17 Free Things to Do in Orlando

From art galleries to nature preserves, these are the best things to do in Orlando for free.

Orlando Florida Lake Eola
Photo: Gina Pricope/Getty Images

Whether you're heading to Central Florida to visit Disney World or Universal Orlando — two of the world's most popular theme park resorts — or just hoping to explore the city, there's plenty to see and do in Orlando. But if you're traveling on a budget, you know that paying for admission to the city's top attractions can get pretty pricey. Disney World and Universal Orlando theme park admission prices start at over $100 for a one-day ticket, and other area attractions can be expensive, too, so you'll want to find ways to save money when exploring the city.

With a plethora of public parks, galleries, and fun shopping and dining destinations, you can find many free things to do in Orlando so you can enjoy your time in the Sunshine State without breaking the bank. Here are the top 17 things to do in Orlando for free.

1. Visit Disney Springs

Located within Walt Disney World, this shopping, dining, and entertainment district is worth checking out during your next trip to Orlando. Even though it's on Disney property, you don't have to pay to visit Disney Springs and self-parking is complimentary so you can enjoy the Disney vibes for free. With 104 shops, 62 dining locations, and 23 attractions, shows, and events, there's so much to see here. Keep it budget-friendly with window shopping and a quick meal at a casual eatery, or splurge on new Disney merchandise and a nice meal out — the choice is yours.

2. Check Out Universal CityWalk

Another theme park-adjacent dining, shopping, and entertainment complex, Universal Orlando's CityWalk offers plenty to see and do steps from the theme parks. In fact, the resort calls it "The Epicenter of Awesome," and it has a number of unique dining venues, attractions, and shops. During the day, standard parking is $26 per vehicle, but guests can enjoy free parking after 6 p.m. on most nights. Visit after 6 p.m. and just enjoy the ambiance for a totally free evening out or grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants.

3. Go for a Stroll in Lake Eola Park

Located in downtown Orlando, this public park is ideal for those looking for a bit of peace in the middle of the city. Take a stroll around the lake on the nearly one-mile-long sidewalk loop for views of the water with a skyline backdrop.

4. Birdwatch at Shingle Creek Regional Park

Known as the "Northernmost Headwaters of the Florida Everglades," the water from Shingle Creek flows from Orlando, eventually reaching the Everglades. Explore the trails and keep an eye out for the birds that live in the area.

5. Browse Art Galleries at CityArts

Get a feel for the local art scene at CityArts, a gallery collective in the Downtown Arts District. It's open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is free to visit. With several galleries and interesting exhibitions and events, this is a must-do for art lovers visiting Orlando.

Kissimmee, Old Town Theme Park
Jeff Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images

6. See Vintage Cars in Old Town in Kissimmee

Find shopping, dining, and carnival rides at Old Town in nearby Kissimmee. Plan your visit for a Friday or Saturday to enjoy free live music, car shows, and cruises — people bring their classic cars out for display on Saturdays.

7. Hike in the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve

Go for a 3.6-mile hike through a preserved piece of Florida wilderness at this park. Even though it's just a short distance from the Disney World theme parks, you can enjoy nature and maybe even spot some wildlife at the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve.

8. Head to the Beach

Find sand and surf on beautiful Cocoa Beach, located about an hour's drive from Orlando. Lori Wilson Park offers free parking and admission, with restrooms, outdoor showers, and other amenities that will make your beach day even better.

9. Unwind in Kraft Azalea Garden

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and go for a relaxing stroll in the scenic Kraft Azalea Garden, located in Winter Park, Florida, just outside Orlando. Like everything else on this list, it's free to enter, so why not head here to enjoy lake views under the shade of cypress trees?

10. Check Out International Drive and Icon Park

There's always something happening along International Drive, a bustling thoroughfare in the heart of Orlando. Icon Park is home to tons of attractions, shops, and restaurants, and parking for the complex is free.

11. Attend the Thursday Night Market

Head to the Thornton Park District Thursday Night Market in Lake Eola Park’s Osceola Circle (outside World of Beer and the Aku Aku Tiki Bar). The family-friendly event is held weekly from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and features live music, crafts by local artisans, and some of the area’s best food trucks.

12. Embark on a Florida-style Safari

The St. Johns River Water Management District has put together a free DIY-style audio tour of the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, offering visitors the chance to learn about some of the local bird and alligator populations — as well as several agricultural and restorative projects that are currently happening throughout the area — all from the comfort of your own vehicle.

13. Hunt for Murals in the Mills 50 District

In the city’s Mills 50 District, located near the intersection of North Mills Avenue and East Colonial Drive, art lovers can visit and photograph one of the many colorful murals depicting elements of daily life in Orlando. Visit the website to view the 44 murals and their respective locations, as well as other art projects that might be open to the public while you’re in town.

14. See the City from the Orlando Urban Trail

Take on the Orlando Urban Trail, which stretches three miles from Lake Highland to Mead Garden in Winter Park, offering views of the city and Loch Haven Park, as well as Orlando's scenic six lakes. Whether you go on foot or by bicycle, it’s a great way to get outdoors and spend some time meandering through Orlando’s neighborhoods. Check out the trail map on the website before you head out.

15. Stop and Smell the Roses at Harry P. Leu Gardens

While Harry P. Leu Gardens does normally charge admission, you can enter during the day before 4 p.m. on the first Monday of each month. Pick up a map at the Garden House Welcome Center and explore the many floral and plant collections at your own pace. For a real treat, visit in late-February to see the azaleas in bloom — the butterfly garden and Mary Jane’s Rose Garden, with more than 215 varieties and 650 roses, are also worth a look.

16. Take a Free Brewery Tour

Craft beer fans, rejoice! Orlando Brewing opens its doors for first come, first served brewery tours Monday through Saturday at 6 p.m., with the exception of the 30th day of the month and special events like Oktoberfest. Tours are open to the public but you can email ahead if a private peek is preferred. Orlando Brewing did leave its Atlanta Ave. location in July 2022, but the beloved organic brewery is set to reopen in a new spot this fall.

17. Watch a Free Movie in the Park

If all else fails, you really can’t go wrong with catching a free flick under the stars, whether you’re traveling with your friends, family, or beloved. Some spots, like À La Cart Orlando, feature classics and romantic comedies on Mondays with on-site food trucks and wine bars providing movie-ready munchies. Movieola at Lake Eola offers themed events and activities prior to each of its showings during the spring, summer, and winter holidays.

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