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10 Things You Can Get For Free This Winter

Get your calendars out. It’s time to mark down these freebie days.

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The Girlfriend Staff
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Get your calendars out. It’s time to mark down the winter freebie days: You don’t want to miss out on gratis cookies, gym memberships and more. (*Due to the pandemic, free days and offers may change.) 

Free cookies 
On Dec. 4 — National Cookie Day (not to be confused with National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, which falls on Aug. 4) — you should be able to snag a free cookie from a bunch of our favorite spots. Insomnia Cookies is offering a totally free cookie on National Cookie Day. Other stores that offered the same deal in 2019 but haven’t confirmed participation this year are Great American Cookies and Mrs. Fields.  

Free coffee and tea
Warm up with a free coffee and hot tea daily by becoming an Ikea family member — which is also totally free. Sign up in store or online. Got kids? Arrive on Tuesdays after 11 a.m., and up to two kids’ meals also will be free with the purchase of an adult entree. 

Free gym membership 
Got a New Year’s resolution? Older adults can run to gyms throughout the country for free or for a very low membership cost thanks to SilverSneakers Fitness, a health insurance company. There are 16,000 locations — and they also offer virtual classes.  

Free bagel 
Start your day off right with a free bagel and cream cheese (with purchase) on Jan. 15, thanks to Einstein Bros. Bagels. National Bagel Day used to share its spotlight with National Pizza Day, but the bagel company moved its big day so it could have its own 15 minutes of fame. “We like to say that our bakers wake up the roosters,” says Chad Thompson, chief baker and vice president of menu innovation at Einstein Bros. “They’re up before dawn starting the baking ritual every day so our guests can enjoy a fresh baked bagel.” 

Free donut 
Reward yourself for making it through 2020 with a gratis donut. Krispy Kreme used to give out free mini donuts (aka doughnuts, as they like to spell them) in January just to seduce you away from your New Year’s resolutions. They haven’t confirmed yet if they’ll be doing this again — but they did say that you can grab a big donut totally free if you sign up for the free rewards program (even better — you can pick up your donut whenever you please).   

Free entrance to national parks 
In honor of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., the National Park Service is offering free entrance to its sites on Monday, Jan. 18. Choose from more than 400 parks — or try a few. You’ll still be responsible for camping, tour and other amenity fees, but the entrance to the parks will be gratis.

Free holiday fun
Several sites offer free holiday coloring pages that you can print out for your kids. There are also free Christmas gift tags as well as free Advent calendars and decorations.

Free transportation
In an effort to get everyone around safely on New Year’s Eve, most cities wave their train and subway fees that evening. Trains everywhere from San Francisco to Chicago are offering free rides. New York used to do this, and we’re crossing our fingers that the city brings back this perk. 

Free museums
Pop on a mask and get out to explore your city. February is museum month, and most cities are participating. For example, San Diego is offering 50 percent off the cost of admission to more than 40 museums; Chicago plans to participate by offering residents specific days for free museum entrances. Check your local museums for more details. 

Free books
Our favorite thing about winter is snuggling under a heavy blanket with a massive cup of tea and a fabulous book … all day long. For this, there are a bunch of places we turn to in order to get our free book fix. Of course, there’s always the public library — but if yours isn’t up to par (or if you don’t fancy leaving the house), we’ve got other free options this winter.

The Online Books Page by the University of Pennsylvania offers more than 3 million free ebooks. These tend to skew toward the classics and obscure books. Looking for newer options? Try the Kindle Store, searching for “free books.” There will be many options, so look through the best-seller list for the 100 free books to narrow the field. Want a tangible book? Follow The Girlfriend Book Club on social media for frequent giveaways.  

Photographs by Getty Images, Stocksy and Insomnia Cookies