Summer is here — time to have fun in Orlando and make it a memorable one! But when it’s 100+ degrees outside, it seems too hot to do anything…what is there to do in Orlando this summer?
Don’t just stay inside and binge Netflix! Get out to explore Orlando and beyond with this list of cheap and fun things to do by @orlandoadventuring.
Consider this a challenge: complete this inexpensive Orlando summer bucket list before the season ends! These experiences range from quintessential to totally unique: going to the beach, pool parties, petting stingrays, eating Dole Whip out of a pineapple as well as some inside activities in air conditioning. All of the activities listed below are $20 each or less.
Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral area
Cocoa Beach parking
Cocoa Beach is about a 45 minute drive from Orlando. Once you arrive, the beach has many free, metered and beach access parking areas.
Cherie Down Park parking is free. The City of Cocoa Beach also has four parks with beach access: Alan Shepard Park $15, Sidney Fisher Park $15, Lori Wilson Park (free) and Robert P. Murkshe Memorial Park (free.) The parks have restrooms, showers and picnic tables.
Ron Jon Surf Shop
No trip to Cocoa Beach is complete without a stop at Ron Jon Surf Shop. Come as you are…in your beach clothes. The Cocoa Beach Ron Jon Surf Shop is the world’s largest two level surf shop with 52,000 square feet space. Bonus: it’s open 24/7 with free parking and air conditioning.
Coconuts on the Beach
This popular local restaurant and bar is located directly on the beach. Achieve the ultimate summertime vibe — listen to live music while drinking a tropical cocktail on the tiki deck. Relax by watching the ocean waves roll in or the ships cruise in nearby at Port Canaveral.
Cocoa Beach Pier
You can easily spend an entire day at the Cocoa Beach Pier. The destination has it all: a 800-foot-long pier, direct beach access, shops, volleyball courts, a bar, fishing access, lifeguards, restaurants and bathrooms.
Get a drink at Rikki Tiki Tavern while enjoying the view directly over the ocean at the end of the pier. Cool off with a soft-serve ice cream cone for $3.25 at Sea Dogs. Be prepared for the parking fee: $15-20 per car.
Exploration Tower is a tourist attraction with panoramic views of Port Canaveral, seven floors of interactive exhibits, a café and a gift shop. Discover the history of Cape Canaveral and try navigating a boat into Port Canaveral in an interactive game. Adult admission is $6.50 and child ages 3-10 are $3.75.
New Smyrna Beach/Daytona/Ponce Inlet area
An annual parking pass is $25 for Volusia Residents and $100 for non-residents. Save on parking fees by parking off-beach. One suggestion is Hiles Blvd.
Smyrna Dunes Park
Enjoy a day at the beach with your dog! Smyrna Dunes Park is one of the few dog-friendly beaches in the area but dogs must stay leashed. There is a parking lot, restrooms, shower and dog wash area. $10 admission per vehicle.
If shopping, dining and going to the beach is more your style, then head to Flagler Avenue. Go to the boardwalk, stroll the beach, and then visit all the shops and restaurants along Flagler Avenue.
You’ll find a variety of venues including souvenir shops, boutiques, art galleries, surf attire and gear, restaurants and bars. The Flagler Avenue parking lot cost is $20. Flagler Avenue also has regularly scheduled events and a monthly Flagler Avenue Wine Walk.
Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum
Challenge yourself to climb Florida’s tallest lighthouse in Ponce Inlet, Florida. After 203 steps, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view from the top of the observation deck. At the museum, you can learn about the history of the lighthouse — a national historical landmark — and the Fresnel lens restoration.
Regular admission is $6.95 for adults and $1.95 for kids age 11 and under. There is also a Climb to the Moon tour where you can toast with a sparkling beverage to the setting sun and rising full moon, which occurs only once a month when the moon is at its fullest.
Marine Science Center
Don’t miss the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet (a one-minute drive from the Lighthouse). Admission is just $5. You can easily spend an hour here petting the stingrays in the aquatic touch pool, attending an educational special event or shopping in the gift shop. The Center also rehabilitates sea turtles and seabirds.
Swimming in a pool is essential during the summer in Central Florida. If you don’t have one in your backyard, then there are plenty of public pools in the area. Check each website for open swim hours.
