Contrary to popular belief, it is totally possible to visit Orlando on a budget. In fact, the best thing about Orlando is some of the most culturally rich experiences and things to do in Orlando are absolutely free.
Many locals live the good life on less by taking advantage of all the free opportunities this area offers. Discover a wealth of free experiences from unexpected gems to family-friendly activities. Here is your guide to the best free & cheap things to do in Orlando.
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BEST FREE & CHEAP THINGS TO DO IN ORLANDO
FREE OUTDOOR MOVIES
There’s nothing better than watching a movie under the stars on a beautiful night in Orlando — especially if it’s free. Outdoor movies happen regularly throughout the year, all season long. Pack a picnic, bring a blanket, and pick a spot on the grass for a memorable evening.
- With the charming town of Winter Park as a backdrop, Popcorn Flicks in the Park screens family-friendly films on the second Thursday of the month.
- More free outdoor movie options include: Sunset Cinema in Altamonte Springs on the second Saturday of the month and Family Movie Night at Old Town on Sundays.
ORLANDO FARMERS’ MARKETS
To savor the small-town scene, shop like a local for fresh flowers and produce at Central Florida farmers’ markets.
- Resident favorites include Winter Park Farmers’ Market on Saturdays and downtown Orlando Farmers’ Market with live music and a wine/beer garden on Sundays.
- For indoor markets, visit Plant Street Market in Winter Garden and East End Market in Orlando.
FREE ORLANDO MUSEUM DAYS
- Explore an amazing 50-acre botanical oasis minutes from downtown Orlando. Harry P. Leu Gardens offers free entry for everyone on select first Mondays.
- Casa Feliz in Winter Park, a historic Spanish home and museum, opens its doors on Sunday afternoons from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. for live music and tours. Bring along a picnic to enjoy in the beautiful flower gardens. Entry is gratis, but donations are accepted.
- At the Third Thursday Gallery Hop, downtown organizations invite the community to pop in for a local art immersion.
- On the first weekend of every month, admission is granted to Orlando museums for Bank of America card holders. Participating museums include: Orlando Museum of Art, Mennello Museum of American Art, Orange County Regional History Center, Orlando Science Center.
- Journey through 12,000 years of Central Florida history at the Orange County Regional History Center in downtown Orlando. The organization offers free entry the 3rd Thursday of the month, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park is home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of dazzling works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. A visit is complimentary during Friday Nights at the Morse scheduled November through April from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The museum also hosts Open Houses throughout the year: Independence Day, Easter weekend, Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival weekend, and Christmas Eve.
- The Cornell Fine Arts Museum offers an intimate and unique experience in Winter Park with more than 5,000 works ranging from antiquity to contemporary. And, it’s always free.
Museums in Orlando that are always free:
- City Arts Factory
- Grand Bohemian Gallery
- Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida
- Winter Park Historical Museum
- Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts
- Crealdé School of Art Galleries
- Sanford Museum
- Winter Garden Heritage Museum
- Central Florida Railroad Museum
- Lake Mary Museum
- Longwood Historic Properties
FREE ORLANDO TOURS
Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards
Travel through the rolling hills of Clermont for an unexpected Florida wine experience at Lakeridge Winery. Stop by any day of the week for complimentary wine tours, tastings and a picturesque view of the 80-acre vineyard.
For beer connoisseurs, local brewmasters share how the fermenting magic happens during regularly scheduled on-the-house tours. Orlando Brewing in downtown Orlando: Monday through Sunday at 6 p.m. Crooked Can Brewing Company, the flagship of Plant Street Market in Winter Garden: Sundays, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. ($5 each).
The Greenwood Cemetery
Learn about historical figures who helped shape Orlando into the city it is today. During a full moon, The Greenwood Cemetery opens its gates for an educational and enlightening Moonlight Walking Tour that unveils the background of notable individuals. The tour is free, but advance registration is required and donations are accepted.
The Orlando Historic Walking Tour, led by the local Historic Preservation Officer, gives a firsthand look into the background of buildings that have stood the test of time. The walking tour concludes with complimentary admission to the Orange County Regional History Center.
Observe the city from an artist’s perspective with the See Art Orlando project, a collection of nine permanent contemporary art sculptures arranged throughout downtown Orlando. Walk around to admire each and bring a picnic to enjoy along the way.
FREE ORLANDO ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS & FAMILIES
All aboard the Orlando’s Sunrail, a local air-conditioned train that connects DeBary to Kissimmee with many convenient family-friendly stops along the way including the Orlando Science Center and Winter Park’s Central Park. Kids under 6 ride for free with a paying adult.
Imaginations soar at free story time, bringing books to life for little ones. Harry P. Leu Gardens offers indoor story time at 10 a.m. on the first Monday every month. On the wilder side, The Central Florida Zoo hosts story time at the Zoo Wednesday mornings in November and April.
