When you say Orlando it is automatically assumed that you’re there for Disney. However, these days the famous amusement park is becoming more expensive and you’d think twice before spending your days and your money on it. Orlando has more to it though than just Disney – parks and museums and lakeside promenades that all pretty much give you that festive Disney feels. How about spending an afternoon in an ‘old town’ for some retro fun? Here are some of the best free things to do in Orlando, Florida.
12 Free Things To Do in Orlando, Florida
1. Big Tree Park
One of the best attractions in Orlando is a small but interesting park with a long history, Big Tree Park was home to the largest, oldest (3,500 years old) bald cypress tree in the world, This legendary tree was called The Senator, which was unfortunately burned down years ago due to a drug-related incident . A memorial now stands where the tree was once. The park also has 2,000-year-old and 40 feet tall tree Lady Liberty, and The Phoenix, which looks a lot like The Senator.
Aside from the scenery, the Big Tree Park has nice trails for hikers and bikers as well as a playground for kids – all free to enjoy.
2. Disney Springs
Originally called Downtown Disney, Disney Springs is a lakeside strip made up of shops, restaurants, and bars. This place is free to visit and explore on foot, but they also have a lake taxi you can take from one end of the strip to the other. Disney Springs is home to the massive Lego Store that kids, and adults can enjoy for hours – for free.
3. Lakeridge Winery
For a taste of Florida, check out the Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards. This free Orlando activity takes you on a winery that’s nestled in a 127-acre estate in Clermont which is just a quick drive from Orlando. The place serves some of the country’s best wines and they offer visitors a free tour and tasting. Dyeing summer and harvest season the vineyard also hosts free summer music gigs and grape stomping competitions.
4. Celebration Town Center
If you’re in Orlando and simply want to have that Disney feel without spending, head on to the Celebration Town Center. Built in 1994, this “perfect town” was designed by the Walt Disney Company and is lined with candy-colored houses and white picket fences. All of the buildings in Celebration look like they are part of Disney World. It’s worth checking out, especially if you’re into Disney architecture. It’s free to visit and explore, and the place also hosts events such as car shows and art strolls.
5. Winter Park Farmers’ Market / Art Festival
Hosted at the old train depot every Saturday, the Winter Park Farmers’ Market is where you can get local products, souvenirs, good food or simply enjoy the fun lively atmosphere – for free. Another free activity that’s worth checking out if you’re in Orlando is the Winter Park Arts Festival every third Saturday of March, one of the oldest and largest outdoor art festivals in the country. After you’re done exploring and shopping at the farmers market, head on to Park Avenue, which is lined with shops, restaurants, museums, and cinemas.
6. Fort Christmas
One of the best Orlando attractions that you can enjoy for free is the Fort Christmas Historical Park. This was built during the Second Seminole War and has a life-size replica of Fort Christmas and seven historical “Cracker-style” homes. Check out the video presentations before enjoying a picnic in one of the pavilions. The park also hosts free events such as the annual bluegrass festival in March and Cracker Christmas in December.
7. West Orange Trail
If you’re up for more walking and exploring while enjoying fantastic views, head on to the West Orange Trail. The scenic trail spans 22 miles and covers a part of Oakland, Winter Garden, and Apopka. The trail is well paved and also perfect for biking. When you get hungry, make sure you stop in downtown Winter Garden with its many restaurants and charming shops.
8. Lake Eola Park
A relaxing spot right in the heart of the city, Lake Eola Park offers respite if you need a break from checking out the sights and braving the crowds. Hang out or have a picnic, or take a leisurely stroll around the lake where you get to see swans, birds, and turtles. Enjoy the sculptures surrounding the park and the farmer’s market held during Sundays.
9. Old Town in Kissimmee
If you’re up for some retro fun, make sure you visit the Old Town in Kissimmee. One of the best free Orlando activities, a visit here takes you back in time where you get to enjoy amusement rides, souvenir shops and a variety of food choices. The place is free to visit, and on Friday and Saturday nights, you get to watch some cool classic cars make their way down Main Street.
10. Moonlight Walking Tours at Greenwood Cemetery
An exciting and unique thing to do in Orlando that’s absolutely free is joining a Moonlight Walking Tour at Greenwood Cemetery. Take a stroll and visit over 100 graves of distinguished Orlandoans and learn about the city’s rich history. The tours are sponsored by different charities but donations are very much appreciated. Just make sure you register online first to schedule a tour date and time.
11. Disney Boardwalk
Another great alternative if you don’t want to spend on Disney is the boardwalk, where you get to enjoy live entertainment, good food, a variety of shops, and more. It’s a walkable promenade where you are pretty much surrounded by bright, colorful and fun activities. If you have a car and you go there during non-peak hours, you can park on the property for free for up to 3 hours and watch performers like jugglers, mimes, and magicians. You can even catch the Magic Kingdom fireworks if you stay until the evening.
12. Wekiva Island
A wonderful escape from the city hustle and an ideal place to escape to if you’re in Orlando on a budget is the Wekiva Island. A relaxing escape in Florida’s flora and fauna, this is just a quick drive from Orlando. Here you can have a picnic, relax in the cabanas or swim in the river. It’s free and a hot spot among locals so make sure you go early to avoid the crowds.