Orlando is a great city to visit but many people may avoid planning a trip there because of how expensive it can be. During peak season it can cost someone nearly $5,000 to visit for a week of lodging! For a family of three or more, the cost can quickly add up.
Thankfully, there are many free things to do in Orlando that a lot of people don’t know about. You might be surprised to learn that there’s so much more to the area than just theme parks and roller coasters.
Best Free Things To Do in Orlando
Having vacationed and lived in the city, I know all of the places to visit in Orlando, Florida that are free of charge. This list is eclectic and has something for everyone; even Disney World and Universal are included on this list. However, there’s so much more to the city than theme parks and this guide will introduce you to some of the best free museums and nature trails in the city of Orlando.
1. Take a Swan Boat Ride at Lake Eola Park
For those interested in sightseeing in Orlando without spending money, Lake Eola Park is a must-visit destination. This beautiful park offers a wide range of activities that won’t cost you a dime.
One of my favorite things to do in Lake Eola Park is to take a ride in the iconic swan boats. These charming paddle boats, shaped like giant swans, can be rented free of charge. It’s a unique and enjoyable way to explore the lake.
Art enthusiasts are sure to find something to appreciate at Lake Eola Park. The park is home to several sculptures and art installations, which add an artistic touch to the natural surroundings. A great free thing to do in Orlando for couples is to take a stroll through the park and discover these beautiful works of art.
Address: 512 E Washington St, Orlando, 32801
2. Window Shop and Enjoy Live Music at Disney Springs
Disney Springs is a wonderful attraction in Orlando that offers a unique and free experience for visitors. It’s a great free thing to do in Orlando for families as families and makes a great option for a day out. Enjoy the magic of Disney without having to pay the high cost usually associated with visiting.
Whether you’re looking to explore the numerous shops, enjoy live performances, or simply take a stroll, Disney Springs has something for everyone. One of the main highlights of Disney Springs is its enchanting atmosphere.
In addition to the delightful surroundings, Disney Springs also offers various entertainment options that are free for all visitors. I love to go there and catch the live shows and street performances, and enjoy live music from talented musicians.
3. Explore the Rollins Museum of Art
The Rollins Museum of Art offers a unique free thing to do in Orlando. As one of my personal favorite activities to do on a weekend afternoon, exploring this museum allows visitors to immerse themselves in beautiful art.
Situated in the town of Winter Park, just a short distance from Orlando, the Rollins Museum of Art is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. The museum showcases a diverse collection of art pieces that span various periods and styles, providing something for everyone’s taste.
In addition to the impressive collection, the museum often hosts special exhibitions and events that further enrich the visitor experience. The Rollins Museum of Art also offers educational programs and workshops for both children and adults.
4. Drive Through Lake Apopka’s Wildlife Reserve
One of the coolest free things to do in Orlando is to take a one-hour drive through Lake Apopka. The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive offers an incredibly enjoyable experience for nature enthusiasts. During my own drive, I was able to witness an abundance of beautiful Florida wildlife.
The highlight of my trip was the opportunity to spot alligators sunbathing, which was truly mesmerizing. The drive through Lake Apopka is a must-try activity for anyone looking to explore the natural wonders of Orlando free of charge. Travel at your own pace and take in the surroundings from the comfort of your own car or rental vehicle.
Address: 2850 Lust Rd, Apopka, FL 32703
5. Wander Through the Mead Botanical Garden
The Mead Botanical Garden is undoubtedly one of the best free things to do near Orlando. Not only does it offer a serene and picturesque setting, but it’s also entirely free to visit. This makes it an ideal choice for a budget-conscious outing.
As I wandered along the paths of the Mead Botanical Garden during my visit, I encountered a ton of breathtaking sights. From beautiful flowers in full bloom to towering trees. It’s the perfect place to escape away from the hustle and bustle of busier areas.
Whether you’re a local resident or a tourist exploring the Orlando area, the Mead Botanical Garden is a must-visit destination. Its proximity to Orlando, combined with its free admission, makes it an accessible and affordable option for anyone seeking a tranquil escape.
6. Watch a Vintage Car Show at Old Town Kissimmee
Old Town is a charming historic district in Kissimmee, Florida, and is a great place to visit near Orlando. The area offers something for everyone such as boutiques, restaurants, an amusement park, and more. One of my favorite things to do in Old Town is watch their imported car show. This happens on the last Sunday of every month from 4:00 PM until 9:00 PM.
In addition to the car shows, Old Town offers many more special events and live music. On Halloween, Old Town offers trick-or-treating and festive entertainment. Another great time to visit Old Town is during Christmas so you can see their Holiday Golf Cart Street Parade. There’s usually something going on, no matter what time of year you visit.
7. Stroll Around the Kraft Azalea Gardens
A beautiful place to see in Orlando is the Kraft Azalea Garden, open year-round from 8:00 AM until dusk. Whenever I travel to the Kraft Azalea Gardens I love to bask in the shade of the looming cypress trees and enjoy the secluded 5.22-acre public garden.
