61 cheap and free things to do in Orlando

Cheap and free things to so in Orlando

With an ever-expanding lineup of attractions at Disney World and Universal, the City Beautiful always has something exciting to offer. But there’s much more to Florida’s tourism hotspot than big-ticket entertainment. There are heaps of cheap and free things to do in Orlando, and they are just as fun as the theme parks.

Whether you want to wet your whistle at the city’s only organic brewery, discover Orlando’s great outdoors or take in the iconic skyline at Lake Eola, here’s a list of things to do on the cheap!

*Please bear with us, we are working hard to be accurate but these are unusual times, so check your plans before heading out!

Rediscover that vacation feeling in Orlando

Family activities in Orlando

Fun and entertainment

1) Check out Universal’s Citywalk
It may cost to get into the theme parks but you can visit Universal’s Citywalk entertainment complex and you only have to pay for parking. Citywalk is a mix of shopping, restaurants and nightlife, with plenty of free music and entertainment. Depending on the month of the year there may be additional free family activities throughout the complex.

2) Stay in a cheap villa with themed rooms
If you’re looking for cheap accommodation, Orlando is home to a huge range of affordable vacation rentals with amazing themed rooms. Whether your little ones love princesses, pirates, wizards or video games, there’s a themed bedroom just for them. What’s more, they’re cheaper than you think! You can book a vacation rental with themed rooms like the ones below from as little as $80 per night – see the Top Villas website for more details.

Cheap vacation rentals with themed rooms in Orlando

3) Visit Disney Springs
Things to do in Orlando Fl don’t get much better than this. Disney Springs complex at Walt Disney Resort offers plenty of low-cost and totally free ways to spend the day. This bustling waterside promenade is packed with unique boutiques, one-of-a-kind eateries and cutting-edge entertainment including live music and specialty acts. Little ones will love the Lego Imagination Center, where they can custom build their own Lego figures for free.

4) Hang out at I-Drive 360
The swanky $250m entertainment destination is home to some awe-inspiring sights. There’s the 400-foot Orlando Eye observation wheel, a Madame Tussaud’s, a Sealife Aquarium, and an Animals Unveiled ‘museum’. The attractions require tickets but entry to the complex is free, and there are plenty of restaurants, shops, bars and free entertainment.

5) Watch America’s most famous car cruise
Take a stroll through the Old Town amusement park in Kissimmee and you’ll find great shopping, dining and family entertainment. Located on Route 192, just minutes from Disney, this retro walking district is a recreation of a classic Florida town and offers a welcome break from the larger theme parks. On Saturday nights there’s a classic car cruise, one of America’s most famous, featuring hundreds of classic cars and free entertainment for all ages.

6) See ghostly goings-on at Spook Hill
No list of things to do in Orlando would be complete without mentioning Spook Hill. Each year visitors from far and wide are drawn to this unique spooky attraction at Lake Wales, around an hour’s drive south of Downtown. Visit Spook Hill, park your car in neutral, and be amazed as it appears to roll uphill without any form of momentum. Is the hill haunted, like some local people suggest? Or is it just an optical illusion?

Parks & nature

7) Soak up the sights at Lake Eola
This 43-acre oasis in the heart of Downtown offers spectacular views over the city’s iconic skyline. You can eat a picnic next to the lake, feed the resident swans, enjoy one of the many free concerts at the amphitheater, or pop by the farmer’s market on Sundays.

8) Kick back in the Harry P. Leu Gardens
For family activities in Orlando for the whole family, head to Orlando’s most beautiful gardens. Home to an array of beautiful landscaped gardens and the fascinating Leu House Museum, this gorgeous spot is a great way to spend the day learning about turn-of-the-century living for the families who once called this residence home. Entrance is around $3 for children, $10 for adults and free for children age 4 and under.

