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oct 23 2008

Orlando: Free walking tours beyond the theme parks

The Maitland Art Center (Mark Taulbee Photography)

Orlando receives nearly 50 million visitors a year. Many travel to the theme parks, of course. But Disney World alone can cost up to $75 per person per day. Here are a few tours that will show you what else the city has to offer—for free.

The City of Orlando offers a free self-guided walking tour and map of the downtown historic district. The 11-page downloadable tour itinerary describes 28 historic buildings across 2.5 miles of downtown. From the 1927 Beaux Arts courthouse to the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church with bricks made by the congregation, there's plenty of local history to absorb.

For some exercise, the local chapter of the Florida Trail Association offers free walking tours as well as some bike and paddle excursions. One of the most popular activities is a moonlight tour of the 1880 Greenwood Cemetery.

The Winter Park Historical Association and Museum offers self-guided walking tours of 20 sites in this quaint suburb north of downtown. The neighborhood is home to Rollins College and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, with an extensive collection of Tiffany glass.

First founded as an artist colony in 1938, The Maitland Art Center has hosted a number artists over the years including painter Milton Avery. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, its grounds feature Mayan and Aztec motifs on five acres of gardens. Admission to the gallery is $3, but the gardens are free. Come on the third Monday of each month at 3 p.m. (when many other local museums are closed) if you'd like to take an hour-long guided tour of the grounds ($3). A reservation for the tour is required.

EARLIER

Coming soon: Free admission to Disney on your birthday

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Interview with a theme-park insider

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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