Explore Orlando Broke
Orlando is a city of many things, but it's known mostly as a place to spend absurd amounts of money simply on recreation. Theme parks, high-end restaurants, stay-cation weekends filled with excess and pleasure. So how do you find enjoyment on a real budget? A real, I make $10 an hour and have bills to pay as I watch the rent of my apartment sky rocket, budget.
There are some cheap options that may not be as exciting as a day at Disney, but that can still qualify for a satisfying day out with friends, because it's company over quantity always.
Here is a city by city breakdown of activities and eats on the cheap so you don't have to watch the world play on Instagram while you are home living that Carl Weathers stew life.
Did you know we even had a Pinball Lounge? Over in Oviedo you will find a spot with about 18 pinball machines, food and drinks for a night of old school gaming. This is not a free play environment so the games will cost you about $1 per play, but on Friday nights from 8pm to close it's all-you-can-play for $10. Gather up the quarters in your cushions and get to gaming.
Eight miles of asphalt may not seem like an ideal way to spend the day, but the Little Econ Greenway follows a river for most of the trail and showcases a greener side of Florida. You can hop on at Alafaya Trail and Science Drive and take it all the way down to Forsyth Road. Bring your own bike, skateboard or skates and enjoy the free afternoon of public park fun Leslie Knope would have wanted you to have.
While it's not my favorite pizza joint in Orlando it is one of the cheapest places to get an independently made slice, that is if you don't pile on the toppings. Slice prices start at $3.95, or you can go with one of their deal options like the "Good Life" and pick 2 from a soup, salad and slice with a drink for $8.
The Townhouse is a family owned institution that has been serving food since the 1950's. They recently got a makeover, still bright and sunny as ever. Their full menu varies in price, but it's an affordable spot to fill up even if it's on something as simple and bacon and eggs for $6.49 (they should probably rename it the Ron Swanson). Enjoy music in the evenings on their patio on Friday and Saturday nights and don't forget to snap a pic on their mini rainbow road and have a Mario Kart moment.
Cat lovers can spend some time relaxing with felines in need with or without a coffee in hand. While it's not exactly the cheapest date, a cup of coffee and cat cuddles shouldn't break the bank and offers lots of love in return. The cost is $8 for one hour in the cat play area.
It might seem like an odd activity to have on the list, but it has everything you need. Instagrammable photo ops, historic memorabilia, close proximity to donuts, and partially free admission. You can take pictures outside and enter the lobby to look through gifts and trinkets for free, or pay $9.95 to walk through the entire hall and tour the rooms and greet figures of historical figures. Ronald Reagan once called it a "true national treasure" so there is that.
Clermont may not have a foodie hub but you can still get a good Cuban sandwich. Their daily special platters will run you from $7.49 to $8.99 and a classic Cuban sandwich served with plantain chips starts at $7.49 for the smallest size.
Your Instagram feed might be full of donuts from the self-proclaimed King, but have you gone yet? Clermont is home to the original spot where you can choose from all of their popular flavors or you can try some of the food off their regular menu including castle burgers, hot dogs, wings, chicken tenders and more. Donuts run anywhere from $1 to $2.99 depending on the type.
The West Orange Trail gives you a scenic view of parts of Orange and Lake County. You can bring your own bike for free and hop on the trail in Downtown Winter Garden, or rent one at a few different shops on Plant Street. Cost varies by type of bike and how long you plan on renting.
Winter Garden Splash Pad
The Splash Pad located in the heart of downtown is a great spot if you have small kids and no pool. There is no cost to enjoy the Splash Pad, so take your kids and wear them out good so you can drink wine in silence back at home.
Plays, concerts, and local events all happen at the Garden Theatre. Costs vary but make sure to stay up to date on any affordable events they have throughout the year. They have a kid friendly summer movie series that begins in June that is normally under $5.
With rotating exhibits you can admire art in a small town over at the SOBO. Admission to SOBO is always free, but it does welcome donations to stay operating.
There is no doubt you will smell the smoked meats at Harry & Larry's Bar-B-Que as you walk down Plant Street. You can easily split a BBQ platter served with 2 sides & Texas Toast for $12.25 and leave satisfied.
There is no denying that there are several food options are found in Plant Street Market, but you will have to price compare options like pizza, sushi, and burgers to see what fits your budget.
Families in the area still love to enjoy the small town feel of this local cinema. The price is capped at $8.00 for a general admission movie (unless it's a 3-D showing).
This family owned shop is a favorite in Ocoee for grabbing fast and cheap Mexican food. Tacos start at $1.80 while the most expensive item on the menu is a $7 burrito.
That One Spot in Ocoee is known for their large burgers. The great news is that most of their menu is under $8 for more than a mouthful. I've personally had a pretty mean turkey burger here I wasn't mad at.
A trip to Ocoee can't be truly complete without a stop to Twistee Treat. Cheap, delicious ice cream with far too many options to chose from. This is one of the few Twistee Treats with a drive-thru if you are feeling extra lazy. A soft serve cone with a topping will only set you back a few bucks, so find some spare change in your car and raise your cone to the sky!
You can play your favorite board game in the back with friends or see what collectibles or comics you can fit into your monthly treat yo' self spend.
Maya's Books & Music
Maya's is a wonderland for your inner Rory Gilmore. If you take your time and sift through the stacks you are sure to find something, whether it's a book or old vinyl at a bargain price.
