Orlando is undoubtedly one of the most-visited vacation spots in America. The city truly has something for everyone between its magnificent theme parks, eateries, and stunning outdoor locations. But, what about when Florida’s summer heat or rain puts a damper on things? Well, not much, really. Because Orlando never disappoints!
Whether you just need some downtime between all the outdoor adventures and theme parks or the weather is being a pain, these free indoor things to do in Orlando with kids are sure to excite! Unlike Disney and Universal, these activities and attractions will not empty your pockets. So keep reading, because there’s something fun for kids of all ages!
McDonald’s – World’s Largest Entertainment McDonald’s & PlayPlace
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The World’s Largest Entertainment McDonald’s, Epic McD, is located at the heart of International Drive near all the attractions and is a great place to drop by if you’re feeling a little hungry. The 19,000 square foot space has two levels and welcomes you with pretty murals as a 30-foot tall Ronald McDonald waves at you.
Originally inaugurated way back in 1976, rebuilt in 2016, and open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year today, Epic McD is way more than your average McDonald’s. It’s a must-visit attraction all in itself! Head there any time of the day for a little break for you, fun for the kids, and food for all. Enjoy your meal downstairs and go upstairs for some playtime where you’ll find arcade games on one side and a play area on the other.
The Kid’s Club Tree House-themed play place has multiple levels and many structures to keep little ones busy for a whole day! While this space is perfect for little gymnasts aged between four and twelve, there’s also a special toddler area for the younger ones under three. With fake alligators, sharks, and a jungle gym, Epic McD offers EPIC fun for kids of all ages.
Be mindful not to visit during peak hours as it does tend to get a little overcrowded.
Free Indoor Things To Do in Orlando: Disney Springs
Visiting Disney’s Parks will cost you a pretty penny, but the same is not the case for Disney Springs! This entertainment hub is one of the best free indoor things to do in Orlando, offering a myriad of free attractions and activities that your kids are sure to enjoy.
That being said, it’s the Lego Store at the Marketplace that is the real star of the show when it comes to free fun for kids. Here, they’ll get to spend as much time as they want, building at the Pick-A-Brick wall and play tables. Don’t miss out on the chance to get some photos with the store’s amazing displays before you leave!
Head to the T-rex Cafe for free dino digging or the Rainforest Cafe to re-energize once you’re all worn out. You can also visit Once Upon a Toy or the World of Disney, the largest Disney store in the world, to collect some souvenirs.
Central Florida Railroad Museum
Got a train enthusiast with you? Then the Central Florida Railroad Museum is where you need to be. The quaint and historical museum is packed with intriguing artefacts, memorabilia, antiques, and a bucket load of historical facts about the railroad that served Central Florida. It also has some uniquely entertaining activities and demos for the kids.
Little kids will love playing with the antique Thomas wooden train set, but be warned! Prying it out of their hands might be a task when it’s time to go. Help them understand the HO scale train layout and climb into a real caboose together. The hands-on exhibits and the fascinating stories told by the staff about the rail history of Central Florida will provide an educational experience for the older kids.
Relics such as the museum’s collection of construction, maintenance, and communication equipment, collapsible metal sinks, chinaware, and dinner service items will intrigue both you and the kids.
Usually, open between Tuesday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., it makes a great stop to fill up any gaps you have in your itinerary
Pro tip: This museum can be covered in under an hour, so combine it with a cup of coffee or ice cream and visit other museums (see below) to make an afternoon out of it.
Orlando Fire Museum
The Randall R. Tuten Orlando Fire Museum provides a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the fire department in Orlando. The structure was originally built in 1926 to be a fire station but has since undergone many renovations and restorations to become the two-story firehouse with beautiful red brick exteriors of today. Enter the museum and be transported to the past to see what fire fighting was like back in the day.
