Aptly called the world’s amusement park, Orlando has an extensive list of must-sees and must-dos. From adrenaline-pumping zip line ride with 120 gators looking from below to a relaxing kayak down winding rivers, you can never run out of things to do in Orlando. And if you’re looking for activities that will cost you little or nothing, here are some (among many) options for you.
1) Harry P. Leu Gardens – Enjoy 50 acres of breathtaking flora in this garden. Free entry from 9am – 5pm on the first Monday of every month.
2) Kraft Azalea Gardens – Tucked away in Winter Park, along the banks of Lake Maitland earning the moniker Central Florida’s ‘secret garden’. Free entry and open every day, from 8am till dusk.
3) Winter Park’s Central Park – Located on S Park Avenue. Visit the rose garden and lose yourself in the heavenly scents. Or simply relax under the oak tree canopies or unwind by the fountains.
4) University of Central Florida’s Arboretum – Offers self-guided tour of the more than 600 plant species in the 80-acre conservatory.
5) Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards – spanning 80 acres of awe-inspiring scenery offering free tours, tastings and festivals. Located 25 miles west of Orlando.
6) Black Hammock Adventures – Come here for free live alligator and bird displays. Listen to free live music to boot on Fridays and Saturdays at the Lazy Gator Bar.
7) Universal CityWalk – Don’t want to pay the Universal Studios’s USD 186 park-to-park exorbitant admission fee but still want to enjoy the park’s ambience? Visit the Universal CityWalk instead. It’s like you’re already inside the park with an array of restaurants, you can also watch live concerts for free. Depending on when and what time of the day you’re going, be prepared for the throng of people squeezing their way in or out of the park.
8) Downtown Disney – Go to Disney’s Pleasure Island, a one stop shop for dining, shopping and entertaining. Don’t miss the Ghirardelli ice cream, it’s so popular people line up for a scoop of their favorite flavor. Oh, I forgot this was meant to be a list of free things to do. Just in case you wanted to treat yourself, starts at USD 5. Kids will have the time of their lives at the 4,400-square feet of delight at the LEGO Imagination Center in Disney Marketplace. Watch live street entertainment including talented musicians in the evenings at Disney’s Boardwalk.
9) CityArts Factory – It is a collection of art galleries located in downtown Orlando featuring local and international artists. Free entry from Tuesday – Saturday, from 11am to 6pm.
10) Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art – This museum boasts an impressive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s works. It is open for free on Fridays between 4pm – 8pm, from November until April.
11) Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida – Remember the Holocaust and be reminded to never forget what happened to the six million Jews who perished. Educational events and seminars are also hosted at the Center, donations are accepted.
12) Winter Park Historical Museum – Features a photography timeline of Winter Park’s history with themed exhibits.
13) FleaWorld – America’s largest flea market with more than 1,700 vendors. It features acrobatic shows, circus and other forms of entertainment.
14) Explore Downtown Orlando – What’s a better way of getting to know a city than by walking down its main streets? Marvel at how clean and green the city of Orlando is and see for yourself why it is America’s most visited city today.
15) Ride a bike – Assuming you have a bike or can borrow a bike, there are a number of comfortable bike lanes in Orlando. If you’re in the busy I-Drive area, from Wet n’ Wild, follow the Universal Blvd going towards the Orange County Convention Center. Bike past the Convention Center and turn right at Destination Parkway. Turn right behind the big houses and you’ll discover a lovely bike and jogging trail lining a placid swamp. Use this site to map a suitable route for you. Alternatively, refer to this site.
Featured image on top: Lake Eola Park in the foreground, Downtown Orlando in the background