Admission is free to Hontoon Island State Park, where kids can enjoy the great outdoors.
Admission is free to Hontoon Island State Park, where kids can enjoy the great outdoors.

25 Free Things to Do With Kids in Orlando

Orlando is a thrilling destination filled with plenty of activities for kids and families. It's, of course, most known for its attractions and theme parks, but the cost of these can add up fast.

Truth is, there is no need to empty your pockets to have a good time with your family in the Orlando area. We've compiled a list of 25 absolutely FREE things to do with kids in Central Florida.

Included here are playgrounds, outdoor adventures, theme park bargains, and more. Whatever might interest you, know that your friends at Mommy Poppins Orlando will be with you throughout 2020 with updates on the best family happenings in Central Florida.

For even more free local events, check out our event calendar and filter for the "Free" tag. And remember to sign up for our FREE newsletters to receive posts such as this right to your inbox.

Disney Springs

Lake Buena Vista
At Disney Springs, families can get a Disney fix without shelling out a lot of cash. Admission and covered parking are free. Kids can cool off at the splash pad on hot days, stop by the Lego store and enjoy one of several free build areas, or take a trip to the T-Rex Café, where little ones can excavate dino fossils in the Paleo Zone. While there, stop by Ghiradelli’s chocolate for a free sample, and end the day with a complimentary ride on the ferry boats that travel to the parks and resorts.

Disney's BoardWalk

Lake Buena Vista
Enjoy an evening at Disney’s BoardWalk with FREE street performers, including comedians, jugglers, musicians, and more. Stop by Ample Hills Creamery for a free ice cream sample, and bring a picnic to enjoy along the waterfront. As with Disney Springs, admission and parking are free, and visitors can take advantage of Disney’s free ferry boats. Plus, the new Skyliner aerial gondolas can be accessed just a short walk away via the International Gateway at Epcot station.

Universal CityWalk

Orlando
This entertainment complex offers free self-parking after 6pm, splash areas for the kids, live DJs and dance parties, and complimentarywater taxi rides that travel from CityWalk to three of the deluxe Universal Orlando Resorts.

RELATED: Orlando With Teens:Theme Parks and More 


Delight in nature along Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. Photo courtesy of St. Johns River Water Management District

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Apopka

On this 11-mile drive, families can observe different species of wildlife, including alligators, birds, snakes, otters, bobcats, and more in their natural environments, all from the comfort of their vehicle. The drive takes roughly 2 hours, and there are spots where you can park and walk around to stretch your legs. The drive is open Fridays through Sundays as well as on federal holidays.

Stroll a Botanical Garden

Winter Park, Orlando
Kraft Azalea Garden and Mead Botanical Garden, both in Winter Park, offer free admission to the public every day. Plus, Harry P. Leu Gardens offers free admission on select first Mondays and various other days throughout the year.

Visit a Splash Pad

Multiple locations
While some area splash pads charge nominal fees, there are several that are completely free and most are open year round.  These include the Winter Garden splash pad, Bithlo Community Park splash pad, Capehart Park splash pad in East Orlando, Reiter Park splash pad in Longwood, Center Lake Park splash pad in Oviedo, and Barnett Park splash pad in Orlando.

World’s Largest McDonald’s & PlayPlace

Orlando
Orlando is home to the World’s Largest Entertainment McDonald’s, a two-story attraction right off of I-4 near International Drive. It hosts activities each day, including Mickey D's Magic & Mayhem Comedy Magic Show and character appearances. There is an arcade upstairs as well as a free treehouse-themed indoor playground with a toddler area for little ones.

Avian Reconditioning Center

Apopka
The Avian Reconditioning Center is a bird-of-prey rehabilitation center dedicated to educating the community about Florida’s raptors. It is open to the public every Saturday (weather permitting) and offers free admission (donations are appreciated).  It also offers several community events throughout the year.

