Birthday Freebies in NYC: Where Kids Eat Free & Nab Gifts

Hit up the Hard Rock Cafe for a free birthday treat.
Hit up the Hard Rock Cafe for a free birthday treat.

Rent-out-the-whole-museum and hire-a-marching-band kid birthday parties have their fans, but when it comes to a memorable day, we think it's nice to find a few birthday freebies. Of course, there are plenty of at-home, DIY ways to celebrate your child's birthday for FREE, from leaving cute notes on the mirror to playing hooky. But it's also the one time of year you can take advantage of all those corporate birthday clubs that promise to make your kid's big day even more special with fun birthday freebies like complimentary gifts, food, and other deals.

We've rounded up a mix of local spots, with a lot of national chain restaurants and play spots thrown in, which all offer FREE birthday goodies. Some are specific to kids, though adults can snag a few birthday freebies, too. Most require an email-list sign up.

Find more fun for your little one's big day (maybe even a marching band) in our Birthday Party Guide for NYC families.

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Restaurants With Birthday Freebies

Applebee's

The restaurant offers a freebie for the birthday kid. Because the chain operates as a franchise, the freebie varies from location to location. Expect to nab a free appetizer, entree, or (most likely) dessert. The freebie comes as part of its exclusive email club, so once you've signed up, you'll receive a special welcome offer.

Au Bon Pain

Join this ubiquitous chain's e-club to net a free birthday lunch. Other perks include a complimentary travel mug as well as deals throughout the year.

RELATED: Inexpensive Party Room Rentals for Kids Birthdays

Auntie Anne's offers free pretzels as birthday perks Where Kids Eat Free & Nab Gifts
Get a free pretzel treat on your birthday at Auntie Anne's.

Auntie Anne's

Download the My Pretzel Perks App for exclusive deals all year long plus a free pretzel on your big day.

Chuck E. Cheese's

If you sign up for Chuck E. Cheese Rewards, you'll receive an email on your child's birthday with coupons for free tokens, plus other special offers throughout the year.

Hard Rock Cafe

Visit one of the local Hard Rock Cafes and score a free birthday treat if you're a member of its rewards program.

RELATED: NYC Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free

Baskin Robbins offers free ice cream as a birthday perk
A birthday means a free cone if you're a part of the Birthday Club at Baskin Robbins.

Baskin Robbins Birthday Club

The ubiquitous ice cream chain has a Birthday Club. Sign up online, and you'll receive an email before your child's birthday good for a free cone.

Havana Central

If your kid craves the flavor of Cuba, this local micro-chain offers a free birthday meal for those on its VIP List. There's also a free appetizer/dessert awaiting new members, just for signing up!

IHOP

Join the My Hop rewards club and receive free pancakes for joining, on your birthday, and the anniversary of your registration annually.

RELATED: 20 Indoor Places To Play for Free in NYC

Where Kids Eat Free & Nab Gifts burgerfi free milkshakes
Snag a Free shake for a birthday treat at BurgerFi. 

BurgerFi

BurgerFi Rewards members receive exclusive offers and promotions, including double point days, birthday rewards (usually a free milkshake), and more.

Cold Stone Creamery

Join the My Cold Stone Club for a birthday BOGO: Buy any one ice cream creation and receive a second one gratis.

RELATED: What Ages Get in Free to NYC Museums, Zoos, Amusement Parks

Jamba Juice offers free birthday smoothies
Who doesn't love a fresh fruit smoothie on their birthday?

Jamba Juice

Join Jamba's rewards loyalty program to receive a free small smoothie on your birthday.

Juice Generation

Juice Generation's Supa Dupa Rewards program includes a birthday reward that's added to your account on the first day of your birthday month and is available for 30 days.

Pinkberry

Register for Pinkberry's free rewards program, and you'll receive a free yogurt on your birthday, plus one every 10 visits.

RELATED: Kids Can Play for Free at These New York City Stores

Sprinkles offers free birthday cupcakes
No matter your perk level, you always get a free cupcake from Sprinkles on your birthday.

Sprinkles

If cupcakes are your favorite, this eatery offers escalating rewards: The more you visit, the bigger your perk. Don't worry, even the lowest level of perks earns you a free birthday cupcake!

Red Lobster

For some reason, this is the one restaurant my kids can seemingly always agree on, so we're big fans of the rewards program that lets you earn freebies for every dollar you spend, plus free birthday surprises.

Rita's

This famed East Coast shaved-ice-and-custard chain doles out freebies to members of its Birthday Club. Parents can add each of their children to their account for this sweet treat. If your nearest location is seasonal, you'll receive a half-birthday treat instead.

RELATED: Where to Find Free Classes for Kids in NYC at Stores and Public Spaces

Sign up for AG Rewards to earn a a birthday freebie
You won't leave American Girl empty-handed on your birthday, AG Rewards Programs members receive a free gift. Photo by Jody Mercier

Stores With Birthday Freebies

American Girl Store

If your child has hit the American Girl craze phase, be sure to sign up for the store's AG Rewards Program. In addition to earning points on every purchase, your child receives a free gift on their birthday, plus fun stickers for child and doll if you're dining at the on-site Cafe.

Barnes & Noble Kids' Club

Register for the B&N Kids' Club to enjoy a free birthday cupcake at the bookstore's cafe.

Sephora

Got a tween or teen who loves this chain? Sign them up for a Beauty Insider membership, and they can choose a free gift in-store or online during their birthday month.

The Children's Place Birthday Club

Children's Place lets parents add up to four kids to their My Place Rewards Account to receive coupons during their birth month for use in-store or online.

Other Fun Birthday Freebies

Nick Jr.

Sign your child up for Nick Jr.'s free birthday club, and their favorite character celebrates them with a pre-recorded call. Choose from a variety of popular characters ranging from the Paw Patrol gang to Shimmer and Shine, Dora, SpongeBob, and more.

Unless noted, photos courtesy of the venues

A version of this article was first published in 2012; it is updated annually.

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