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The Other Side of Orlando: 5 Fun Ideas That Don’t Involve Theme Parks

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Orlando’s main draw is, of course, its collection of theme parks. But a visit to these attractions can quickly drain the wallet. Visitors might find themselves seeking less costly entertainment to fill the gaps in their vacation schedule. Here are five free and fun activities to keep you occupied:

Free Movies at the Enzian

Enzian Theatre

Cinephiles who are strapped for cash need not panic. Wednesday is “free pitcher show” night at the Enzian independent theatre in Orlando’s Maitland suburb, featuring a free outdoor film on the theater’s lawn. The program ranges from 1980’s cheese classics to independent staples. Food and drink are available at the adjacent Eden Bar, and visitors with a little extra money can attend the theater’s regular programming.

Watch the Action at the Orlando Brewing Company

The Orlando Brewing Company combines two seemingly disparate interests: alcohol and organic food. This microbrewery, with about 20 varieties on tap, dates to the turn of the century. The brewery offers tours Monday through Saturday. Be sure to show up early because the tour is first come, first serve. The location also features a taproom stocked with the company’s fine brews, and plays host to events like concerts and trivia contests.

Tiptoe Through the Tulips at the Harry P. Leu Botanical Garden

Harry P. Leu Botanical Garden

If you are looking for a greener experience, have no fear. The Harry P. Leu Botanical Garden is a 50-acre span of flora in the midst of downtown Orlando. The facility specializes in the tropical plants that thrive in Florida’s climate, and also features a 19th century house museum. There is also a rotating art exhibit in the Garden’s welcome center, and the park regularly plays host to events, including weddings and outdoor film showings. Admission to the garden is normally $10 but is free on the first Monday of every month.

Art It up at CityArts Factory

The art crawl is a traditional part of downtown life, and Orlando has you covered there, too. The CityArts Factory is a set of allied galleries in the city’s commercial core, devoted to new works, and housed in a turn-of-the-century building. Exhibitions include paintings and photography; the space also serves as the housing for a local comedy group, SAK Comedy Lab (which boasts nationally known funnyman Wayne Brady as an alum). The galleries are open Tuesday through Saturday in the afternoons and early evening.

Make Your Masterpiece at the LEGO Store

LEGO Store - Disney

The Downtown Disney area, despite the name, is not located in the theme park itself and is free to the public. Among its shops and attractions is the LEGO Store. While its owners would certainly like it if you spent some money buying colorful bricks, the shop also features indoor and outdoor play areas well stocked with the company’s signature products. Perfect for kids and those who remain kids at heart.

Remember, theme parks are fun and all, but a vacation only defined by long ride lines and overpriced water can become monotonous. A change of activity can help make the trip more memorable. Find a hotel near one of the attractions listed above with a service like Gogobot, and make your vacation one to be remembered.

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