50 things you can get for free this summer

Jeanine Skowronski


Jeanine Skowronski

Jeanine Skowronski

Former Head of Content at Policygenius

Jeanine Skowronski is the former head of content at Policygenius in New York City. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, American Banker Magazine, Newsweek, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, MSN, CNBC and more.

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Updated June 10, 2019: Summer is finally here and there are plenty of discounts and deals for you to enjoy over the hottest months of the year. The first official day of summer is June 21, but there are plenty of freebies to enjoy all season long. Here are 50 things you can get for free this summer.

1. Ice cream

Hit up your favorite ice cream chains on July 21 to take advantage of National Ice Cream Day. Last year, Carvel, Dippin’ Dots, Baskin Robbins and McDonald’s offered free frozen treats.

2. Museum trips

Want to get out of the heat? Take you and your family to a local museum. Some institutions offer free admission on certain days — we have a list here.

3. Outdoor classes & outings

REI, the outdoors-lover’s superstore, offers a variety of free classes throughout the summer. Get info on hiking routes near you or learn about how to plan a multi-day trip. Check out their website for more information.

4. Slurpees

It’s one of summer’s most time-honored traditions. Should it continue, get a brain freeze for free when you pick up a $0 small Slurpee from 7-Eleven on ... 7/11 (July 11).

5. Personal finance advice

Get expert money advice without taking off your headphones. Most podcasts are free, and some provide valuable information on all things personal finance. Read a roundup of the best personal finance podcasts here.

6. Kids’ snacks

Target SuperStores have a standing policy to offer a free piece of fruit or cookie to kids shopping with their parents. Request the snack from the bakery section next time you’re there.

7. Life insurance quotes

Policygenius can help you easily compare life insurance quotes across companies here.

8. Bowling for kids

Bowling alleys participating in the Kids Bowl Free Program (KidsBowlFree.com) let registered little ones play two games for free each day of the summer. Terms and specific dates vary by establishment.

9. Checked bags

Skip checked baggage fees with an airline branded credit card. Must make sure your budget can handle new plastic, though. (Want to ditch other fees? Here are 14 fees you should never pay.)

10. DIY workshops

Home Depot hosts a variety of free do-it-yourself workshops for adults all year round. It also offers a free class for kids every first Saturday each month. Topics vary by location.

11. Tax-free shopping

Many states offer sales tax holidays during the back-to-school shopping season. Visit your state website in early August to see if it’s hosting one so you can buy clothes, computers and more without that extra charge.

12. Father's Day food

Expect plenty of “dads eat free” deals to pop up for Father’s Day (Sunday, June 16). Last year, Medieval Times, Beef O’Brady’s, Claddagh Irish Pubs and PDQ were among the eateries with offers. Haven’t gotten Dad a gift yet? Here’s the best present you can give.

13. Smoothies

June 14 is National Flip Flop day and Tropical Smoothie Cafe is celebrating. Customers donning flip-flops can get a free smoothie at the chain between 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on June 14. The giveaway hopes to raise money for Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses.

14. Yoga classes

Lululemon, the upscale athleisure-wear brand, offers free yoga classes in-store and in parks throughout the country to help you get your om on.

15. Free coffee or tea at IKEA

Join IKEA FAMILY, the Swedish chain’s free loyalty program, and get a free coffee or tea every time you visit the store all year. Bonus: Join at one of the store’s kiosks to get a buy-one-get-one-free coupon for a frozen yogurt cone.

16. Money advice

Sign up for the free Policygenius newsletter and get the best tips in your inbox every week.

17. Fireworks

Who doesn’t like fireworks on the Fourth of July? Check your local community calendar to see if your area is having a fireworks display. It’s probably free, and there might be extra perks, like activities for kids.

18. Children’s books

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails one free book a month to children up to age 5, regardless of income.

19. French fries

Check your local fast food joint to see if you can score some free fries on July 13 aka National French Fry Day.

20. Shakespeare in the Park

If you find yourself in New York City, check out Free Shakespeare in the Park. They’re free showings...of Shakespeare plays...in Central Park. There are a limited number of tickets given out for each performance, so plan accordingly.

21. Gym passes

Major fitness chains like Crunch, Equinox and Retro Fitness offer one-to-five free day passes so you can try out their gym. Terms vary, but there’s no reason to turn down a free workout.

22. Movies

Paragon Theaters is showing free kids movies on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. this summer. If you want free fun for the whole family, check with your local Parks and Recreation department. They usually hold free movie screenings in the summer.

23. Credit reports & credit scores

Everyone is entitled to one free credit report from the major credit bureaus each year via AnnualCreditReport.com. There are plenty of websites, like Credit Sesame, that offer free credit scores all year round.

24. Coloring pages

If you’ve got little kids out of school, you can give them something fun to do with free downloadable (and printable) coloring pages online, thanks to sites like JustColor and Crayola.

