The entire calendar year is now pretty much full of fake marketing holidays during which pretzels, pancakes, ice cream, or whatever are given away to millions of customers—who hopefully, the thinking goes, will return later as paying customers out of subconscious gratitude. Summertime is an especially sweet season for freebies, what with special days devoted to free donuts and free Slurpees, among others.
While the details of many of these days have not yet been released for the summer of 2016, in all likelihood they’ll bear a close resemblance to their previous incarnations. Mark your calendars so you won’t miss out.
Veterans and active-duty military (with ID) are treated to free food on Memorial Day (Monday, May 30) at restaurants such as Shoney’s, McCormick & Schmick’s, and Twin Peaks, plus free admission to tons of museums, zoos, and theme parks.
National Donut Day
Always celebrated on the first Friday of June (June 3 this year), National Donut Day comes with the possibility of indulging in a half-dozen or more free donuts from shops across the country. No wonder people look forward to this made-up holiday probably more than any other.
Free Fishing Day
Most states offer a few Free Fishing Days throughout the year, when it’s possible to fish on any public body of water without paying for a permit. Free fishing dates vary by state, but by far the most popular day to allow folks to fish for free this year is Saturday, June 4, as it kicks off National Fishing and Boating Week.
Flip Flop Day
Tropical Smoothie Café hosts an annual smoothie giveaway on Flip Flop Day, which this year is being held on Friday, June 17. All you have to do to get a free Jetty Punch-flavor smoothie is head into a participating location on that day from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.—and, of course, you have to be wearing flip flops.
Though the giveaways generally aren’t quite as widespread as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day has come to be a good time for freebies for dads. Look for free meals at restaurants like Hurricane Grill and Medieval Times and free admission to lots of museums and zoos.
Naturally, 7-Eleven Day is held annually on July 11 (aka 7/11), when the convenience store gives away free Slurpees to all customers. In the past, 7-Eleven has followed up 7-Eleven Day with several days of more freebies, including Big Gulps, Twinkies, and ice cream bars.
National Ice Cream Day
Popular restaurants like Carvel and Friendly’s have been known to offer buy-one, get-one-free ice cream deals on National Ice Cream Day, always held on the third “Sundae” of July (July 17 in 2016).
National Bowling Day
The second Saturday in August is National Bowling Day (August 12 in 2016), and assuming it’s like last year’s event venues around the country will offer free bowling from 10 a.m. to noon in addition to drink deals and special games and prizes.
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National Rootbeer Float Day
Last year on National Rootbeer Float Day (August 6), A&W restaurants gave away one free rootbeer float per customer from 2 p.m. until closing.
National Parks Birthday
Normally, the National Parks Service offers free admission to all national parks and monuments on about 10 days in the year, and usually only one of these freebie days is in the summer: August 25, the National Parks Service’s birthday. This year is very special, however. Because it’s the 100th anniversary of the national parks, there are 16 days when admission is waived, including four free days in a row in the summer: August 25 to 28.