16 Free Things to Do in Orlando While on Vacation

Steve Cummings

Orlando, FL

Orlando, known as the “Theme Park Capital of the World,” may initially seem like a destination that requires deep pockets to enjoy. However, beyond the glitz of the theme parks and luxury resorts lies a world of adventure and fun for free. Yes, you read it right! Believe it or not, you can easily enjoy your Orlando vacation without spending a penny, aside from food and transportation. 

Orlando has no shortage of free attractions, from public parks and nature preserves to art galleries and museums. With our guide to free things to do in Orlando, you can fully experience the city without breaking the bank. In the end, you can treat yourself to a delicious dinner at one of Orlando's best restaurants with the money you saved.  

So, let's check out the 16 free things to do in Orlando! 

1. Visit Disney Springs

Disney Springs
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To make your Orlando vacation memorable, head to Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort. It is an extensive shopping, dining, and entertainment complex with no admission or parking fee. You can walk around its beautifully themed area, browse shops, and enjoy live music as well as water and light shows each night. 

Disney Springs hosts numerous free festivals and events throughout the year. It also features family-friendly attractions like the T-Rex Restaurant and LEGO Imagination Center. Here, your kids can enjoy Disney magic without paying for pricey park tickets.

You can also meet and take photos with beloved Disney characters. While you won't find Mickey Mouse or Cinderella here, you can still encounter famous characters like the seven-foot-tall Coca-Cola Polar Bear, who is always ready for bear hugs and selfies at the Coca-Cola Store. It is a perfect spot for family-friendly fun and entertainment. 

Open Hours:  Sun-Thur: 10 am – 11 pm, Fri-Sat: 10 am – 11:30 pm

Location: 1486 East Buena Vista Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 

2. Stroll around Lake Eola Park

Credit: Depositphotos

Besides expensive theme parks, Orlando has many public parks, including Lake Eola Park.  This 43-acre public park is a perfect spot for budget-conscious travelers in the heart of Downtown Orlando.

There are many things to do in the park. Its 0.9-mile sidewalk around the lake is perfect for taking a stroll and enjoying the views of Orlando's skyline. If you want to paddle through the lake, rent swan-shaped boats there. There are also real swans and other birds. You can feed them or take pictures with them. 

If you're visiting the park during the holiday season, stop by at night to see the festive decorations and twinkling lights. The sight of the historic fountain, especially when illuminated at night, is awe-inspiring. Furthermore, the park hosts free events, including concerts, plays, and movie nights at the Walt Disney Amphitheater. It is a lively spot to spend an evening without spending a penny.

Open Hours: Mon-Sun, 10 am – 7 pm

Location: 512 E Washington St, Orlando, FL 32801

3. Admire Artwork at the Rollins Museum of Art

Meet your inner artist with a visit to Rollins Museum of Art,  just a short drive from downtown Orlando in Winter Park. The museum is both a university art museum and a community museum. It regularly offers free tours and activities for visitors of all ages. 

Inside, you'll find diverse artworks spanning centuries and continents. From ancient artifacts to contemporary masterpieces, you can admire American art, European Old Master paintings, and interesting contemporary pieces. There are also over 2,000 drawings, photos, prints, and sculptures. 

The museum also hosts rotating exhibitions and ongoing programs. There is always something new to see and learn. Once you've explored the artworks, take a leisurely walk around the beautiful campus grounds.

Open Hours: Mon: Closed, Tue-Fri: 10 am – 4 p, and Sat-Sun: 12–5 pm

Location: 1000 Holt Ave Box 2765, Winter Park, FL

4. Hike Through West Orange Trail

If you're looking for free outdoor adventures in Orlando, West Orange Trail is a must-visit. This 22-mile trail stretches from Winter Garden to Apopka, just west of Orlando. With a paved pathway, this multi-use trail is a favorite among cyclists, runners, and walkers.

Park at West Orange Trail Bikes & Blades to start your adventure. Then, ride your bike, skates, or walk toward Winter Garden along the paved rail trail. Along the route, you'll encounter attractions like a wildlife preserve, a butterfly garden, and the charming village of Oakland. After reaching downtown Winter Garden, you can take a break at Plant Street Market or other delicious restaurants.

After that, for about 10 miles, the trail meanders through areas with a few trees and orange groves. This part of the trail is also open for people who want to ride horses. Further, you'll reach Apopka, a rapidly growing community in central Florida. You can end your journey here or continue to its southern endpoint at Vick Road. 

Location: 501 Crown Point Cross RD, Winter Garden, FL

Open Hours: Sunrise to Sunset 

5. Stroll Along Disney's Boardwalk

Disney's Boardwalk
Credit: Depositphotos

Step back in time to the prehistoric boardwalk era at Disney's Boardwalk! This lively quarter-mile promenade has fantastic dining spots, shops, and fun nightlife. Wandering here gives a nostalgic vibe of Atlantic City and Coney Island boardwalks. 

