Many know Orlando as the home to overpriced theme parks, but did you know you can have fun here and not even spend a dime? This city has transformed into a cultural destination with so much for locals and tourists of any budget to enjoy. This list has over forty examples of free Orlando things to do that are fun for all ages.
I have divided the list into free places to visit, parks, cultural exhibits, active experiences, and events. This way there is something for everyone no matter what your interest. Everything here can be done without spending any money, so you can budget for other things. Read on to discover something fun and free to do in Orlando!
Free Orlando Places to Visit
First up, I am sharing the six best places to go in Orlando for free. These are entertainment or community centers where you can walk around and often find free entertainment. Though some can be enhanced by buying a meal or a souvenir, all these options are just as fun for leisure, people-watching, and making memories.
1. Disney Springs and Disney’s Boardwalk
Though Disney World is a costly affair for many, you can actually experience a few areas of it for free! The most notable is Disney Springs. Parking here is totally free and you can enjoy live performances, window shopping, and a boat ride without paying a dollar. Of course, you may want to buy a snack or a drink to make it a more fun experience, but I have had a blast just walking around many times.
From Disney Springs, you can also take a free bus ride to any of the Disney World resorts. If you take one to the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, or Contemporary, you can take a free monorail ride and see each of the resorts and even the Magic Kingdom fireworks show. Alternatively, take the bus to Disney’s Boardwalk which offers another free entertainment district with lots of neat architecture and entertainment to see.
2. Winter Park
Winter Park is another part of Florida where you can enjoy the area for free. I love walking around Park Avenue window shopping and meeting pups. There is even a gorgeous grassy area that is free t have a picnic on.
In addition to taking a stroll on the main street, there are two gardens that are free to visit in Winter Park. The Mead Botanical garden is free to explore and is home to flower and vegetable gardens, hiking trails, and a scenic pond. You can even take a yoga or meditation class here for a small fee! The Kraft Azalea Garden is another free Winter Park thing to do with five acres to walk around and admire the scenery. It’s a must-visit in February when the colorful azaleas are in bloom!
3. Cranes Roost Park
Just north of Downtown in Altamonte Springs, Cranes Roost Park is a blast for all ages. The lake is a beautiful sight and there is a one-mile walking trail surrounding it. In addition to fishing and birdwatching here, you can also see a free nightly fountain show. Best of all, this park is a big attraction during the holidays when they have fireworks and decorations.
4. CityWalk Orlando
At Universal Orlando, you can experience all the fun of CityWalk for free if you arrive after 6 PM. The parking fee is waived after this time, except in September and October on Halloween Horror Nights. Once inside this massive entertainment complex, there is plenty to see and do for free.
Just like Disney World, you can take a free boat ride and explore the resorts. Many make for excellent photo-ops! You can also find plenty of live music and surprisingly affordable doughnuts from Voodoo and themed gift shops. If you don’t mind spending money on a meal, there are plenty of awesome options for dining, including Cowfish and Bigfire.
5. Old Town Kissimmee
Old Town Kissimmee is part amusement park, part community center that is totally free to visit. Though the rides cost money, it is free to park and walk around for sightseeing. Saturdays are an especially good time to visit when there is a free classic car show complete with a live band. You can also do karaoke for free every Tuesday and attend the free Latin Fest on the first Sunday of every month.
6. University of Central Florida Arboretum
Whether you are a UCF student or not, the Arboretum is a free place for all to visit. There are fourteen miles of different trails to explore and see Flatwoods ecosystem. It’s also a scenic spot for a picnic. If you don’t mind making a donation, you can also take one of the guided tours offered weekly and learn about the eco-initiatives run by the campus here.
Cultural Things to Do for Free in Orlando
Next up, I am sharing museums and artsy things to do in Orlando for free. Most of these will be appreciated by an older crowd, but some kids might enjoy them as well. For history and art buffs, there is no shortage of places to learn in Orlando for free!
7. Rollins Museum of Art
To see fine art for free in Orlando, Rollins Museum of Art is one of the best options. This is free to the public and open Tuesday through Sunday. Here you can see a variety of exhibits from paintings to sculptures, with ever-changing pieces.
8. Orlando Mural Tour
Orlando is right behind Miami with some of the best street art in the state. Whether on foot or by car, see how many colorful murals you can spot in Mills 50, Winter Garden or around Lake Eola, and make sure to get some pictures!