9) Take a hike
Things to do in Orlando Fl can be more relaxing than you might think. Escape the city at Mead Botanical Garden, an immaculately manicured estate run by the City of Winter Park. Located just a few miles from the downtown business district, there’s a butterfly garden, citrus trees, a lake, and acres of shady picnic spots. There’s also a swamp boardwalk, a pretty hiking trail and an old amphitheater. Entrance is free of charge.

10) Visit a wildlife haven
A wildlife haven just a stone’s throw from Disney World, Tibet Butler Preserve boasts miles of well-maintained hiking trails for hours of family fun – all for free.

11) Go manatee spotting
Blue Spring State Park is a dedicated manatee refuge where you can spot Florida’s famous manatee during the winter months. Located west of the city, around 40 minutes’ drive from Orlando, the park is a popular tourist destination where you can also go canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, wildlife watching and swimming.

12) Learn to swim like a mermaid

If you’re staying at Encore Resort, you can use the huge aqua park for free, plus your little ones can join the resort’s incredible Mermaid Academy. They have mermaid tails for all ages, and classes are on a first come, first served basis. For other mermaid-inspired fun, head to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park where you can see live mermaid shows – there’s also a waterpark and boat rides.

Encore Resort Orlando is a fantastic family resort

13) Go tubing at Kelly Park
A top spot for family activities in Orlando, Kelly Park features a free flowing natural spring and a crystal clear creek where you can float the days away. Along with hiking trails, you’ll find volleyball courts and a playground. You can bring your own tubes or rent one just outside the park. Entrance is around $5 per vehicle for 3-8 people.

14) See a sinkhole
One of the most unique and fascinating forests in the state, Ocala National Forest is known for its huge areas of pine scrub forest, its natural pools and its canoe runs. There are hundreds of trails to explore including one that runs past a sinkhole and the remains of 19th-century homesteads.

15) Go mountain biking
Every outdoor enthusiast will love the Snowhill Trail, also known as Little Big Econ State Forest. Hailed as the city’s largest trail system, mountain bikers can enjoy all day use of the trails for just $2 per person. Not only is it one of the cheapest things to do, it’ll also keep you entertained for hours.

Window shopping

16) Visit Orlando’s most popular shopping mall
With more than 20 million visitors a year the Florida Mall is one of the most popular tourist destinations. There are more than 250 stores and restaurants, as well as a free kids’ play area. You can explore the impressive array of shops, or just window shop and admire the mall’s superbly styled interior.

17) Take a trip to The Mall at Millenia
No list of things to do in Orlando Fl would be complete without mentioning shopping. You’ll be as amazed by the architecture as you are by the designer stores at the Mall at Millenia. Located just off Interstate 4 at Conroy Road, this uber-modern mall boasts a dazzling selection of exclusive brands in an exquisite environment, adorned with gorgeous art, relaxing fountains and breathtaking glass ceilings.

18) Grab a bargain at the Premium Outlets
You can buy designer brands at extraordinary prices with savings of up to 65% at Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets, located in Vineland and along International Drive.

Day trips and tours

19) Celebrate in the town of Celebration
Visit the Disney-made town of Celebration and marvel at gorgeous gardens, huge houses and all the magic of Disney living. Children can play in the interactive fountain plus, depending on when you visit, you can see artificial snow or falling leaves.

20) Chill at a secret garden
Dubbed Florida’s ‘secret garden’, the 5-acre Kraft Azalea Garden is located on the shore of Lake Maitland and is open all year round from 8am until dusk. Unique, secluded and picturesque, a day trip here is one of the best things to do in Orlando if you’re looking to just chill.

Things to do in Orlando for families

21) See where 10,000 alligators live
Located in Oviedo, just a stone’s throw from the busiest attractions, Lake Jesup is home to more than 10,000 alligators as well as turtles of all sizes and thousands of species of birds. Black Hammock Adventures runs a free live gator exhibit, plus airboat tours for around $30 per person.

