When most people think of things to do in Orlando, Florida, their first thought is usually the theme parks. There is a reason Orlando is the “Theme Park Capital of the World!” Still, it’s fun to spend a day or two exploring other areas of this fabulous city. We asked Gnational Gnomad and Florida expert Kelly Stilwell from Food, Fun & Faraway Places to share her list of cheap things to do in Orlando this weekend.
Orlando is home to Walt Disney World, encompassing Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Right around the corner, there’s more fun to be had at Universal Orlando Resort where your choices are Universal Studios (home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley), Universal’s Islands of Adventure (featuring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade), and Universal’s Volcano Bay.
If that doesn’t give you enough fun things to do in Orlando, vacationers can visit SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica and Discovery Cove. Though the theme parks offer a plethora of activities, it’s nice to take a break for a day or two and experience all the other things to do in Orlando.
Things to do in Orlando, Florida for Under $25
All these activities can be had for under $25! Some of these suggestions are way under $25, and for some, a little searching for discounts will get you even lower prices. Planning your days around the discounts can save you a bundle, so be sure to take a look at each website listed below before you head out for the day. Believe it or not, there are a lot of cheap things to do in Orlando today!
Andretti Indoor Karting & Games
Andretti Indoor Karting has so much to do, it’s hard to know where to start. Everyone will easily find an activity they love. Some may prefer to race the karts, while others might rather play skeeball. How about trying your hand at one of the video games like Mario Kart? Looking for something to do together? The whole family could go bowling or tackle the ropes course.
What makes Andretti Karting so amazing is that it’s indoors and all under one roof! On those summer days when it can rain for an hour or two, this is the perfect option. Upstairs, you’ll find a bar that offers a fun Happy Hour, too. This is not the kind of food you’d expect from a go-kart and gaming spot! We’re talking made-from-scratch deliciousness! Andretti Indoor Karting & Games is located at 9299 Universal Boulevard.
Money Saving Tip: The Hot Lap is a way to combine dinner and fun. Choose one of six entrees and pick one of four Andretti experiences like the Dark Ride Motion Theater and pay just $17.95 per person for both! This deal is available Monday through Thursday open to close, but you’ll have to get there and order by 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. This is high on everyone’s list of cheap things to do in Orlando today! Rather try the go-karts? Andretti Karting offers 1/2 off all full-priced races from open to close every Tuesday. If bowling is more your jam, Rush Hour is a great deal at only $5 per hour per person including shoe rental. Check the website for specials.
Aerophile Balloon at Disney Springs
Want to hover over 400 feet above beautiful Disney Springs in a tethered helium-filled balloon? I thought so! Aerophile Balloon at Disney Springs is an experience like no other. The Aéro30 was custom built just for Disney, and is filled with 210,000 cubic feet of helium! That’s a lot of hot air!
Aerophile is the world leader in balloon flights. If you want to see the city from above, add this to your list of fun things to do in Orlando. On clear days you can see for ten miles! Tickets are $20 for an adult $15 for a child. Aerophile Balloon is located at 1512 Buena Vista Drive. Park for free in the Lime Garage and just walk to the lakeside. You can’t miss the balloon!
The Orlando StarFlyer is the tallest swing ride attraction in the world at 450 feet high! Though there is no age limit, riders must be 44 inches tall and be able to fit the seat safely with the seat belt fastened properly. This ride travels up and down and around the giant tower for three to four minutes. Seeing is believing! This is a thrill ride you’ll never forget!
Money Saving Tip: Tickets online are just $10 per person plus tax. If you wait until you are at the StarFlyer, tickets will be $12.21 per person plus tax. Return riders can go again for $7.51 plus tax per person.
ICON Park & The Wheel at ICON Park
While we’re looking at high flying adventures, you have to visit The Wheel at ICON Park. Located right in ICON Park along with a few other activities on this list, The Wheel at ICON Park may look like a Ferris wheel from afar, but instead of the typical seats, you’ll ride in a stabilized, fully enclosed air-conditioned capsule. This is the sixth-largest observation wheel in the world at 400 feet high!
Each capsule holds up to 15 passengers, and on a clear day, you can see the Walt Disney World Resort, SeaWorld, and Universal Orlando. The trip is 23-minutes long.
Money Saving Tip: Get your tickets through the Visit Orlando website. If you’re looking for things to do in Orlando this weekend, right now you can buy one ticket and get one free! Tickets are two for $25! This pricing is subject to change.
