Orlando is well known for wallet busting attractions such as Disney and Universal, but “The City Beautiful” has so much more to offer – especially to those looking for budget friendly activities. Here are 10 lesser known activities in Orlando for you and your family that won’t break the bank.
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Wekiwa Springs State Park
For residents of Central Florida, Wekiwa Springs State Park is an oasis from the scorching heat. No matter the temperature, the clear blue springs in Wekiwa consistently remain a cool 72 degrees, perfect for swimming. For only $6 per vehicle, visitors can bring their kayaks or canoes and explore the low-hanging palms and fields of lily pads. You might even spot a manatee or two if you’re lucky! Those not wanting to get in the water can try out the 13 miles of hiking and biking trails.
Lake Eola Park
In the heart of downtown Orlando you’ll find Lake Eola Park, a picturesque recreational epicenter of family friendly events and activities throughout the year. You can stroll through the walking trails, feed the swans, and enjoy free concerts held at the amphitheater. Here you can also explore the hip neighborhood of Thornton Park surrounded by trendy restaurants and boutiques. Don’t miss the Sunday farmer’s market where you’ll find a beer and wine garden, live music, and fresh pastries.
Winter Park Farmers Market
One of the most popular farmer’s markets in Orlando is in Winter Park, conveniently located near Park Avenue, the city’s premier shopping district. Planted around an old train depot, this market is held every Saturday, where local vendors and farmers show off their best products. You’d be hard pressed to find better homemade and homegrown specialties such as fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. A day can easily be spent strolling around the market followed by a picnic under one of the mossy live oak trees.
Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards
Seven days a week, Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards offer complimentary tours and wine tasting. Need I say more? Nestling in a 127 acre estate about 30 minutes west of Orlando, you’ll find such stunning countryside, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped out of Florida. Keep up to date with current happenings, as Lakeridge regularly hosts free events and festivals year round that are perfect for those looking to save money.
Black Hammock Adventures
If you’ve ever wanted to meet a 35 year old, 12 foot, 650 pound alligator named Hammy – this is your place. Compared to other wildlife attractions in Florida, Black Hammock Adventures is completely free. Watch trainers feed Hammy snacks of chicken legs, pose with a baby alligator at one of their exhibits, or observe any of the other 9,000 alligators they have on hand. For a fee, adventurous guests can hop on one of their airboat rides and coast through the waters looking for alligators in their natural habitat.
Stay Cool with Splash Pads
For budget friendly family fun in Orlando, there is nothing that beats a good splash pad on a hot summer day. Here, kids can cool off in ankle deep water while being entertained for hours. With many parks offering picnic areas, playgrounds, volleyball nets, and water slides, there is something to keep the entire family entertained. The more popular parks include Dr. Phillips Community Park ($3 a person) and Downey Park Splash Playground ($1 a person).
The Orlando Eye
A relatively new attraction to Orlando, The Eye features a dazzling view of the city from 400 feet in the air. As you float towards the sky, you can spot iconic buildings and attractions from the entire immediate area of I-Drive. You might even catch a Disney World fireworks display if you time it right! Perfect for a romantic evening or a day out with the kids, make sure to pre-book your visit to The Eye online to save an additional $5.
SAK Comedy Lab
Laugh until your cheeks hurt at SAK Comedy Lab in Orlando. Experts in improvisation will test their skills, and with plenty of audience participation – no two shows are alike. The unpredictability of the comedians will impress you as they burst into spontaneous skits and songs created on the spot. Check their events calendar for cover charges ranging from free to $20.
With perfect Florida weather, you can’t beat a night under the stars. On the second Thursday of every month, you can sit under a different type of star – a movie star! At what they call “Popcorn Flicks in the Park,” Winter Park features classic movies appropriate for the whole family in Central Park right as the sunset goes down. These events are free, allowing you to bring your own blankets, chairs, and snacks to keep you as comfortable as your own living room.
East End Market
East End Market is a part of a growing food movement in Orlando, inspired by local farmers to provide appreciation and education of food artisans. Visiting the market is a budget activity in itself, but it is heightened by their free live music events. Every first and third Saturday the market hosts local musicians in their lush courtyard. This event is perfect for grabbing a treat from the market, bringing a book, or just enjoying a relaxing afternoon.