As locals, we visit Disney World many times throughout the year and have been more times than I can count. And by this point, we can’t afford to pay hundreds of dollars for park tickets each time. So the past few times we’ve been going park free, and its actually been really great! While the parks are amazing and spectacular, they are not a necessity to have a magical vacation at the greatest place on Earth. Here are some of my favorite free things to do when I visit Walt Disney World with my family.
- Disney Springs Ahh the lovely Disney Springs. What is a trip to WDW without visiting this epic central hub with plenty of free things to do? Enter through the main gateway after arriving by free public transport or parking in the free self directed parking lot. First, cool off from that Florida heat and let the kids take a dip in the water fountain, which spritzes up streams of water for the kids to giggle at and run through. Then stroll along the walkway and check out the wide array of unique shops and restaurants along the way. If your budget allows, treat yourself and the kids to some goodies. From the marketplace to the west side, there is no shortage of tasty treats and authentic Disney goods. Stop for souvenirs at World of Disney (save 10% with your Disney Chased credit card) and some iconic snacks including Ghiradelli chocolate (ask for a free sample) and ice cream sundae, Goofy’s Candy Company, Italian gelato at Vivoli or french fries from Splitsville. After treating your belly, walk it off by continuing your journey over to the Lego Imagination Center. Let the kids play at the free lego display and take photographs with different unique Lego builds. Watch free live performances, pose for photographs, take a boat ride, hydrate your skin at Basin with a free lotion sample and listen to musicians as you continue your Disney Springs journey. End your day by seeing the beautiful twinkling neon lights at nighttime. Splurge Spot: The kids will love dining at the Rainforest Cafe or T-Rex Cafe. Afterwards stop for an after dinner refreshment at Starbucks and then take a spin in the drive on land float in the water Amphicar. Mami Time Out: Indulge in a famous Dockside Margaritas.
- Hotel Hop This is my favorite free thing to do at WDW. Each hotel is unique and amazing and gigantic all in its own. See my post here about our hotel hopping journeys in WDW. Splurge Spot: Dine at one of the many tasty hotel restaurants. Our favorite is Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Villas- Kidani Village, where you can watch the animals roam the preserve while you enjoy your lunch. Order their infamous Indian- style Bread Service. Save money by dining for lunch instead of dinner. Mami Time Out: Enjoy a different cocktail at each hotel you visit. Ask the bartender what their specialty is. Our favorite is the Lapu Lapu at Tambu Lounge at the Polynesian Resort, which is a tasty combination of Myers Dark rum and fruit juices served inside a fresh pineapple.
- Disney Boardwalk Disney Boardwalk is a lovely and iconic place and we never go a trip without visiting. Stroll along the quarter mile long classic boardwalk located in the Epcot resort area while taking photographs along the stunning views of the complacent lake and joyful bystanders. Watch free live performers on the weekends and take a free Boardwalk Ballyhoo tour Wed-Sun mornings at 9am. Check in early at the Belle Vue Lounge. Splurge Spot: Dine at the Flying Fish or ESPN Club then take the kids to the arcade, get a caricature drawing, or rent a boat. Mami Time Out: Dance the night with the adults at Atlantic Dance Hall 9pm-2am.
- Go Out of Town If you have the gas to spare, take a little road trip. Just 26 miles, take a 45 minutes scenic drive and visit the Disney Wilderness Preserve for free in the early morning before it starts warming up. With over 11,000 acres and 1,000 species of plants and animals, this huge gem is one of WDW’s best secrets. Afterwards, head over to Celebration, Disney’s own master planned community, for the afternoon. Spurlge Spot Grab a bite to eat at one of the towns diverse eateries. Then browse the fancy trinkets in the many different boutiques. Mami Time Out: Kick back with a carafe of Sangria at local favorite Columbia restaurant.
- Enjoy a day at the pool Disney tends to be a nonstop, action packed vacation. We must not forget to slow down, take a deep breath and relax. Spend the afternoon playing and laying out at your resorts pool. Most will have some poolside activities going on. When you get bored hotel hop and check out the other resorts pools. Splurge Spot: Grab a simple lunch at the quick service food area and then rent a bike and explore the resort on wheels. Mami Time Out: Spa treatment! No questions asked. Once in awhile a mom just needs to pamper herself.
- Get Sporty Shoot hoops or play tennis at select resorts. Play volleyball on the beach at the Caribbean Beach Resort. Visit Disney’s Wide World of Sports, if you’re staying on property you usually receive a free visit. Splurge Spot: Play one of two 18 hole mini golf adventures at Fantasia Gardens & Fairways ($14 per adult, $12 per child.) Mami Time Out: Throw back some brews while watching sporting events at the boardwalks ESPN Club.
*Please note that most on- site full service restaurants require dining reservations. If you forget you may get lucky if they have a table available, but better be safe than sorry and make a reservation.
*Don’t have grandparents, I mean a babysitter? Take advantage of Disney’s in room babysitting (starting at $18 p/h for one child) or drop them off at a children’s activity center. Our son enjoyed Lilo’s Playhouse, which is a flat fee of $55 for 4:30pm-12am (not too bad, actually, considering it includes 2 snacks and a full dinner.) He had a blast and the staff was very kind and hospitable.
Living just 3 blocks from the heavenly Atlantic Ocean, we have the unfortunate problem of running out of things to do while having fun at the beach. With my guide, you are sure to never be questioning what to do at the beach again. Below is a list of some fun things you can do on your next beach trip.
*If you are traveling with a baby, be sure to read my post here on bringing a baby to the beach.
- Build sandcastles: This good old classic gets the top spot for a reason. Get creative and mix in some wet sand and artistic details. Build up that sand castle resume.