You’ll be met with a variety of antique fire fighting equipment that has been curated and preserved from different moments in the past. From a meticulously restored 1926 American LaFrance fire engine, and a 1919 ladder truck, to early 1900s LaFrance apparatus, and a whole collection of magnificent fire engines, there’s a lot to get through! You’ll also see relics such as helmets and other tools.
The most intriguing thing about the museum is that the entire exhibit is staffed by former firefighters who volunteer their time to share their personal insights and stories. The result is a great mix of fun and educational content for both kids and adults.
The museum also hosts muster events to entertain you with old-fashioned bucket brigade re-enactments. It should be noted that the museum is only open on Fridays and Saturdays, and the events happen only on certain days, so plan your trip accordingly.
Florida Mall Play Park
What’s just as popular as Universal Studios but not nearly as expensive? Florida Mall! This is one of the most popular free indoor things to do in Orlando. Get some shopping done first or make a beeline for the free interactive play area where the kids can work off some steam. Situated just outside the Crayola Store, the Play Park is perfect for when you need a little rest while the kids keep themselves entertained.
It offers tons of space for play, with around 3,000 square feet of nature-themed fun that is inspired by Dr. Seuss and Alice in Wonderland. The play area is perfect for all children, from babies to 10-year-old kids. The Electric Maze and Growing Glass are ideal for 8 to 10-year-olds, while the Talking Flower is perfect for younger kids. The park also features a story tunnel, a piano patio, a pixel wall, a wind tube, a digital pond, and much more for the younger ones.
The Aquarium at Bass Pro Shop
Bass Pro Shop is known as the leading hunting, marine, boating, and fishing supply outfitter in the country. The one in Dezerland Orlando has an aquarium with about 17,000 gallons of fresh water in addition to its 150,000 square feet of shopping area!
The free aquarium at the Bass Pro Shop is perfect for kids who have an interest in marine life. It has various species of marine life such as Bass, Bowfish, Redfish, Crappie, Catfish, Bluegill, and Gar, and is a great place to while away some time.
Make sure to visit on an alternate weekday, that is, Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, to watch the fish being fed. The staff is also polite enough to answer any questions you or the kids throw their way about fish and their habitat, giving your kids the chance to learn a lot about fish, fishing, and more!
They also offer free outdoor skills workshops and seminars regularly for outdoor cooking, camping, fly fishing, archery, marine life, and more, so be sure to enquire about those too.
Lyman Blackbox Theatre
If you have older kids who enjoy unique shows, then add Lyman Blackbox Theatre to your itinerary and enjoy a free stage performance from the Second Stage Series. The 70-seat black box theatre presents shows designed, produced, and directed entirely by the Rollins College students.
Lyman Blackbox Theatre has multiple plays, including “The Half-Life of Marie Curie”, “Gloria”, and “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.” Check the schedule to see which play is being performed, and call ahead to confirm your free seats!
The Melrose Center
If you are an Orange County library cardholder with school-going kids, you can visit the Melrose Center for Technology, Innovation, and Creativity. It offers various tech-based services such as a professional audio studio, sound booths, editing bays, and classes that range from Designing 3D Prototypes, and How to Make Green Screen Videos, to an Introduction to Virtual Reality. It is an excellent way to take a break from the theme parks while giving your kid the chance to innovate!
The Grand Bohemian Gallery & City Arts
Whether you are in the mood to wander through some elegant galleries or want to kick-start your kids’ creative exploration (for free!), the Grand Bohemian Gallery at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Orlando is the place to be. Between the many paintings and sculptures and other works from artists both local and international, it’s a place that just drips with inspiration!
CityArts is another location to visit if your child is bitten by the art bug. The downtown Orlando gallery collective houses six distinct galleries with regularly rotating exhibits to view works by local and global artists in the inviting space for free.
City Unseen Indoor Attractions in Orlando
Sure, Orlando is known for its theme parks, shopping malls, nightlife, museums, and golf courses, but have you ever wondered if there are attractions in the city you can’t see? Now, before you call me crazy, let me explain; Orlando is home to the emerging high-tech digitization of art! The city is actually dotted by a number of augmented reality art installations just waiting to whisk you away to an interactive virtual world that is hosted by Snap! Orlando.
Immerse yourself in this artsy treasure hunt by downloading the City Unseen app and visiting each of the installations on the map. You’ll find that a significant number of them are free indoor things to do in Orlando, so don’t leave without experiencing this new and exciting augmented reality experience!
The installations start out invisible to the naked eye, but once you scan a code on your smartphone, they unveil themselves to be 360-degree masterpieces that you can be a part of. This futuristic form of art merges physical and digital worlds to bring lost, old murals and artworks back to life using projection mapping and much more. It even offers you the chance to be transported to another part of the country or visit famous artists’ studios!
Free Indoor Things To Do in Orlando: Museums
Orlando is home to many excellent educational museums. Visit the Rollins Museum of Art in Winter Park, which has rotating exhibitions featuring everything from antiques to contemporary art. It even organizes scavenger hunts and is always free!
Visit the Wells’Built Museum of African American History & Culture on South Street to learn about the Civil Rights Movement through the museum’s collection of African-American memorabilia, African art, and artifacts. Next, visit the Cornell Fine Arts Museum in Winter Park on Rollins College’s campus to see some interesting artifacts and archaeological fragments from the past.
The Winter Park History Museum is another small, yet unique museum that houses rotating exhibits in Winter Park, and the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts in Eatonville showcases paintings, sculptures, films, and photography from all eras.
The Mennello Museum of American Art in Princeton Street offers free admission to the galleries every second Sunday of the month during Free Family Funday and on select dates. The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, on the other hand, is free to visit on all days of the week barring Monday when it is closed. It houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of Tiffany lamps, glasswork, pottery, and jewelry.
Note: Some museums are only free on certain days of the month, so check ahead before visiting.
Pro tip: Orlando’s public local wanderer program offers a limited number of free passes for local cultural venues. All you have to do is get a library card from the Orange County Library System and enjoy free admission to local venues such as the Orlando Museum of Art and even the Central Florida Zoo.
Free Indoor Things To Do in Orlando: Play Areas Around Town
The Kidgits Play Area at the Seminole Towne Center is designed for small children and has fun activities such as small slides, climbing equipment, and toddler play areas. It’s the perfect place to sit back and relax for a bit while the little ones run wild.
The Altamonte Mall Children’s Play Area in Altamonte Springs is another delight for toddlers, with tiny tunnels, cute climbing structures, and little slides.
If you are hungry and have toddlers, head to Lake Square Mall’s food court in Leesburg, or Oviedo Mall’s food court in Oviedo, both of which have an enclosed soft play space ideal for babies and toddlers.
Adopt a Dog for the Day
Pet Rescue by Judy’s Dog 4 a Day program is the perfect free adventure for you and the kids to embark on if you love dogs! Maybe you’re thinking about a new addition to the family or perhaps you’re just a dog lover. Either way, this is an excellent commitment-free way to add some puppy love to your trip!
Adopt a cute little pup or a big cuddly dog, and take them along with you to one of the dog-friendly establishments in town, like Park Avenue or Celebration Town Center. Or, head to Orlando Brewing to get some special “yappy hour” discounts and relax with your pup for the day.
All you need to do is fill out an online application for the puppy adoption for the day, and you will be all set! Don’t forget to get lots of pictures as the rescue really appreciates them.
Free Indoor Things To Do in Orlando: Libraries
Orlando’s weather ensures that its indoor spaces and activities are just as fun as its outdoor ones. This also means the public libraries here are nothing like the typical ones you are probably used to! Whether you are in Orange County, Lake County, Osceola County, or Seminole County, you are sure to find libraries that have Legos, puzzles, and board games, alongside their staggering collections of books.
They’re fully equipped to keep you and your kid entertained on the days you want to take a break from the action and the heat. No wonder heading to the library is one of the most popular free indoor things to do in Orlando!
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