25. Whiskey

Some whiskey distillers offer free tasting demos for their whiskeys throughout the year. Search local tasting listings for events near you.

26. Digital budgeting tools

Stay on top of your money with free budgeting apps like Mint or Albert. Check out this list of the best budgeting apps here.

27. ... or go old school

You can make your own spreadsheet with our template if you’re more hands-on.

28. Wedding swag

Summer is prime wedding time, so many retailers offer, like Sur La Table and The Container Store, offer free items just for creating a wedding registry with them. Here are some more ways to save on your wedding.

29. Free kids’ meals

Places like Ruby Tuesday’s, Denny’s and Marie Callender’s host “Kids Eat Free” Tuesdays (with purchase of an adult entree) during select business hours. Other eateries offer similar deals around holiday weekends.

30. Streaming music

Not talking about internet piracy. Streaming services like Spotify and Pandora have free ad-supported versions so you can spend a hot day exploring Bruce Springsteen’s entire catalogue. Here are the cheapest ways to get unlimited music.

31. Live music

Concerts are super-expensive, but many are held free outdoors in the summer. Lay out on a blanket nearby and you can hear the tunes without spending a dime.

32. Street fair fun

Free doesn’t mean you have to be stuck inside. Take a stroll through a local street fair with free food samples, live music and local art. You can find one near you at www.fairsandfestivals.net or check out this list of local farmers markets.

33. One month of Netflix

When it’s too hot to go out, sometimes you just want to stay in and chill. Netflix offers a free month of streaming to new subscribers so you can catch up on all your favorite shows and not get sunburned. (Spend too much on streaming services? Here’s how to cut back.)

34. Pancakes

Sign up for IHOP’s Pancake Revolution promotion to get three free full stacks of its Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruity pancakes — one order right upon signing up, one on your birthday and one on your signup anniversary.

35. Seeds for your garden

Want to plant a summer garden? You can check out seed swaps (yes, they’re a thing) or WinterSown for free seeds. Another idea is to swap starts with neighbors.

36. Travel perks

Planning to take a spring getaway? Be sure to collect on these 50 free things you can get when traveling.

37. Pet safety packs

The ASPCA will send you free window decals that let rescue personnel know a furbaby is in your home. You’ll also receive a magnet with the Animal Poison Control Center’s phone number.

38. Dance tutorials

Have you always wanted to learn the dance moves to your favorite music video? There are plenty of videos on Youtube breaking down complex moves for you to show off at your next house party/dance battle.

39. Hot dogs

Bookmark July 18 when places like Fancy Franks, Love’s and Sonic are known to offer free or deeply discounted dogs to customers in honor of (you guessed it) National Hot Dog Day.

40. Coding classes

Spend summer afternoons beefing up your resume by learning how to code. FreeCodeCamp.com is a great place to start. Read our Q&A with the founder to learn more.

41. Online courses

Not into coding? There’s other stuff you can learn at no charge. Coursera offers free classes from highly accredited schools on subjects like music or law, while Duolingo is a free app that lets you learn different languages — including High Valyrian.

42. Designated drivers

Some AAA clubs offer free rides to members and non-members on holidays to prevent drunk-driving. Check with your local club for details.

43. Walking tours

Finding popular haunts in cities is always free, and the resources for making the most out of a walking tour usually are, too, especially in big cities like Los Angeles.

44. Root beer floats

Stop by your local A&W Restaurant on August 6 (National Root Beer Float Day) and get a free small eponymous treat.

45. Notary

Need to get something notarized? Ask your bank. As long as you have an account, your bank may provide a notary at their branch free of charge. This’ll come in handy for stuff like wills. While you’re at the bank ...

46. ... open a bank account

Trying to figure out what to do with that first quarter bonus you just received? Put it in a high-yield savings account. Opening a bank account is free, so long as you have money to put in it.

47. Big brand samples

In exchange for honest feedback (and some personal information), PINCHme.com will send you a box of free samples from big brands like Dove, Olay, Iams, Kashi, Listerine and more.

48. Birthday treats

If you’re a summer baby, there are lots of opportunities to get free stuff on your birthday. Places like Buffalo Wild Wings and Jamba Juice offer freebies on your name-day when you sign up for their rewards programs. Check out this complete list of birthday freebies to learn more.

49. Cheeseburgers

Round out a summer of free food on September 18, National Cheeseburger Day. Chains like Johnny Rockets, Champps and Rally’s have offered free burgers or run specials in past years. (Don’t eat beef? Check out this list of the best veggie burger in each state.)

50. Admission to a National Park

End the summer with a bang (and a breeze) by getting free admission to a National Parks on Sept. 22. The last day of the season doubles as National Public Lands Day. Here’s a list of the parks that normally charge a fee.

Not sure if a summer vacation is in your budget this year? These travel hacks might help.

Image: AndyL

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