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The 12 Best Free Things To Do in Orlando, Florida

Orlando is synonymous with world-famous theme parks, but did you know there’s a wide variety of free activities for all ages? This ultimate guide unveils the top free things to do in Orlando, from scenic parks to art galleries, outdoor movies, and vibrant markets.

An aerial view of Orlando with a lake in the middle and tall buildings and trees all around.
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Get ready to explore the City Beautiful without spending a dime! After all, the city was nicknamed during the urban beautification movement that swept the nation in the 1920s adding parks, gardens, and trees to the city’s center making Orlando a more attractive to locals and visitors alike.

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Whether you’re a local or you are just passing through, you are sure to add these items to your itinerary from the ultimate guide below!

1. Explore the Lakes and Parks of Orlando

Orlando is blessed with an abundance of picturesque parks and serene lakes, perfect for those who want to escape the bustling theme parks. Two parks that should be on your list to visit are Lake Eola Park and Loch Haven Park.

Lake Eola Park

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Lake Eola Park offers a variety of activities such as walking or jogging around the lake, picnicking, enjoying the playgrounds, attending events at the amphitheater, or simply relaxing and enjoying the scenic views as the swan-shaped paddle boats cross the lake.

Loch Haven Park

A group of kids playing under a tree with long branches.
(Photo courtesy of Orlando Sentinel)

Another tranquil nature spot to consider is Loch Haven Park, which also provides a peaceful escape from the city’s excitement with beautiful gardens to explore and often events or festivals happening throughout the year. Loch Haven Cultural Park covers 45 acres and serves as the region’s premier cultural park. Nestled between three lakes, Lake Estelle on the north, Lake Rowena on the east and Lake Formosa on the south, the park is located on North Mills Avenue and Princeton Street. Locals frequent Loch Haven as their favorite bird watching location.

2. Explore the Gardens of Orlando

With year-round sunshine, Orlando’s garden scene is too gorgeous to pass on. Orlando’s staples include Kraft Azalea Garden, Leu Garden, and The UCF Arboretum, each offering an idyllic retreat from the city’s hustle.

Kraft Azalea Garden

Nestled in Winter Park, Kraft Azalea Garden spans 5.22 acres; this lakefront park features peaceful winding paths, majestic cypress trees, and comfortable benches for reflection. Take a leisurely stroll, marvel at the banyan tree, or capture an Instagram-worthy photo by the Greek-inspired Exedra columns. Should you wish to learn more about the area’s history, the nearby Winter Park History Museum is worth a visit.

A sidewalk leading up to some pillars with trees around it and water in the background.
(Photo courtesy of Nancy J Cohen)

Located on the shore of Lake Maitland, Kraft Azalea Garden is easily accessible from the Universal Orlando Resort. Its serene atmosphere and stunning waterfront views make it a hidden gem to visit during your stay in Orlando.

Leu Gardens

Leu Gardens is a 50-acre botanical garden offering free admission on the first Monday of most months. With lush landscapes and themed gardens, this attraction provides a stunning backdrop for memorable photo opportunities.

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Visitors can explore the following gardens at Leu Gardens: Rose; Butterfly; Tropical stream; Palm; and Vegetable, all while soaking in the vibrant atmosphere of the park. Whether you are a gardening enthusiast, or simply in search of a serene city escape, Leu Gardens is a beautiful destination for photographers and nature lovers.

The UCF Arboretum

The UFC Arboretum offers an immersive experience for nature enthusiasts. Here are some highlights of this 80-acre park:

  • Rich in diverse plant species
  • Nature trails for exploring
  • Eight distinct ecosystems to discover
  • Over 600 plant species to admire
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Visitors can explore the community garden and landscaped garden beds on campus, or participate in a fun, free game of geocaching put on by the Arboretum. With its unique blend of flora and fauna, the Central UFC Arboretum offers outdoor enthusiasts an unforgettable experience. Out of the three parks I mentioned, this one was my favorite when I lived in Central Florida!

3. Visit Orlando’s Free Galleries and Museums

Free galleries and museums, catering to various artistic tastes, make up the thriving art scene in Orlando; including Rollins Museum of Art at Rollins College and Hannibal Square Heritage Center in Winter Park, the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida in Maitlan, CityArts (a unique arts collective with ever-changing exhibits) and historic Wells’Built Museum of African American History and Culture in downtown Orlando.

