, you can still see the altar and a few stone structures.
Check out a strawberry farm.
You’ll have to pay for your strawberries, but you get to eat them, and hey, you have to eat! Our family loves berry-picking, so I had to include this on the list of free things to do in Orlando, even if it’s not technically free.
You can check out the best strawberry farms in Florida to learn more. Most are very close to Orlando!
Ride a Bike Along the Seminole Wekiva Trail
The Seminole Wekiva Trail is 14 miles long. The entire trail is worthy of a ride. But the first 7 miles are the best, especially if you want to check out a few of the quieter neighborhoods in Orlando.
Another option nearby is the Cady Way Trail.
Visit Big Tree Park
Sadly, the highlight of Big Tree Park is no longer there. The Senator, a 3,500-year-old massive bald cypress tree, was burned down in 2012.
There is a memorial on-site for The Senator. Plus, you can see The Senator’s sister tree, Lady Liberty, nearby. Lady Liberty is only 2,000 years old, so hopefully, she will be around for quite some time.
You will find a trail near Lady Liberty. There is also a playground if the kids want to play.
Watch the Disney Fireworks
The best spots to see fireworks at Disney are, obviously, on Disney property. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other vantage points! Here’s a pro tip, ask your hotel if they have any rooms that face the Disney parks. As long as you’re nearby, you might get a view of the fireworks from your room!
Would you like us to write a post about even more places to see Disney fireworks outside the parks? If so, let me know in the comments!
The best free things to do in Orlando
These are some of the best free things to do in Orlando, with a few free things to do near Orlando. No matter how much time you have during your vacation in Orlando, you should be able to add a few of these to your to-do list.
If you don’t mind driving just a bit more, check out 50 free things to do in Tampa with kids. Did any of your favorite free things to do in Orlando make the list? If you have a favorite that we missed, make sure to share it in the comments!
For more things to do in Orlando, check out some of our best Orlando blog posts:
- Things to do in Orlando for Christmas
- 7 things to buy at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- How to Eat at Universal on a Budget
- The 27 Best Places to Eat in Orlando for Families
- The Best Fanny Pack for Disney
- Things to do in St. Augustine with Kids
- First-Timer Tips for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Where to find Dole Whip at Disney World
- Star Wars Land vs. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- 30 Things to Do at Disney World Resorts
About Florida Travel With Kids
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