The local library is often overlooked as an entertainment destination, but it exceeds expectations with a lineup of story times, special events and educational classes. Almost all activities are open to everyone, with or without a library card. For the perfect playdate, check out story time at the Orlando Public Library, then head to Lake Eola to meet the swans, explore the playground and enjoy a picnic on the shore of Lake Eola.
Kids are treated to their own version of Sunday funday at The Mennello Museum of American Art. Every second Sunday of the month, the museum gives families free admission, a free miniature fine art project and a free tour.
At The LEGO Store at Disney Springs , fanatics can build until their hearts’ are content at this huge store filled with colorful bricks, hands-on play tables and free special events throughout the year.
Take a step back in time at Old Town, a walking district with an authentic, classic Florida feel. The Kissimmee attraction features shops, restaurants, attractions and a schedule of free events including weekly car shows and free outdoor movies.
When the summer heat is in full effect, Orlando splash pads provide a cool respite for kids to play for free (or close to free). Pack a towel, water shoes and a change of clothes. Winter Garden Splash Pad (free), Tavares Children’s Splash Park ($2), Fort Mellon Park, Sanford ($2 per person. Free entry the first Friday of the month.)
FREE & CHEAP OUTDOOR ADVENTURES
Wekiva Island is that secret watering hole locals don’t want visitors to discover. Located along the shore of spring-fed Wekiva River, this eco-friendly oasis has it all — from recreational activities to a bar that serves beer and wine.
Spend the day lounging in Adirondack chairs, playing volleyball, swimming in the cool waters and listening to live music. Admission is free during the week, and the charge is only a dollar or two on the weekends.
Lake Eola Park is Orlando’s iconic 43-acre recreational area in the heart of downtown. An entire day could be spent here strolling, playing, and relaxing. Picnic along the shore, feed the resident swans and catch a free concert at the amphitheater. Soak in spectacular views of Orlando’s skyline and marvel at the massive fountain that dances to jazz music every night at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.
For a primitive Florida adventure, hike through Black Bear Wilderness Trail, a 7.1 mile loop through wetland habitats and along the St. John’s River.
Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is an 11-mile drive with a chance to view native animals in their natural habitat including 174 bird species. The drive is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The recreational trail system is Central Florida’s best kept secret with hundreds of miles of paved and natural trails for biking, walking and exploring. Whatever adventure you choose, it’s free to journey through the trails of Central Florida: Seminole County trails, Orange County trails, Lake County trails, Volusia County trails.
During the Winter Park Boat Tour, float through the canals and lush landscape of Winter Park’s waterways on a tranquil Scenic Boat Tour. The hour-long tour is $14 for adults.
FREE & CHEAP EVENTS
In Orlando, there’s always a reason to celebrate. The city and surrounding towns boast an extensive lineup of free recurring monthly events such as art walks, social events and live music.
Casselberry Art & Music in the Park & Food Truck Bazaar
Spend an evening at the beautiful Lake Concord Park in Casselberry to enjoy live music, artisan booths and a variety of culinary flavors from 15 food trucks. Held the second Friday of every month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Lake Mary WineArt Wednesday
On the first Wednesday of every month from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Lake Mary WineArt Wednesday features local artists, food trucks and a beer and wine garden. Stroll along the sidewalk lined with displays by local artists, sip on wine and listen to live music in Central Park.
Sanford’s Alive After 5
Alive After 5 is Central Florida’s largest recurring monthly street party with live music, local artists, food and beverage sampling in the beautiful historic town of Sanford. The celebration happens the second Thursday of each month from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Baldwin Park First Fridays
Venture through the heart of downtown Baldwin Park to meet 70 local artisans of all genres while also shopping at the local businesses. This free sidewalk festival is held the First Friday of every month from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and is both family and pet friendly.
THEME PARK EXPERIENCES WITHOUT A TICKET
With a nod to Central Florida’s refreshing natural springs, this outdoor escape features 120-acres of unique boutiques, award-winning restaurants and lively entertainment in four distinct neighborhoods: The Landing, Marketplace, West Side and Town Center. Relax by the water, stroll through shops, make fun memories and take plenty of selfies.
This action-packed hotspot features an eclectic collection of themed restaurants, nightclubs, a movie theatre, shopping and non-stop entertainment. Parking at City Walk is free for everyone after 6 p.m. Take in the sights and sounds, and then board the free water taxi service to cruise canals that meander throughout Universal Orlando Resort. Hop off to explore the resorts and entertainment along the way including Musica della Notte (Music of the Night), a free evening of music at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel.
Take a step back in time at Disney’s Boardwalk, a quarter-mile promenade boasting endless charm and architecture inspired by 20th century coastal destinations like Coney Island. Watch street entertainers, take a boat ride through the Disney waterways, and tour one-of-a-kind shops.
Movies Under the Stars at Walt Disney World Resort
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 for all Disney guests.
FRances Nipe says
Thanks for all the places to go-very informative