Explore Orlando

Editor's Itinerary: Spend a Day in Orlando for Free

Get the most bang for your buck with these free activities in Orlando.

It's January, and that dreaded credit card statement has just arrived in your inbox. Not to worry, there is plenty to do around Orlando that is entirely free, so you can stay on budget for 2015 while still having a blast on vacation. Check out this itinerary for spending a day on a shoestring. 

 Morning

Explore the lakefront campus of Florida's first college ©Alfond Inn
Explore the lakefront campus of Florida's first college (©Alfond Inn)

Take a drive to Winter Park, an upscale community just north of downtown. Start on the north side of Park Avenue for some window shopping and work your way down several short blocks to Rollins College. Founded in 1880 on beautiful Lake Virginia, Rollins is the oldest college in Florida. Visitors can enjoy free admission to the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. The venue features an impressive collection of Renaissance and Impressionist art. Take time afterward to stroll along the scenic lakefront then check out the Alfond Inn across the street. The property was just named one of Florida’s best hotels by Conde Nast and is chock-full of local contemporary art. 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park

Afternoon

See Art Orlando
(©See Art Orlando)

In the warm afternoon sun, it’s the perfect time to head downtown to Lake Eola, a favorite locals’ hangout and a must-do for visitors. The lakeside park offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city with its picnic areas, playground and plenty of ducks and swans to chase. If it happens to be on a Sunday, plan time for the farmers market with a range of local vendors and entertainers and take a free yoga class. Don't miss the amazing outdoor sculptures from See Art Orlando, featuring eight extraordinary pieces—from modern to whimsical—from artists across the globe.  Rumor has it that if you sit in the palm of the "Muse of Discovery" (pictured above), you'll get great inspiration. 195 N. Rosalind Ave.

Evening

The Bohemian Hotel in Celebration, Florida (©Kessler)
The Bohemian Hotel (©Kessler)

Head to the town that Disney created: Celebration. It’s no surprise this dreamy community was actually the brainchild of Walt Disney. Take a walk down Market Street toward the lake, where your kids can look for the resident alligator in the setting sun or play a game of ping-pong at the pavilion. Continue around the lake behind the Bohemian hotel for an evening stroll on the elevated wooden boardwalk. From quaint Victorian reproductions, a Michael Graves'-designed post office and massive mansions on Eastlawn, the architecture here is noteworthy. There's plenty of natural beauty, too, with numerous lakes, birding trails and palm forests. 851 Celebration Ave., Celebration, 407.566.1200

After Hours

Downtown Disney
Downtown Disney (©Walt Disney World)

Enjoy the amenities of Walt Disney World without buying a ticket. At Downtown Disney, visit the world’s largest Disney store, build your own LEGO masterpiece or hop on a water taxi for an evening cruise. If you're feeling adventurous, take a trek to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Admire their two spectacular lobbies before walking outside where you're likely to spot a giraffe or a zebra having dinner. Disney's Boardwalk is another great place to spend the evening. From there you can take a peek at the World Showcase inside Epcot for the 9 pm Illuminations fireworks show. To see the Magic Kingdom's fireworks outside the gate, simply hop aboard the ferry by 10 pm.