9. Lake Nona Sculpture Garden
New to Lake Nona, The Wave Hotel has a free sculpture garden open daily for the public to visit. This outdoor exhibit offers a gorgeous, winding path through famous sculptures such as The Charging Bull and Upright Motive No. 9. There is everything from modern to ancient sculptures and you can spend at least an hour here exploring the space.
10. Wells’Built Museum of African American History and Culture
Another free Orlando museum to visit is the Well’sBuilt Museum which shares information on African American History and Culture. It is open Monday through Friday inside the historic hotel that was one of the few open to African Americans during the Segregation Era. Here you can learn about the history of African Americans in Orlando, as well as discover changing exhibits.
11. Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida
Just north of Downtown Orlando, Maitland is home to the free Holocaust Memorial Center, which is open Tuesdays through Sundays. There is a convenient audio tour that will guide you through the exhibits, or you can explore on your own. Here you can learn all about the Holocaust, Anne Frank, and life for Jewish people in Eastern Europe during World War II. Though tragic, it is an important look at history and there are also rotating exhibits that offer perspectives on modern life as well.
12. Winter Park History Museum
The Winter Park History Museum is another free Orlando attraction worth visiting for a couple of hours. It is open Tuesday through Saturday and free for all. Here you can learn about topics such as Rollins College history, the trains of Winter Park, or the history of the turpentine industry. The exhibits change frequently, so check the website for information before visiting.
13. Kerouac House
Located in Ivanhoe Park, the Kerouac House is part of a unique nonprofit that hosts writers for a three-month residency. The writer usually hosts a couple of events per month and during that time you can tour the house and learn about the history of Jack Kerouac’s life here. There are also readings, potlucks, and other literary-centric events, that are free to the public. Find out when the next free event is coming up on the Facebook page here.
Another free Orlando art exhibit to check out is CityArts. This is a venue home to a variety of art galleries filled with designs by local creators. It is open Tuesday through Sunday and contains a plethora of exhibits to peruse. There are also frequent events here, including yoga classes and writing and art seminars that are open to the public for a nominal fee.
15. Third Thursday
In addition to the free gallery, CityArts also hosts a free Third Thursday event every month. This is when the Downtown arts scene comes alive with a gallery hop, live music performances, food trucks, markets, and more. The Orange County History Center offers free admission on event night, so it s a way to experience much of the art scene for free with fellow enthusiasts.
16. Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
One last Orlando museum you can visit on a budget is the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. This is home to many of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s glass arts, including the iconic Tiffany Chapel interior. It normally costs $6 to go, but you can visit for free on Friday afternoons from 4 PM to 8 PM. These free Fridays are only offered November through April, so it’s worth taking advantage of on a winter or spring Friday.
Free Orlando Parks to Visit
Orlando is home to dozens of parks and nature centers that allow access to all for free. Instead of listing all of them, I have narrowed down the top eight parks to visit in Orlando for free. Whether you like hiking, birdwatching, or just relaxing in the sun, these free Orlando parks are perfect for just that!
17. Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve
For nature enthusiasts, this preserve has over three miles of trails through a natural Florida ecosystem. You will be able to see a variety of plants and animals while breaking a sweat on a hike here.
18. Oakland Nature Preserve
Other great trails for hiking enthusiasts include Tucker Ranch Complex, the West Orange Trail is nice, and best of all, the Oakland Nature Preserve. Here you will find a preserve full of shady trails, views of nature, and even a butterfly garden.
19. Lake Rianhard
At the end of the Celebration Town Center is Lake Rianhard and a couple of gorgeous outdoor parks. If the weather is nice, taking a walk around the lake with a partner and even your dog is always a scenic activity. Finish it off with a coffee or ice cream!
20. Lake Baldwin Dog Park
Whether you have a dog or not, Lake Baldwin Dog Park is one of the best free Orlando parks to visit. This large shady park has plenty of room for pups to roam, as well as benches for anyone wanting to spectate. Kiwi loves playing in the lake here, and there is even a free shower to get your pup clean after! For those without a pup, everyone is super friendly here and it’s still fun watching the dogs play together.
