Things to Do on a Budget in Orlando, Florida

Things to Do on a Budget in Orlando, Florida
It's possible to enjoy Orlando without blowing your budget. Despite Orlando's fame for being an expensive destination, lovers of the outdoors can find much to do and enjoy without spending more than a few dollars. Whether you stay for a day or a week, green destinations abound in the city and its surrounding areas.

Ocala National Forest

Covering 607 square miles, Ocala is the second-largest forest in Florida and one of the largest in the country. Biking, boating and recreational water sports are all possible. The park is famous for its twisting streams and springs, many of which offer good opportunities for snorkeling. This is one of the few parks in the U.S. that can be completely explored by car (although you need a 4x4 vehicle to get through to some areas), an advantage if you want to avoid expensive guided tours. For a free place to stay, primitive camping is allowed throughout the park. If you want something more developed, campgrounds within the park offer amenities such as showers, picnic tables and fire rings. Trails in the park vary from a 67-mile backpacking trail to shorter loops that allow hikers to explore during the daytime.

Ocala National Forest
Supervisor's Office
325 John Knox Road
Tallahassee, Florida 32303
(904) 942-9300
stateparks.com/ocala.html

Harry P. Leu Gardens

The Harry P. Leu Gardens offers three miles of walking trails that cut through exotic plants and carefully manicured gardens. Located at an 1898 farmhouse, the gardens cover more than 50 acres and are an ideal place for a picnic or to take a break under a tree. Aside from the flower gardens, there is also an extensive horticulture collection (including an herb garden), a bamboo garden, a museum, art exhibits and a butterfly garden. Guided tours are possible, but you can save money if you ask for a map and brochure when you arrive and find your way around on your own. Admission is free on Mondays before noon and on Mother's Day--it's otherwise $7, still a bargain compared to other attractions in Orlando.

Harry P. Leu Gardens
1920 N. Forest Ave.
Orlando, Florida 32803
(407) 246-2620
leugardens.org

Big Tree Park

Big Tree Park (within the Seminole County park area) is home to "The Senator," one of the oldest trees in America. At 126 feet tall and 47 feet around, the cypress tree is an impressive example of the power of nature. The Senator is believed to be 3,500 years old and stands among marsh lands and lush vegetation. There are picnic tables nearby and a boardwalk within the park, as well as plaques giving bits of information about the surroundings. This is a good place to escape from the city, even if it's just for a few minutes. The park is open until sunset and entrance is free.

Big Tree Park
930 N Thornton Ave.
Orlando, Florida 32803
(407) 246-2283
seminolecountyfl.gov/guide/parks/park1.asp

Article Written By Sarah Dray

Sarah Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including "Woman's Day," "Marie Claire," "Adirondack Life" and "Self." She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.

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