Summer in Central Florida brings free or cheap kids’ movies, free days at museums and a chance for kids to bowl free. All of the summer things to do in Orlando we’ve listed below are free or inexpensive (less than $20 each). And if it’s in the budget, we’ve added in water parks that are offering special Florida Resident discounts. Whether you are looking to cool off at the Central Florida springs or chill out ice-skating at RDV Sportsplex, we have plenty of ideas for a fun and inexpensive summer in Orlando.
Here are 32 free or cheap things for kids to do in Orlando this summer:
- Free outdoor movies. Round up the crew for a cozy evening of family-friendly flicks under the stars. There are many free movie options in Orlando throughout the year. Movieola at Lake Eola offers a free family-friendly outdoor movie on the last Friday of the month through August.
- Free and cheap summer movies at the theater. There’s nothing better than an air-conditioned theater with a family-friendly flick on the big screen, especially if it’s free or just a $1.
- Cobb Theatres’ Summer Kids Shows: Free movies every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. Orlando location: Plaza Cinema Café 12, 155 South Orange Avenue, 407-982-5444.
- Regal Cinemas’ Summer Movie Express: $1 movies every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. throughout the summer.
- Picture Show at Altamonte: $1 movies every Tuesday and $1.75 movies every day.
- Catch a family-friendly flick for the cost of milk money – just $2. Garden Theatre’s Milk Money Movies features kids’ favorites on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. in June and July. Admission includes a snack pack with a kids’ sized popcorn and juice.
Kids can sign up to bowl free this summer through these two programs:
- Summer Games Program at participating AMF Lanes now through September 5 allows kids to bowl three free games per day (Monday – Friday before 8 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday before 4 p.m.) at participating AMF Bowling Centers with a Summer Games Pass registration.
- Kids Bowl Free is offering two free bowling games for kids, every day, now through August 31, 2016. The participating Orlando location is Colonial Lanes, 400 N. Primrose Drive, 407-894-0361.
- Gatorland provides affordable-priced family fun with thousands of alligators, crocodiles, an aviary, breeding marsh with observation tower, petting zoo, nature walk, educational wildlife programs and more. Florida Residents can enjoy 50% off through June 30, 2016.
- Central Florida Zoo is home to more than 500 animals and has a splash pad for your little ones to cool off. Tickets: $19.50 for adults, $13.75 for kids.
- RDV Sportsplex Ice Den in Maitland is a family-friendly ice rink that is open for public skating seven days a week. Admission is $6.99 plus tax and $9.81 for Friday or Saturday night.
- Indoor play areas.On rainy days, take your little kids to Gymboree in Orlando, Amaya Papaya in Casselberry or Lucky Monkey in Altamonte Springs.
- Hawaiian Rumble Adventure Golf challenges golfers with a Hawaiian-themed course featuring a waterfall, volcano and musical fountain. The course costs $9.95 per person.
- LEGO Imagination Center lets kids explore their creativity by building with colorful bricks. Plus, on select days throughout the month, the Lego Store offers free special events for the LEGO fanatic in your family.
- Free Disney experiences. Disney Springs is fun-filled escape, brimming with unique boutiques, culinary surprises and lively entertainment. Parking is free, and it’s free to walk around and explore. Disney’s BoardWalk, a quarter-mile of shops offering free live entertainment in the evenings. Gather around as the sun goes down for old-fashioned fun at Disney Resorts. Roast marshmallows next to a crackling fire and then cozy up for an outdoor family-friendly movie. This experience is free to all Disney guests.
- Old Town Car Cruises. Hot rods, street rods, antiques and muscle cars roll down the street at Old Town in Kissimmee a few nights every week.
ARTS & CULTURE
- Ride the SunRail for a fun tour of Orlando and it’s surrounding cities. Kids under 6 ride for free with a paying adult.
- Mennello Museum offers free admission to the galleries, craft stations and mini-tours every second Sunday of the month.
- The Orange County Regional History Center offers a wide variety of creative exhibits and programs designed for children. Tickets are $6 for kids and $8 for adults.
- Free entry to Orlando museums. Take the kids on a cultural journey for free with the Museums On Us program. Just show your Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card the first weekend of every month and you’ll get free admission to the Orlando Science Center, Orlando Museum of Art, Mennello Museum of American Art and Orange County Regional History Center.
- The Orange County Library System hosts fun events, interactive presentations and free story time for various age groups from babies to 5 years old.
- Barnes & Noble’s Summer Reading Triathlon rewards kids (grades one through six) with a free book, after they’ve answered three questions in the Triathlon journal.
PARKS & NATURE
- Central Florida Springs, Florida’s natural cooling system, is a fun place to visit year round. In the summer, take a dip in the refreshing water. In the winter, go on a picnic or a canoe trip. Admission is around $6 per person or $2 per person, depending on the park.
- Bok Tower Gardens, a picturesque park atop one of Florida’s tallest hills, is crowned with a Gothic bell tower that rings daily with carillon music. Guests can enjoy the tranquil and expansive gardens, museum and Pine Ridge Trail. Entry is $3 for kids and $12 for adults.
- Big Tree Park in Sanford features 11 acres of natural vegetation, wetlands and is the home to a 2,000-year-old Bald Cypress Tree, “Lady Liberty.” Entry is free.
- Leu Gardens offers free entry and a special story time event for little ones starting at 10 a.m. on the first Monday of the month (next one is August 1st). Stroll through the lush gardens or bring a blanket to relax in the shade while the kids play. Regular ticket price is $3 for kids and $10 for adults.
- Lake Eola Park is a 43-acre recreational area in the heart of downtown Orlando. The kids will love the large playground with activities for every age. Picnic along the shore, feed the resident swans and take a stroll around the lake. Head down to the lake with this handy guide detailing the different types of swans and see if you can tell what kind of swan each is.
- Bike and nature trails. It’s free to journey through the trails of Central Florida: Seminole County trails, Orange County trails, Lake County trails and Volusia County trails.
- The Beach. We are located in the middle of Florida, but the beach is just a 45-minute drive away. Pack the car with toys, an umbrella and a cooler of snacks for a day trip to Cocoa or New Smyrna Beach.
- Central Florida is home to many beautiful parks and recreational facilities. One of the easiest ways to find parks closet to you is to log on to Yelp to explore your options and read reviews. You can also search on Seminole or Orange counties’ websites.
- Splash pads and pools. Cool off at one of Central Florida’s free (or small-fee)splash pads. Or take a dip in one of the City of Orlando’s four year-round pools: College Park Pool, Dover Shores Pool, James R. Smith Pool or Wadeview Pool.
- Black Hammock Adventures on Lake Jessup offers free live alligator and bird exhibits and free live music every weekend.
WATER PARK & THEME PARK DISCOUNTS
- Disney Water Park After 2 p.m. Annual Pass for $69, you can enjoy admission to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach water parks after 2 p.m. for a full year.
- Wet ‘n Wild Florida Resident Deal: pay for a day ($39.99) get the rest of 2016 for free.
- Florida Resident discounts for Aquatica Water Park
- Coco Key Water Park Day Passes start at $21.95 per person, per day, Monday – Thursday, for Florida Residents.
- Walt Disney World is offering a Florida Resident 4-day pass for $56 per day.
- Crayola Experience Orlando gives you a $4 discount when you purchase your tickets in advance online.