See the city and save a buck on a self-guided tour of Orlando’s top sculpture gardens and outdoor art installations (Take Flight by Douwe Blumberg at Lake Eola Park pictured).

Come along and discover Orlando’s artistic side as we stroll the city’s imaginative sculpture gardens and public art hotspots. I’ve found it to be a fun, budget-friendly way to enjoy our vibrant arts and culture scene, whether you visit one spot or try them all. In fact, this full-day itinerary comes in at just under $20 per person, proving that you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy the arts in Orlando.

Discover: 50+ Luxury Experiences for All Budgets

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Art & Culture in Orlando

We travel to explore new places, new cultures and new ways of thinking, and one of my favorite ways to sample a city’s culture is through the arts. I love to walk in the footsteps of local artists and revisit the communities and sights that inspired their work. Luckily, Orlando has no shortage of ways to explore.

Discover: Orlando Arts & Culture

Maitland Art Center, Part of the Art & History Museums of Maitland
Maitland Art Center, Part of the Art & History Museums of Maitland

“Orlando’s arts and culture scene offers remarkable diversity in every medium, from world-class museums and theaters to vibrant gatherings staged in unexpected places,” says Hannah Miller, marketing manager at the Art & History Museums of Maitland. The campus is home to the Maitland Art Center, a former artists’ colony and research center that hosted artists and friends like Annie Russell, Milton Avery and author Zora Neale Hurston.

It’s one of several stops on our tour today, as is The Mennello Museum of American Art, a lakefront museum and sculpture garden established in 1998 to preserve, exhibit and interpret the paintings of artist Earl Cunningham. Development coordinator Emily Jensen encourages you to make time to explore the arts throughout the city to experience unique moments of discovery and awe.

“Orlando’s art and culture scene is a burgeoning community of creatives,” says Jensen. “From our museums to our non-profit galleries and to our festivals and murals, there is something to see for every passion and interest.”

One of my interests, as you may have guessed, is sculpture gardens, so let’s get to it and explore all that Orlando has to offer.

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Orlando Sculpture Gardens

Art & History Museums - Maitland Mayan Chapel and Courtyard
Mayan Temple at the Maitland Art Center, Part of the Art & History Museums of Maitland

Art & History Museums of Maitland

If you plan on visiting multiple locations, I recommend starting your day just 15 minutes north of downtown Orlando at the Art & History Museums of Maitland. It’s comprised of four individual museums, most notably the Maitland Art Center, a National Historic Landmark and former research studio where you can see more than 2,000 carvings, sculptures and murals.

It was built in 1932 by American artist and architect Jules André Smith, who later converted it into an artists’ colony where creatives could live, experiment with new art forms, and escape the demands of daily life. “It’s one of the few surviving examples of Mayan Revival architecture in the Southeastern United States,” shares Miller. “Visitors are drawn to its tranquil gardens, fantasy architecture and diverse exhibitions of contemporary art.”

Discover: Orlando Museums

I joined a guided tour to learn more about this extraordinary landmark, which was funded by philanthropist Mary Bok. Art enthusiasts may recognize her name from another Central Florida landmark, Bok Tower Gardens. Built on former orange groves, the museum is dotted with lush courtyards, gardens, murals and studios. In fact, four of the original art studios are still intact and hosting artists today.

Maitland Art Center at the Art & History Museums of Maitland
Maitland Art Center at the Art & History Museums of Maitland

Smith himself studied stage design and architecture before turning fully to the arts, and the Maitland Art Center can be seen as a culmination of his interests, travels and life experiences. He traveled often, served in the United States Army during World War I, and was inspired by the places and cultures he experienced along the way.

His home and gardens, for example, are modeled after the central courtyards and tributaries of Segovia, Spain, and his works throughout the Maitland Art Center reflect a unique blend of Mesoamerican-inspired motifs and Colonial, Christian and Asian iconography. In the galleries, meanwhile, you can see drawings and paintings of his favorite local spots, including some of nearby Eatonville.

Discover: Things to Do in Eatonville

As you explore, you can see the clear evolution of Smith’s style. Works range from early cement motifs carved with a grapefruit spoon to the Garden Chapel of St. Francis, which was built in 1942 and dedicated to Smith’s mother. Be sure to look up, down and even on the backside of certain pieces to uncover every intricate detail.

Pricing: $6 adults, $5 seniors 65+ and children 5 – 17, children under 5 free, $6 guided tour.

Crealdé School of Art

Contemporary Sculpture Garden at Crealdé School of Art

Next up: The Crealdé School of Art, a nonprofit community arts organization that offers hands-on art workshops, galleries, festivals and cultural experiences throughout Orlando. I dropped by their main campus in Winter Park to meet with marketing manager Laurie Hasan and explore 60 unique pieces of outdoor art at the lakefront Contemporary Sculpture Garden.

Discover: Things to Do in Winter Park

Everything here was created by Crealdé artists, many of whom enjoy successful careers in the arts and have had their work displayed all over the globe. One of the most striking and surprising, in my opinion, is The Man With Three Arms. It’s inspired by a play in which the main character is surprised by the development of a third appendage, resulting in newfound celebrity status. Sculptor Cecil Herring, who created the piece from copper sheeting, says it represents survival as an artist.

