Travelers planning a trip to Orlando usually have plenty of things to do – for a price. Central Florida attractions draw millions of visitors every year spending billions in travel dollars. Often saving up for years to make a magical Florida vacation reality, families visit the Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios, Sea World and others. But while there is no shortage of attractions charging a hefty admission fee, there are quite a few that are free, many of which are close by the expensive Orlando attractions.
Wekiwa Springs State Park is one of many parks in Florida with no admission fee. This one is less than an hour from most Central Florida attractions. Wekiwa Springs State Park lets visitors take a break from the busy, loud theme parks and enjoy a picnic or take a swim in the cool spring. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent and 13 miles of trails are great for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding.
Lake Eola Park is a popular downtown destination that has many people taking advantage of the beautiful surroundings, perfect to walk at lunch or the evenings. Admission is free but renting swan-shaped paddleboats or electric gondola boats will cost $30 per hour. Visitors feed the live swans, see a free concert or play in the Walt Disney Amphitheater or just enjoy a spectacular view of Orlando’s skyline.
Winter Park Farmers Market happens on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and features everything from fresh produce to local handcrafted gifts and artwork. Also in Winter Park, is the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens featuring world-class sculptures and paintings and the Cady Way Bike Trail, a 3.7-mile greenway joining Orlando and Winter Park. Bike, walk, roller blade, stroll or run seven days a week.Ocala National Forrest is a year-round recreational option. There are huge springs, twisting streams and lakes for fishing and water skiing. The cool crystal-clear waters of Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs, Salt Springs and Silver Glen Springs draw snorkelers. Canoeing, kayaking, hiking and boating are available every day and secluded cabins are available that will hold up to 12 people.
Snowhill Mountain Bike Trail is located in the Little Big Econ State Forest. Snowhill trail has single pine needle-layered trails, some sugar-sand parts and river crossings by suspension bridge, as well as some steep drops. Admission is free here too.
[Flickr photo by erin leigh mcconnell]