Always wanted to take a selfie with Neil Patrick Harris? At Madam Tussauds, you’ll be able to get up close to many of your favorite celebs. Anna Maria “Marie” Tussaud was a French artist in the late 1700s to mid-1880s known for wax sculptures. Now, you can visit the world’s most famous celeb wax attraction right in the heart of Orlando’s I-Drive region. I had a blast learning about the history and techniques of wax figures and was blown away at how real they look.
To be honest, some of them were so lifelike it was creepy! You really have to see it to believe it. I thought Walt Disney’s wax figure was unbelievably realistic.
Neil Patrick Harris also looked like he was going to come to life!
Madame Tussauds is located at 8387 International Drive. You can park for free in the garage and walk to the terminal building under the ICON wheel. There’s a lot to do right around Madame Tussauds, too, including several places to eat.
Money Saving Tip: Normally tickets are $25.50 online. Instead, head to Madame Tussauds’ website promotion and get your tickets for less than $25.
Whether your favorite sea creature is a shark, sea turtle, or seahorse, you’ll be able to get up close and see them in their SEA LIFE habitat. Many of the sea creatures here were born and raised at SEA LIFE.
What You’ll See at SEA LIFE
Don’t miss the Jelly Wall! Did you know scientists believe jellyfish have been around for 500 million years? My favorite sea creature at SEA LIFE is the axolotl. They look like a cross between a fish and a salamander, and can even regrow a limb if it’s lost. Learn about the axolotl’s superpower and find out what’s being done to protect this critically endangered species.
Get your hands wet in the Interactive Rockpools, and take a look at the nurse shark on the bottom of the exhibit. In Stingray Cove, you might spot another shark; several of the White Bamboo Sharks were born right at SEA LIFE Orlando!
Money Saving Tip: Though tickets to SEA LIFE are listed as $25.50 online, with a little searching you can find discounts. Coupons can be redeemed online or brought right to the admission desks at SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium to receive a discount on single attraction tickets.
While you’re at ICON Park, head to Yard House for a taco or two! The Street Tacos are absolutely delicious and start at just $4.75 each. The Blackened Shrimp taco held tender shrimp that were just a little spicy, topped with fresh cabbage with a nice crunch. The Baja Fish had a tasty siracha aioli sauce with a nice kick.
I chose to pair the tacos with a beer tasting including the Orange Blossom Pilsner, Sunshine City Green Bench, and the Tampa Bay Reef Donkey. You’ll have many choices including seasonal varieties that rotate, and you can switch out and create your own tasting from over 100 beers on tap!
Money Saving Tip: If you’re around Monday through Friday from 3-6, Happy Hour at the Yard is amazing, with half off select appetizers (the Onion Ring Tower looked crazy good!) as well as all pizzas. You’ll also get $2 off draft beer, wine, cocktails, and spirits. Out late? Visit for the Late Night Happy Hour Sunday through Wednesday from 10 p.m. until closing. With prices like this, it’s easy to stay under that $25 mark!
West Orange Trail Bikes and Blades
Take a relaxing bike ride on the West Orange Trail all the way to Plant Street Market with West Orange Trail Bikes and Blades. You’ll be offered a lock for your bike so you can keep it secure while having lunch or doing some shopping in Central Florida’s Winter Garden, just a short drive from the theme park area. Rentals include a bike, helmet, water bottle cage (water is available in the shop) and an accessory bag if needed.
Guided tours are also available, where you can learn about the area’s orange grove, agricultural history, and railroad history that led to the making of the West Orange Trail. You can rent by the hour, the day, and guided tours are available with advanced reservations. West Orange Trail Bikes and Blades will even deliver bikes to your hotel for an additional charge. Rentals at West Orange Trail Bikes and Blades are just $8 an hour. Learn more and reserve your bikes on their website.
Crooked Can Brewing Company at Plant Street Market
If you do ride to Plant Street Market, you can lock up your bike and have a local beer at Crooked Can Brewing Company. This is a very cool area to have lunch and even do some shopping. The 4-year-old Crooked Can Brewing Company actually owns the Plant Street Market building and rents to vendors which are mostly food stalls. This is the largest independent brewery in the state of Florida!
The Barrel Room is open on weekends and hosts quite a few private parties. The Brewery rotates seasonal IPAs and has 16 different taps. With an award-winning brewmaster, you’re sure to find a new favorite here. I tasted the Cloud Chaser and Axum Stout and loved them both. One day I’m going to hit all 27 breweries on the Central Florida Ale Trail! Tip: There’s a prize when you complete the Trail, and there is no time limit.
