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

Places featured in this article:

Disney Springs (map ) 1486 Buena Vista Dr Lake Buena Vista, FL
Disney's BoardWalk (map ) 2101 Epcot Resorts Blvd Kissimmee, FL
Universal CityWalk (map ) 6000 Universal Blvd Orlando, FL
Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive (map ) 2850 Lust Rd Apopka, FL
Kraft Azalea Garden (map ) 1365 Alabama Dr Winter Park, FL
Mead Botanical Garden (map ) 1300 S Denning Dr Winter Park, FL
Harry P. Leu Gardens (call) 407-246-2620 (map ) 1920 North Forest Avenue Orlando, FL
Winter Garden Splash Pad (map ) 119 S Lakeview Ave Winter Garden, FL
Bithlo Community Park (map ) 18501 Washington Ave Orlando, FL
Capehart Park (map ) 715 Capehart Dr Orlando, FL
Reiter Park (map ) 311 Warren Ave Longwood, FL
Center Lake Park (call) 407-971-5590 (map ) 299 Center Lake Lane Oviedo, FL
Barnett Park (map ) 4801 W Colonial Dr Orlando, FL
World's Largest McDonald's & PlayPlace (map ) 6875 Sandlake Rd Orlando, FL
Avian Reconditioning Center (map ) 323 W Lester Road Apopka, FL
Oakland Nature Preserve (map ) 747 Machete Trail Oakland, FL 34760
Central Florida Railroad Museum (map ) 101 S Boyd St Winter Garden, FL
Orlando Fire Museum (map ) 814 E Rollins St Orlando, FL
St. Cloud Heritage Museum (map ) 1012 Massachusetts Ave St. Cloud, FL
Winter Park History Museum (map ) 200 W New England Ave Winter Park, FL
Lake Mary Historical Museum (map ) 158 N Country Club Rd Lake Mary, FL
Cornell Fine Arts Museum (call) 407.646.2526 (map ) 1000 Holt Avenue Winter Park, FL
Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida (map ) 851 N Maitland Ave Maitland, FL
Trout Lake Nature Center (map ) 520 E County Road 44 Eustis, FL
Disney Wilderness Preserve (map ) 2700 Scrub Jay Trail Kissimmee, FL
University of Central Florida Arboretum (map ) 4312 Scorpius St. Orlando, FL
Cranes Roost Park (call) (407) 571-8180 (map ) 274 Cranes Roost Boulevard Altamonte Springs, FL 32701
Derby Park (map ) 2199 Oregon Avenue Sanford, FL
Hontoon Island State Park (map ) 2309 River Ridge Road Deland, FL
Bass Pro Shops Orlando (call) (407) 563-5200 (map ) 5156 International Dr Orlando, FL
Fort Christmas Historical Park (map ) 1300 North Fort Christmas Road Christmas, FL
Fred Stone Theatre at Rollins College (map ) 203 E. Lyman Avenue Winter Park, FL
Orlando Public Library-Melrose Center (map ) 101 E. Central Blvd. 2nd Floor Orlando, FL 32801
ICON Park (map ) 8375 International Dr Orlando, FL
Tibet-Butler Preserve (map ) 8777 Winter Garden - Vineland Rd. Orlando, FL
upcoming events
(Tue Feb 4, 2020 - Tue Dec 1, 2020) Nature Nuts at Tibet-Butler Preserve
Baby & Me Storytime at Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble - 11:00 AM
Family Night at The Ice Factory
The Ice Factory of Central Florida - 6:00 PM
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides