Best Budget Weekend Trips for Orlando Families

The beaches of St. Augustine are fun, free ways to spend a weekend trip from Orlando. Photo by Mancy Carter
The beaches of St. Augustine are fun, free ways to spend a weekend trip from Orlando. Photo by Mancy Carter
4/14/23 - By Paula Andrea Morales

Budget weekend getaways for Orlando families are great ways to enjoy the beauty of Florida while saving money. There are fantastic Florida cities perfect for weekend trips from Orlando that feature great weather and lots of family activities. We've focused on budget-friendly, weekend destinations located near Orlando for families to have an awesome time without breaking the bank! 


If money isn't a cause for concern, we've got more weekend travel ideas focused on theme parks, like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando, and more, in our Orlando Theme Parks & Water Parks Guide.

5 Budget Weekend Getaways for Orlando Families

1. Daytona Beach

Less than one hour from Orlando, Daytona Beach is a coveted beach destination for families on a budget. If you stay at a local hotel or inn, access to the beach is included in your stay. When booking Daytona Beach hotels, ask about included amenities —many hotels offer free rentals of beach toys, bikes, boogie boards, etc. Additionally, many hotels offer promotions where kids eat free. Daytona Beach Hilton offers a free breakfast buffet with paid adult. Other meal deals include kids eat for $2.99 on Mondays at Cantina Louie and free on Tuesdays at 4Rivers Smokehouse; both restaurants are on International Speedway Boulevard, near the Daytona Beach International Speedway. (Tour the speedway for $25/adult, $20/child 5-12, and kids 4 and under free.)

If your accommodations do not include beach access, consider Sun Splash Park. This FREE park allows beach access, as well as a great playground and splash pad! Restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and free parking make this a money-saving place for the day. 

Enjoy Mother Nature at the FREE Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens. Originally an English sugar factory, the sugar mill subsequently became home to an amusement park, Bongoland. It is now a beautiful public garden, complete with a butterfly garden, as well as dinosaur statues that are remnants from the amusement park days. Donations are appreciated.

Finally, if you are in Daytona Beach with kids, visit Daytona Lagoon. This water park offers Florida resident discounts, and even deeper discounts if you go Monday through Thursday. Activities also include go-karts, mini golf, lasertag, rock climbing, an arcade, and a ropes course.

Daytona Beach hosts many events throughout the year such as Bike Week, Biketoberfest, and Jeep Week. If you are looking to avoid traffic and the masses, plan accordingly.

RELATED: Summer Day Trips from Orlando for Families

Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine Budget Weekend Getaways for Orlando Families
Explore historic Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine during your next weekend trip. Photo courtesy of Florida Historic Coast

2. St. Augustine

Head north up Florida's east coast to the historic gem that is St. Augustine. With over 40 miles of sandy shoreline, St. Augustine Beach is great for beach activities and home to St. John's County Ocean Pier Park. An ideal place if you like to fish ($6 for non-residents), the area also features a free splash park, farmer's market, and concert series on Wednesdays. Every third Saturday of the month, check out the St. Augustine Farmer's Market in the Amphitheater and the Artisan's Walk on Vilano Pier.

We can't talk about St. Augustine without mentioning iconic St. George Street. Open to pedestrians only, this street is a free feast for the senses! Filled with lots of shops, restaurants, and sweet shops, families enjoy lots of choices. Visit the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse; book a trolley tour (prices vary depending season); and explore Plaza de la Constitucion (Constitution Plaza, "the oldest public space in America"), the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, and the Bridge of Lions. If you are in St. Augustine the last Saturday of the month, join a free historic walking tour

There are also many things to do in St. Augustine just off St. George Street, like Castillo de San Marcos National Monument ($15/adults, free for kids 15 and under), Whetstone Chocolates Tasting Tour, and Fort Matanzas.

Clearwater Beach Water Slide - Big Event Slides Budget Weekend Getaways for Orlando Families
Take a dip at the Clearwater Beach water slide! Photo courtesy of Big Event Slides

3. St. Petersburg/Clearwater/Tampa

Located on the Gulf Coast, the trio of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Tampa offer so much for families. Clearwater Beach's world-renown, sandy white beaches are reason enough to make a weekend trip! Rent a cabana, paddle board, or kayak to add some fun to your beach day. If you are looking to turn up the fun, visit Big Event Slides where kids slide down giant inflatables into the Gulf (save money by buying an unlimited ride wristband). Enjoy a budget-friendly excursion to North Shore Park, with two playgrounds (one has a pirate theme)!