City of Oviedo public pool
Swimming in a pool is essential during the summer. The cost is $5 daily admission per person for Oviedo non-residents. There are also Aqua Zumba classes: a Latin inspired Zumba dance party class done in the water. The Aqua Zumba class takes place Saturday mornings at the Oviedo Gym & Aquatics Facility and the cost is $6 per person.
Winter Park public pools
The Winter Park public pools are the Community Center Pool and the Cady Way Pool. The non-resident daily prices are $5. They are hosting a couple family-friendly pool parties at the two Winter Park public pools:
- Dive in Movie at the Cady Way Pool on Saturday, July 27, 2019 from 8:30 pm-10 pm. The free pool movie event includes popcorn and drinks.
- Splash Back to School pool party on Saturday, August 10, 2019 from 12-5 pm at both public pools. The free pool party includes games, popsicles and music.
City of Orlando pools
The City of Orlando has four public pools for year-round swimming and seven seasonal pools. Each pool offers a variety of adult fitness classes, swim teams, open swim and classes for little ones.
City of Altamonte Springs
The newly renovated pool at Westmonte Park is now open. Admission is $5 (3 and under are free). They are hosting a variety of Dive-In Movies throughout the summer:
June 14: Mary Poppins Returns
June 28: Spider-Man: Into The Spider: Verse
July 26: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
August 9: The Incredibles 2
You might also be interested in Orlando Splash Pad Parks.
Aloft Orlando Downtown
This chic downtown Orlando hotel hosts adult pool parties in the summer with live DJs and drinks. Search for “Aloft” to find the tickets on Eventbrite. The tickets range from $15-20 each.
We are fortunate to have so many natural springs near Orlando. The water is crystal clear and around 68-72 degrees year-round.
- Wekiwa Springs State Park in Apopka has boat tours, camping, canoeing, kayaking, swimming and snorkeling. The cost is $6 per vehicle.
- Kelly Park/Rock Springs in Apopka is popular for the floating down the stream in an inner tube. Kelly Park also has a concession, picnic pavilions and playground. The tube rentals are available from vendors outside the park at an added cost and guests may also bring their own pool floats. The cost is $3-5 per vehicle.
- De Leon Springs State Park offers swimming, hiking and boat tours. You can also make your own table-side pancakes at the Old Sugar Mill restaurant. The cost is $6 per vehicle for entry (pancakes not included).
Read more about Natural Springs Near Orlando.
Chill out this summer at the ICEBAR located on International Drive. ICEBAR is kept 22 degrees and is created with more than 70 tons of hand-carved ice. Admission includes thermal coats and gloves to keep you cozy. They recommend you wear closed toe shoes and pants but it’s not required.
Drink a cocktail out of a custom carved ice glass at ICEBAR (non-alcoholic drinks are available too). Guests 21+ are welcome at all times while guests age 8-20 are welcome between 5-9pm. The Fire Lounge area is kept at normal temperature if you need to warm up afterwards. Check the website for deals like happy hour half-off ICEBAR for $9.95 entry during select week days until 9pm. You can also save by buying your ICEBAR tickets on their website for $14.95 (normal price is $19.95 each).
RDV Ice Den
The RDV Ice Den in Maitland is a year-round ice skating rink open to the public during select times. The admission for regular skate sessions is $12.50 including skate rental and tax. The ice skating is for skaters of all skill levels ages 3 and up.
Even if it’s hot outside, it’s cold in the rink! They recommend you wear long socks that come to at least mid-calf, long pants, long sleeves, gloves/mittens and helmets for beginners. The admission for Friday and Saturday night (7pm – 9:45 pm) skate sessions is $15.50 including skate rental and tax. The pricing is the same for children and adults. They offer adult hockey leagues too.
The Enzian Theater in Maitland shows cult classic movies, independent movies and hosts film festivals. Enjoy a pre-movie drinks at the outdoor Eden bar. Then head into the theater where a server takes your order before the movie starts and delivers your food and beer or wine during the movie to your table or couch.
The Peanut Butter Matinees are free for kids 12 and under. A monthly outdoor Popcorn Flicks in the Park takes place at Winter Park’s Central Park and is totally free. The Enzian Theater regular ticket pricing is $12 each, student/senior/military with ID are $10 and matinees are $10.
