Practical ways to live better on less.
Orlando doesn’t immediately spring to mind first when considering budget friendly vacation destinations. Afterall, a combination of pricey resorts, theme parks, and restaurants leads to a pretty costly trip. No matter how well you research and plan ahead, a trip to Disney is going to come at a high cost. If you have your heart set on Orlando but not the budget, there are still plenty of ways to save big bucks. Aside from researching cheaper hotels, airfare, and restaurants, the following list of 10 free things to do in Orlando will help keep your itinerary packed with plenty of fun, frugal activities.
Take a break from the heavy crowds to enjoy a relaxing stroll or ride around scenic Lake Baldwin. Baldwin Park is a quiet area of Orlando, far away from all the traffic and attractions found near the theme park area. Although Orlando’s weather is much too hot and humid the majority of the year for intense exercise, Lake Baldwin’s easy 2 and a half mile trail lets you get in a little healthy workout without overdoing it. The picturesque trail features lots of trees, wildlife, and quiet views of the lake.
Whether or not you visit the theme parks, Downtown Disney is a fun, free outdoor entertainment complex to visit. A movie theater, bowling alley, several themed restaurants, and shows are a handful of the attractions found in the area. Don’t worry if you are on a tight budget as there is plenty of free fun. Aside from taking in great views of the lake and all sorts of people watching fun, there are numerous fun shops to browse around, free live performances on the outdoor stage across from World of Disney, free samples at various shops, and the opportunity to take in some pretty photography. Be sure to visit the Lego Imagination Center where you can put your creative skills to test and check out some pretty cool lifelike Lego sculptures. As an added bonus, parking is free for the first 3 hours.
Lake Eola, located in downtown Orlando, is a great free activity for anyone visiting or living in the Orlando area. It feels so different from the clustered theme park areas. Here you will see all different types of birds walking around. The 1/2 mile path around the lake is beautiful with abundant trees and wildlife and great views of the Orlando skyline. This is the perfect opportunity to get in some exercise while simultaneously enjoying nature. If you want to spend a few bucks, you can rent out a paddleboat.
Tibet-Butler is one of the best places in Orlando to get away from it all. This quiet oasis allows you to explore the natural side of Florida. As you hike the trails, you will observe many diverse plant life and wildlife species. It’s not uncommon to see a gopher tortoise walking along a trail. The serene landscapes, which include pine flatwoods, oak hammocks, and lakes, make you feel as if you are truly in an isolated area, although in reality you are not that far away from the man made cluster that dominates the Orlando area. Both short and longer trails exist; the choice is up to you, depending on how long you want to get lost in nature. Be sure to visit the interpretive center; the baby alligators are quite a sight!
Winter Park is a charming small town just north of Orlando, known for its’ old-fashioned brick streets, abundance of natural beauty, and laid back charm. Kraft Azlea Gardens is one of the numerous beautiful gardens found in this quaint area of Orlando. This area is so picturesque that it has become one of the more popular wedding destinations in town.
Beautiful Spanish moss trees, relaxing lake views, and endless bird watching opportunities await your visit. Overall, Kraft is just a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the natural side of Orlando.
Universal City Walk is another fun entertainment destination in Orlando. Asides from theme restaurants, shopping, and nightlife, you will also be able to enjoy live entertainment like Rising Star, a karaoke bar and Howl at the Moon, a dueling piano bar (check for free cover times).
There’s always excitement to be found at City Walk, whether or not visiting Universal Studios theme parks is part of your vacation plans.
The Tiffany collection at this Winter Park museum is just wonderful; in fact it houses the largest collection in the world. Take your time exploring the various pottery, stained glass, jewelry and more from the late 19th century artist. Admission is free on Friday evenings from November- April.
Mead Botanical Garden, like Kraft, is another wonderful quiet place to explore while in the Orlando area. Simply taking a relaxing stroll through nature is sometimes just the rejuvenating break we are seeking. Being outside in nature is often much more beneficial than spending a lot of money at a fun (yet pricey and overcrowded) attraction.
Mead provides a few quiet trails, picnic tables, and a short bike trail for your enjoyment. Wildlife sightings including various bird species and gators are common. So take a break from Orlando’s pricey entertainment offerings and enjoy a quiet, free escape into nature.
Have you visited any of the Orlando/Winter Park sites listed above? What are some of your favorite free Orlando attractions?
Lake Baldwin Bike Trail: 2000 S Lakemont Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
Downtown Disney: 1486 East Buena Vista Drive, Orlando, FL 32830
Lake Eola Park: 512 East Washington Street Orlando, FL 32801
Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve: 8777 Winter Garden Vineland Rd, Orlando, FL 32836
Kraft Azlea Gardens: 1365 Alabama Drive Winter Park, FL 32789
Universal City Walk: 6000 Universal Blvd., Orlando, FL
Charler Homer Morse Museum of Art: 445 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
Mead Botanical Garden: 1500 S Denning Dr, Winter Park, FL 32789