By Josh Laskin
June 11, 2017
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With its many free historical sites, parks, and events, Orlando is a great city to visit without having to spend a fortune on expensive attractions.

Many overlook the outdoor recreational opportunities available in Florida as they head straight to the beach towns to bask in the sun and sip on expensive cocktails, or to one of the many amusement parks. But whether traveling to Orlando as a base to other destinations throughout the state, or to go to Disney World, consider adding these free destinations to your list.

Kerouac House

Preserved by the National Park Service and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the house of this legendary, award-winning author is often passed by unknowingly. For those interested in literature, a quick stop to see the house where Jack Kerouac spent his final years and wrote one of his most well-known books, “The Dharma Bums,” could be worth a visit.

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Blue Springs State Park

Located approximately 40 minutes north of Orlando, this impressive 2,600 acre state park includes the largest spring on the St. Johns River. Blue Springs is also designated as a manatee refuge, affording visitors the opportunity to view a manatee from atop an overlook.

Lake Eola Park

This park offers visitors and locals a convenient escape from urban life without leaving downtown Orlando. A pedestrian walkway surrounds the lake, and concerts often take place in the Walt Disney amphitheater. Relax in the park while taking in a view of the Orlando skyline.

Orlando Sunday Market

Located in Eola Park, this farmers market has gained a reputation as one of the best in central Florida. Pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables, local food and drink, and breads every Sunday in the park.

Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve

Escape the city and crowds with a stroll through this lesser-known wilderness area just outside of Orlando. A system of trails meanders and loops through a variety of habitats, all native to the region.

Ten10 Run Club

For those looking to get a bit of exercise in during their vacation, the Ten10 Run Club offers group runs every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The run starts and ends at the Ten10 Brewery, and is a great place to mingle with members of the local community.

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Kissimmee Old Town

Although this district is geared towards shopping, dining, and amusements, there is free entertainment after 7:30 pm on a daily basis. Show up on a Saturday night for classic rock and roll from the 50’s and 60’s.

Downtown Orlando Public Library’s Urban Musical Instrument

One of Orlando’s better-kept secrets, the outside of the downtown public library has a light display on the side of the building at all hours that also doubles as a musical instrument. People are encouraged to press the touch pads on this interactive sculpture to produce musical sounds; when pressed in the proper order, a song will play. Try your hand at solving the puzzle!

Shingle Creek Regional Park

Located in Kissimmee, just outside of Orlando, Shingle Creek Regional Park encompasses the northernmost headwaters of the Florida Everglades and offers great cycling, boating, and hiking opportunities.

Popcorn Flicks in the Park

This classic film series is a collaborative event, organized by the City of Winter Park and Enzian Theater, and usually takes place on the second Thursday of each month in Central Park. The outdoor screenings are family-friendly, weather dependent, and usually start at 7 or 8 p.m.