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Budget-friendly Orlando Activities for Groups with Kids

July 14, 2020
Kids sitting in circle on grass

Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld aren’t cheap. But you can still take a large group of kids to Orlando without blowing your budget. Whether you need an alternative to theme parks for one day or for your entire trip, Orlando offers museums, shopping complexes, and state parks that can keep you busy for free or for a small fee.

You can also save money with a large group by taking a charter bus rather than multiple rideshares or rental cars. When you rent a bus from Falcon Charter Bus, we’ll provide you with a single, upfront price that includes the services of your driver and bus for the entire trip. Once the trip begins, you’ll only have to pay for any parking fees or tolls and a room for your driver⁠.

Group of kids sitting in circle on grass

Give Falcon Charter Bus a call at 407-274-9808 when you’re ready to start planning, and keep reading to discover all of the budget-friendly activities you can do with your group of kids.

Dining and Shopping

Orlando’s many shopping/dining/entertainment complexes make it easy to have fun without spending a ton of money. You can stay in control of your budget by planning whether you want to have a quick meal at Moe’s or a sit-down dinner at Planet Hollywood and whether your group will souvenir-shop or just window-shop.

Disney Springs

Although Walt Disney World’s theme parks are far from free, WDW’s shopping and dining district, Disney Springs, is free to enter. You and your kids can take in beautiful views of the water before browsing the endless Stitch and Baby Yoda merchandise at World of Disney. If you get hungry, spend a little money to have a cupcake from Sprinkles or a custom pizza from Blaze.

Buildings near water at Disney Springs

Have some members of your sports team or youth group who love to build? You won’t want to miss the LEGO Store. You’ll see thousands of LEGO kits as well as stunning displays made entirely from the tiny blocks, and kids can use open containers of blocks to craft their own creations.

Where to park your bus: Disney Springs has 3 free parking garages and 2 free parking lots. Since your bus probably won’t be able to fit in the garages, you’ll want to try the Strawberry or Watermelon parking lots.

Address: 1486 Buena Vista Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

Disney’s BoardWalk

Who would have guessed that Disney World has more than one place you can visit for free? Although the BoardWalk isn’t as big as Disney Springs, it also has beautiful water views, live outdoor music, and plenty of places to eat and shop. Stop by The Pizza Window for a quick slice, or make group reservations at the ESPN Club for classic American food that won’t intimidate picky eaters.

Disney's Boardwalk with restaurants by water
Image credit: Flickr

But the best reason to visit Disney’s Boardwalk has to be Ample Hills Creamery. The BoardWalk is the only place outside of New York where you can find this boutique ice cream shop, which serves unique flavors of ice cream that almost any kid will love. There are also nut-free and dairy-free options for any kids who have allergies.

Where to park your bus: You can park at the Boardwalk Inn, or, if that lot is full, at another lot across the street. Note that the Boardwalk Inn charges for parking.

Address: 2101 Epcot Resorts Blvd, Kissimmee, FL 34747

Universal CityWalk

Universal’s shopping and dining district, like Disney’s, is free and can be super fun for kids. Grab a quick meal at Moe’s or make a group reservation at Hard Rock Cafe before browsing the shops packed with Harry Potter, Minions, and The Fast and the Furious merchandise. Universal CityWalk also has free live music on many nights.

If the kids from your robotics team or cheerleading squad get a little overexcited about all the wands and stuffed yellow creatures, don’t worry⁠—there will be plenty of storage space for souvenirs on your charter bus. You can also request reclining seats if your kids need to relax or nap on the way back to the hotel.

People wandering around Universal's CityWalk
Image credit: Flickr

Where to park your bus: Universal CityWalk has a parking garage where minibuses may fit. But if you’re in a full-size charter bus, you’ll need to ask your driver to drop you off near the garage and then park back at your hotel or in a public lot.

Address: 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819

Natural Springs

Central Florida is known for its natural springs⁠—in fact, Florida has more springs than any other state in the U.S. And unlike true hot springs, the springs in Florida hover around a comfortable 68-70 degrees, so you can swim in them for hours. Although it costs money to visit the various state parks where the springs are located, the fees are usually affordable, making the springs a great budget-friendly option for families and kids.

Wekiwa Springs

Wekiwa lies about 45 minutes outside of Orlando, so you may want to request WiFi or TV monitors on your bus so your kids won’t get bored on the way there. There won’t be any chance of boredom once you arrive, though. The crystal-clear spring offers a beautiful place for little ones to swim, float in tubes, or play mermaids for hours, and there are restrooms and concessions so you won’t need to leave until you’re ready.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Keep in mind that Wekiwa Springs has limited capacity and fills up quickly during the summer. You’ll need to leave your hotel early in the morning if you want to swim, and you’ll have to pay $6 for your vehicle and then $2 for every extra passenger after the first 8.

Where to park your bus: Wekiwa Springs offers on-site parking.

Address: 1800 Wekiwa Cir, Apopka, FL 32712

Rock Springs

Rock Springs inside Kelly State Park is one of the most popular natural springs in Florida, probably because it features the Rock Springs Run, a small river where you can go tubing. Like Wekiwa Springs, this spring has beautiful, clear water, concessions, and a designated parking area.

Image credit: Flickr

Parking costs $5 for the vehicle and an additional $1 for each passenger beyond the first 8. Like Wekiwa Springs, Rock Springs lies about 45 minutes from Orlando, and you’ll need to leave your hotel early in the morning. Make sure you request power outlets on the bus so your kids’ iPads or phones don’t die on the way there.

Where to park your bus: Kelly State Park has a designated parking area.

Address: 400 E Kelly Park Rd, Apopka, FL 32712

Museums

People may not immediately associate Orlando with museums, but the city has a wide selection of art and history museums, and many of the smaller ones charge as little as $5 per person. If you’d like to sneak some education into your trip, check out these affordable options.

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art

This museum has the largest collection of art by Louis Comfort Tiffany, who’s probably best known for the lamps that bear his name. In addition to many lamps, this museum also contains his jewelry, stained-glass windows, pottery, and paintings.

Image credit: Flickr

You’ll need to go about 30 minutes outside of Orlando to find the museum, but you can put an episode of a TV show on the monitors or help the kids do research on their iPads during the drive. This museum is also super affordable—adults pay $6, while seniors pay $5, students pay $1 with a valid ID, and children under 12 get in free. That means all of the kids with you will almost certainly be free or $1 each.

Where to park your bus: The museum has a free parking lot.

Address: 445 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

Mennello Museum of American Art

The Mennello Museum focuses on American folk art. Most of the collection consists of work by self-taught painter Earl Cunningham, but the museum also has pieces from other artists, like the sculptor Barbara Sorensen. The best part? The prices are reasonable. Adults pay $5, seniors pay $4, and students or children ages 6-17 pay $1. Children under 6 are free.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

This museum is also accessible. Your ADA-compliant bus can drop passengers off at the front porch, which has a ramp as well as stairs. The Sculpture Garden outside the museum offers a flat concrete pathway for guests using mobility devices, and large-print copies of all the artwork descriptions are available by request.

Where to park your bus: The lot next to the museum offers free parking.

Address: 900 E. Princeton Street, Orlando, Florida 32803

Orange County Regional History Center

This highly interactive history museum lets kids explore central Florida’s natural environment, learn about the indigenous peoples who lived in Florida first, and discover facts about African American history in the Orlando area. Once they’re done playing with a butter churn in a 19th-century log cabin, they can walk past replicas of planes and models of theme parks while you talk about what they’ve learned.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Themed guided tours for schools are available for $7 per student. Teachers can enter for free, and chaperones are free as long as there’s only 1 for every 10 students. If you want to explore on your own, tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, students, or military members, $6 for children ages 5 to 12, and free for children under 5.

Where to park your bus: The History Center shares a parking garage with the Orlando Public Library, but charter buses probably won’t fit. Your driver will need to drop you off and then return to your hotel to park.

Address: 65 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801

Plan a Trip to Orlando with Kids Without Blowing Your Budget

Whether you’re headed to Orlando for a marching band competition, a student council conference, or a baseball tournament, you can find plenty of fun activities that kids will love and that are free or cost very little. Falcon Charter Bus is here to help you get to the museums, state parks, or shopping districts you choose. Just give us a call at 407-274-9808 to start planning your next budget-friendly trip to Orlando.

5 Budget-Friendly Group Activities in Miami

April 8, 2020
People riding bikes past palm trees in Miami

Although it’s often associated with celebrities, yachts, and luxury hotels, Miami has a lot more to offer than glitzy parties and designer boutiques. The city’s rich blend of Cuban and American culture has made it a hotspot for live music, delicious food, and vibrant festivals. This means Miami draws in families, tour groups, and conference attendees working with a variety of budgets.

