Guest Author - Kimberly Misra
The Orlando area is expensive and you’re going to have to spend money in order to fully experience it. But by adding some of these free activities to your days, you may find your Orlando vacation turns out to be cheaper than you expected.
Visit Downtown Disney Marketplace: Here you can visit the World of Disney, the biggest Disney souvenir shop in the area. There’s no charge for looking and the shop is an experience in itself with Disney movies playing, princess accessories to try on, and animated Disney characters. Stop by the Lego Imagination Center and let your kids enjoy the free Lego building stations and nearby playground. Check out the huge Lego sculptures while you’re there, including the enormous dragon in the lake.
Stroll along Disney’s boardwalk: Experience a little old-time Atlantic boardwalk charm right in Orlando. Along the way you can window-shop and enjoy the water views and street entertainers.
Get a free second day at SeaWorld: Sea World sometimes offers free second day passes, although these offers aren’t publicized or predictable. In our case, an announcement was made after we’d bought our tickets and we just needed to stand in a short second line to receive the passes. You may also find free second day offers through discount ticket agents.
Play in Lake Eola Park: This beautiful 43 acre park in downtown Orlando has views of the city, fountains, a walking path, swans to feed, and a playground. Swan shaped paddle boats are available for a fee.
Visit Harry P. Leu Gardens: In this downtown Orlando oasis you can enjoy three miles of paved walkways, a rose garden, a butterfly garden, an evening garden, ancient oak trees, camellias and more. Admission is free on Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon (otherwise admission is $5 adults, $1 children)
Go hiking in Ocala National Forest: If you want to experience natural Florida while visiting Orlando, this is the place. The popular Florida Trail is an easy hike that lets you glimpse several habitats including hardwood forests, swamps, springs, and prairies. The trail is relatively flat and over 60 miles in length, so unless you’re going to be here awhile you’ll probably want to choose just a short portion. You can also canoe, picnic, bike, and swim here (watch for alligators). Fees may apply to some of these activities depending on which part of the forest you visit.
Tour the town of Celebration: This Disney-made town can seem a bit creepy (everything is just a little too perfect). But it doesn’t cost anything to stroll around and admire the gorgeous houses and well-groomed yards. Kids can play in the interactive fountain and search for turtles and alligators in the lagoon. Depending on when you visit, you may even see machine-generated falling leaves or snow.