21. Lake Lotus Park
Just north of Orlando, Lake Lotus park in Altamonte Springs is a free park to explore. It’s open Thursday through Sunday and has 120 acres of woods and wetlands. Visitors can take a hike on the 1-mile boardwalk, play at the playground, or go fishing. There are so many different species of plants and animals to see here that you can easily spend an hour just enjoying the surrounding nature.
22. Shingle Creek Regional Park
Over in Kissimmee, Shingle Creek Regional Park gives a peak of the start of the Everglades, with its headwaters eventually flowing all the way down. Here you can hike, bring a kayak or board for paddling, fish, or bike. Eventually, there will be a 32-mile trail connecting it to Wekiva Springs, but for now, it offers a 2-mile trail and other extensions great for nature viewing.
23. Hontoon Island State Park
Hontoon Island State Park, which is one of the best state parks near Orlando, also happens to be free to visit! You can only access it by boat which makes exploring it all the more fun! You can paddle there yourself if you have a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard or take the ferry. The free ferry leaves on the hour daily and only takes a few minutes to get there. You can even bring your dog! Once on the island a plan to spend some time hiking, paddling around, or renting a bike and enjoying the scenery.
24. Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive
For a day in nature, Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is one of the best free options in Orlando. This is an 11-mile drive filled with opportunities to see wildlife and includes a free audio tour. Keep an eye out for alligators and expect to see tons of birds. There are even places to pull over and walk around for better views.
Active Things to Do in Orlando For Free
For those who enjoy getting a little exercise, you do not need to pay for a fancy gym membership to be active in Orlando. These next six ideas are free Orlando things to do for anyone who wants to be active. I have included places to run, swim, bike, and even do yoga.
25. West Orange Bike Trail
If you have a bicycle, Orlando offers a variety of free trails to explore. West Orange Trail is the largest, as it stretches from Oakland to Apopka. Enjoy the natural sights, like butterfly gardens and public amenities along the way!
26. East Coast Beaches
If you do not mind driving, some of the best beaches in the country are less than an hour away from Orlando and are free to visit! I recommend visiting Cocoa Beach or Melbourne Beach to find coastlines with lots of free parking and pristine beaches. Here you can enjoy swimming, sunning, sand castle building, and more for only the cost of the gas to get there.
27. The Fab Five Fishing Lakes
If you have a fishing rod and some bait, there are tons of places to fish in Orlando for a cheap activity. The Fab Five Lakes (Clear, Ivanhoe, Starke, Turkey, and Underhill) are the most popular. Here you can catch bass, bluegill, catfish, and more. Docks or a boat are ideal to fish from, but there are a few banks you can cast from as well.
28. Freshwater Springs
The freshwater springs of Central Florida are a sight not to be missed! If you want to spend some time in nature, you can do so very affordably at these springs. Though they are not completely free, most are less than $3 per person to get in. Here you can explore, kayak, or swim. The following are my favorite springs to visit near Orlando:
- Blue Springs State Park in Orange City
- Wekiwa Springs State Park in Apopka
- De Leon Springs State Park in De Leon Springs
29. Free Yoga Classses
Orlando has a plethora of yogis with many offering free, donation-based classes for people on a budget. The best place for free yoga is the Center for Health and Well-Being in Winter Park. They offer a variety of different yoga classes at no cost to the community.
You can also find affordable yoga classes often on the weekend, with the most popular being the weekly $10 Sunday yoga in Lake Eola Park. Blue Moon Yoga also has a few different weekend class options on weekends for $10.
30. Weekly Run Clubs
For runners looking to meet some new friends and run with a group, there are tons of free run clubs to join, and even get some free food or drinks out of it. The most popular is at Ivanhoe Park Brewing, which hosts a run club every Wednesday at 6:30. All runners get a free pint of beer after too! Other run clubs include Home State Brewing, Ten10, Persimmon Hollow, Lake Nona Run Club, and even more here.
Free Orlando Farmer’s Markets
One of the best ways to see the character of Orlando is to attend a local farmer’s market. Most communities offer one a week and they are a blast for meeting people, finding cool products, and enjoying the fresh air. Though Lake Eola is a favorite with so much going on around the lake every weekend, these five options all have their strengths for those looking for an affordable morning activity.
31. Lake Eola
Arguably the most popular free Orlando Farmer’s Market is at Lake Eola Park every Sunday. This weekly event goes from 10 AM to 3 PM and has dozens of vendors with produce, artisan goods, and food trucks. Best of all, there is often live music and family-friendly activities.
