It’s no secret that Central Florida is a magical place. But with so many things to do in Orlando, it’s common for visitors’ vacation budgets to perform a disappearing act — especially when they’re traveling with the whole family.
Luckily, visiting Orlando with children doesn’t have to be expensive. There are free, kid-approved things to do all around the city. Here are nine ways to keep the family entertained without breaking the bank.
- Lake Eola Park
Lake Eola Park is downtown Orlando’s go-to spot for family-friendly fun.
The 43-acre urban park is home to a huge playground. Once they’ve slid and swung to their hearts’ content, take the kids for a stroll along the mile-long walking trail. Along the way, admire the park’s ducks, swans, and outdoor art installations.
When lunchtime comes around, stop at the Publix grocery store across the street and get their famous sub made fresh to order. Then, bring your Pub Subs back to the park for a picnic. Locals get it; those subs are delicious!
Lake Eola Park also hosts free outdoor events throughout the year. Many, including the weekly farmer’s market, feature live entertainment. You may also stumble upon a free movie screening in the park or concert at the Walt Disney Amphitheater.
- Mead Botanical Garden
Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park is a natural fit for outdoorsy kids visiting Orlando.
The 48-acre botanical garden contains scenic walking paths and several parks. Wander through various Florida ecosystems, including a sandhill with spindly pine trees, a butterfly garden, and wetlands full of regal birds. Throughout the year, volunteers from the local Audubon Society host free activities and guided tours. Borrowing their binoculars, you may spot ospreys, woodpeckers, blue jays, hawks, or the barred owl that lives on-site.
The garden is open seven days a week, and admission is always free.
For more free fun, see if you can find the Geocaches hidden throughout the garden. One of the caches was the first to be placed in the Orlando area back in 2001. Download the official Geocaching app to get started.
- Popcorn Flicks in the Park
Mead Botanical Garden is a short drive from downtown Winter Park, home to the 11-acre Central Park. On the second Thursday of each month, the city government hosts a free movie night in the park in conjunction with the Enzian Theater. In the past, Popcorn Flicks in the Park guests have seen family-friendly movies like Encino Man, The Nutty Professor, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
The films typically start just after sunset and are subject to cancelation in the event of rain.
- Disney Springs
At Disney Springs, you can get a healthy helping of pixie dust without breaking out your wallet.
Parking and admission at this Walt Disney World shopping and dining district are free.
Disney Springs is home to multiple outdoor stages where talented musicians and DJs put on free shows throughout the day. Once the family is done rocking out, head to the on-site splash pad to cool off. Or get creative at the LEGO Imagination Center, where kids can build and race plastic cars at no cost. Children who dig dinos will love searching for fossils at the Paleo Zone, a free attraction to the side of T-Rex Café.
Before you leave Disney Springs, stop by the Ghirardelli store to satisfy your sweet tooth with a complimentary piece of chocolate.
- Old Town Kissimmee
Give the kids a blast from the past with a visit to Old Town, an entertainment hotspot minutes from the Disney parks.
There are tons of classic carnival rides around Old Town, but you can have a blast without paying for a single ticket.
That’s because you’ll find free shows and activities throughout the week. On select nights, local tribute acts put on high-energy concerts. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the whole family can belt out tunes at karaoke. And on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, classic cars cruise into Old Town during themed auto shows.
To see what free events are happening during your Orlando vacation, check out Old Town’s calendar.
- Lori Wilson Park
The closest beach to Orlando is Cocoa Beach, located about an hour away on Florida’s Atlantic coast.
While the Cocoa Beach pier and many nearby lots charge for parking, it is always free to park at Lori Wilson Park on I Dream of Jeannie Lane. The 32-acre park has on-site restrooms, showers, a playground, and picnic pavilions, plus a dog park for those traveling with Fido. And, of course, visitors have plenty of chances to beachcomb, swim, and listen to the crashing waves.
Cocoa Beach is one of the best surfing spots in the Eastern U.S., and you’re likely to spot a few locals hanging ten.
If not, head down the road to get a taste of the local surf culture at the free Florida Surf Museum.
- Downtown Winter Garden
West of Orlando, you’ll find the charming town of Winter Garden, which has a long history as a railroad hub.
While the Orange Belt Railroad has become a (free!) walking trail, Winter Garden still has something special for train lovers.
The free Central Florida Railroad Museum is housed in the town’s former train depot. It boasts a big collection of railroad artifacts. Exploring its exhibits, you’ll find locomotive bells, station signs, model trains, and china and cutlery from dining cars. Children can also become conductors for a day as they play with the museum’s wooden train set.
After visiting the museum, head down the block so the kids can splish away at Winter Garden’s splash pad.
- Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive
Children will go wild for the chance to go on safari during their Orlando vacation.
Best of all, admission to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is free as a bird.
As the name suggests, the wildlife park features a roadway that runs along the north shore of Lake Apopka, the fourth-largest lake in Florida. It takes about an hour to traverse the 11-mile trail, which is open on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays. As you drive through, stream a free audio tour from your phone to learn about Lake Apopka, its habitats, and its history.
Along the way, you’re sure to spot feathered friends of all kinds — and maybe even a gator or two.
- Free Family Funday at the Mennello Museum of American Art
Orlando’s Mennello Museum has mastered the art of having fun on a budget.
All year, children’s admission is just $1. But on the second Sunday of each month, the whole family can visit for no money at all. Free Family Funday features guided tours of the Mennello’s colossal collection of folk art, plus a kid-friendly art or literature project.
Past activities have included pinhole cameras, Sculpey critters, manga creation, blackout poetry, and nature prints.
The Mennello Museum of American Art is in Loch Haven Park, a little north of downtown. The park also boasts picnic-perfect scenery and an impressive outdoor sculpture garden.
Stay at an Orlando Hotel with Free Kids’ Activities
After a busy day spent exploring all the free things to do in Orlando with kids, there’s more fun to be had at Rosen Inn International.
Our Orlando hotel features family-friendly amenities like a playground, two swimming pools, and free standard cable in each guestroom. And since kids 5 and under eat free at our breakfast buffet with a paying adult, it’s easy to fuel your adventures.