Aloma Cinema Grill
You can also dine while watching a movie at this theater in Winter Park. It has a casual vibe with table service featuring a menu food and drinks. There’s a kids’ menu too. The matinee admission prices for everyone before 6pm is $6. The evening prices are: adults $8, seniors (55 & older) $5.50, children (2 to 17) $5.50 and military/students with ID $5.50.
Free outdoor movies. Round up the crew for a cozy evening of family-friendly flicks under the stars. There are many free summer outdoor movies throughout the season.
Read more about free and cheap summer movies for families in Orlando.
COOL OFF WITH ICE CREAM
Ice & Bites Cafe
This fun ice cream shop near UCF features a taiyaki ice cream in a fish waffle cone with a variety of toppings. They also have bubble tea, shaved ice cream, chicken taiyaki, macarons, snacks and more. Try the delicious affogato with a cotton candy cloud: pour the espresso over the cotton candy, watch as it melts it, and then eat the ice cream covered in espresso at the bottom of the bowl.
Frozen Nitrogen Ice Cream
Frozen Nitrogen Ice Cream near UCF makes all the other ice cream shops seem boring. At this unique shop, you can create your own ice cream science experiment. Pick your flavor and then its mixed in frozen nitrogen right in front of you so you can see the cold smoke rise up.
Try the dragon breath treat — fruity pebbles in a cup with cold liquid nitrogen. Eat the fruity pebbles and then smoke comes out of your mouth like a dragon! They have vegan flavors too. Bonus: the spoons change color with the temperature.
Big Kahuna’s Island Fin Poke
Get your Dole Whip fix outside of the Disney parks. This Hawaiian-themed poke bowl shop in Winter Springs and Celebration (more locations coming soon) features a pineapple float served in an actual pineapple.
The pineapple float can either be filled with pineapple or orange flavor Dole Whip. It is the ultimate summer treat. You can have a healthy custom-made poke bowl here too.
VIDEO GAME ARCADES
This new arcade in Oviedo has quickly become a popular spot for all ages. Leave your quarters at home because they have unlimited or by-the-hour game play for one price. Play retro video games like Mortal Kombat, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Tetris, Tron, a glowing air hockey table, pinball machines and current games like Fortnite.
The venue is kid-friendly and they offer areas for parties too. Bonus: they sell beer and wine for the adults. Arcade Monsters also has trivia and karaoke nights. Price: $12.99 all-day game play or $7.99 for one hour.
The Pinball Lounge & Oviedo Bowling Center: Remember pinball? Pinball is still a blast to play. The Pinball Lounge is separate side door at the Oviedo Bowling Center. It has a room of retro and new pinball machines including Ghostbusters, Deadpool, Game of Thrones, Batman and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
The pinball machines run on quarters and there is a dollar-to-quarter converter machine. You can easily play 45 minutes of pinball for $5 in quarters. There is also a full bar and you can go bowling afterwards.
District Eat & Play
District Eat and Play is located inside the Oviedo Mall. Put money on a card, and then use it towards credits in the arcade. They also have escape rooms, a Boutique Bowling area, food, bar and live show areas. Check out the trivia nights, themed event nights, happy hours and Kids Play Mondays.
Astro Skate Family Fun Center
Feel like a kid again when you lace up those rented skates and groove to the music on the roller-skating rink. Check the website for open skate days, family and adults-only nights. The price varies, but the adult-night price is $7 each plus $3 for the skate rental.
DECORATE YOUR OWN MARSHMALLOWS
Wondermade in downtown Sanford offers monthly gourmet marshmallow workshops for a date night or family experience. The one-hour workshop includes a tour and then you get to decorate your own marshmallows. You get to take home your own slab of marshmallows at the end.
The workshops are $12 each for date night and $10 each for the family workshops. Bonus: They have ice cream and other s’mores type treats too.
Melody Larson has lived in Orlando for 21 years and is a UCF alumna. Her adventures have included bunny yoga, bungee jumping, parasailing, flying a plane, horseback riding on the beach and holding an alligator. Find her @orlandoadventuring on Instagram and www.orlandoadventuring.com. All images courtesy Melody Larson unless otherwise noted.
MORE SUMMER FUN IN ORLANDO:
Best free & cheap outdoor adventures in Orlando
Cool off at Central Florida Springs
Free and cheap summer movies for kids
Free summer outdoor movies in Orlando
Free and cheap things to do this summer with kids