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Free Things to Do in Orlando

Orlando Skyline at Night

Photo Credit: GalleryHip.com

Taking a trip to Orlando can be an expensive endeavor, especially if you plan on hitting the theme parks. Plan carefully however, and you’ll find that there are many free things to do in Orlando, which can help ease the expenses. Here are a few of our favorite free or low-cost options:

Free at Walt Disney World

Disney BoardWalk

Sitting on a large lake, between EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a stunning quarter-mile boardwalk filled with all kinds of Disney Magic. Peruse the unique shops, do some people watching and catch the live entrainment. Sometimes there are jugglers, other times its magic tricks, or an a capella performance.  There is no charge for the BoardWalk (though restaurants and shopping are of course, extra).

Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney is Disney’s free Entertainment area. The complex is filled with all sorts of shops, activities, restaurants and entertainment. The people watching is pretty great too! Kids (and many adults) could spend a whole day playing at the LEGO World. Downtown Disney is open during the day, but really gets going after the sun sets.

The Monorail/Fireworks

The Monorail is what brings guests from the parking lots to different spots around Disney World including the Magic Kingdom. It’s really a (free) ride in itself. We recommend taking a night tour on. Drop by each of the hotels that it stops at and explore the lobbies. Our favorite is the Contemporary, as the monorail goes right through the hotel!

While heading around the lake, be on the lookout for the Electrical Parade out on the water. After you’ve visited the hotels, head for the Magic Kingdom. There is no cost as long as you stay outside of the gates. It’s a great spot to view the fireworks that go off nightly.

Free at Universal Studios

Universal Citywalk

Similar to Downtown Disney, Universal Citywalk is Universal Studio’s entertainment complex, and there is no admission charge. Citywalk is home to a movie theater, bars, restaurants and lots of shops. Spend some time browsing the stores and doing some people watching. Take in the sights, sounds and decorations. The Holidays are an especially beautiful time to visit.

Universal Orlando Hotel

Enjoy an Italian night out at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel Universal Orlando Resort. Every Friday night, in the main lobby, live Italian music is preformed. The music is always changing, but it’s always lovely to listen to.

 

Free Outside the Parks

Black Hammock Adventures

Learn all about alligators while getting up close and personal with them at the Wildlife Exhibit at Black Hammock Adventures. While the amusement park does charge fees for boat and hovercraft rides, the Wildlife Exhibit is always free. Here’s you’ll find all sorts of Florida’s creatures like parrots, snakes and fan favorites – the alligators! If you attend the exhibit on a Sunday, you’ll get to see the park’s star Hammy, be fed.

Fleaworld

We know, the name doesn’t sound very attractive, but we promise you won’t return home with bed bugs after visiting Fleaworld. It’s actually the largest flea market in America. Stroll along the numerous stalls and you’ll come across all sorts of interesting items (and people). If you do find an object that catches your eye, try bargaining the price down – some vendors love a good challenge.

Orlando Brewing Company

When you visit the Orlando Brewing Company, not only will you get a tour of the ten year old brewing facility, but you’ll get to sample some of their premium, organic beers, all for free. The company produces a number of unique and delicious beers, some with interesting names like Pompass Ass IPA and Miami Weiss. Tours are held at 6pm every day except Sunday.

Oscala National Forest

Nature walks might not be the first thing you think of when planning a trip to Orlando, but the Oscala National Forest is one of the largest and most beautiful national parks in Florida. Located just north of Orlando, it makes for a great day trip. There are hiking and biking trails, and you can swim and snorkel in the lakes year round.

Rocket Launches

If you’re lucky enough to be in Orlando on the day of a rocket launch, you’ll have the amazing opportunity to see a rocket blast into space from nearby Cape Canaveral. While it is worth the hour-long drive out to the cape to view the launch, if the skies are clear, you’ll be able to see the liftoff at just about any clear space in Orlando. Be sure to look to the southeast.

Second Stage Series

See what the Rollins College drama students are up during their Second Stage Series performances at the Fred Stone Theater. The Second Stage Series is created, directed and preformed by the college students. Admission to the performances always free, and first come, first serve.

For other budget friendly activities in Orlando, plan ahead and search online for coupons that are valid during your stay. Many places offer discounts, 2-for-1 deals and more. To learn more about how to save money when visiting Orlando check out this blog post.

 

 

 

Denver’s Winter Delights

Snow Covered Denver

Photo Credit: Spot on Lists

Starting to plan a winter getaway? Think about coming to Denver! While Denver is a fantastic city all year round, we think it really shines throughout the winter months. The Mile High City is a hit destination with both outdoor adventurers, and culture seekers. If you’re considering joining us for a stay in the incredible city of Denver, Colorado, here are some of the area’s best sights and attractions to check out:

National Western Stock Show and Rodeo

Dive in to a rip-roaring good time with this taste of the West, held every winter in Denver. This fun-filled, two-week event is packed with rodeo and horse shows and you’ll get the chance to see all kinds of livestock. It seems like the entire city always comes out to this event. This year, it will be held from January 10-25th. You won’t want to miss the opening day parade or BBQ!

 A Colorado Avalanche Game

Denver is home to the Colorado Avalanche NHL Hockey Team. While you’re in town this winter, try and catch a game. The team plays at the Pepsi Center (also where the Denver Nuggets NBA team play their home games). The team hasn’t won a Stanley Cup since the 00/01 season, but maybe 2015 will be their year! Before the game, grab dinner across the street at the Tailgate Roadhouse.

Golden Brewery Tour

Beer lovers can’t pay a visit to Denver without taking a tour of the largest single-site brewery in the world. The brewey is the marker of Coors, Miller and many other popular beer beverages. The tour is self-guided, so you can spend as long or as little as you’d like exploring the exhibits. At the end of the tour comes the best part, the opportunity to some of the delicious beers made on the premises.

The Butterfly Pavilion

Even the biggest winter lover wants to escape the cold sometimes. Denver’s Butterfly Pavilion is a taste of the tropics, up high in the Rocky Mountains. The Pavilion’s tropical rain forest is home to more than 1600 butterflies, and in total, the Pavilion has over 5000 creatures living there. You can’t leave without paying a visit to Rosie, the tarantula.

Denver Mint

Have you ever wondering how money really works? Learn all about how it makes the world round at the Denver Mint. Denver is one of the largest producers of money in the United States, and the Mint offers free tours to anyone interested. Just beware, that because it is a highly secure location, no bags or purses are permitted in, and you must sign up for a tour reservation a few weeks in advance of your visit.

Grizzly Rose Saloon

This fun and feisty venue is one of Denver’s hottest night spots. On any given night, you could find a DJ dance party, a live concert or a line-dancing competition. The Saloon definitely has a country feel to it, and if you have the urge, you can try your (one) hand on the mechanical bull.

Arapahoe Basin

When you want to hit the slopes or just explore the mountains of Colorado, head just outside of Denver to Arapahoe Basin. It’s less expensive than the more famous ski resorts like Vail and Keystone, so it’s a nice option for the budget travel. The Basin tends to be popular with more locals as opposed to out of towners, so you’ll get a more authentic experience. Remember to dress warmly anytime that you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors.

We hope to see you in Colorado this winter!