Stroll by the waterfront, admire the vintage architecture, enjoy afternoon games, and be entertained by evening street performers, including comedians, magicians, and even fire eaters – all for free. Moreover, like Disney Springs, it is conveniently connected to Disney's free ferry system. The boardwalk is close to Epcot, and you can also take a boat to Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Location: 2101 North Epcot Resorts Blvd, Lake Buena Vista, FL

6. Have a Picnic at Kraft Azalea Garden 

Enjoy a peaceful walk in the beautiful Kraft Azalea Garden if you want to escape the city noise. This 5-acre park is located in Winter Park along the shores of Lake Maitland and is also called Winter Park's Secret Garden. 

This public park is open year-round and features winding pathways, eight benches, an Exedra Monument, and giant cypress trees, which provide shade from the Florida sun. With towering cypress trees and abundant azaleas, the garden is dreamy for photographers, especially during spring. Don't forget to bring a picnic basket and some snacks to enjoy the calm atmosphere with your friends and family.

Location: 1365 Alabama Drive, Winter Park, FL

Open Hours: Daily: 8 am to sunset 

7. Take a Free Tasting Tour at Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards

Wine Tasting
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Just a 30-minute drive west of downtown Orlando, Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards is a top winery in Florida, attracting over 160,000 visitors annually. Visitors can enjoy free winery tours, wine tastings daily from 10 am to 5 pm, and various festivals and events. During this 45-minute tour, you'll learn about the wine production process through a 10-minute video presentation. Your personal tour guide will then take you to the vineyards, followed by a tasting session in the tasting room. 

During the wine tasting, you can sample various award-winning wines, from dry to sweet and sparkling. Moreover, on Saturdays and Sundays, Lakeridge hosts Weekends at the Winery, which features an outdoor wine bar, free live music, and delicious food options. So, why not enjoy a complimentary wine tasting while you're in the city?

Tour and Tasting Hours: Mon-Sat: 10 am – 5 pm, Sun: 11 am – 5 pm

Location: 19239 US Highway 27 North, Clermont. FL

 8. Visit Old Town in Kissimmee

Old Town Kissimmee
Credit: Depositphotos

If you're looking for free entertainment in Orlando, hop on a quick trip down I-4 to reach Old Town. This nostalgic entertainment spot in Kissimmee is only five miles from Walt Disney World. Spanning 18 acres, its tree-lined brick streets house over 70 shops, restaurants, and amusement rides. Admission and parking are both free. 

Here, you can enjoy free classic car exhibitions and live music. Owners proudly display their vintage vehicles every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, accompanied by live band performances on the main stage. It is a fun-filled weekend for vintage car lovers and spectators alike!

One of its main attractions is classic amusement park rides. You can ride on the 86-foot Ferris wheel or drop tower or experience the thrill of the roller coaster—all without spending a dime. 

Open Hours:  Mon-Sun: 11 am – 11 pm

Location: 5770 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, FL

9. Visit Harry P. Leu Gardens on Free Admission Day

On the first Monday of every month, the Harry P. Leu Gardens welcomes visitors to explore its 50 acres of beautiful gardens for free. The park is in the Audubon Park Garden District, just a short drive from downtown Orlando. 

This botanical paradise features over 40 plant collections, including a tropical rainforest and a rose nursery. The park is divided into many themed gardens, such as the tropical stream and butterfly gardens.

Moreover, this beautiful place has landscaped grounds, lakes, and three miles of winding trails shaded by 200-year-old oak trees and camellia forests. At Leu Gardens, you can admire the beauty of fragrant flowers, relax under the shade of giant trees, and learn about diverse plant species. 

Open Hours: Mon-Sun, 9 am – 6 pm

Location: 1920 N Forest Ave, Orlando, FL

10. Visit Art Galleries at CityArts 

Visit Downtown CityArts for a free art-filled adventure. From Tuesday to Saturday, CityArts offers free entry to visitors and locals. As the main attraction of the Downtown Arts District, it features seven galleries, presentation and event spaces, and a cafe. These galleries exhibit local and international art, including European paintings, contemporary local jewelry, and art glass. 

On the third Thursday of every month, you can attend art show openings at multiple galleries. Don't miss their exciting events like the Gallery Hop, which includes unique displays and live music. With constantly rotating exhibitions, there's always something new to explore!

Open Hours: Tue-Sun: 11 am – 6 pm

Location: 39 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, FL

11. Enjoy the City Views from Orlando Urban Trail

If you want to experience the best views of Orlando's urban landscape, there's no better way to do it than by taking a stroll along the Orlando Urban Trail. This 3-mile trail, the backbone of Orlando's trail system, offers unbeatable views of the city's skyline.

It begins at Lake Highland, winds through the Mills 50 area, and eventually reaches Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park. The trail passes through the beautiful Loch Haven Park, the Gaston Edwards Trail, and Orlando Cultural Park. Along the way, you can see the diverse architecture in Orwin Manor and enjoy the panoramic views of the city's six lakes. It is also a perfect spot to snap some memorable photos. 