They are known for their marshmallows that make Oprah holler, but you can stop in for a scoop of their homemade ice cream with both classic and interesting flavors. It's the perfect cool down as you explore the shops lining the streets of downtown Sanford.
You have a lot of delicious options at Donuts To Go in Sanford and the locals love this spot. A single classic donut will run you $1.49 with tax or you can grab an assorted dozen for under $14.
At Fuel, everything is à la carte, so you can keep it as cheap as you need to. Whether it's filling upon a platter of sides ($1.50-$2.00 each) or just getting a smaller portion of meat (4 oz. for $4 - $8 depending on the protein) you can enjoy an affordable local spot in Sanford instead of a chain or fast food.
The furniture might be out of your price range, but you can grab a cocktail for around $10 or even better a non-alcoholic drink for $3 so you don't feel left out sitting with your friends empty-handed.
So maybe you can't afford to stay at the Alfond Inn, but that doesn't mean you can't explore the lobby and bar area and look at art! It's free to explore the beautiful grounds and lobby and if the mood strikes you, you can always indulge with a drink at the bar. Take a few selfies and pretend you are fancy.
You may not be a big fan of Tiffany art glass or most American art for that matter, but for $6 it's worth visiting and realizing sometimes gazing at pretty things for an afternoon is really good for the soul.
Eden's is always a good idea when you don't want to spend a fortune on a trendy Winter Park lunch. There is no guilt here since all of their options are healthy. Their wraps and salads are under $6 and are always filling and fresh.
KrungThep on Fairbanks is very wallet friendly. A salad or sandwich will run you no more than $10, their delicious teas between $3 and $3.50 or one of their insta-famous brick toast desserts between $6 - $8.
Black Bean Deli is popular for many reasons, but certainly among them is that you can get a very filling platter of rice, beans, plantains and meat for $9.95 or less.
Spring Hammock Preserve
Over in Longwood there is 1,500 acres of wildlife that hugs Lake Jessup. You'll find both bike trails and hiking paths to follow where you'll see all types of Florida critters and some very old Cypress trees. There are legends if you make it to a certain point you will find a mysterious blue pond. The cost for exploring nature is free.
This might be the most expensive activity on the list, but the $16 price tag gets you an all day pass to master the art of rock climbing. It also doubles as a full body workout.
Acme Superstore is a pretty fun place to walk aisle after aisle of pop culture goodness. Whether you like drooling over the collectibles you are saving for or you like looking at old nostalgic pieces that you wish you had kept in mint condition, you'll end up spending way more time here than you expected. For cheap goods there is a "Dollar Room" to rummage through so you don't necessarily have to leave empty handed.
In downtown Longwood you'll do well to stop at Hourglass Taproom. They brew their own ales all year long, but what gets me excited is their craft soda line. With games to play and t.v. to watch this could easily be a new "get out of the house but don't spend too much money" hang as long as you cut yourself off before the tab gets too steep.
Right next door to the Hourglass Brewery you'll find Wako Tako. There is a definite Nacho Libre vibe here with luchadores mask greeting you on the wall when you enter the "ring". The food is moderately priced (three tacos for $9), so it won't be an expensive outing, and some boast they have the best chimichanga around.
Talk about more for less! A regular size platter is the perfect amount of goodness from Oh My Gyro. Choose from chicken, gyro, a mix, or falafel. With a price of $6.99 you can afford to throw in mango lassi drink.
Call it free therapy because there is something soothing about roaming these quiet greenhouses. It's free to roam and if you should want to pick up any succulents to take home prices per plant start at $2. Be warned, temperatures in the greenhouses are hotter than the temps outside. Dress appropriately.
Can't afford a day at Disney's Animal Kingdom? That's alright, you can experience real Florida wildlife all in the comfort of your own vehicle for FREE. Here you will find 20,000 acres of public land including an 11-mile wildlife drive. There is also a loop trail for bike riding and horse back riding (BYOH). Everything you need to know can be found on their website.
Don't let kids have all the fun, adults can bounce around at Rebounderz in Apopka too! You can enjoy flips into the foam pit, in-the-air dodgeball, basketball slam, or just jump all your adult cares away in the open jump area. Thirty minutes of jump time will cost you $10 plus a $3 charge for their special reusable jump socks you are required to wear on their equipment.
Aunt Gingibread's Bakery
This family owned bakery is small but the bakery case is filled with top-notch goodies. The freshly made pastries are a few bucks each so you can cheat a little and spend a little coin for a box to enjoy throughout the day.
You may think Apopka is nothing but chains, but there are a few independently owned spots you will want to try. Heber's has great affordable Cuban food. My favorite is the #1 platter, the palomilla steak. It will cost you $9.99 but you get a full plate and a full belly.
Apopka is home to several Mexican joints. One of my favorites is Taco Reindo on 441. They have great horchata and you can get your fill of tacos for the bargain price of $1.35 per taco. Don't judge a joint by the exterior, you want hood tacos.
Rico Pan Bakery
I didn't know how delicious Colombian bakeries were until I visited Rico Pan. Pandebono (Colombian cheese bread) is a favorite among many other sweet and savory options including arepas, pasteles, empanadas, and more.
If you are looking for more affordable options closer to Orlando's core, stay tuned. That will be coming soon.
All photos are mine unless otherwise credited.