Wednesday, April 17, 2024

No Wallet, No Worries: 10 Free Things to Do in Orlando

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Orlando, Florida may be famous for its magical theme parks but it’s also home to a bunch of cost-free delights that many may not be aware of. Whether you’re a thrifty traveler, a local resident saving up for a house in Orlando, or just moved into an apartment in the area, there’s no need to dig deep into your wallet to enjoy this vibrant city. In this Redfin article we’ve gathered free activities that showcase the best of what Orlando has to offer. From tranquil natural springs to captivating art exhibitions, these attractions are proof that the best things in life (or at least in Orlando) are indeed free. So, lace up your sneakers, bring your sense of adventure, and prepare to explore the less-trodden, but equally enchanting, side of Orlando without spending a dime.

Downtown Orlando, Florida

1. Lake Eola Park

Nestled amidst the hustle and bustle of Downtown Orlando, Lake Eola Park is a verdant oasis that bursts with life and energy. Visitors can walk along picturesque walking trails adorned with blooming flora that wrap shimmering Eola lake, or enjoy a leisurely lunch in one of the many scenic spots that dot the park. The park’s star attraction is the fleet of iconic swan paddle boats that invite you to explore the lake at a tranquil pace. Beyond the daily offerings, Lake Eola Park frequently transforms into a vibrant venue for community events, including enthralling concerts, outdoor movie nights under the starry sky, and a bustling weekly farmer’s market that showcases a variety of fresh, local produce.

2. Disney Springs

Living or visiting Orlando would be incomplete without experiencing the magic of Disney. While the theme parks often require hefty admission fees, Disney Springs offers a taste of Disney enchantment for free. This sprawling outdoor complex dazzles with its intricate architecture, lush landscaping, and an electric atmosphere. Stroll along the beautifully designed paths, and you’ll encounter a cornucopia of dining and shopping options. Yet, the true allure of Disney Springs lies in its rich offering of free entertainment – spontaneous performances spring up around every corner, and talented live musicians fill the air with a diverse blend of music.

3. Orlando Art Museum’s First Thursdays

If you’re an art enthusiast or simply appreciate the joy of creative expression, a visit to the Orlando Art Museum’s First Thursdays is definitely an option worth considering. Every first Thursday of the month, the museum opens its doors for free to the public for an evening of new exhibitions, live music, and a celebration of community artists. Spectators can admire local and international art pieces, immerse themselves in the diverse range of styles on display, and perhaps even strike up a conversation with the talented artists behind the works. It’s not just a museum visit – it’s a journey into the heart of Orlando’s vibrant art scene, and a testament to the city’s commitment to fostering local talent and creativity.

Botanical garden filled with colorful flowers

4. Harry P. Leu Gardens

Harry P. Leu Gardens is a horticultural haven spread across 50 gorgeous acres. Whether you’re a seasoned botanist or simply a lover of natural beauty, these gardens promise a serene retreat from the city. On the first Monday of every month, entry is free, providing the perfect opportunity to explore the winding pathways that lead you through a plethora of unique gardens, each hosting a different constellation of flora. Lose yourself amidst tropical rainforests, amble through the butterfly garden, or step back in time in the historical rose garden. The Harry P. Leu Gardens are a testament to nature’s boundless beauty.

5. Fort Christmas Historical Park

A short drive from Orlando brings you to Christmas, Florida, where the intriguing Fort Christmas Historical Park awaits. This park acts as a window into Florida’s vibrant past, dominated by a full-scale replica of a fort from the Second Seminole War. Surrounding the fort, seven meticulously restored wooden shelter houses built by early Florida and Georgia settlers, bring the 19th-century Florida pioneers back to life. Entry to the park is free, inviting you to journey through time and gain insights into the historical tapestry that constitutes modern Florida.

6. Winter Park’s Farmers’ Market

Winter Park’s Farmers’ Market is more than just a place to buy fresh produce – it’s a cultural experience. Every Saturday, the historic old train depot comes alive with a vibrant assortment of stalls that showcase the region’s agricultural bounty. As you weave your way through the market, you’re not just shopping but also engaging with local farmers, sampling an array of regional produce, and soaking in the buzzing community atmosphere. Beyond the market, Winter Park itself is a gem worth exploring. Its charming, tree-lined streets, quaint boutiques, and cozy cafes provide the perfect backdrop for a great day of exploration.

Man working at a local supermarket and waiting for clients

7. CityArts Orlando

Located in the vibrant heart of downtown Orlando, CityArts Orlando is a beacon for the arts. It’s a space where local and international artists converge, showcasing their talents across multiple galleries. With free admission, this hub of creativity invites you to step inside and witness Orlando’s thriving art scene. Each room bursts with a kaleidoscope of colors and styles, hosting everything from contemporary digital art to traditional oil paintings. Here, art isn’t just displayed – it’s experienced. Each visit is a unique journey in itself, offering a window into the minds of the artists and a pulse on the city’s cultural heartbeat.

8. Orlando Public Art and Sculptures

Orlando’s spirit of creativity extends beyond the gallery walls and into the city’s streets. Go on a self-guided tour to discover an array of public art and sculptures that pepper the cityscape. From the powerful narratives of the ‘See Art Orlando’ public sculpture collection in downtown to the hidden gems scattered throughout the city, this tour is a testament to Orlando’s commitment to making art accessible and integral to everyday life. Each piece tells a story, communicates an idea, or sparks a conversation, transforming a simple walk into a cultural adventure.

9. Kelly Park and Rock Springs Run

Just a short drive from Orlando’s city center, you’ll find the natural paradise of Kelly Park and Rock Springs Run. The centerpiece of this park is its stunning natural springs, which serve as the starting point for a beautiful, lazy river. Free entry during weekdays in off-peak months allows you to experience the tranquility of floating down this crystal-clear river, surrounded by lush, green Florida wilderness. It’s a welcome escape from the city, offering opportunities for swimming, picnicking, and wildlife spotting. It’s not just a park visit, but also a chance to reconnect with nature.

Family walking on the beach together on the weekend

10. Black Hammock Adventures’ alligator exhibit

Nestled on the shores of Lake Jesup, Black Hammock Adventures offers a unique wildlife experience. Its standout feature is a free live alligator exhibit, where you can observe these fascinating reptiles up close. Beyond the exhibit, the area is a haven for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. Lake Jesup, with its dense alligator population, promises frequent sightings of these powerful creatures in their natural habitat. A visit to Black Hammock Adventures is not just about witnessing wildlife though, it’s about immersing yourself in Florida’s wild landscapes and developing a deeper appreciation for its unique ecosystems.

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