Home to seven of the world’s top theme parks, Orlando is the country’s No. 1 favorite family vacation destination and Theme Park Capital of the World®. But Orlando isn’t just the most visited tourism destination in the United States because of its world-class theme parks, famed chef eateries or sprawling resorts. Thanks to a wealth of affordable and unique experiences, it’s also a top value destination for families looking to save money on their vacation. Orlando offers multiple free and cost-effective activities for $20 or less including museums, parks, boat rides, festivals, markets, go-karts and more.
FREE THINGS TO DO IN ORLANDO
Theme parks and attractions
With a nod to Central Florida’s refreshing natural springs, this outdoor escape features 120 acres of unique boutiques, award-winning restaurants and lively entertainment. Relax by the water, stroll through shops, make fun memories and take plenty of selfies.
This action-packed hotspot features an eclectic mix of themed restaurants, nightclubs, a movie theater, shopping and non-stop entertainment. Plus, parking is free after 6 p.m. (except during Halloween Horror Nights). Take in the sights and sounds, and then board the free water taxi service to cruise canals that meander throughout Universal Orlando Resort. Hop off to explore the resorts and entertainment along the way including Musica della Notte, a free evening of music at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel.
Snag a selfie in front of The Wheel, the 400-foot observation wheel that towers over International Drive. Home to a variety of restaurants, bars and attractions, this entertainment complex offers free parking and there is no charge to enjoy the complex. The grassy area in the middle is perfect for relaxing with the family or an Instagram shot with The Wheel in the background. Admission to the onsite attractions requires purchasing.
Entertainment, Parks & Recreation
Located in Lake Nona’s Town Center, this fun open-air spot is constructed entirely from repurposed shipping containers. Its shady green spaces are perfect for lounging and listening to live music. Its recently expanded Kids’ Area routinely rotates its games and play structures, and there are two beach volleyball nets set up. Dogs are welcome throughout the park, especially in the Barkxi dog park.
Dr. P. Phillips Community Park
Complete with a splash pad free on weekdays, picnic areas and a dog park, as well as baseball, basketball and soccer fields, the Dr. P. Phillips Community Park has options to entertain the whole family.
Harry P. Leu Gardens
This beautiful botanical garden offers free admission and storytelling for young children on the first Monday of every month, excluding holidays. Visitors can also take part in a free plant clinic on Wednesdays.
Visitors can picnic along the shore, enjoy a concert at the amphitheater, feed the swans and celebrate holidays in Orlando’s famous downtown park. There’s even free outdoor yoga on Sunday mornings. Across the park, the Orlando Farmer’s Market offers seasonal farm fresh produce from local growers, as well as baked goods, cheeses and other specialty foods.
USTA National Campus
The USTA National Campus in Lake Nona offers an exciting way to enjoy tennis with top-notch facilities, a full agenda of tennis events and 100 fully lit courts. Family Zone 60′ and 36′ courts are available at no charge when programming isn’t scheduled.
Arts, Culture & History
The First Wednesday of every month, staff from the Cornell Fine Arts Museum lead a complimentary happy hour tour of the hotel’s extensive collection of contemporary art; no reservation required.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
Located in scenic Winter Park, this museum displays the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, including his famous lamps, art glass, pottery and jewelry. It is open to the public at no charge on certain holidays and always free for children 12 and under. . Regular price is only $6 for adults, making it very affordable even during normal admission.
Located on the gorgeous campus of Rollins College in Winter Park, this museum features one of the oldest and most distinguished art collections in Florida, including more than 5,000 objects ranging from antique to contemporary. Admission is free year-round.
Home to four separate and unique art galleries, the museum brings together visual and performing arts in the heart of downtown Orlando. Admission is free.
Music at the Casa
Casa Feliz, a restored Spanish home turned museum, hosts live music performances on Sunday afternoons from noon to 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts
The community of Eatonville – the oldest incorporated African-American municipality in the U.S. – is the hometown of writer, activist and anthropologist, Zora Neale Hurston. The museum provides a place where the public can view art that celebrates the life and accomplishments of the famous Florida novelist.
Wineries & Breweries
Orlando’s original craft brewery offers free tours starting at 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and parking is free.
Located in the heart of Orlando’s Mills 50 district, this local business offers free tours at their environmentally-friendly winery Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 7 p.m.
$15 OR LESS PER PERSON EXPERIENCES
Orlando Museum of Art
Along with showcasing local, national and international works of art, the museum has two discovery centers for children. Admission for adults is $15, $8 for seniors (65+), and $5 for college students with valid ID and children ages 4-17. Children ages 3 and under are free, as are active and retired military personnel.
Located on International Drive is the world’s tallest swing ride, standing at 450 feet. This unique attraction appeals to guests of all ages. The ride offers tickets for $10 per person when bought online – and $12.21 per person at the gate.
Pirates Cove Adventure Golf
Play two 18-hole miniature golf experiences in a pirate-themed setting with locations in the Lake Buena Vista and International Drive areas. Pricing for the location on Lake Buena Vista is $11.95 per adult, $10.95 for children ages 4-12 and free for children ages 3 and under. International Drive location prices are: $14.50 per adult, $12.95 for children ages 4-12 and free for children ages 3 and under. Admission is available for the 36-hole adventure at an additional cost.
In the heart of downtown Orlando, swan boats at Lake Eola Park are $15 per boat for 30 minutes of pure pedal-powered fun. Guests can view the park, surrounding cityscape and the iconic Lake Eola fountain up close.
West Orange Trail Bikes and Blades Co.
With hourly, daily and weekly road bike rentals visitors can explore the 24-mile West Orange Trail. Guided tours along the West Orange Trail and Central Florida’s historical towns are also available. Rentals start at $7 per hour and $30 per day.
Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour
A relaxing narrated cruise through the lakes and canals of historic Winter Park, this peaceful boat tour showcases natural wildlife and mansions that line the waterways. Admission is $14 per adult and $7 for children ages 2-11.
$20 OR LESS PER PERSON EXPERIENCES
Andretti Indoor Karting & Games
Visitors can enjoy indoor kart racing in a climate-controlled track full of turns and high speed. Other activities range from laser tag and ropes course to classic arcade games. Admission begins at $14.95 and up for racing. The attraction also offers a full table-service menu.
SAK Comedy Lab
Enjoy hilarious improv sketches on select nights as the players take suggestions from audience members to create show-stopping scenes and songs. General Admission tickets vary per show and range from $5 to $18.
Always keep in mind that buying tickets online ahead of time at OrlandoTickets.com, Visit Orlando’s official ticket website, can be a big-time money saver for the more expensive Orlando attractions and experiences.
What is your favorite FREE or cost effective local experience? Tell us in the comments!