The Man With Three Arms at Crealdé School of Art’s Contemporary Sculpture Garden

New sculptures come into focus around every corner, from Mickey Luck’s wood-and-steel Unity — the first outdoor sculpture to be installed at the school — to an imaginative horned creature composed entirely of metal. It’s all set against a tranquil lakeside backdrop, with faculty, students and fellow creative minds roaming the grounds in search of inspiration. The space has a raw, organic feel to it, with plenty of room to explore or simply sit and enjoy the view.

The gardens and galleries are free to visit. Should you want to improve your own creative skills, you can sign up for paid workshops on everything from photography and oil painting to jewelry design and bookbinding.

Another free option in the area is the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, which is also operated by the Crealdé School of Art.

Pricing: Free.

Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens

Just 1 mile from Crealdé is the Mediterranean-style home and serene lakefront garden of Czech American sculptor Albin Polasek, who spent the final 15 years of his life in Winter Park. There are over 200 works of art throughout the property, from original paintings and sculptures to replicas of Polasek’s most notable pieces. You can even step into the artist’s studio for a glimpse inside his creative process.

Out in the garden, you can marvel at replicas of masterpieces like Forest Idyl, the majestic Thomas Carrigue Masaryk Memorial monument, Unfettered, and perhaps Polasek’s most iconic piece, Man Carving His Own Destiny. Additional highlights include the carved-wood Cycle of The Tree, the bronze Stations of the Cross, and 26 representations of the Greek god Pan, all in a scenic lakeside setting.

Discover: Orlando Gardens

The Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for a unique triple-dose of history, art and culture.

Travel tip: Art enthusiasts, you can also see replicas of Polasek’s work throughout Winter Park, like the bronze-topped “Emily fountain” in Central Park. You can also pay tribute to the man himself at Winter Park’s Palm Cemetery, where he is buried alongside his first wife, Emily.

Pricing: $12 adults, $10 adults 60+, $7 students grade K – 12, children under 5 free.

Rollins Museum of Art outdoor sculpture
‘Tired’ by Olaf Breuning at the Rollins Museum of Art

Rollins Museum of Art

Also nearby is the Rollins Museum of Art, which offers free admission, free parking validation and a variety of free audio guides to elevate your experience. I embarked on the Walking Sculpture Tour, a 1.6-mile, self-guided journey to seven points of interest throughout the tranquil Rollins College campus.

This customizable option is perfect if you’re short on time, with a diverse collection of works ranging from geometric steel structures to neon-infused conceptual art. I started with Jun Kaneko’s Untitled, a massive hand-glazed ceramic sculpture in the shape of a head. The audio guide was a perfect walking companion, offering insightful tidbits about the artists, the sculptures and even the beautiful Rollins campus at each stop.

The tour concludes at The Alfond Inn, a philanthropic boutique hotel in the heart of Winter Park. After taking some time to contemplate Jaume Plensa’s The Hermix XI, step inside to browse The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art, grab a drink, or dig into some modern Southern cuisine at Hamilton’s Kitchen.

Pricing: Free.

Albert Paley’s Star and Alice Aycock’s Twisting Vortexes at The Mennello Museum of American Art
Albert Paley’s Star and Alice Aycock’s Twisting Vortexes at The Mennello Museum of American Art

The Mennello Museum of American Art

In Orlando’s Ivanhoe Village Main Street district, The Mennello Museum of American Art boasts a serene sculpture garden with a variety of interesting pieces. “The grounds feature monumental sculptures by internationally renowned artists Alice Aycock, Albert Paley, Barbara Sorensen and Deborah Butterfield, among others,” shares Jensen.

The garden is 100% free and open to the public, with free onsite parking and convenient access via the Orlando Urban Trail and a nearby SunRail station. It’s part of Loch Haven Park, a cultural hub north of downtown Orlando.

Discover: Orlando SunRail Day Trips

One of the garden’s most prominent features is Albert Paley’s Star, crafted in 1991 and purchased in memory of the museum’s co-founder Marilyn Mennello. Just beyond that is Alice Aycock’s Twisting Vortexes, one of seven pieces originally displayed along Park Avenue in Manhattan.

L’homme by John Wolfe at The Mennello Museum of American Art

The garden itself feels like a community backyard, boasting towering oaks, plenty of shade, and peaceful views over tranquil Lake Formosa. I saw people jogging, biking or relaxing in the shade as I strolled, taking inspiration from the art itself as well as from the gorgeous natural surroundings.

Even some of the sculptures seemed to be in on the fun, relaxing with the sun on their face or making music with friends near the waterfront. The space hosts frequent events, including plein air workshops, family days, Sunday yoga, and their annual festival, Indie Folkfest.

Discover: Things to Do in Orlando’s Ivanhoe Village Main Street District

While the Marilyn L. Mennello Sculpture Garden is free to visit, there is a small fee if you choose to enter the museum itself — and you absolutely should. It’s the only art museum in Orlando to be named a Smithsonian Affiliate. Once inside, you can discover over 900 additional paintings, sculptures, tapestries and more, including rotating exhibitions by American artists and the largest collection of works by Earl Cunningham.