The Exedra is an ideal location for sunset wedding ceremonies, and once you visit, you’ll understand why – it’s really special. This Exedra can hold up to 20 guests and the gardens also offer numerous benches so you can relax after exploring. Pack a picnic and watch the world go by around you.
8. Take a Drive to Nearby Cocoa Beach
An enjoyable free thing to do near Orlando is drive to Cocoa Beach. Once you arrive at Cocoa Beach, you’ll find plenty of free activities to keep you entertained. One option is to explore the beach itself – with its sandy shores and crystal-clear waters, Cocoa Beach is a paradise for beach lovers.
Address: Cocoa Beach, FL, 32931
9. People watch at Walt Disney World’s Boardwalk
Disney’s Boardwalk, attached to the Boardwalk Inn Resort, is one of the top free things to do in Orlando. The Boardwalk’s ambiance sets it apart from other Orlando areas. Being here feels like you’ve been transported back in time.
I love to grab an adult beverage at the margarita stand and sit and people-watch. There are boats you can ride around the lake and Disney’s Skyliner which are gondola-type vessels that transport guests from one park to another. Both the Skyliner and boats are free to take a ride on and make for a great, free afternoon activity.
10. Take a Tram Tour Around Orlando Wetlands Park
A free thing to do in Orlando for families is to visit the Orlando Wetlands Park. Orlando Wetlands Park is a man-made wetland designed to treat reclaimed water from Orlando and local cities. For those looking to hike, photograph nature, or horseback ride, this is the place for you.
The last time I visited Orlando Wetlands I took the free tram tour around the park. The tram tour is offered on weekends from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM and runs from September through May only. Additionally, the tour does not run in inclement weather, but on a clear, sunny day, it’s a great way to see more of the area.
11. Catch a Movie at Popcorn Flicks in the Park
Popcorn Flicks in the Park is a fun and free thing to do in Orlando at night. This awesome event is held in Winter Park and is presented by ENZIAN Theater. Held on the second Thursday of every month, Popcorn Flicks in the Park is a place where you can watch a movie and enjoy some snacks under the stars.
My husband and I enjoy going to Popcorn Flicks in the Park as a date night; I can attest that it’s a great free thing to do in Orlando for couples. However, Popcorn Flicks in the Park is an event that truly is for everyone. It regularly shows family-friendly movies like Frozen and The Muppet Christmas Carol.
12. Take a Tour of Lakeridge Winery
Lakeridge Winery, the city’s largest winery, is a fun, free thing to do in Orlando. They offer 45-minute walking tours showcasing how they make their delicious wines. This winery uses Muscadine grapes which thrive in humid environments.
Another thing that makes Lakeridge Winery so enjoyable is that it offers live music during the summer in a free concert series. I love visiting Lakeridge Winery during the summer months, and sitting outside with a crisp white wine to enjoy the free show.
Address: 19239 US Hwy 27, Clermont, FL 34715
13. Read a Book at the Harry P Leu Gardens
Admission to Harry P Leu Gardens in Orlando is free every first Monday of the month. This is ideal for those who want to walk around the gardens, sit with their favorite book, or have a picnic.
I enjoy strolling the trails covered by 200-year-old oak trees – there’s something truly magical about them. I love to pick out an enjoyable read, head to the gardens, and find a comfortable shaded spot to sit and relax on a Monday after the weekend is over.
Address: 1920 N Forest Ave, Orlando, FL 32803
14. Kayak at Wekiva Island
If you’re wondering what to do in Orlando then visit Wekiva Island, home to central Florida’s favorite watering hole. With over 2,000 square feet of space to explore, there’s no shortage of fun on this island.
During my trip to Wekiva Island, I explored the area by kayak and paddleboard. After exploring all day, I took a much-needed break and enjoyed a cold beverage at the Tooting Otter, before grabbing a bite to eat at the Without a Paddle Cafe. I highly recommend doing the same!
15. Enjoy Free Parking after 6:00 PM at Universal Citywalk
Universal Citywalk is a fun thing to do for free in Orlando after 6:00 PM because parking is free. Although Citywalk is mostly known for its shops and restaurants, you can easily spend an afternoon here without spending a dime.
I love exploring all the shops and live entertainment options. One of my favorite places to visit is The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen – this place is like a real-life Willy Wonka chocolate factory.
16. Learn about Central Florida’s history at the Orange County Regional History Center
A fun and free thing to do in Orlando for history lovers is to visit the Orange County Regional History Center. On the third Thursday of each month, they offer free admission from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Located in a historic courthouse in downtown Orlando, the history center features four floors of exhibits exploring over 10,000 years of Florida’s history.
When I visited the Orange County Regional History Center I spent the most time in the theme park era exhibit. However, there’s so much more to learn here than just theme parks. There’s a pioneer cabin and aviation exhibit, as well as so many others.
Address: 65 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801
17. Ride your Bicycle on the West Orange Trail
The West Orange Trail is a fun and free thing to do in Orlando. This trail is 22 miles long and is perfect for bike riding and hiking. There are several spots to stop and check out along the way including a beautiful butterfly garden.
