free things to do in Orlando Florida
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Orlando, Florida and its surrounding areas offer a variety of free activities for visitors and locals alike. Whether you are looking for nature and outdoors, arts and culture, or entertainment and shopping, you will find something to suit your interests and budget. Here is a detailed list of free things to do in Orlando and nearby locations, organized by category and distance from Orlando.
Nature and Outdoors
If you enjoy exploring the natural beauty and wildlife of Florida, you will find many options to do so in and around Orlando. You can visit parks, gardens, preserves, and springs that showcase the diverse flora and fauna of the state. Here are some of the best free nature and outdoor activities in the area:
- Lake Eola Park: This is a scenic park in the heart of downtown Orlando that features a large lake with a spectacular fountain, a 0.9-mile sidewalk for walking and jogging, swan-shaped paddle boats for rent, a playground for children, and a farmers market on Sundays where you can buy fresh produce and crafts. The park also hosts various events throughout the year, such as concerts, festivals, and fireworks. Lake Eola Park is one of the most popular and iconic free attractions in Orlando. (0 minutes)
- Harry P. Leu Gardens: This is a 50-acre botanical garden that displays a variety of plants, flowers, and trees from around the world, such as roses, camellias, orchids, palms, and cycads. The garden also has a museum that exhibits the history and art of the Leu family, who donated the property to the city, a butterfly garden that attracts colorful insects, and a gift shop that sells souvenirs and plants. Admission to the garden is free on the first Monday of every month from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (10 minutes)
- Disney’s Wilderness Preserve: This is a 12,000-acre nature reserve that protects the headwaters of the Everglades, the largest subtropical wetland in North America. The preserve offers hiking trails that allow you to observe the diverse ecosystems and wildlife of the region, such as wetlands, forests, prairies, and lakes. You can also learn about the conservation efforts and research projects that are conducted at the preserve through educational exhibits and guided tours. The preserve is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is free. (30 minutes)
- Wekiwa Springs State Park: This is a 7,000-acre park that features a natural spring with crystal-clear water that maintains a constant temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The spring is a popular spot for swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking, as well as for picnicking and relaxing on the grassy areas. The park also has hiking and biking trails that lead you through the scenic landscapes and wildlife habitats of the park, such as sandhill, scrub, and hammock. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset and admission is $6 per vehicle. (30 minutes)
- Black Hammock Adventures: This is a lakeside attraction that offers airboat rides, wildlife exhibits, a restaurant, and a bar. You can experience the thrill of gliding over the water and spotting alligators, birds, and other animals on the airboat tours, which start from $28.95 per person. You can also see live alligators and birds of prey up close at the free shows that are held every weekend at 3 p.m. (35 minutes)
- Bok Tower Gardens: This is a 250-acre garden that features a 205-foot-tall singing tower with a carillon, a musical instrument that consists of 60 bells that play melodies throughout the day. The tower is also adorned with sculptures and tiles that reflect the art and architecture of the Gothic Revival style. The garden also has a historic mansion that was the former residence of Edward W. Bok, the founder of the garden, a visitor center that provides information and exhibits about the history and mission of the garden, and a cafe that serves snacks and beverages. The garden is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and admission is $15 for adults and $5 for children. However, admission is free on the first Friday of every month from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (60 minutes)
Arts and Culture
If you are interested in the arts and culture of Orlando and its surrounding areas, you will find many options to explore and appreciate them. You can visit museums, galleries, and centers that showcase the works and stories of local and international artists, as well as the history and heritage of the region. Here are some of the best free arts and culture activities in the area:
- Cornell Fine Arts Museum: This is a museum that showcases a collection of European and American art, ranging from the Renaissance to the contemporary period. The museum also features temporary exhibitions and educational programs that highlight the diversity and relevance of art in society. The museum is located on the campus of Rollins College, the oldest recognized college in Florida, and admission is free for everyone. The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. (15 minutes)
- Orlando Museum of Art: This is a museum that features a variety of art from ancient to contemporary, as well as special exhibitions and events that showcase the creativity and innovation of artists from different cultures and backgrounds. The museum also has a gift shop that sells art books, jewelry, and souvenirs. The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults and $5 for children. However, admission is free on the first Thursday of every month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (15 minutes)
- Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts: This is a museum that celebrates the life and work of Zora Neale Hurston, one of the most influential African-American writers and anthropologists of the 20th century. The museum also showcases the works of other artists of African descent, as well as the history and culture of the African diaspora. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. (20 minutes)
- Morse Museum of American Art: This is a museum that houses the world’s largest collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the renowned glass artist and designer who created lamps, windows, vases, and jewelry in the Art Nouveau style. The museum also displays American art pottery, paintings, and sculptures from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults and free for children. However, admission is free on Fridays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. (November to April) and on Easter weekend, Independence Day, and Christmas Eve. (20 minutes)
- Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida: This is a center that educates the public about the history and lessons of the Holocaust, the genocide of six million Jews and millions of other victims by Nazi Germany and its allies during World War II. The center features a permanent exhibit that chronicles the rise of Nazism, the persecution and resistance of the Jews, and the liberation and aftermath of the Holocaust. The center also has a library that contains books, videos, and documents related to the Holocaust, and a memorial garden that honors the victims and survivors. The center is open Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. (25 minutes)
- Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens: This is a museum that showcases the works of Albin Polasek, a Czech-American sculptor and educator who created more than 400 sculptures in various styles and materials, such as bronze, wood, and stone. The museum also has a historic home that was the former residence and studio of Polasek, a chapel that displays his religious works, and three acres of gardens that feature his outdoor sculptures and plants. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $3 for children. However, admission is free on the first Thursday of every month from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (25 minutes)
Entertainment and Shopping
If you are looking for fun and excitement in Orlando and its surrounding areas, you will find many options to do so in the various shopping, dining, and entertainment complexes that offer a range of options for all ages and tastes. You can enjoy live music, street performers, rides, attractions, and more at these lively and vibrant destinations. Here are some of the best free entertainment and shopping activities in the area:
- Disney Springs: This is a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex that offers a variety of options for all ages and tastes. It features four distinct areas: The Landing, The Marketplace, The West Side, and The Town Center. The Landing is a waterfront area that has restaurants, bars, and shops that cater to adults, such as The Boathouse, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, and The Edison. The Marketplace is a family-friendly area that has stores, eateries, and attractions that appeal to children, such as World of Disney, Rainforest Cafe, and The LEGO Store. The West Side is an entertainment area that has venues, shows, and attractions that showcase the creativity and innovation of Disney, such as Cirque du Soleil, House of Blues, and Splitsville Luxury Lanes. The Town Center is a retail area that has a variety of shops, boutiques, and services, such as Anthropologie, Sephora, and Uniqlo. Disney Springs also has live music, street performers, and a free water taxi service that connects the different areas. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. and admission and parking are free. (20 minutes)
- Universal City Walk: This is a nightlife and entertainment hub that features a range of restaurants, bars, clubs, shops, and attractions. You can enjoy cuisines from around the world, such as Mexican, Italian, Japanese, and Caribbean, at places like Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food, Vivo Italian Kitchen, Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, and Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom. You can also have fun at the various venues, shows, and attractions that offer music, comedy, movies, and games, such as Hard Rock Live, Blue Man Group, AMC Universal Cineplex, and Hollywood Drive-In Golf. You can also shop for souvenirs, clothing, and accessories at stores like Universal Studios Store, Fossil, and Quiet Flight Surf Shop. Universal CityWalk is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and admission and parking are free after 6 p.m. (except during special events). (20 minutes)
- Old Town: This is a retro-themed entertainment district that features a collection of shops, restaurants, rides, and attractions. You can experience the nostalgia and charm of the past at the various stores, eateries, and attractions that offer vintage and classic items, such as Old Town General Store, Southern Breeze, and Root Beer Barrel. You can also have fun at the various rides, attractions, and events that offer thrill and excitement, such as Ferris Wheel, Windstorm Roller Coaster, Haunted Grimm House, and Classic Car Shows. You can also enjoy live music, street performers, and festivals throughout the year. Old Town is open daily from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and admission and parking are free. (25 minutes)
- Celebration Town Center: This is a charming community that resembles a small town with a mix of residential and commercial areas. It has a lakefront promenade, a golf course, a hotel, and a variety of shops and restaurants. You can stroll along the picturesque streets, enjoy the views of the lake and the fountain, and relax at the benches and gazebos. You can also shop for gifts, books, and art at stores like Celebration Town Tavern, Books and More, and Artisans on the Avenue. You can also dine at the various restaurants that offer casual and fine dining, such as Cafe D’Antonio, Columbia Restaurant, and Imperium Food and Wine. Celebration Town Center also hosts free events throughout the year, such as art festivals, holiday celebrations, and concerts. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and admission and parking are free. (30 minutes)
- Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards: This is a winery that produces award-winning wines from Florida-grown grapes. It offers free tours and tastings seven days a week, where you can learn about the history and process of winemaking, as well as sample the different varieties of wines, such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Southern Red. The winery also hosts free festivals and events throughout the year, where you can enjoy live music, food, and crafts, as well as purchase wines at discounted prices. The winery is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (45 minutes)
These are some of the best free things to do in Orlando and the surrounding areas by distance. You can enjoy nature and outdoors, arts and culture, or entertainment and shopping without spending a dime. You can also mix and match the different activities to create your own itinerary and have a memorable and fun-filled experience in Orlando.
A Few More Free things to Do In Orlando:
Winter Park: Winter Park, situated north of Orlando, was once considered a winter resort. Today, it’s an arts- and culture-filled city that includes Rollins College and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of Natural Art. It’s also a nature lover’s destination with more than 70 parks.
Blue Springs State Park: Located west of Orange City, Florida, this state park is a popular tourist destination. Activities include canoeing, SCUBA diving, kayaking, fishing, camping, hiking, wildlife watching, and swimming. The spring in the park is the largest on the St. Johns River and attracts many Florida manatees during the winter.
Three Sisters Springs: These springs are located on the Crystal River, in Citrus County, Florida. They are in a natural inlet on the east side of Kings Bay and contain three spring areas that contain many sand boils and vents. The springs are also home to many manatees and are one of the Crystal River’s sanctuaries.
Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens: This museum is located in Winter Park and is dedicated to promoting the legacy of internationally known Czech-American sculptor, Albin Polasek. The museum also hosts events like the Winter Park Paint Out and is available for weddings and meeting rentals.
West Orange Trail: This is a 22-mile-long paved rail-trail about 15 miles west of Orlando. Its northern end is Apopka and it wanders through rural and suburban landscape near Lake Apopka, though Winter Garden and then continues five miles west.
Orlando Science Center: This is a private science museum located in Orlando, Florida. Its purposes are to provide experience-based opportunities for learning about science and technology and to promote public understanding of science.
Lake Baldwin Park: This is a beautiful, shady park that covers 23.16 acres on Lake Baldwin. The park is one of two city parks that boasts a sandy beach. This park is the only park in the city known as “dog-friendly” – dogs may be off-leash during park hours of 8 a.m. to sunset.
SunRail Commuter Train: SunRail is a commuter rail system in the Greater Orlando, Florida, area. Services began on May 1, 2014. The system comprises 16 stations along a former CSX Transportation line connecting Volusia County and Osceola County through Downtown Orlando.
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts: This is a performing arts center in Downtown Orlando, Florida. It replaced the Bob Carr Theater, a 1926 building formerly known as the Orlando Municipal Auditorium.
- Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art: This museum houses the most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany found anywhere, a major collection of American art pottery, and fine collections of late-19th and early-20th-century American paintings, graphics, decorative art, and the Byzantine art collection of the original Morse Gallery of Art.
- Orlando Museum of Art: The museum’s mission is to inspire creativity, passion, and intellectual curiosity by connecting people with art and new ideas.
- Mills 50 District and the Thornton Park neighborhood: These neighborhoods are known for their vibrant murals and street art. Local artists have used the walls of these districts as their canvas, creating a public gallery of art.
- Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College: This museum offers free admission and is home to more than 5,000 objects ranging from antiquity through contemporary eras, including rare old master paintings and a comprehensive collection of prints, drawings, and photographs.
- Quantum Leap Winery: This winery is located in the Mills 50 district of Orlando and offers free wine tastings. They source their wine from premier vineyards around the world.
- Kissimmee Lakefront Park: This park is a great place to spend a day enjoying the outdoors. The park features a playground, splash pad, picnic areas, and a fishing pier.
- Osceola County Historical Society Pioneer Village: This village is a collection of historic buildings and artifacts that tell the story of Osceola County’s early settlers.
- Shingle Creek Regional Park: This park is a great place to enjoy nature. It offers hiking, biking, and canoeing opportunities.
- Celebration Town Center: This center hosts free outdoor concerts and is a great place to spend an evening.
- Museum of Military History: This museum educates, builds awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the American military experience through interactive, interpretive exhibits designed for visitors of all ages.
- Downtown Kissimmee Farmer’s Market: This market offers a variety of fresh produce, handmade goods, and other items.
- Bob Makinson Aquatic Center: This center offers affordable swimming facilities and is a great place to cool off during the hot Florida summers.
- Old Town Kissimmee: This area offers a variety of vintage shops, restaurants, and amusement rides.
- Kissimmee Sculpture Experience: This public art initiative features various sculptures throughout the city.
- Osceola County Fair: This fair offers a range of affordable entertainment options, including live music, food vendors, and carnival rides.
- Split Oak Forest Mitigation Park: This park is a great place for hiking or birdwatching.
- Central Florida Railroad Museum: This museum is located in Winter Garden and offers a look into the history of railroads in Central Florida.
- Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve: This preserve is a great place for a picnic and wildlife spotting.
- Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs: This park hosts free outdoor concerts and is a great place to spend an evening.
- Orlando Brewing Company: This brewery offers free tours and is a great place to learn about the brewing process.
- Winter Garden Heritage Museum: This museum offers a look into the history of Winter Garden.
- Downtown Sanford: This historic downtown area offers local shops and restaurants.