Whilst we all love visiting the infamous Walt Disney World and Universal Studios theme parks, they are famously expensive and on your non-theme park days you may wonder what you can do in Orlando that won’t cost too much? Well, here are my top 5 FREE things to do in Orlando on your next holiday!
- Disney Springs
Disney Springs is located within the Walt Disney World property but unlike its fellow theme parks, entry to this shopping/ dining/ entertainment complex is free! Set along the shore of Lake Buena Vista, Disney Springs is home to 101 shops, 63 dining facilities and 22 shows and attractions. Though entry to Disney Springs is free and you could easily visit and not spend a dime, you’ll certainly want to check out the world’s largest Disney shop: World of Disney where you can purchase amazing souvenirs and presents. Though Disney shops are not all that can be found at Disney Springs as the complex is home to leading brands such as ZARA, Coach, Lacoste, lululemon, Oakley, Sephora and many more including the amazing M&M world and the huge Coca-Cola Store! Foodies will love Disney Springs and will want to check out The Edison – a cool, chic bar and restaurant and the iconic Planet Hollywood and T-REX restaurants that create a totally unique dining experience! Whilst in Disney Springs you can expect to enjoy the Magic Disney is famous for: from live entertainment at The Edison to the fabulous show Drawn to Life by Cirque du Soleil that is truly awe-inspiring. Though, if you are determined to keep to your ‘free-day-out’ then just experiencing the party atmosphere including street performers on stilts and the sounds of live music drifting from the various venues will keep you highly entertained!
- Universal Orlando’s CityWalk
Universal Orlando is home to the amazing CityWalk which they like to call: ‘The Epicentre of Awesome’… and with good reason. Universal’s CityWalk is teaming with things to do from catching one of Universal’s epic films to enjoying an amazing selection of food. Universal’s CityWalk is home to restaurants featured in some of their infamous films such as Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and the iconic Hard Rock Café Orlando. Sports fans will also love NBC Sports Grill and Brew that offers a variety of food from towering burgers to Caribbean Mahi. Doughnut lovers have to check out Voodoo Doughnut and sample one of their 50 unique, fresh pastries… and take a picture in the iconic Voodoo Doughnut chair located outside the shop! Though, Universal’s CityWalk isn’t just all about the amazing food, families will love the Hollywood Drive-In interactive Mini Golf course with two 18-hole mini-golf courses! For over 21s, Fat Tuesday is the perfect place to sip on some cocktails in the sun – their Piña Colada’s are delicious! Shopping at Universal’s CityWalk is in abundance – why not pick up a souvenir at ‘Rock Shop’ - the Hard Rock Café’s souvenir shop, or wander through Quiet Flight Surf Shop where you can choose from brands like Billabong, Vans, Quicksilver, Volcom, Roxy, Oakley and Ray-Ban!
- Disney’s BoardWalk
Disney’s BoardWalk is a quarter-mile long promenade of fabulous dining, unique shops, and entertaining night life. Set along Crescent Lake, the beautiful BoardWalk allows for a lovely stroll along the shores of the lake that teleports you back in time - with beautiful 20th century New England architecture, you really feel as if you are walking through an old seaside resort. Over the weekend’s, magicians, jugglers and musicians offer the BoardWalk a festive atmosphere and the variety of eateries like BoardWalk Bakery, BoardWalk Ice Cream and Big River Grille and Brewing Works allows for a quaint and magical afternoon. Disney’s BoardWalk is also only a short stroll from Epcot and a breezy boat ride from Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
- Celebration Town
Formerly owned by Walt Disney World, Celebration is a small town in Florida located about 8 miles from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The town was built by Disney architects and the houses resemble an older New England style with the town centre being modelled after Main Street USA at Magic Kingdom. The town is quiet, quaint, and idyllic – far from the usual hustle and bustle of Orlando. In the town centre you will find eateries including Italian, Cuban, Thai and Mexican restaurants and an American Sports Bar where you can have a few drinks and watch some games with tourists and locals alike. There are also a variety of boutique stores and coffee shops to browse around whilst in the town centre. Celebration has a large lake at its centre (similar to what you will see at Disney Springs), and it offers a great opportunity to soak up some Florida sunshine as you take a stroll around the lake. Celebration is also home to a large retro-style cinema, that has unfortunately been closed for over a decade, that now served amazing ice cream from its lobby – perfect for a mid-day refresher! Celebration hosts weekly farmers markets and monthly food festivals too where you can pick up some local produce and try new, local cuisine from the food trucks. Mostly, visitors of celebration enjoy the peace and quiet as they can stroll through the centre of town but also around the lake, along the wooded paths (walking trails) and down the quaint streets.
- Old Town
Old Town, Kissimmee is a recreation of a classic Florida town made up of 18-acres of beautiful tree-lined brick streets with over 70 boutique shops and restaurants – all with prices to reflect a simpler (cheaper!) time. Old Town features free weekly live entertainment and family-friendly attractions/ rides that the whole family will enjoy together. Old Town is also home to an iconic Ferris Wheel that towers above the streets. Each weekend Old Town also hosts a fabulous display of classic American cars and trucks (including the iconic Muscle cars) – you are invited to line the paths of the town’s brick streets and watch the beautiful cars drive down Old Town’s Main Street for the ‘Friday Night Muscle Car Cruise and Saturday Night Classic Car Cruise’. Whilst in Old Town be sure to have a play on the arcade games of both the past and the present at Happy Days Family Fun Centre and enjoy a meal at Froggers Bar and Grill that serves classic American food alongside an amazing atmosphere.