22) Play games (and more) at the local library
The Orlando Public Library is open to all, and hosts a variety of events including special readings, arts and crafts, family movie nights, board games, and musical events. This is a great options if you’re looking for things to do in Orlando Florida – for free.

23) Explore the Everglades National Park
Located in southern Florida, a few hours’ drive away, the Everglades National Park offers up-close views of alligators and crocodiles, as well as walking tours, airboat tours, bike trips and canoeing excursions. Entrance per car is around $20 and is valid for 7 consecutive days.

Step back in time

24) Take a wander through Fort Christmas Historical Park
Fort Christmas was built in present day Christmas, by US army soldiers and Alabama volunteers during the Second Seminole War. Today you can see a full-scale replica of the fort, located just south of Christmas Creek, less than a mile from its original location. There’s also a small museum at the site, along with several restored ‘Florida Cracker’ houses depicting rural Florida life from the 1870s through the 1930s. Entrance is free.

25) Explore Church Street
The historic downtown district is home to some of America’s oldest houses and prettiest neighbourhoods. You can see one of the frequent concerts on the bandstand at nearby Wall Street Plaza, and take advantage of the regular drinks offers and seasonal specials at the surrounding restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

26) Visit the Singing Tower at Bok Tower Gardens
Located in the rolling citrus hills in historic Lake Wales, Bok Tower Gardens is home to acres of must-see scenery and a gothic 205-foot Singing Tower housing one of the world’s finest carillons. There are immaculately manicured gardens and walking trails to explore, plus daily carillon concerts that can be heard throughout the gardens. Entrance is $15 for adults and $5 for children, and free of charge for under-5s.

27) Experience ‘Big Tree Park’
Step back in time at Big Tree Park and marvel at the ‘Senator’ site, once home to the oldest and largest cypress tree in the world. Unfortunately the tree was destroyed by fire, but a memorial has since been developed around its massive stump, and a huge clone tree has been planted nearby. 

28) Wander through the Bradlee-McIntyre House
Built in 1885 for noted Boston architect Nathaniel Jeremiah Bradlee, the Bradlee-McIntyre House is the only surviving Queen Anne-style cottage in the Orange and Seminole counties. The three-story, 13-room winter vacation house features an octagonal tower and “ginger-bread” trim typical of the flamboyant houses of the period.

Hit the beach

29) Picnic at Cocoa Beach
The beach will always be one of the best family activities in Orlando, and of the beaches that Orlandoans most love is Cocoa Beach, located just east of the city straight down the State Road 528. Facilities include a 300-acre parking lot, large picnic pavilions, picnic tables, walkways and a bathhouse with outdoor showers and restrooms. It’s around an hour’s drive; all you need to pay for is the gas.

Free things to do in Orlando

30) Go swimming at Daytona Beach
An hour’s drive from Orlando, Daytona is one of the few Florida beaches where you can drive onto the sand. This traditional Atlantic Ocean beach also boasts a boardwalk and a pier, plus child-friendly attractions like a dazzling water park and a family entertainment center. Nearby you’ll find the Daytona International Speedway, historic St. Augustine and the lovely New Smyrna Beach.

31) Hit the Gulf Coast
You might not expect beaches to make the list of things to do in Orlando, but they’re easy to get to from the city. It may be a longer drive than the east coast beaches but Clearwater is well worth the effort. Three miles of powdery sands and an abundance of family attractions await in this reawakening old Florida town along the Gulf Coast. Once you’re there you’ll find plenty of affordable eateries and beach shops.

Museums & galleries

32) Explore Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
Located in Winter Park, this fascinating art museum houses the world’s best collection of works by designer Louis Comfort Tiffany. There’s also a major collection of American pottery, and fine collections of 19th- and 20th-century American paintings, graphics and decorative arts. Admission is just a few dollars for adults and free for under 12s.

33) Get inspired at the Grand Bohemian Gallery
For cultural things to do where better to head than this? Hailed as one of the most eclectic and visually stimulating art galleries in America, the Grand Bohemian is home to awe-inspiring local contemporary art and jewellery, along with European paintings from the 19th century.

34) Visit the Museum of Seminole County History
Situated in Sanford, this museum offers a glimpse of Seminole County history through a wide variety of exhibits, including maps, photographs, documents and mementos that tell the stories of Seminole County’s inhabitants, their lives, lineages and local legends.

35) Be wowed at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum
The Cornell Fine Arts Museum has one of Florida’s finest collections of fine art, including works by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Thomas Moran, among others. Entrance is free and you can also enjoy a free 30-minute tour of the museum.

36) Check out Orlando’s Museum of Art

The Orlando Museum of Art showcases American, African and ancient American art, with a discovery centre, a shop and free parking. Entrance is $15 for adults, $5 for children and free for ages 3 and under.

37) Appreciate African American art at the Hurston Museum
Located in Eatonville, the Hurston Museum takes you on a journey through history starting with the acclaimed author Zora Neale Hurston’s humble beginnings. From 19th-century furniture crafted by slaves to contemporary paintings by urban children, the museum showcases the work of many African artists. Entrance is free.

38) Visit the Holocaust museum
This sobering Holocaust museum at Maitland, around 15 minutes’ drive from Downtown, is home to a large collection of artefacts from the Holocaust. It’s open every day except Saturdays.

39) Go gallery hopping at City Arts Factory
This funky art gallery is a must-see during your vacation, featuring the largest collection of galleries in downtown Orlando. There are local and international works of art rotated on a monthly basis, set against a giant factory background. Entrance is free Tuesday through Saturday from 11am until 6pm

Food and drink

40) Pig out at a fun farmers’ market
One of the most popular family activities in Orlando – get a great deal on fresh local produce at the weekly Winter Park Farmers’ Market. Held in a vintage train depot, just off Park Avenue, this bustling farmers’ market is a top spot for perusing and purchasing a variety of fresh produce, baked goods, artisanal foods and plants. It takes place every Saturday from 7am until 1pm, all year round.

41) Try local wine at Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards
A sprawling country estate some 25 miles west of the city, Lakeridge ranks as Florida’s largest premium winery. Complimentary tours and wine tasting are offered 7 days a week and there are many free festivals and events throughout the year.

42) Tour Orlando’s only organic beer brewery
Check out the giant fermenting vats and learn how organic beer is brewed on a tour of Orlando’s only organic beer brewery. Every weekend the Orlando Brewing Company offers free brewery tours and free live entertainment on the outdoor stage.

43) Visit World of Beer for happy hour
Overlooking Lake Eola in downtown, World of Beer is a top spot to watch the sun set over the city. There’s a daily happy hour, plus great value pub grub and free live music shows.

Affordable things to do in Orlando

44) Get healthy at Chamberlin’s Market
Located across the city, these health markets offer free wellness workshops, guest speakers and free samples of organic food.

45) Grab a pitcher of beer at the Eden Bar
The Eden Bar outside the Enzian Theater in Maitland offers daily drinks specials including happy hour and Wednesday night beer pitchers for around $9.

46) Try running for beer
Mix running with pleasure with Running for Brews, Orlando’s most famous beer-based running club. Runners meet up at Graffiti Junktion every Wednesday night at 7pm and then proceed to run a 5km route around the neighborhood. At the end there are cold craft brews for free.

Music and theater

47) Fred Stone Theater
The Fred Stone Theater at Rollins College in Winter Park is home to a student-produced Second Stage Series. All performances are free and open to the public.

48)The Grand Bohemian

The Grand Bohemian Hotel on South Orange Avenue has a posh jazz lounge where you can sip a cocktail and enjoy some of Orlando’s only live jazz music. It’s home to an Imperial Grand Bosendorfer piano, one of only a handful in the world. So if nothing else, grab a cocktail of choice, check out the piano and and relax for a while.