RELATED: The Best Restaurants With Play Spaces for Kids in Orlando 


Go on a  free insect safari at Oakland Nature Preserve. Photo courtesy of the preserve

Oakland Nature Preserve

Oakland
This hidden gem in West Orlando offers free admission and is open 365 days per year. There is a museum and education center complete with live fish and turtle exhibits, a NaturePlay trail, and a boardwalk that leads out to a covered pavilion overlooking Lake Apopka (a perfect spot for a picnic). It also offers events such as storytimes and insect safaris.

Free Museums

Multiple locations
There are a number of Orlando-area museums that do not charge admission fees. These include the Central Florida Railroad Museum, Orlando Fire Museum, St Cloud Heritage Museum, Winter Park History Museum, Lake Mary Historical Museum, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, and the sobering Holocaust Museum in Maitland.      

Trout Lake Nature Center

Eustis
This 230-acre nature center north of Orlando is worth the drive. There is a museum as well as an environmental education center with displays and a kids' touch table with artifacts and fossils.Throughout the property are trails with fun features such as a swinging bridge and a bobcat boardwalk.


The Disney Wilderness Preserve is a tribute to Walt Disney's love of the outdoors. Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy

Disney Wilderness Preserve

Kissimmee
This 12,000-acre preserve is dedicated to habitat conservation for hundreds of wildlife species and is a testament to Walt Disney’s love of nature. Guests can enjoy hiking trails and bird-watching, and visit the eco-friendly Conservation Learning Center.  Note: This preserve is not affiliated with Disney’s theme parks or resorts. There is no entrance fee, but donations are appreciated.

University of Central Florida Arboretum

Orlando
The UCF Arboretum is located on campus and is a free 82-acre nature park open to the public.Families can stroll the nature trail and boardwalk, and enjoy a picnic lunch. UCF also offers guided tours for children for a small fee; those tours need to be scheduled in advance.

Fountain Show at Cranes Roost Park

Altamonte Springs
Cranes Roost Park offers a choreographed fountain display, with three different shows taking place nightly on the hour from 6pm through 9pm. Visitors can enjoy the show and stroll the one-mile walkway and boardwalks around the lake. Note: The fountain show might not run during special events.

Soap Box Derby Races

Sanford
Bring the kids to Derby Park to watch Soap Box Derby races, which are youth gravity races for kids and young adults ages 7-20. Races are free to watch and kids can enjoy the playground at the park afterward.

Hontoon Island State Park

Deland
This state park is situated on an island on St. Johns River, and is accessible only by private boat or free park ferry. There is no park entrance fee. Hontoon Island offers several amenities, including a fun playground for kids, fishing, hiking, and a small museum. Kids can also participate in the free Junior Ranger Program by asking at the visitor center. Upon completing six activities kids receive an official Junior Ranger Patch.

Free Community Movie Nights

Multiple locations
Visit our event calendar to find several free community movie nights, including Movieola at Lake Eola’s Amphitheater, Oviedo Movie in the Park, Kissimmee Movie in the Park, Popcorn Flicks in the Park, and more.

Bass Pro Shop

Orlando
Bass Pro Shop offers multiple free events throughout the year with kids' crafts and activities, including a Go Outdoors event in the late spring, summer activities and workshops, and a free Winter Wonderland during the holidays. 

BikingTrails

Multiple locations
When the weather is nice our family enjoys biking one of the many local trails. Visit the West Orange Trail, where families can bike part (or all) of the 20-mile paved trail from Oakland to Apopka, with several great stops in between, including a playground at Winter Garden Station and a butterfly garden at the Tildenville outpost. Other great biking trails include the Cross Seminole Trail, Little Econ Greenway Trail, Seminole Wekiva Trail and Spring to Spring Trail.

Fort Christmas Historical Park

Christmas
Entrance to this county park is free and includes an 1837 fort replica, a Florida “cracker” style house, pioneer homes, a sugar cane mill and historical farm equipment. Amenities include a playground, sand volleyball, basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball diamond, and picnic pavilions.

Fred Stone Theatre

Winter Park
Enjoy a free stage performance from the Second Stage Series by Rollins Players. These shows are designed, produced, and directed by Rollins College students.