The Pinellas Trail offers over 70 miles of continuous bike trails. No bike? Rent one from Kafe Racer in Dunedin, which won't break the bank (daily $20 rental for kid's bike, $30 for adult bike). Dunedin also has charming places to eat like Strachan's, an ice cream shop beloved by locals.

Expose children to the arts at Morean Arts Center —the center has a wonderful, weekend program that allows kids to make their own art (free souvenirs!). Great Explorations Children's Museum is another excellent choice for hands-on learning and fun ($15 for kids 1-17 and $12 for adults (babies are free)). And educators, veterans, and first-responders get $1 off admission (other discounts available on certain days).

During your weekend trip to St. Petersburg, get around the city with its network of trolleys. At only $2.25 per ride or $5 for unlimited rides (per day), the trolley system is a great value and fun way to take in the sites!

If you are looking for options in Tampa, the CityPASS is worth considering. CityPASS offers discounted admission to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, and your choice of two additional attractions (Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the Tropics Boat Tours, Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), and Glazer Children's Museum).

Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens Budget Weekend Getaways for Orlando Families
Stroll the beautiful grounds of Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens. Photo courtesy of the gardens

4. Port St. Lucie

At just under two hours away, Port St. Lucie gives a taste of South Florida for visiting families from Orlando. Baseball attraction Clover Park is a must-see—home to the St. Lucie Mets, a single A team of the New York are plentiful with tickets starting at $12. If you visit during spring training, see the MLB New York Mets play at Clover Park.

For nature lovers and adventure seekers, head to Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens for gorgeous plants and flowers, as well as fun activities for children. You can download a number of scavenger hunts where the kids can search for certain plants. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. Visit the Farmer’s Market every Saturday in Downtown Fort Pierce for a pleasant morning to get local fruit, art, and a souvenir.

Older kids up for a challenge love Operation City Quest Scavenger Hunt. At about $10 per person, hunters have to complete challenges and locate objects. The scavenger hunt is conducted via an app -- participants upload photos to get points and have access to an online moderator.

Port St. Lucie offers many water activities, including fishing, kayaking, and paddle boarding, at Indian River Lagoon, Savannas Preserve State Park, and the beach (free in Port St. Lucie). Savannas Preserve State Park also offers horseback riding, hiking, and biking. Parking costs $3 per vehicle, and rentals are available inside the park. The River Boardwalk, which wraps around St. Lucie River, is a great place to walk and enjoy the sunset. You may fish, boat and kayak from here as well.

Need ideas for a rainy day? Explore the great indoors at the St. Lucie Aquarium— adults pay $4.25, kids and seniors $3.25, and 4 and under are free (free admission the first Tuesday of each month).

When it comes to deals on food, kids eat free at Lefty's Wings and Grill, Tail-Gators Brew and Grill, and Zapata's Mexican Grill with the purchase of an adult entree on Sundays. Kids eat free at Hurricane Grill and Wings (Fort Pierce location) with a paying rewards member adult on Saturday.

Highlands Hammock State Park Budget Weekend Getaways for Orlando Families
Who needs the beach when you have lush Highlands Hammock State Park. Photo courtesy of Florida State Parks

5. Sebring

Located halfway between Bradenton and Fort Pierce, Sebring is known as the "City on the Circle." Approximately two hours from Orlando, we wanted to highlight a city that isn't on the beach. Florida is rich with state parks that showcase Florida's gorgeous lakes and wildlife. Visit Highlands Hammock State Park, where you can walk/hike any of nine trails, bike the 3-mile loop, take the park tram tour or engage in geo-searching. There is a playground, picnic tables and restrooms. Highlands Hammock also has overnight camp sites (these book up quickly during cooler months). Park entrance costs $6 per vehicle (up to 8 people).

Make a pit stop at Sebring International Raceway, with events happening throughout the year, and tickets starting at $25 (children 12 and under are free with a paying adult). Enjoy lounges and observation decks to experience the race (and even camp out at the site).

Another great activity is Lost Mines of Atlantis for a cool prospecting experience. Purchase a bucket ($20-$55 depending on the size), and search for fossils and gemstones. Mining is a great way to get tweens off their phones and work together as a team!

Lake Istokpoga is great for fishing-- off a pier at Lake Istokpoga Park or on a boat. If fishing isn't your thing, appreciate Lake Istokpoga by horseback, canoe ride, or airboat! Fill up after all that outdoor activity by stopping by Sebring Soda & Ice Cream Works for a sweet treat.

Save money with free admission at Lake Placid Outdoor Murals (unique and impressive art) and Military Sea Services Museum (honoring the military sea services) perspective on freedom.