49) Get free audience tickets 
An array of popular American television shows are often filmed in Orlando, and if you’re in town during filming it’s really easy to get free audience tickets. To get tickets visit On Camera Audiences and search the area to see what shows are on, and what times and dates you can sign up for. Recent shows have included ‘Family Feud’ and ‘American Ninja Warrior’.

50) Howl at the Moon
Sing, dance and howl along as the state’s most talented musicians perform all your family songs at this part-bar, part-concert venue. Located at International Drive, all it costs is the price of a drink.

51) Popcorn Flicks in Winter Park
Held on the second Thursday of each month in the Central Park area of Winter Park, the Popcorn Flicks series features classic films for the whole family, and they are free for anyone to attend. Shows typically start at around sunset and are dependent on the weather.

52) Orlando Fringe

Hailed as one of the best cheap things to do in Orlando, the Orlando Fringe festival is a major event featuring amazing theater, music, dance and art productions. During the festival there are dozens of shows on for kids and adults alike. Tickets range in price from free – $12.

53) Immerse

Each year Orlando’s Creative City Project hosts its annual Immerse event where local artists and performers bring the heart of the ‘City Beautiful’ to life. Whether it’s a ragtag group pushing a concert pianist through downtown on a wheeled contraption, or Cirque du Soleil performers dangling above City Hall, you’ll enjoy an array of experiences. Basic tickets are free. For updated details about Immerse check their website.

54) Orlando Film Festival

The Orlando Film Festival is also well worth visiting; it features a lot of quirky, independent movies. It’s not free but it’s great value for what you get. A one-day pass is $20 and you’ll get access to films, music events and interactive activities. Check the website for updates!

55) Tanqueray’s 

For music lovers, Tanqueray’s bar in Downtown which is a true gem. It has live music every night of the week from some of Orlando’s best bands like Christian Ryan, The Groove Orient, Ancient Sun and Daniel Heitz. There’s no entry fee so it will just cost you the price of a drink.

56) The Melrose Center

The Melrose Center in Downtown offers classes in various subjects including music and art to name a few. There’s no shortage of knowledge you can gain, all at no cost to an Orlando resident besides a library card.

57) The Orlando Ballet

If dance is your scene you really can’t beat the Orlando Ballet. You can see beloved classics such as The Nutcracker and Carmina Burana, or new creations like Mad Tales of the Hatter and other performances. Regular tickets cost around $200 however subscribers and families can get cheap tickets that start from $15.

58) See an Irish dance show

All the family are invited to frolic inside the only authentic Irish pub, Raglan Road. It was built entirely in Ireland and then shipped lock, stock and barrel to Disney Springs.  Entrance is free, and the menu offerings are all great value. While you’re dining you’ll enjoy fantastic live music and award-winning Irish dance shows. If you are in town for St Patrick’s Day be sure to stop by the Mighty St Patrick’s Day Festival. Entrance is free.

59) Get cheap tickets to a basketball game

You can see Orlando Magic at the Amway Center for as little as $15 if you book seats in Game Tier 7 at Promenade B. Alternatively, if you opt for Ultimate seats in Game Tier 7 you’ll pay around $167 but you’ll benefit from up-close views of the game as well as access the Ultimate Lounge with all-inclusive food and beverage. Check with their website for up-to-the-minute updates and opening times.

60) Have coffee with a cat 

At the Orlando Cat Cafe you can relax with a steaming cup of coffee while watching the playful antics of cats and kittens. The venue is the first of its kind to open in Central Florida and is both a cozy coffee house and a cat play/adoption center. You can buy premium tea, coffee and pastries in the main cafe which has cats roaming freely, or for a small fee you can pet and cuddle feline residents in the designated Cat Play Zone – or even adopt one

61) Bike the West Orange Trail 
Running all the way from Lake Minneola in Clermont, through historic Winter Garden and Apopka, the West Orange Trail is a must for cycling fans. The popular 22-mile route is used for all types of biking, as well as skating, running and walking. Bike rentals are available from West Orange Bikes and Blades from $8 per hour/$30 per day.

