As if a kid’s birthday wasn’t reason enough to get totally giddy, along come local businesses to sweeten the pot. Some of our favorite shops, play spaces, restaurants and entertainers celebrate their little fans by giving them a free gift on their birthday. Here’s where your kids can score gratis admission, food and other perks on their big day. VIP treatment, here you come!
photo: Nick’s Pizza and Pub via Maria Chambers
Nick’s Pizza and Pub
Sign up for Nick’s Rewards program and not only do you receive redeemable points for every dollar earned when you link a debit card to the account, you get a free Moose Madness milkshake or smoothie on and 30 days from your birthday.
Locations in Crystal Lake, Elgin & Logan Square
This train-themed restaurant is a favorite destination for birthday celebrations — and not just because of the awesome miniature train that delivers your food. Sign up for their Birthday Club Card and they will send you a coupon for a free meal during your child’s birthday month.
600 Lee St., Des Plaines
photo: Nickel City
The retro arcade and family fun center will keep your gamer playing for hours on video and family games, including classics like Skee-Ball and Bozo Buckets. You’ll keep going and going because all games cost just one nickel! Games award tickets that you can cash in for prizes. Join their birthday club online and receive an email for a birthday coupon that could be worth anything from free tokens to free admission.
555 Waukegan Rd., Northbrook
photo: Miss Jamie from the Farm / TK Photography
Miss Jamie from the Farm
Have you heard this plucky-cool country chick play at a Mariano’s store or public library lately? If not, you’ve been missing out. With a guitar, puppets and a sparkly-sweet voice, she enchants pint-sized listeners with songs about sustainable farming and eating healthfully. Shoot her an email to let her know that you will be attending one of her shows around your little farmhand’s birthday and she will give them a free copy of her CD at the show!
Multiple locations throughout Chicagoland. For a full list of shows, go to miss-jamie.com.
photo: 2Toots Train Whistle Grill
2Toots Train Whistle Grill
Chugga, chugga. Next stop: freebies! 2Toots is a must-visit restaurant for train-loving kiddos because it sends a choo-choo around a track with food on its back. Sign up online for their Birthday Club to receive a free kids meal and signature train whistle cupcake on their birthday.
Locations in Naperville, Glen Ellyn & Bartlett
The AMC Stubs program offers loads of rewards all year round, like free popcorn refills with every visit, but for birthday boys and girls, you receive a free popcorn to help celebrate the big day.
photo: Medieval Times
Join the King’s Court and click the box to also join the King’s Birthday Fellowship for free birthday admission to a tournament, with one paying adult admission. To sign up for the club, click here.
2001 N. Roselle Rd., Rosemont
photo: rosysmith581 via Pixabay
At the Popular Chains . . .
You will scream for this one. Kids score free ice cream on their birthday, or $3 discount on an ice cream cake when they sign up for their birthday club! To sign up for the club, click here.
California Pizza Kitchen
Pizza is a tot fave. Why not get it for free? Sign your children up for the CPKids Birthday Club and they’ll receive a free meal during their birthday month. To sign up for the club, click here.
Barnes and Noble
With locations in the city and suburbs, Barnes and Noble helps make a trip to the bookstore more special on your child’s birthday. Sign up for the Kids Club and receive discounts and a free cupcake from the cafe. To sign up for the club, click here.
Legendary for their Chicago-style pizza, Lou’s rewards birthday club members (10 & younger) with a postcard good for a free personal pizza. To sign up for the club, click here.
If you’ve never experienced a slice of Portillo’s chocolate cake, you are missing out. Big time. No worries, because now you can give it a try for free. Register for the Birthday Club and receive a voucher for a free slice (adults, too!). To sign up for the club, click here.
Join Potbelly Perks and get free food and drink on your birthday. To sign up for the club, click here.
Chuck E. Cheese
Sign up for the eClub and receive a free treat on your child’s birthday. To sign up for the club, click here.
Egg Harbor Cafe
This one is super easy. Just stop into one of the 14 local Egg Harbor Cafe locations, mention you have a birthday in the house and they’ll serve the kids a free birthday pancake. Join their eClub and get a free cinnamon roll, as well.
Home Run Inn Pizza
Sign up (you and the kids!) for Home Run Inn’s club and receive a free personal pizza for your birthday. To sign up for the club, click here.
Nothing Bundt Cakes
There’s something about those tiny bundt cakes, they can’t be matched for taste and we hate to use this word, but they’re oh so moist. Try one for free on your birthday when you sign up for their E-Club. To sign up for the club, click here.
— Tiana Kubik and Maria Chambers