The Melrose Center

Orlando
The Melrose Center for Technology, Innovation and Creativity offers a variety of tech-based services and classes, most of which are free to Orange County library cardholders. Services include a professional audio studio, sound booths and editing bays. Classes and events offered range from Family STEM Saturdays to Designing 3D Prototypes, How to Make Green Screen Videos, and Introduction to Virtual Reality.

ICON Park

Orlando
While the attractions at ICON Orlando charge a fee, visitors can enjoy free parking and free admission to the complex. Bring picnic supplies and relax on the green in front of the The Wheel and watch the nightly lighting of the iconic Ferris wheel. Stroll the area afterward for a fun family evening.

RELATED: The Best Playgrounds in Orlando for Family Fun


The Tibet-Butler Preserve includes miles of hiking trails ideal for kids. Photo by Rain0975/CC BY 2.0

Tibet-Butler Preserve

Orlando
This free nature preserve and education center offers miles of hiking trails and numerous educational programs throughout the year. Some trails tend to get muddy during the rainy season, so be sure to wear waterproof shoes and bring bug spray.

Visit a Playground

Multiple locations
Central Florida has a variety of great playgrounds for kids of all ages. See our rundown of the best children’s playgrounds in Orlando to find one near you.

Top photo by Rain0975/CC BY 2.0


Disney Springs
1486 Buena Vista Dr
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Disney's BoardWalk
2101 Epcot Resorts Blvd
Kissimmee, FL

Universal CityWalk
6000 Universal Blvd
Orlando, FL

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive
2850 Lust Rd
Apopka, FL

Kraft Azalea Garden
1365 Alabama Dr
Winter Park, FL

Mead Botanical Garden
1300 S Denning Dr
Winter Park, FL

Harry P. Leu Gardens
1920 North Forest Avenue
Orlando, FL

Winter Garden Splash Pad
119 S Lakeview Ave
Winter Garden, FL

Bithlo Community Park
18501 Washington Ave
Orlando, FL

Capehart Park
715 Capehart Dr
Orlando, FL

Reiter Park
311 Warren Ave
Longwood, FL

Center Lake Park
299 Center Lake Lane
Oviedo, FL

Barnett Park
4801 W Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL

World's Largest McDonald's & PlayPlace
6875 Sandlake Rd
Orlando, FL

Avian Reconditioning Center
323 W Lester Road
Apopka, FL

Oakland Nature Preserve
747 Machete Trail
Oakland, FL 34760

Central Florida Railroad Museum
101 S Boyd St
Winter Garden, FL

Orlando Fire Museum
814 E Rollins St
Orlando, FL

St. Cloud Heritage Museum
1012 Massachusetts Ave
St. Cloud, FL

Winter Park History Museum
200 W New England Ave
Winter Park, FL

Lake Mary Historical Museum
158 N Country Club Rd
Lake Mary, FL

Cornell Fine Arts Museum
1000 Holt Avenue
Winter Park, FL

Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida
851 N Maitland Ave
Maitland, FL

Trout Lake Nature Center
520 E County Road 44
Eustis, FL

Disney Wilderness Preserve
2700 Scrub Jay Trail
Kissimmee, FL

University of Central Florida Arboretum
4312 Scorpius St.
Orlando, FL

Cranes Roost Park
274 Cranes Roost Boulevard
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

Derby Park
2199 Oregon Avenue
Sanford, FL

Hontoon Island State Park
2309 River Ridge Road
Deland, FL

Bass Pro Shops Orlando
5156 International Dr
Orlando, FL

Fort Christmas Historical Park
1300 North Fort Christmas Road
Christmas, FL

Fred Stone Theatre at Rollins College
203 E. Lyman Avenue
Winter Park, FL

Orlando Public Library-Melrose Center
101 E. Central Blvd. 2nd Floor
Orlando, FL 32801

ICON Park
8375 International Dr
Orlando, FL

Tibet-Butler Preserve
8777 Winter Garden - Vineland Rd.
Orlando, FL
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