Can you think of any more free or cheap things to do in Orlando Florida? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to the guide! 

How to book an Orlando vacation

If you’re booking an Orlando vacation and you’re looking for affordable accommodation check out our wide range of villas in Orlando. Simply browse through our villas and condos, then use the filters to select the price range, number of bedrooms and any other amenities you’d like to add. Once you’ve found your perfect home, you can book online safely and securely, or call us for personalized help and advice.

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We are currently offering extra flexibly for your peace of mind. Our new flexible cancellation policies mean that you can reschedule or even cancel your stay for any reason, even if you are due to check in soon.

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  1. Cathy Mullikin says:

    I stumbled upon your article and it really opened my eyes to things I never would have thought to try. I am so grateful that you researched such affordable and unique ideas. I think people should try to find things like these in their own cities and home towns. Thank you.

  2. Great article! That’s amazing how there is way more to do in Orlando than just the theme parks. About the holocaust museum, is it similar to the one in St Pete?

    Is it worth going even though I’ve been to the one in St Pete?

  3. Tom M says:

    Really great article I found a few places here that I have never been before.

    Can I make a suggestion for your post.

    West Orange Trail and South Lake Trail
    The West Orange Trail is a 35-mile paved trail and is used for all types of biking, in-line skating, running and walking. It runs all the way from Lake Minneola in Clermont, through historic Winter garden and ends in Apopka. Bike rentals are available from Winter garden and Killarney station. An absolute must for any cycling fan.

  4. Joe says:

    One of the best places for a free experience is the Apopka Wildlife Drive. A 60 minute drive through wetlands with an abundance of alligators, native birds, and the beautiful Florida nature. Only open Friday through Sunday.

  5. imelly says:

    Thanks for informative sharing. I must say that your shared information is very useful for me as well as other visitors. I also visited there for having enjoyment.

  6. Dawn says:

    We are planning a trip to Florida I have 2 sons 18-19 and we’re bringing there 2 friends looking for cheap and free things to do unexpected the friends don’t have money so we are paying for everything and would love to bring back some things for my 6 yr old granddaughter

  7. Dawn Jandrew says:

    Thanks for all the info, coming with a friend of mine in July, planning to incorporate a few of the activities you listed. We have been several times to all the parks this time is just to enjoy all the other things Orlando has to offer. Thanks again!!

  8. Diana Cifuentes says:

    Hello,I am going to Orlando Florida on May .I would like to know if there is any way to sabe money buying tickets to the disney and universal parks . What places do you recomend ? Are there any activities for free?

  9. Mick Atkins says:

    I’m going to kissimmee in feb 2019, where is the best places to go with my disabled grandson, he’s wheelchair bound.

    1. Jeff says:

      The theme parks are very wheelchair friendly however they do cost a bit, The Disney springs marketplace is a free area to explore

    2. Rick says:

      Go to Kissimmee Lakefront Park, there’s a lot to do and it’s a beautiful area. We had a great time there and actually went 2 days and it’s free! The Grandson will like it.

  10. Margaret Moody says:

    Thanks we’ve just moved to the area so we are interested in all of your suggestions. If it was not for this sight we would not know allot of this stuff. ☺

  11. Catherine says:

    This list might be helpful for tourists, but as a local, I’m not interested in the theme parks or multitude of day trips. Also, Natura has closed 🙁

  12. bart says:

    Why did you list things that are 2-3 hours outside of Orlando? The Everglades aren’t even close…lol.

    Otherwise these are some decent activities.

    1. Top Villas says:

      Hi Bart,

      Thanks for the comment! We included a couple of day trips here, just to show what’s possible when staying in Orlando 🙂

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