While you’re at the Plant Street Market, be sure have lunch at one of the many choices. No chains here!! As I saw Jodo Sushi had a salmon poke bowl, I didn’t have to look any further. The salmon was so fresh and perfectly spiced. I didn’t see the Paletas Original Handcrafted popsicles – (hello banana stuffed with Nutella!) but I will definitely be visiting again soon! The Poke Bowls are around $15.
Orlando Museum of Art
At the Orlando Museum of Art, you’ll experience award-winning art enrichment programs and unlimited gallery tours. This museum regularly has about 12 exhibitions on-site and another 13 exhibitions off-site. See collections of African Art, Art of Ancient Americans, Contemporary Art and Graphics, as well as the visiting exhibitions.
My timing was perfect as there was a visiting exhibition focused on travel titled Baggage Claims. It was fascinating! The museum also offers a lot of family programming, so this is another option to spend a morning or afternoon indoors. The kids’ section is beautiful!
Money Saving Tip: If you’re vacationing in Orlando on the first full weekend (consecutive Saturday and Sunday) of the month and are a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch customer, check out the free admission page on the Orlando Museum of Art Museums On Us page.
If you’ve never been to the Morse Museum in Winter Park, you’re in for a treat. Here you’ll find the largest collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, including the interior of his chapel from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Also on display is Tiffany jewelry, pottery, paintings, the gorgeous leaded-glass lamps and windows, and art glass.
Be sure to walk through the rest of the museum to see the American art pottery as well as the late 19th and early 20th-century American paintings, decorative art, and graphics. The Morse also offers family programs.
Money Saving Tip: From November through April, The Morse Museum offers extended hours on Fridays with free admission from 4 to 8 p.m. Regular admission is just $6 for adults, $1 for students, and kids under 12 are free.
Where to Stay in Orlando
Staying at the Walt Disney World Dolphin gave me easy access to the Walt Disney World Parks as I was attending an event at Epcot the day I arrived. The Swan & Dolphin are right next to each other, and both are fabulous properties. Located between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it’s just a 20-minute ride from the airport. You’ll be glad to be so close to your comfortable bed and luxury amenities.
Getting Around in Orlando
Complimentary transportation is available from the Swan & Dolphin to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot, and an Epcot Shuttle Bus is an option for the other parks and resorts within the Walt Disney World Complex. Other destinations are just a short drive away.
Where to Eat at the Walt Disney World Dolphin
I like having my coffee while checking my email, so appreciated the in-room coffee maker. But when I’m ready for breakfast, it’s nice to know there’s a sumptuous and healthy breakfast waiting downstairs in the Fresh Mediterranean Market.
Try one of the fresh juices like the Energize with pineapple, spinach, wheatgrass, green apple, ginger, kiwi and orange. The pastry table was loaded with different varieties of croissants and danishes. Order a Chef Creation (Mickey Pancakes, anyone?) or one of the delicious egg dishes, or simply choose the Continental Breakfast Buffet. Either way, it will be a great start to your day exploring Orlando.
Lunch and Dinner
More than likely you will be eating elsewhere at lunchtime if you’re trying to get through this list of things to do in Orlando for under $25, but when it comes to dinner, you’ll have several wonderful options right at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin. With Signature restaurants like Todd English’s Blue Zoo, Kimonos, and Shula’s Steak House, a gourmet meal is easy to find. You’ll also have options for more casual fare with spots like Garden Grove and the Fountain. Ask the concierge for a listing.
Money Saving Tip: Especially if you have a young family and would rather either take breakfast back to your room or grab it and enjoy it on the way, Fuel has coffee, sandwiches, boxes of cereal, pastries, and any other convenience item you might need. Located right off the hotel lobby, it’s also a less expensive option for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. Fuel even sells wine and beer.
Things to do in Orlando at the Swan & Dolphin Resort
Lounging by the pool is always a great option, and a Just for Kids club is available if Mom and Dad want to have a romantic dinner at one of the upscale restaurants. A VIP Concierge team member will be happy to answer questions or make a reservation for you. And just in case the Swan & Dolphin is booked, here’s a list of the Best Family Resorts at Walt Disney World from fellow Gnational Gnomad Kirsten Maxwell.
Where will you begin with this list of things to do in Orlando Florida? Let us know in the comments!
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Kelly Stilwell of Food, Fun & Faraway Places is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity.
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