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 Walt 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. Walt Disney World and Universal Studios 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

People walking by stores in Disney Springs

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Located within Walt Disney World, this shopping, dining, and entertainment district is worth checking out during your next trip to the resort. 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 around 100 shops, more than 60 eateries, and almost two dozen attractions, shows, and events, there's so much to see here. Keep it budget-friendly with window shopping and a quick meal at a counter-service spot, or splurge on new Disney merchandise and a nice meal out — the choice is yours.

2. Check Out Universal CityWalk

Universal CityWalk Orlando at night

David Pavlina/Travel + Leisure

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 $30 per vehicle, but guests can enjoy free parking after 6 p.m. on most nights. 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

A swan on Lake Eola with the Orlando Skyline

David Pavlina/Travel + Leisure

Located downtown, 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 along Shingle Creek Trail

Known as the "Northernmost Headwaters of the Florida Everglades," the water from Shingle Creek flows from the city into nearby Lake Tohopekaliga, eventually reaching the Everglades. Explore the trail and keep an eye out for the birds, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons, that live in the area.

5. Browse Art at CityArts

Art work and seating in the CityArts Gallery

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Get a feel for the local art scene at CityArts, a collection of seven galleries under one roof 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 a constantly changing lineup of interesting exhibitions and events, this is a must-do for art lovers visiting Orlando.

6. See Vintage Cars in Old Town in Kissimmee

Old Town Kissimmee

David Pavlina/Travel + Leisure

Take a short ride down I-4 to Old Town, a retro-themed entertainment district in nearby Kissimmee, to enjoy free classic car shows and live music. Every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, proud owners show off their antiques, hot rods, and muscle cars, often while bands perform on the main stage.

7. Hike in the Tibet-Butler 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 Walt Disney World, you can enjoy nature and maybe even spot some wildlife.

8. Head to the Beach

Find sand and surf on beautiful Cocoa Beach, located about an hour's drive east 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, just north of Orlando. Like everything else on this list, it's free to enter, so why not head here to enjoy views of Lake Maitland under the shade of cypress trees?

10. Check Out Icon Park

Rides at ICON Park

David Pavlina/Travel + Leisure

Icon Park, an entertainment district located just south of the Universal Orlando Resort on bustling International Drive, is home to tons of attractions, shops, and restaurants, and parking and entry to the complex is free. Create your own walking tour connecting places of interest, indulge in plenty of window shopping, listen up for free live musical performances, and get your fill of people-watching as you go. Don't forget to snap some photos of The Wheel at Icon Park, the Ferris wheel that rises 400 feet above Orlando — for a real treat, stick around to see its light show, which happens each night around sunset.

11. Unwind at the UCF Arboretum

The UCF Arboretum, located on the University of Central Florida's campus just a 20-minute drive from downtown Orlando, offers visitors a peaceful place to take a walk in nature. Open from sunrise to sunset, admission is free and you're welcome to take a self-guided tour (guided educational tours are also available for an extra fee). Take some time to stroll the grounds, visit the greenhouses, check out the community garden, and wander the nature trails of this 82-acre natural wonder, open since 1983.

12. Go on a Florida-style Safari

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

13. Hunt for Murals in the Mills 50 District

Large mural on the side of a building in the mills 50 district

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

In the city’s Mills 50 District, centered around the intersection of North Mills Avenue and East Colonial Drive, art lovers can visit and photograph the many colorful murals that adorn dozens of structures throughout the neighborhood. 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

Paved walkway lined with trees apart of the Orlando Urban Trail

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Explore the Orlando Urban Trail, which stretches for three miles — from Lake Highland Park to Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park — and takes you past the sculptures of Loch Haven Park, the diverse architecture of Orwin Manor, and six of the city's most scenic 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. Admire Works at the Rollins Museum of Art

Just a 15-minute drive north of downtown Orlando in Winter Park, the Rollins Museum of Art's permanent collection includes more than 700 paintings representing a mix of American, European and contemporary art from the 14th to 21st centuries. It's also home to over 2,000 photographs, drawings, and prints, as well as a number of sculptures. Several pieces by Andy Warhol can be seen here, while rotating exhibitions focus on such topics as globalization, the future, compassion and kindness, and the world according to female, transgender, and non-binary perspectives.

16. Take a Free Brewery Tour

Exterior of Ivanhoe Brewing

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Craft beer fans, rejoice! Orlando is home to quite the craft brewery scene, and many of them offer free and unofficial behind-the-scenes tours upon request so you can get a better idea of how your favorite sudsy beverage is created. At Ivanhoe Park Brewing, for instance, reservations must be made in advance for larger groups, but you can usually ask the staff behind the bar for a quick peek anytime it's not too busy. Another popular spot, Deadwords Brewing Company, offers free tours only on weekends — just ask the bartender or server — while free tours at Brewlando are available daily between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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. À La Cart Orlando features classic movies on Mondays, with on-site food trucks and wine bars providing movie-ready munchies. Film screenings begin at sunset or 7 p.m., whichever happens last, and typically last about two hours.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles