Visiting Orlando can be expensive, especially if you are planning on visiting many of the theme parks or paid attractions. Did you know that there are tons of free activities and attractions to visit in Orlando?
Free Disney attractions in Orlando
Disney Springs – Formerly Downtown Disney, there is so much to do and see at Disney Springs. From resturatants, boutiques, themed stores and a cupcake ATM machine, Disney Springs makes a great choice. Entry is completely free and I can highly recommend a boat ride across the lake – also free!
Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort – enjoy a campfire with Chip n Dale, free. You get to toast marshmallows with them, have a singalong around the campfire and watch a Disney movie.
Fireworks from The Polynesian's beach – one of my favourite Disney Hotels, the Polynesian offers a fantastic view of Magic Kingdom's fireworks, Wishes. Parking is free for 3 hours, and there is a man built beach where you can enjoy the show.
LEGO Imagination Centre – great for kids of all ages (that includes us adults), there are over 4,400 square feet of Lego fun! From giant dinosaurs to a giant Hulk, you can get lost here for hours. Located in Disney Springs.
Free cultural attractions in Orlando
The Alfond Inn – The hotel maintains a rotating display of cutting-edge art from The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art which is nearly a 300 piece collection of contemporary art.
Bach Festival Society of Winter Park – There are several concerts and events each year in Winter Park’s Central Park that are free and open to the public, including the “July 4th Celebration in the Park” and “Christmas in the Park” series.
CityArts Factory – Home to four separate and unique art galleries bringing together visual and performing arts in the heart of downtown Orlando. Free admission is Tuesday until Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cornell Fine Arts Museum – Located on the campus of Rollins College in Winter Park, this museum features one of the oldest and most distinguished collections in Florida, including more than 5,000 objects from antiquity to the contemporary.
Grand Bohemian Gallery – Located in Downtown Orlando’s upscale Grand Bohemian Hotel, this gallery showcases a wide array of artwork from local contemporary art, glass and jewelry to European paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries and sculptures.
Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts – Established in 1990 in the community of Eatonville – the oldest incorporated African-American municipality in the U.S., and the hometown of writer, folklorist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. The museum provides a place where the public can view the works of artists from African decent and celebrates the life and works of the famous Florida novelist.
Museum of Seminole County History – Located in the historic town of Sanford, including exhibits ranging from Revolutionary War mementos and maps to paraphernalia from the steamboat and early railroad eras.
Winter Park Historical Museum – Located in the historic Farmers Market Building, the building houses a photo timeline of Winter Park’s history, as well as changing themed exhibits. In addition, a walking tour of the city showcases more than 20 sites and includes a free audio tour CD, CD player and map that can be checked out for the day.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art – Located in scenic Winter Park, featuring the most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany in the world, including his famous lamps, art glass, pottery and jewellery. The museum is open to the public at no charge on certain holidays and on Fridays from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. The museum hosts concerts, family tours and gallery demonstrations November through April.
Free nature attractions
Big Tree Park – A small Seminole county recreational area in Longwood, which boasts one of the oldest trees in the world. Standing at 89 feet tall (27 meters) and 10 feet in diameter (3 meters), this 2,000-year-old tree is nicknamed “Lady Liberty.” The park also features a serene boardwalk through natural marsh lands and a picnic area.
Black Hammock Adventures – Located on Lake Jessup, offers free live alligator and bird exhibits. Guests can watch trainers feed the 12-foot (4-meter), 650-pound (295-kilogram) resident gator, Hammy, on Sunday afternoons.
Dinky Dock at Winter Park – Located in Winter Park, this year-round park is open from 8 a.m. until dusk. It has a fishing pier, grills, picnic tables and a boat ramp. Swimming is permitted.
Harry P. Leu Gardens – Offers free storytelling for young children on the third Monday of every month and free admission to the gardens from 9 a.m. – noon on the first Monday of each month. Leu Gardens includes 3 miles of paved scenic walkways, a butterfly garden, tropical stream garden, bamboo and palm gardens and an 1880s house museum.
Kraft Azalea Gardens – Located on Lake Maitland in the city of Winter Park, it’s the ideal place for a picnic or to soak up the beauty of the blooming azalea gardens. The park also offers walking trails and a small fishing dock.
Lake Eola Park – A 43-acre (17-hectare) recreational area in the heart of Downtown Orlando, where visitors can picnic along the shore, enjoy a concert at the amphitheater, feed the swans, watch the spectacular fireworks display on the Fourth of July or stop by the farmers market on Sundays. There’s even free outdoor yoga on Sunday mornings.
Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards – Located in Clermont, this is Florida’s largest premium winery. Visitors can take a free tour of the winery and estate and sample wines in the tasting room daily. The winery also hosts several annual free events open to the public, including the Winter and Summer Music Series and the Holiday Open House.
Mead Botanical Gardens – This 48-acre urban oasis is located in the heart of Orange County in beautiful Winter Park. The Garden is open daily from dusk until dawn and is free to the public.
University of Central Florida Arboretum – Home to more than 600 plant species on an 80-acre (32-hectoacre) property, visitors can walk through a self-guided tour to view an impressive number of native Florida species of plants and exotic species on display. The natural area consists of more than seven different ecosystems along with walking and bike trails and a lake.
Other free attractions in Orlando
Orlando Brewing Company – The only organic brewery and taproom in the Southeast, this Downtown Orlando site offers free brewery tours, along with free live entertainment on the weekends.
Popcorn Flicks in the Park -Enjoy a classic film under the stars in the leafy surrounds of Winter Park. This free monthly film series, usually held on the second Thursday of each month, invites locals and visitors alike to a grassy stretch of Central Park to catch a movie beginning at sunset.
Winter Park Farmers Market – Held at the old train depot, year-round every Saturday morning from 7 a.m. – 1 p.m., this popular community gathering place provides local vendors and farmers a place to sell their homemade and homegrown specialities, including fruits, vegetables, organic produce, plants, baked goods and more.
Thanks to Visit Orlando for helping me to put together this list, and for helping us with our upcoming trip.