1) Orlando Brewing Company
We don’t usually jump at the term “organic” but in this case we’ll make an exception. Orlando Brewing Company’s lagers and ales are all organic, and are brewed according to the German Purity Law—meaning, they contain nothing but water, hops, yeast and malted barley. A well-rounded selection of 35 beers, plus wine, cider and soft drinks, are offered in their tap room (Simon says, try the Blonde Ale or Right on Red), and while all ages can take the tour, only those age 21 and up with photo ID can participate in a beer tasting. Tours are offered Monday through Saturday at 6pm, and you don’t need a reservation. Be aware though, it’s first-come first-served, so plan to arrive early to secure your spot.
You’ll find the brewery at 1301 Atlanta Avenue in downtown Orlando, off the I-4 exit 81BC, 19 miles from Walt Disney World.
2) Fort Christmas
No, not the “Ho, Ho, Ho” and presents under the tree kind of Christmas, because, as we all know, that’s never free. Instead, this is a replica 1837 fort built during Florida’s Second Seminole Indian War, along with outbuildings that include pioneer homes, a schoolhouse, a sugar cane mill, and more. It’s a fascinating glimpse into how the soldiers and homesteaders survived in Florida’s harsh conditions, with cattle, citrus, and hunting and trapping their main industries. Picnic facilities and a playground make Fort Christmas a good stop in conjunction with a visit to nearby Titusville and Kennedy Space Center.
The historical park is located at 1300 N Fort Christmas Rd, 48 miles west of Walt Disney World.
3) Tibet Butler Preserve
This peaceful nature park is just six miles north of the Disney Springs entry to Walt Disney World, but it’s a million miles away from the bustling pace of Tourist Central. Along with an interesting nature centre featuring local flora and fauna displays and exhibits, plus educational programmes, you’ll find several hiking trails of various lengths, all of them easy enough for children. Just need a quick breather? Pop by and take a walk along the short Fallen Log Crossing trail or extra-short Screech Owl trail. Both are well under a mile. Want a much longer hike? Combine all six of the preserve’s trails; they’re all connected. Our recommendation? Hike along Fallen Log Crossing to Osprey Overlook for a beautiful view of Lake Tibet Butler.
Tibet Butler Preserve is at located at 8777 Winter Garden-Vineland Rd (Highway 535). Open 8am-6pm daily. Parking is also free.
4) Concerts and Movies at Lake Eola
We freely admit that heading to downtown Orlando for a free outdoor concert or movie may seem like quite a hike just to listen to music or see a Disney flick, but there’s more to it than that. Lake Eola is a beautiful feature in its own right, with a walkway that circles the lake and its iconic fountain, a playground for kids to burn off steam, and some excellent restaurants within a short stroll. Free concerts and movies at the Walt Disney Amphitheater are the icing on the cake, but they’re a tasty icing worth sampling. You’ll come away from the evening feeling refreshed and ready to take on the parks again the next day.
Find it at 512 E Washington St, 21 miles north of Walt Disney World. Check http://www.downtownorlando.com/future/events for details.
5) Harry P. Leu Gardens
A magnificent 50-acre botanical garden that has seen thousands of weddings and special events over the course of its 58 years, and for good reason. It would be hard to find a more tranquil oasis in the heart of busy Orlando than this, especially for nature photographers. Although the Leu House Museum is currently closed for repairs after damage sustained during Hurricane Irma, there is a gift shop, a library and even interactive geocaching.
The gardens are open from 9am-5pm daily, but free entry is only on the first Monday of each month, from 9am-noon, so plan accordingly. Leu Gardens also offers the occasional free Saturday, when their plant sales take place, so be sure to check the website (under the Visitor Information drop-down) for any extra free dates.
Find it at 1920 N Forest Ave, 24 miles north of Walt Disney World, near the Orlando Science Center.
6) Enzian Theater Popcorn Flicks
It’s no secret we’re fans of Winter Park, with its excellent shopping and dining scene, and while none of that is free, it’s worth heading to this charming little town for dinner on the second Thursday of the month, and stay on for the free Popcorn Flicks in Central Park. Depending on sunset time, they take place at 7pm or 8pm, weather permitting (no one wants to watch a movie in the rain). All movies are family friendly, so bring a blanket or some towels from your hotel room, spread out on the grass, and enjoy!
Winter Park is just 28 miles from Walt Disney World, via I-4 east.
7) Old Town Saturday Night Classic Car Show
You probably already know about Old Town, a popular evening spot for our British visitors, but we’re often surprised by how many people aren’t aware of the Old Town Saturday Night Car Show, and if they are, they didn’t realise it’s free. Just head over to this long-time Kissimmee attraction before 8.30pm (cars start arriving at 1pm if you want to see them up-close), find a spot along the parade route, and experience a true American classic.
Old Town is located off Highway 192 in Kissimmee, 7 miles south of Walt Disney World.
8) Dr P. Phillips Community Park
Dr Phillips doesn’t do things by half, and this gorgeous park with a lakeside setting, a big playground, sports activities you can just show up and join in, picnic facilities, a kids splash-play area, walking trails and a dog park is proof that the community only wants the best. If you’re visiting Orlando with children, you don’t want to miss this opportunity for healthy, spontaneous outdoor play, a welcome relief from the faster pace and greater structure of the parks, especially during the hottest summer days. Be sure to bring a picnic!
The park is located at 8249 Buenavista Woods Blvd, 6 miles from Walt Disney World. All of its features, including parking, are free.
If you add one of these free experiences to your holiday, we’d love to hear about it!
Ready to start planning your Orlando holiday? Click here, to view our full range of Orlando attraction tickets.
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