With such an extensive list, we have narrowed down four options to highlight below: The Cornell Fine Arts Museum and Grand Bohemian Gallery showcase diverse art collections, offering free entry, and a peek into the artistic heart of the city. Plus the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum and Morse Museum, both providing unique cultural encounters with free admission on select days.

Cornell Fine Arts Museum

Located on the Rollins College campus in Winter Park, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum boasts an impressive collection of over 5,000 works of art, including Old European Masters. This museum allows visitors to admire pieces by:

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Not only does the museum house a diverse collection, but it also offers guided tours for those interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the art on display. Art aficionados should consider the Cornell Fine Arts Museum a must-visit destination during their Orlando stay.

Grand Bohemian Gallery

Situated inside the luxurious Grand Bohemian Hotel, the Grand Bohemian Gallery is a feast for the eyes. The gallery showcases a rotating collection of fine art by international and local artists.

An indoor view of an art gallery and stairs.
(Photo courtesy of Savannah’s Waterfront)

From paintings and sculptures to photography and mixed media works, the Grand Bohemian Gallery offers a unique and inspiring experience for art lovers and a perfect opportunity to unearth new artists and appreciate Orlando’s creative spirit.

Zora Neale Hurston National Museum

The Zora Neale Hurston National Museum, located in Eatonville, celebrates the life and legacy of Zora Neale Hurston, a renowned African-American author, anthropologist, and folklorist. The museum’s focus on African American culture and art offers visitors an exceptional cultural experience.

(Photo courtesy of Fodors)

This museum not only honors Hurston’s work but also showcases exhibits highlighting African American history and culture, making it an essential destination for those interested in learning more about this important aspect of American history.

Morse Museum of American Art

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park features the world’s most extensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, including his iconic Tiffany Chapel. With free admission on select dates, visitors can explore the museum’s collection of jewelry, lamps, sculptures and American art.

An indoor view of a stained glass gallery.
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Whether marveling at Tiffany’s renowned stained-glass windows or admiring the unique chapel interior, the Morse Museum is a must-visit destination for both art enthusiasts and history buffs.

4. Stroll through Disney Springs & Universal CityWalk

For those seeking the heart of Orlando’s entertainment scene without the pricey theme park tickets, look no further than Disney Springs and Universal CityWalk. These vibrant entertainment districts provide free admission and an abundance of attractions suitable for all family members, offering free family fun.

Disney Springs

Disney Springs is a haven for Disney fans, offering free admission, free parking, and a range of family-friendly activities. Children can play at the LEGO Imagination Center, featuring free LEGO building stations and a playground. Additionally, there are other events that are a must-see for the whole family and are hosted throughout the year.

An outdoor view of the World of Disney store in Disney Springs in the evening.
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Disney Springs, located within Walt Disney World, offers a variety of dining options and numerous shopping opportunities, from Morimoto Asia to The Boathouse, making it a must-stop for all Orlando visitors, including those staying at Disney’s Boardwalk (If you go, be sure to get my favorite dish there: the poutine). Parking is complimentary in both garages and surface parking lots—look for signs directing you to available parking. Designated parking spaces for guests with disabilities are available in both the Orange and Lime Garages.

Universal CityWalk

Universal CityWalk is a lively entertainment hub situated near a picturesque lagoon, offering an array of shopping, dining, and free entertainment experiences and outdoor concerts. From holiday celebrations and dance parties to splash areas for the kids and water taxis, Universal CityWalk has something for everyone.

A view of a busy street in Universal CityWalk at night with restaurants such as Panda Express and Moes.
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With the exception of days when Halloween Horror Nights takes place, parking is free for all guests beginning at 6:00 pm. Alternately, regular parking fees are reimbursed when you purchase two matinee movie tickets at Cinemark.

5. Spend Your Evening Watching Movies in the Park

Outdoor movies are a staple, and Orlando presents some excellent complimentary movie events for both locals and tourists. Orlando has two ways to see free nighttime movies under the stars: Popcorn Flicks in the Park in Central Park and Movieola at Lake Eola Park.

Popcorn Flicks in the Park

Hosted by Enzian Theater, Popcorn Flicks in the Park offers totally free outdoor movie screenings in Central Park on the second Thursday of each month starting at sunset. This event, showcasing a range of family-friendly films under the stars, creates a warm and nostalgic ambience for movie-goers of every age.