- Beach sports: Volleyball, Frisbee, swimming, surfing, bogey boarding, paddle boarding and snorkeling are just some of the fun beach sports to partake in. Cocoa Beach is famous for its surfing waves but has next to nothing in terms of snorkeling. Find out what activities are best at the beach you are going to.
- Corn hole: this is a fun game to play at the beach, provided you have the equipment.
- Play catch: another classic way to spend your time is to toss the ball around with your mates.
- Swim in the ocean! Go on, the sharks will not get you.. git on in there!
- Go on a boat. If your up there on the VIP scale, perhaps you have access to a boat or you know someone who does.. embrace it if you can as there is no better way to spend your time on the ocean.
- Nature watch: Notice all of the different birds and beach creatures around you.. crabs, ants, seagulls and pelicans. And keep an eye out for marine life! Dolphins, manatees, jellyfish.. there is so much beautiful life buzzing right around you.
- Search for seashells and sea glass: It’s always fun and peaceful to sift through natures beauties. Who knows what you will find!
- Walk along the shore: Take a nice, relaxing barefoot stroll on the shore line with the waves crashing at your feet.
- Have a picnic or BBQ: Pack a picnic basket and blankets, or if your beach allows it, a grill and tarp and have a delicious afternoon luncheon with your friends and family.
- Fishing: Beach fishing is very fun, relaxing and often very rewarding activity.
- Read: Get comfortable on a chair or towel and catch up on your current book or magazine. I often go to the beach just to do this.
- Take photographs: The beach is always a wonderful photo-op. Whether you are taking nature photos or modeling on the beach, they always come out fabulous.
- Go to the pier/shops: Most beach towns have a main central area where the tourists, shops and restaurants are. In Cocoa Beach we have the pier, which is a classic place to bring your visiting guests and for afternoons with your family.
- Fly a Kite: I always forget this simple, yet enjoyable classic.
- Write: If you’re like me and love to write, the beach can be a wonderfully calming place to collect and execute your thoughts.
- Make friends: Unless you’re wanting complete alone time, park your camp alongside other folks and strike up friendly conversation with your neighbors. Offer them food if you are cooking!
- Visit state parks and/or historical sites: Florida has a plethora of State Parks that are located at the beaches (for example Jetty Park and Sebastian Inlet) and they are all unique, fun and beautiful in their own way. For info on how to plan an awesome day at a Florida State Park, click here.
- Tan: Lather on the tanning oil and darken your skin tone while lying under the sun. Be careful not to roast too long, you want to avoid getting a sunburn.
- Send a message in a bottle: This is a fun and cute activity to do with the kids.
- Watch the sunset or sunrise: This is one of my favorite activities to do at the beach. I often watch the sunset and sunrise and post photographs of it on my Instagram page here.
- Celebrate a special event: Got a birthday or memorial day coming up? Or do you just want to celebrate Sunday funday? Whatever the occasion, the beach is an excellent place to plan a special event! Just be prepared and see my list here for things to bring.
- Take a nap: For some reason I have no problems falling asleep at the beach or movies.. the relaxing atmosphere just does me in almost every time.
- Work out: Take advantage of the time and tone up those legs! From walking, squats and yoga, there’s plenty of ways to get fit at the beach. Involve the kids in this positive life habit.
- Have a scavenger hunt: This one will be a huge hit if you have multiple children attending the outing.
- Play Games: If you have a group of people, cards and board games are a fun way to spend time challenging your peers.
- Play music: We always bring a Bluetooth speaker to the beach with us and jam out to relaxing beach tunes.
- Bury each other in the sand: Get creative and add a mermaid tail or legs. Take pictures then rinse off in the sea.
- Pass the water: Fill a plastic cup with sea water and have all the kids line up holding an empty plastic cup. Have them pour it into their neighbors cup without spilling any!
- Enjoy a refreshing drink: Make a batch of homemade lemonade or open a nice can of ice cold soda (adult beverages are OK, too 😉 .)
- Make a sand time capsule: Write a note about the day with the date, time, location and who you’re with. Bury it an come back 6 months to 1 year later.
- Lye in a hammock: If your beach has the fortune of possessing a hammock, get in it. You wont regret it, I promise.
- Enjoy the views: Climb rocks and towers, or walk to the end of the jetty or boardwalk. Enjoy and observe the unique beauty and limitless ocean sprawling all around you.
Either way you look at it, you are going to have a wonderful time at the beach creating memories, cleansing your mind and having fun. Try to make it regular part of your life!
Hi everyone! My name is Rachel and I am the mami traveler. If you’re anything like me, than you have a passion for travel. Whether you are just starting out or a long term travel veteran, I am here to make your traveling hobby easier and more intriguing. Not only do I love to travel, I love everything that goes along with it like researching, planning, packing and more. I am very good at finding great deals and creating fun and memorable itineraries. I have been traveling ever since I was 2 years old and plan to bring my two children along for the adventure with me.
Being a mom is the single most dofficult thing Ive ever done. Shrtly after giving birth to my first son, I had a serious spritual awakening. I confirmed with myself what I already knew: that there was more to life than what meets the eye. This sent me on a tailspin into the endless esarch of finding out my passion and purpose. There was one, now what the heck was it, what could this so called passion of mine be? After years of contemplation, my mind and body brought me back to the same thing: travel. Travel is my passion. And writing. It is what makes me feel alive. It makes me happy. It makes me humble and educated, introducing experiences and perspectives I would never have known. I must spend the rest of this life doing what I love the most, and that is traveling. And traveling as a job? Psst, thats like a dream for me. Life is short and more than one third of mine has already ticked away. So let’s stop wasting time! Let’s come together, as one, and enjoy life traveling with our kids.