Fortunately, the city also has an abundance of activities that are either free or very inexpensive, so you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have an amazing time. You also don’t have to spend a ton of money to get there. When you’re traveling with a large group, renting a charter bus can prove much cheaper than buying flights for everyone.

People riding bikes past palm trees in Miami

If you do decide to opt for a motorcoach, Falcon Charter Bus would love to help. Give us a call at 305-359-3962, and we’ll find an air-conditioned charter bus with plush seats to take you to southern Florida. And once you’ve secured your transportation, check out this list of inexpensive things to do in Miami so your group can have an amazing, budget-friendly trip to The Magic City.

1. Go to the beach.

One of the most popular things to do in Miami is also one of the least expensive. Miami features an abundance of public beaches that you can visit for free. Although they may get crowded for large groups, especially during the summer or holidays, you can usually find enough space if you go during off times.

Miami’s beaches are beautiful, with bright blue water and soft dunes, and many feature kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing as well as swimming and sunbathing. Spend a day flying kites and building sand castles with your youth group, or relax with your senior citizens group after exploring the Art Deco District. Most public beaches offer parking areas, but if the spots fill up, your charter bus can drop you off, return to the hotel, and then pick you up at the end of the day.

Sunset over a beach in Miami with a lifeguard stand visible

Check out these popular Miami beaches that welcome groups:

Crandon Park

Known for: Amusement park rides and tennis courts as well as a beach

Address: 6747 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne, FL 33149

Haulover Park

Known for: Dog-friendly beaches, proximity to South Beach

Address: 10800 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33154

Lummus Park

Known for: Location along South Beach, easy access to Art Deco district, playgrounds for children

Address: 1130 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139

South Pointe Beach

Known for: Fishing pier, off-leash dog park, picnic areas

Address: 1 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

2. Stroll through the Art Deco District.

Miami’s Art Deco architecture is as iconic as its beaches, and taking a walk in the Art Deco District is completely free. The city experienced its biggest building boom during the 1930s, and the architects of the time combined tropical influences with Mid-Century Modern ideas to create the Miami Modern style. Characterized by clean lines and bright colors, Miami Modern architecture can be seen on the hotels, houses, restaurants and museums of the Art Deco District.

The district proper covers only about one square mile, but it’s a difficult area to drive in. The roads are narrow, and traffic can get intense. You can ask your charter bus to drop you off at the Art Deco Welcome Center so you can join a guided walking tour or pick up a map for a self-guided tour. If walking or biking isn’t a good option for your group, Falcon Charter Bus has ADA-accessible minibuses that are small enough to fit through the streets and help you see the sights.

Yellow, blue and white buildings in Art Deco District

Don’t miss these destinations in the Art Deco District:

Art Deco Welcome Center

Why you should go: This is the place to start your tour with a map or a professional tour guide.

Address: 1001 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Colony Hotel

Why you should go: One of the first hotels to be designed in the Tropical Art Deco style, this historical hotel was created by Henry Hohauser, one of the most acclaimed Art Deco architects.

Address: 736 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139

The Hotel of South Beach

Why you should go: The Hotel is one of the biggest and most impressive examples of Tropical Art Deco style, with huge porthole windows and stark white architecture.

Address: 801 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Washington Avenue United States Post Office

Why you should go: Not many post offices have architecture as beautiful as this one. The inside also contains a decades-old mural depicting the meeting of Spanish Conquistadors and Native Americans, which, while not historically accurate, is still fascinating to learn about.

Address: 1300 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33119

3. Explore Little Havana.

Cuban immigrants have played an essential role in making Miami the city it is today, and Little Havana is the epicenter of the city’s Cuban culture—and, in recent years, of Nicaraguan and Honduran culture as well. Lead your students to the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame, which has pink marble stars that resemble those on the Hollywood Walk of Fame but are dedicated to Latin American celebrities. Then head to the El Pub Restaurant to take a picture with the giant, colorful gallo (rooster) sculpture.

Elderly people's hands playing dominos in Domino Park

You also won’t want to miss Máximo Gómez Park, aka Domino Park, where older inhabitants of the neighborhood gather to drink Cuban coffee and play extremely competitive dominos. Though you probably won’t want to jump into the games unless you really know how to play, your group is free to linger in the park and watch the masters at work, especially if you speak Spanish so you can chat with the other spectators. And all of these attractions are free! It doesn’t get much more budget-friendly than that.