Pricing: Sculpture Garden free; Museum $5 adults, $4 seniors 60+, $1 children 6 – 17, under 6 free.

Lake Nona Sculpture Garden
Lake Nona Sculpture Garden

Lake Nona Sculpture Garden

Last but certainly not least is the Lake Nona Sculpture Garden, located near Orlando International Airport in the tech-forward Lake Nona region. Set on 50,000 square feet of lush tropical landscaping, the garden contains renowned sculptures from one of the world’s largest private art collections.

Discover: Inside Orlando’s Lake Nona Sculpture Garden

The garden is practically an outdoor living room for the Lake Nona Wave Hotel, making this spot perfect for everything from quiet contemplation to a little post-dinner stroll. The region’s urban core is also very walkable and art-driven, with plenty of colorful murals, sculptures and photo ops to explore on your next visit.

Discover: Things to Do in Lake Nona

Pricing: Free.

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Orlando Public Art

Art is everywhere you look in Orlando, from our public parks and gardens to our city streets, locally owned boutiques, and award-winning eateries. In fact, there are over 900 paintings, sculptures, tapestries and mixed media pieces on display throughout Orlando’s urban core — and that’s not counting our incredible murals. Make time for these free, can’t-miss public art installations on your next visit or pick a few to create your own sculpture garden itinerary.

Exterior of the Orlando Museum of Art
Orlando Museum of Art

Orlando Museum of Art

Let’s return to Loch Haven Park for a moment. If you venture beyond the sculpture garden at The Mennello Museum of American Art, you’ll discover outdoor art aplenty, from abstract art and bronze sculpture to a 30-foot Orlando Shakes mosaic depicting scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. I love the natural exploration this area encourages, along with the convenient access to fascinating spots like the Orlando Science Center, Orlando Ballet and Orlando Family Stage.

The Orlando Museum of Art has several sculptures outside its doors, which you can see free of charge. One of the most iconic is Ernest Shaw’s Ruins XIII, a 19-foot-tall abstract piece of red steel. There is a small fee to enter the museum, where you can see art from disciplines like painting, photography, sculpture, video art and more.

Downtown Orlando M&C Unbelievably Real UR campaign
The Muse of Discovery at Orlando’s Lake Eola Park

Lake Eola Park

In the heart of downtown Orlando’s Thornton Park district, Lake Eola Park is home to six contemporary art sculptures by internationally renowned artists. Part of the nine-piece SEE ART Orlando collection, they include The Muse of Discovery by Meg White, Take Flight by Douwe Blumberg, Union by Ralfonso Gschwend, Monument in Right Feet Major by Todji Kurtzman, Cedar of Lebanon by Jacob Harmeling, and Centered by C.J. Rench. If you want to see the rest of the collection beyond Lake Eola, we’ve also marked their locations on the map below.

Discover: Things to Do in Orlando’s Thornton Park District


If you’ve spent any time in Orlando, you’ve probably noticed that murals are everywhere. These free-to-behold works of art add a splash of personality and color to our unique neighborhoods, eateries, parking garages, theme parks and even crosswalks.

Discover: Orlando Murals

Some of my favorites are the Diversity Mural in Mills 50®, the Love Orlando mural in The Milk District, and the City Beautiful mural in the Ivanhoe Village district. And you can’t forget the Unbelievably Real mural in downtown Orlando, perfect for capturing everything you love about the city in one spot.

Limited Art Installations

One of the best things about Orlando is that it’s constantly evolving. We frequently see limited-time art installations and exhibitions, so be sure to check out our events calendar for gallery openings and more during your next stay.

Discover: What’s New in Orlando

Currently, Orlando is hosting the U.S. premiere of FAUNE, a series of 10 large format outdoor posters created by Adrien M. and Claire B. The program is offered in collaboration with the City of Orlando Downtown Development Board and Snap! Orlando’s CITY UNSEEN. Simply download the FAUNE mobile app and follow along to unlock 3D augmented reality features at locations in downtown Orlando through January 2025. You can find additional works in Orlando’s Creative Village and Lake Nona region through April 2024.

Influencer Katrina Dandridge visits Wells’Built Museum
Wells’Built Museum of African American History & Culture

More Free Art in Orlando

For more outdoor fun, visit annual art festivals like the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, Mount Dora Arts Festival, and Hannibal Square Heritage Center Folk & Urban Art Festival, all of which are free to attend.

Discover: Spring Art Festivals

For an indoor alternative, the following locations offer free admission all year long (donations are also welcome).

Some Orlando museums also offer free admission days, so be sure to check our events calendar and look into programs like Bank of America’s Museums on Us to find the next upcoming date that works for you.

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Map of Public Art & Sculpture Gardens

Ready to explore Orlando’s arts and culture scene? Use this map to find the museums, sculpture gardens and public art installations mentioned in this post, and build your own unique tour of Orlando.

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