I love riding my bike and rollerblading on the West Orange Trail. My favorite part of the route is cruising over an old railroad bridge near Florida’s turnpike and riding through the historic area of downtown Winter Garden.
18. View Art at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum
Another worthwhile place to visit in Orlando is the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. This museum offers free admission on Fridays from 4:00 PM through 8:00 PM. However, the museum is only $6.00 at full price, making it affordable for everyone to visit.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art features work by Louis Comfort Tiffany, including lead glass lamps and windows. It also houses pottery, late 19th and 20th-century paintings, graphics, and decorative art.
19. People watch at Icon Park
Walking around Icon Park on International Drive is a cool, free thing to do in Orlando. There’s so much to do in the area including the Orlando EYE, and the Starflyer. The best part about Icon Park is that parking and admission are free of charge, making it convenient for couples and families looking for a day out in Orlando.
I love to grab a bite to eat at Gordon Ramsay Fish and Chips – I always get a cold drink and sit and people-watch everyone coming and going. There’s also live entertainment at the Tin Roof a restaurant and bar in Icon Park.
20. Visit the Winter Garden Farmer’s Market
Winter Garden Farmers Market is a great place to visit in Orlando. One of the best things about the Winter Garden Farmers Market is that it’s free to enter. Visitors can explore the stalls and sample the delicious offerings without having to pay an admission fee. It’s a budget-friendly option for families and individuals looking for a fun day out without breaking the bank.
The market takes place every Saturday, rain or shine, from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. From organic fruits and vegetables to homemade jams and artisan bread, there’s something for everyone’s taste and preference.
21. Enjoy Sunset Walk in Kissimmee
Sunset Walk in Kissimmee is a fun thing to do in Orlando for couples on a date. Admission and parking to this complex are free, and the area is filled with awesome boutiques and delicious restaurants. There are so many to choose from!
My personal favorite place to eat at Sunset Walk is The Wharf Orlando. The Wharf Orlando is most well known for their amazing oyster bar; a restaurant that also hosts dueling piano players on their dockside during select nights. The atmosphere here is great.
22. Visit the town of Celebration
Visiting Celebration in Orlando is a fun and free thing to do. Celebration was initially founded by the Walt Disney Company in the 1950s and is picture-perfect. The town looks like it’s straight out of a Disney film set. There’s even a Wisteria Lane, the same street featured on Desperate Housewives.
I was lucky to work in Celebration for three years and spent many a lunch break exploring the town. I recommend grabbing a cup of coffee and walking along the cobble street on Main Street and exploring all the boutiques.
For those looking to take a break from the theme parks, a fun and free thing to do in Orlando is to visit Dr. Phillips Community Park. This park, situated between Universal Studios and Walt Disney World, offers so much, for you, and your furry friends.
Dr. Phillips Community Park is great for families because they have a fun splash pad for the children to enjoy. There’s even a nature trail located around a lake, and a great dog park to enjoy with your four-legged companions.
24. Ride the Walt Disney World monorail
Riding the Walt Disney World monorail is a delightful and cost-free activity to indulge in when visiting Orlando. Located within the enchanting realm of Disney, this iconic mode of transport offers a unique and enjoyable experience for all. To embark on this adventure, simply hop on at the Ticket and Transportation Center, where the monorail awaits to whisk you away.
As you glide along the elevated tracks, you’ll be treated to views of the magnificent Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Next on your itinerary is Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, a tropical paradise that will transport you to the islands of the South Pacific. Finally, the monorail will take you to Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
25. Visit Lori Wilson Park
Lori Wilson Park is a beach park located in Orlando, Florida. Spanning over 32.43 acres, it offers a wide range of amenities and attractions that make it a popular destination for events and group gatherings.
One of the main highlights of the park is its beautiful beach area, which boasts three pavilions positioned along a 1,000-foot boardwalk. These pavilions provide shaded areas where visitors can relax, have picnics, or simply enjoy the stunning views of the ocean.
Free Things To Do in Orlando: FAQs
Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions about free things to do in Orlando, Florida:
Yes, there are plenty of things you can do in Orlando for free such as the Harry P Leu Gardens and Wekiva Island.
Depending on the time of year you visit, Orlando can be expensive.
There are several free museums in Orlando such as the Rollins Museum of Art and Orange County Regional History Center.
Orlando is known for its theme parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
The best time to visit Orlando is in mid-September through early November.
Yes, Orlando is worth visiting because of all the fun and free things to do in the area.
I recommended spending between five and fourteen days in Orlando.
If you stay in the tourist areas then yes, Orlando is safe. As you would in any destination, apply common sense, remain aware of your surroundings, and keep belongings and personal items safe.
The most popular free thing to do in Orlando is to visit Disney Springs.
Fried alligator, Cuban sandwiches, and key lime pie are some of the foods you should try while in Orlando.
Although you can get a lot done in three days, I recommend you spend at least five days in Orlando.
Depending on the time of year you visit, Orlando can be expensive.
In conclusion, Orlando offers a ton of enjoyable and cost-free activities for visitors and locals alike. Whether you’re looking to explore the city’s natural beauty, engage in cultural experiences, or simply have fun, there are numerous options available that won’t break the bank.