Location: 400 South Orange Avenue, Orlando, Florida 

12. Check Out Universal CityWalk at Night

Next on my list of free things to do in Orlando is visiting Universal CityWalk! Known as “The Epicenter of Awesome,” this entertainment complex is located near the theme park at Universal Orlando Resort. This 30-acre entertainment hub features restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and shops. You can enjoy free live DJ performances, dance shows, and complimentary water taxis between CityWalk and Universal theme parks, including Universal Islands of Adventure, Universal Volcano Bay, and Universal Studios Florida. There is a free splash area for families traveling with kids.

If you're coming just to browse, visit in the evening when it's all lit up—perfect for taking photos. Moreover, the CityWalk offers free parking after 6 pm. 

Open Hours: Mon-Sun:  8 am – 12 pm

Location: 6000 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, FL 

13. Meet Nature at UCF Arboretum

North Carolina Arboretum
credit: depositphotos

The UCF Arboretum is a perfect escape for nature lovers and is located on the University of Central Florida campus. This 82-acre natural wonder was established in 1983. Today, it is open to the public. Visitors can enjoy a free self-guided tour or join a paid educational tour.  

The arboretum features several miles of walking trails through wetland ecosystems, a greenhouse, and a community garden. Along the trails, you will spot wildlife, observe conservation efforts, and admire over 1,500 labeled plants and trees worldwide. The wetland ecosystems and garden collections are a highlight. Plant lovers can participate in volunteer initiatives to help the planet and the environment.

Open Hours: Mon-Fri: 8 am – 4:30 pm

Location: 4312 Scorpius St. Orlando, FL

14. Take a Tour of the Icon Park

If you're looking for a free, family-friendly spot in Orlando, head to Icon Park. This 20-acre entertainment district is on International Drive, just south of the Universal Orlando Resort. The complex offers many attractions, shops, and restaurants, with free parking and entry for visitors. You can wander around the area, enjoy window shopping, listen to live music performances, and observe people doing their business. Be sure to take some pictures of The Orlando Eye at Icon Park, a 400-foot Ferris wheel soaring above the Orlando skyline. Don't miss the light shows at sunset for a memorable experience.

Open Hours: Sun-Thur: 12 – 10 pm, Fir-Sat: 11 – 12 am

Location: 8375 International Drive, Orlando, FL

15. Visit the Fort Christmas Historical Park

For history lovers, Fort Christmas Historical Park is a must-visit place! A visit to Fort Christmas provides an opportunity to learn about Florida's rich heritage. Located on the east side of Greater Orlando, this park offers free admission for all visitors.

As you wander the park, you'll encounter a replica of Fort Christmas, originally constructed during the Second Seminole War. This fort provides a glimpse into the region's military history and the challenges faced during that era.

In addition to the fort, the park features several restored pioneer homes and exhibits showcasing artifacts, military displays, and architectural designs. 

Kids will love the playground and jungle gym, while adults can enjoy the park's free baseball, tennis, and basketball facilities.

Open Hours: Mon-Sun: 8 am – 6 pm

Location: 1300 N Fort Christmas Rd, Christmas, FL

16. Visit Celebration

No list of free things to do in Orlando is complete without visiting Celebration in Kissimmee. This quaint community, developed by the Walt Disney Company in 1994, offers a nostalgic feel with its beautiful streets and Disney-inspired architecture. It is a suburb of Orlando located only a 30-minute from downtown. 

Stroll through the town center, where Market Street is bustling with shops and cafes. Don't miss the scenic Lakeside Promenade, perfect for a peaceful walk or a relaxing moment by the water.

Celebration hosts various events throughout the year, from craft festivals to antique car shows. And during the holiday season, Market Street transforms into a magical winter wonderland, complete with nightly snowfall. Celebration Town Center offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of theme parks and other attractions in Orlando.

Location: 610 Sycamore St, Suite 220, Celebration, FL


What is the Cheapest Way to Get Around Orlando?

If you're looking for an affordable way to get around Orlando, the Lynx bus system is your best bet. It covers many routes across the city and its surroundings, making it easy to get to various attractions without spending too much money. With frequent schedules, the Lynx bus is a convenient and budget-friendly option for navigating this popular tourist destination.

What are the Free Things to Do at Disney World?

Visitors can enjoy several free activities at Disney World, such as strolling around Disney's Boardwalk, visiting Disney Springs, checking out the different resorts, and more. 

Are there any free activities in Orlando suitable for couples?

Orlando has several free romantic activities, such as enjoying a sunset at Lake Eola, visiting the Kraft Azalea Garden, and participating in a wine tasting at Lakeridge Winery. These experiences offer couples a chance to enjoy quality time together without spending.

Final Thoughts

There you go! Orlando has something for every visitor, from outdoor markets and beautiful parks to museums and art galleries. I hope our list of the top free things to do in Orlando has helped you plan your next vacation. Remember, the best experiences in life are not always the ones you pay for, and Orlando is the perfect place to discover just that. So, whether you're saving money or just want to experience something new, check out these free activities during your next trip to Orlando.

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