Stop at these landmarks:

Calle Ocho Walk of Fame

Address: SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135

Gallo Statue at El Pub Restaurant

Address: 1548 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135

Máximo Gómez Park

Address: 801 SW 15th Ave, Miami, FL 33135

Bus tip: All of these destinations lie within walking distance of one another in Little Havana. Parking in the neighborhood can be tricky—although you can find street parking and several paid lots, they fill up quickly. If you’re in a minibus, you should be able to park, but if you’re in a full-size charter bus, your bus may need to drop you off and return to the hotel.

4. Go to a free museum.

Miami has a mix of museums that are always free and museums that are free on certain days. That means that with a little bit of careful planning, your art class or tour group can explore several museums while spending very little or no money. For example, if you’re in town on the first Friday of the month, you can go to the Frost Museum of Science to see a free planetarium show.

Love art? The MDC Museum of Art and Design, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, and the Wolfsonian are all either free or have free days. All four of them can accommodate groups, but they have limited parking, so you may want to ask your charter bus driver to drop you off and return to pick you up at the end of your tour.

Holocaust Memorial in Miami with statue of hand outstretched toward sky

If you’d like to explore Miami’s Jewish culture, the Jewish Museum of Florida offers free admission on Saturdays. You can also spend a solemn afternoon at the Holocaust Memorial, which depicts a hand outstretched toward the sky as suffering people try to climb upward beneath it. It’s a disturbing image, but a critically important one.

Explore these museums during your group trip to Miami:

Frost Planetarium at Frost Museum of Science

When it’s free: First Friday of each month

Address: 1101 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132

MDC Museum of Art and Design

When it’s free: Last Sunday of each month

Address: 600 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132

Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami

When it’s free: Always

Address: 61 NE 41st St, Miami, FL 33137

Pérez Art Museum Miami

When it’s free: First Thursday of each month

Address: 1103 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132

The Wolfsonian

When it’s free: Friday nights from 6-9 p.m.

Address: 1001 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Jewish Museum of Florida

When it’s free: Saturdays

Address: 301 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Holocaust Memorial

When it’s free: Always

Address: 1933-1945 Meridian Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

5. Take part in a cultural festival.

Miami offers free art and cultural festivals throughout the year, and attending one is an exciting, budget-friendly way to help your group experience the city. At Coral Gables Gallery Night Live, held on the first Friday of each month, you can explore the art galleries in downtown Coral Gables, a charming town just 15 minutes south of downtown Miami. Ask for free WiFi on your charter bus so you can look up local artists and galleries before you get there.

If you want to experience a gallery walk that’s more like a block party, check out the Wynwood Art Walk every second Saturday. Not only do all of the galleries in the Wynwood neighborhood open their doors, but many local stores stay open late and area restaurants set up stands to serve food. This is also a great opportunity to see the Wynwood Walls, a legendary site for street art.

Woman in floppy hat and navy blue maxi dress standing against wall painted bright blue, pink and yellow

Little Havana gets in on the action too with Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays), a festival held every third Friday in Domino Park. In addition to the always-present dominoes games, you’ll find Cuban cigars, coffee, and mojitos for sale, Latin American art on display, live music, and dancing. Parking for this event can be extremely limited (read: nonexistent), so it’s a good idea to ask your charter bus to drop you off before the event begins.

Discover these festivals with your group:

Coral Gables Gallery Night Live

Best for: arts aficionados, people who prefer slightly smaller crowds

Address: San Lorenzo Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33146

Wynwood Art Walk

Best for: those who love street art and exciting block parties

Address: 2520 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33127

Viernes Culturales

Best for: groups craving a taste of Cuban, Honduran and Nicaraguan culture

Address: 801 SW 15th Ave, Miami, FL 33135

Experience Miami with Your Group on a Budget

Having an amazing time in Miami with your group doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Whether you want to take your tour group to the beach, explore Little Havana with your class, or treat your sports team to the Wynwood Art Walk after a tournament, you can do it for no or very little money. And Falcon Charter Bus will be right there to help you navigate Miami’s heat and traffic in air-conditioned comfort. Call us at 305-359-3962 to start planning your budget-friendly journey to Miami today.