32. Winter Park
Close by to Downtown Orlando, Winter Park also offers a Farmer’s Market on Park Avenue every Saturday from 8 AM to 1 PM. This one gets busy fast, so get there early if you want to buy produce. However, you can also find plants, crafts, and food trucks for a full morning event. Dogs are welcome and it is a great place to start off the weekend.
33. Winter Garden
Up in Winter Garden, you can attend another Saturday Farmer’s Market, weekly from 8 AM to 1 PM. This one takes over Plant Street every Saturday morning with a festive atmosphere. Vendors serve excellent baked goods, as well as sell produce, crafts, and more.
For those who want to get an early start on the weekend, Windemere has a Friday Farmer’s Market, weekly from 9 AM to 1:30 PM. The Windemere Town Square hosts plenty of vendors with everything from groceries to homemade goods. Being a Friday, this one offers a more laid-back atmosphere, with just as much shopping.
Free Events in Orlando
Lastly, I wanted to highlight four free events that occur often in Orlando. These are worth marking the calendar for, as you can enjoy some of the best experiences the city has to offer for free! Whether you like movies, music, or museums, there are plenty of free ways to enjoy it all in Orlando.
35. Thornton Park District Thursday Night Market
Thorton Park is a frequent festival spot with all sorts of monthly events taking place here. A favorite is the Wine and Art Walk on the 2nd Thursday of every month. For $10, you can sample a variety of wines while strolling the shops. However, if you skip the wine, you can enjoy the live music and peruse the night market for free.
36. Sanford Art & Jazz Night
Over in Sanford, there is a free art and jazz night on the third Thursday of every month. Historic Downtown Sanford hosts this monthly festival which celebrates local art and music. Check out this event for dinner and dancing from 6 to 9 PM.
37. Orlando Movie Nights
Another type of free Orlando event to look out for is Movie Nights. All over the city, you can find free outdoor movie nights that are fun for the whole family. Keep an eye on Facebook events to see the exact dates, but here are some locations with frequent movie nights.
- Winter Park – Second Thursday of the Month 7 or 8 PM
- Altamonte Springs – Second Saturday of the Month, 8 PM
- A La Cart – Every Monday, 7 PM
- Avalon Park – One a month, varying
38. Lake Nona Art After Dark
Every Friday night, Lake Nona comes alive with a fun art festival. Different art installations are displayed on the beacon. From 6 to 9 PM, the Town Center is bustling with art vendors, food trucks, music, and more. Many of the Lake Nona restaurants offer specials and it’s an enjoyable time for the whole community.
39. Free Museum Days
If you are a Bank of America customer, you can visit four Orlando museums for free the first weekend of every month! This promotion has been going on for over a year and allows Bank of America customers to enter the Orlando Museum of Art, Science Center, Orange County Regional History Center, and the Mennelo Museum for free. A valid bank account or credit card is required per person, so consider opening free kids saving account for kids or adding your spouse as an authorized user to get the whole family in!
40. Leu Gardens Free Days
The Leu Gardens is my favorite oasis in the city and usually charge admission to visit. However, if you are on a budget, you can enter for free on select days of the year. As of 2023, March 11th and 12th and April 3rd offer free admission to the public. Keep an eye on the website to see when more free days are announced!
Know Before You Go: Free Orlando Things to Do
I hope this guide proved to you that you can have fun in Orlando without spending a dollar! From festivals to nature trails, there is plenty to experience on a budget. Whether you are a local or visiting, here are some things to keep in mind when finding free Orlando things to do:
- Keep an eye on the weather when planning an activity in Orlando. Florida weather can change quickly, especially in the summer with storms popping up. It also is much hotter here than on the coast, so do not plan to be outside all day in the summer.
- You will have to pay for parking in the city and near tourist locations. Pretty much most places in Downtown Orlando and on I-Drive have a small parking cost. If you are concerned, look it up ahead of time or take an Uber.
- Avoid I-4 during rush hour as much as possible. This is where there is the worst traffic! Traffic in the city is bad all around between 4 PM to 7 PM most days though.
- If you are looking for a place to grab a meal while out and about, check out my complete Orlando restaurant guide.
Looking for more ideas for things to do in Orlando? Head over to Etsy to get my downloadable Orlando bucket list to keep track of your adventures!