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An Orlando vacation can have parents seeing dollar signs, what with theme park ticket prices creeping into the triple digits. But vacationing in a big city also means big opportunities for cheap fun, and O-town is no exception. Here are some kid-friendly activities in Orlando, all of which cost less than $15 per person.

Lake Eola's swan boats combine sightseeing with exercise. Credit Joe Shlabotnik.

Lake Eola’s swan boats combine sightseeing with exercise. Credit Joe Shlabotnik.

Watering hole: Spend a picturesque afternoon at Lake Eola Park in the heart of downtown. Rent a swan-shaped paddle boat for $15 per half hour; each boat holds up to five people. Then feed the real swans, grab dinner at Relax Grill on the lake andstay for the nightly choreographed water show at the fountain in the center of the lake. Also pencil in the Sunday farmers market, free Sunday morning yoga and occasional concerts in the park’s amphitheater.

Chip off the old block: Tickets to LEGOLAND Florida in nearby Davenport will set you back upwards of $65 a pop. But in Downtown Disney, your kids can get creative LEGO Imagination Center for free. Guarded by a life-size Lego dinosaur and filled with hands-on fun, this 4,400-square-foot store should occupy them for a good while.

Just for laughs: Here’s a comedy club where you can bring the kids — no joke. SAK Comedy Lab is an all-ages improv venue where folks like entertainer Wayne Brady and SNL writer Paula Pell honed their craft. Shows are Tuesday through Saturday; your best bet is a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, when the professional ensemble takes the stage. General admission is $15. On Thursdays, students pay just $8.

All in the same boat: Take a load off with a Scenic Boat Tour of historic Winter Park. As you cruise through the lakes and canals, a narrator points out the wildlife and mansions that make Winter Park one of Orlando’s most charming suburbs. Cost is $6 for kids 2 to 11 and $12 for adults.

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Later, gator: What’s Florida without gators? Give your little ones a thrill at Black Hammock Adventures’ free wildlife exhibit, home to alligators, exotic birds, snakes and more. For $3.50 you can buy a “gator dog” to feed to a small alligator.

Child at art: The Orlando Museum of Art is more kid-friendly than your average gallery, with two “discovery centers” for interactive learning. On the first Saturday of the month, join the Family Highlights Tour that’s free with paid admission. Also check the calendar for story time, hands-on workshops and other free amusements. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for ages 4 to 17.

It's easy being green -- and saving green -- at Harry P. Leu Gardens. Credit Harry P. Leu Gardens.

It’s easy being green — and saving green — at Harry P. Leu Gardens. Credit Harry P. Leu Gardens.

By the book: Even with all their tablets and video games, kids still enjoy being read to. Make reading even more special when you take them to story time at the lush Harry P. Leu Gardens. On the first Monday of the month, the Orange County Library System brings stories and songs for a free indoor event. The gardens offerfree admission on the first Monday of the month, so bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds afterward.

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Tagged: Family, Florida, FREE!

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