Orlando's major amusement parks can be famously expensive. If you've squandered most of your vacation budget on tickets to see the Mouse, there's still plenty you can find in Orlando that costs absolutely nothing.

Here are the best things to do in Orlando for free.

Editor's note: during COVID-19 there are restrictions on travel and opening hours may vary. Check the latest guidance in the US before planning a trip, and always follow local health advice.

Cornell Fine Arts Museum

This tiny lakeside museum (accredited by the American Alliance of Museums) sits on the campus of Rollins College and houses US, European and Latin American art. Among the highlights are some exquisite old European Masterworks, as well as a good-sized contemporary collection. The collection is on display both here at the museum and at the nearby Alfond Inn, a college-owned boutique hotel. Both have guided tours for visitors, and the museum hosts many other events throughout the year.

Admission to the museum is free, but registration for a time slot is required for all guests.

A water taxi passes by Disney Springs during sunset
Disney Springs is the perfect tourist destination © VIAVAL TOURS / Shutterstock

Disney Springs

Stretching along the shore of Lake Buena Vista, the Disney Springs' smart outdoor pedestrian mall lures tourists with a huge number of restaurants, bars, music venues and shops.

This is also where you'll find the stage show Drawn to Life and the largest Disney store in the world. There's a Disney-styled party atmosphere, particularly on the weekends, with street performers dancing on stilts, parents pushing strollers loaded with Disney shopping bags, and hundreds upon hundreds of people enjoying the waterside drinking and excellent cuisine.

Although most of the restaurants and bars will have a Disney premium added to prices, the experience of soaking in the atmosphere is absolutely free.

A train station reading "Winter Park"
Winter Park is a mid-19th century winter getaway © PauloAlmeidaPhotography / Shutterstock

Winter Park

When Orlandoans want to wax lyrical about how beautiful their city is, a lot of them will point you to Winter Park, a bucolic town (well, city) north of Downtown founded in the mid-19th century as a winter getaway for wealthy northerners. The town grew up around liberal-arts school Rollins College, Florida's oldest institute of higher learning. Here are some of Orlando's best-kept secrets, including the city's best art museum and some of the most talked about restaurants in town, all within a few shaded, pedestrian-friendly streets. Shops, wine bars and sidewalk cafes line Park Ave.

Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art

Internationally famous, this stunning and delightful museum houses the world's most comprehensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany art. Highlights include the chapel interior designed by the artist for the 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago; 10 galleries filled with architectural and art objects from Tiffany's Long Island home, Laurelton Hall; and an installation of the Laurelton's Daffodil Terrace.

The museum is free on Fridays in November in December; admission is $6 the rest of the year.

An outdoor farmers' market on a sunny day
Lake Eola Park is a beautiful setting for the Farmers Market every Sunday © Rosemarie Mosteller / Shutterstock

Orlando Farmers Market

With pretty Lake Eola as its backdrop, the Orlando Farmers Market is where locals and visitors alike come to sample local produce, buy handmade jewelry and catch live entertainment at the wine and beer garden every Sunday at noon. Leashed dogs are welcome (look for vendors specializing in homemade pet treats).

Free street parking is within walking distance, and paid parking garages are nearby on South Osceola Ave and North Eola Drive.

Hannibal Square Heritage Center

As far back as 1881, Winter Park's Hannibal Square was home to African Americans employed as carpenters, farmers and household help. The Heritage Collection: Photographs and Oral Histories of West Winter Park 1900–1980, on permanent display at this little museum, celebrates and preserves this community's culture and history.

A waterfront area with a reproduction airplane parked nearby
Universal City Walk ©Solarisys/Shutterstock


Across the canal from the three theme parks is CityWalk, Universal's entertainment district comprising a pedestrian mall with restaurants, clubs, bars, the best multiplex movie theater in town, miniature golf and shops. Live music and mucho alcohol sums up the entertainment options here. Although nights can be packed with partying 20-somethings, bachelorette parties and general drunken mayhem, there's a distinct family-friendly vibe and several bars have reasonable food. Oh, and although it feels like a partying theme park in its own right, you can come here even if you're not visiting the Universal theme parks.

Kraft Azalea Gardens

This quiet 5.22-acre lakeside park features enormous cypress trees and numerous walking trails. It's particularly stunning January through March, when the azaleas burst into bloom. There's a dock, but no barbecues or picnic tables.

An orange sunset over a waterfront area with resorts and hotels in the background
Sunset at Disney's BoardWalk © Marc Perrella / Getty Images

Disney's BoardWalk

The quarter-mile-long Disney's BoardWalk area is located across from Epcot and along Crescent Lake. It's designed to echo a waterfront promenade of turn-of-the-century New England seaside resorts. On Thursday to Saturday evenings magicians, jugglers and musicians give a festive vibe, and there are a handful of good restaurants and bars. Pick up a doughnut or cute li'l Mickey Mouse cakes at the bakery, and toot around on a surrey-with-the-fringe-on-top bike.

Far less harried and crowded than Disney Springs, Disney World's entertainment district is free to the public, and the bridge connecting the boardwalk to the Yacht and Beach club is a good spot to watch the Epcot fireworks.

An outdoor stall of fruits and vegetables at the Winter Park farmers' Market
A stall at the Winter Park Farmers' Market © PauloAlmeidaPhotography / Shutterstock

Winter Park Farmers’ Market

Winter Park’s historic train station, with its original brick walls and massive vintage wooden sliding doors, houses the Saturday morning Winter Park Farmers’ Market. You’ll find local cheeses and honey, flowers and herbs, along with several excellent stands selling baked goods, spread out in the station and through the gardens.

It’s a small market, but a lovely spot to people-watch over a cup of coffee or an organic Popsicle.

Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards

Florida's largest premium winery sits on a 127-acre estate about 25 miles northwest of downtown Orlando. Every year, it produces nearly a million bottles of table and sparkling wines from muscadine and hybrid grapes.

The daily tours and tastings at the winery are completely free. The 45-minute experience includes a 15-minute video followed by a tour of the production area and a peek at the expanse of the vineyard. It also hosts a free music series throughout the year, as well as a free open house during the holidays. It's about 25 miles northwest of downtown Orlando, just off Florida's Turnpike in the townland of Clermont.

A quiet urban lake with a white swan
Lake Eola Park in Orlando ©aphotostory/Shutterstock

Lake Eola Park

This little city park sits between downtown and Thornton Park. A paved sidewalk circles the water, there's a waterfront playground and you can rent swan paddleboats ($15 for 30 minutes). To see the real thing, keep an eye out for white swans and other birds that live in the park. A paved .9-mile walkway encircles the park.

Consistent shade, convenient location and a fenced-in playground make it an ideal escape for families. Street parking is found all around the park.

Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts

Dedicated to Florida writer and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston (1881–1960), who was born in Eatonville and is famous for her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, this tiny one-room museum features changing exhibits of African American artists.

While the museum itself attracts folks with particular interests in the author, African American studies or a specific exhibit, the Zora! Festival held here attracts thousands for a multiday family-friendly celebration every January.

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