People sitting on a lawn watching a movie.
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Before attending, be sure to check the Enzian website. This way, you can see all that’s playing. Bring your own blankets or lawn chairs for seating, plus snacks and non-alcoholic beverage, and enjoy a memorable evening with friends and family under the Orlando night sky.


People sitting on a lawn watching a movie on a screen and a building in the background.
(Photo courtesy of City of Orlando Facebook Page)

At downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola Park, Movieola usually takes place on the last Friday of the month from April through August. Showcasing family-friendly films, the event begins at 6 p.m. with the movie starting around 8:15 p.m. You’re welcome to bring blankets, snacks and leashed pets.

6. Visit the Winter Park Farmers Market

Boasting as the number one produce and plant market in central Florida, the Winter Park Farmers Market is hosted every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Central Park West Meadow, at the corner of New York Avenue & Morse Boulevard (Make note that it is no longer located inside the historical train depot). With growing popularity, the vendor list is a competitive market in the area ensuring a desirable market selection and charming setting for visitors to browse and shop.

A farmers market with lots of fruit including bananas outdoors.
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The Winter Park Farmers Market, ideal for sampling local delicacies or finding handmade souvenirs, is a destination of choice for those wishing to immerse themselves in local culture and contribute to the community.

The Saturday Farmers’ Market is closed each year typically on the third Saturday in March due to the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, and typically the second Saturday in October for the Autumn Art Festival. Go ahead and add these festivals to your bucket list too!

7. Get Active in Orlando: Trails and Recreation

For those intent on maintaining an active lifestyle while exploring Orlando, the city offers a range of trails and recreational activities. The West Orange Trail and Orlando Urban Trail are perfect for cycling, running, or walking, providing a fun and active way to discover the city.

West Orange Trail—for the nature lovers

The West Orange Trail is a scenic 20.8-mile trail that takes you through downtown Oakland, Winter Garden, and Apopka. With beautiful views and various amenities, such as bike rentals, restrooms, picnic areas, and walking paths, this trail is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts seeking to experience Florida’s wildlife.

A trail with a bench and lightpost and trees.
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Whether you are an enthusiastic cyclist or a leisure walker, the West Orange Trail provides a scenic route to appreciate Central Florida’s natural beauty. So, grab your bike or lace up your walking shoes and discover the stunning landscapes that await you on this scenic trail.

Orlando Urban Trail—for the urban enthusiasts

Connecting city hotspots, the Orlando Urban Trail is a 3-mile path that links popular locations such as the Cady Way Trail and Lake Underhill Trail. This trail provides a fun and active way to explore the city while staying close to the heart of Orlando.

A small pond by a Florida trail.
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The Orlando Urban Trail is perfect for those who want to combine urban exploration with outdoor activity. This trail, with connections to popular city attractions, enables visitors to enjoy Orlando’s best while remaining active and immersed.

USTA National Campus—for the players

The outdoor view of the USTA National Campus with a palm tree out front.
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The United States Tennis Association (USTA National Campus) offers an exciting way to enjoy tennis with top-notch facilities, a wide range of events that are free to attend, and 100 fully lit tennis courts. They even have pickleball. What’s more, the 60- and 30-foot courts at the Nemours Family Zone are free for all ages to play, but pre-registration is required. The facility is in the Lake Nona community.

8. Enjoy Orlando’s Seasonal Festivals and Events at Cranes Roost Park

Thanks to Orlando’s year-round temperate climate, they never let Mother Nature stop them from hosting festivals you won’t want to miss. Cranes Roost Park, for example, hosts a variety of free events throughout the year, providing entertainment for the whole family.

A far view of the Cranes Roost Park and a crowd of spectators.
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Cranes Roost Park, located just a 15-minute drive from Orlando, is a hub for free events and entertainment. Throughout the year, the park hosts events such as:

From outdoor concerts and festivals to movie nights under the stars, Cranes Roost Park offers a myriad of free events for visitors. If you seek an evening of fun without straining your budget, set a date and venture to Cranes Roost Park.

9. Tour and Taste Wine at Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards (21+)

Every day, Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards, Orlando’s largest premium winery, offers free tours with tastings. Lasting about 45 minutes, including a 15-minute video presentation, the tours take you through the production area and provide a view of the 80-acre vineyards. 

A view of people sitting and watching entertainment at Lakeridge Winery with trees and a blue sky.
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Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards also hosts free summer and winter music series, as well as a free open house during the holidays. They’re in Clermont, about 35 minutes west of Orlando’s tourism districts. I attended a wedding here once years back, and I still think about it today!

10. Take in the Views at the Lake Nona Sculpture Garden

Capture Orlando’s essence through its iconic landmarks and photo spots, like the Lake Nona Sculpture Garden. Showcasing contemporary sculptures and beautiful palm trees, this free attraction is perfect for creating lasting memories of your Orlando adventure.

A man looking at two sculptures, on a bull and the other two people dancing.
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The Lake Nona Sculpture Garden is a 50,000-square-foot outdoor space featuring contemporary sculptures from The Lewis Collection, one of the world’s largest private art collections. Standouts include pieces by acclaimed artists such as Fernando Botero, Philip Jackson, Henry Moore, and Enzo Plazzotta. This free attraction offers a unique backdrop for capturing the essence of Orlando, with its blend of art and nature.

Whether you are an art enthusiast or simply in search of a unique photo opportunity, it is recommended to visit Lake Nona Sculpture Garden during your Orlando trip. With its stunning sculptures and lush palm trees, this garden provides a picture-perfect setting for creating lasting memories.

11. Enjoy Orlando’s Night Life Without the Price Tag

Experience Orlando’s dynamic nightlife at no cost, with complimentary evening entertainment options such as the classic car shows at Old Town. These events provide a fun and budget-friendly way to enjoy the city’s lively atmosphere after dark, including the vibrant downtown Orlando scene.

Classic Car Shows at Old Town

Old Town in Kissimmee presents complimentary classic car shows and live entertainment, making it a perfect location for an enjoyable evening that is budget-friendly. With America’s longest-running weekly car show, Old Town has been hosting this weekend tradition for the past 32 years, providing a nostalgic atmosphere.

A line of classic cars with Old Town signs in the background.
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Every Friday and Saturday night, the classic car parade down Old Town’s Main Street attracts a lively crowd. If you seek an entertaining evening that is wallet-friendly, consider heading to Old Town for a taste of classic Americana and lasting memories.

Icon Park

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Part of the International Drive Entertainment District, the ICON Park entertainment, dining and shopping hub is home to The Orlando Eye: the famous, 400-foot-tall observation wheel. It’s one of Orlando’s best spots for selfies, and entry to the complex is always free. Hang out on the central green to watch The Orlando Eye’s nightly lighting, or just kick back, relax and enjoy some people-watching after exploring International Drive.

12. Visit Celebration Town Center for Family-Focused Events

The outdoor of a building with a sign that says Cafe D'Antonio. There are cars lined on the side of the street.
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Celebration Town Center is a master-planned community less than 10 minutes from Walt Disney World Resort. Perfect for relaxation and strolling, Celebration Town Center is a central shopping, dining and entertainment hub. It also features free, family-focused events all year long, such as exotic car shows, fall’s Oktoberfest, and Now Snowing, a holiday celebration with faux snow.

Final Thoughts on Free Things to do in Orlando

In conclusion, Orlando is a treasure trove of free activities and attractions that cater to all ages and interests. From serene lakes and parks to lively markets and iconic landmarks, Orlando offers countless opportunities for memorable experiences without breaking the bank. So, go ahead and explore the City Beautiful – your wallet will thank you!

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Between downtown Orlando, Disney’s Board Walk and Universal Orlando City Walk, multiple parks, gardens, nature trails, walking tour experiences, and festivals, you are sure to find free things to do in Orlando throughout the year.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cheapest way around Orlando?

The cheapest way to get around Orlando is by taking the LYNX bus line. With 80 routes in Orlando and its suburbs, a one-way trip costs just $2 per adult and discount passes are also available. The stops are marked with pink bus symbols or paw prints and buses run at 15-, 30- and 60-minute intervals.

Which is better: Disney Springs or Universal CityWalk?

You really can’t go wrong either way. Both have plenty of places for food and entertainment. Universal CityWalk is usually better for eat and drink and their nightlife is usually the preference of teens and young adults in their 20s. Disney Springs is usually better for shopping and older adults or families. Obviously, if you prefer certain IPs over others — like Harry Potter and Jurassic Park or Mickey Mouse and Pixar — visit the respective location.

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“How boring would the world be if everywhere and everyone were the same. Safe travels and good adventures.” Scuba Jay

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