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Free entry to national parks, free cupcakes

Deals and freebies include Dora's birthday party, 2-for-1 movie tickets, yet more free smoothies and 39-cent tacos.

By Teresa Mears Aug 13, 2010 12:35PM

With summer winding down, you may want to take advantage of your last weekend or two before school starts to engage in some free or cheap fun.


Entry to all 392 U.S. national parks is free this weekend, Aug. 14-15.  The National Park Service also notes that admission to many of our national parks is always free. Admission to national parks that charge a fee also will be free on Public Lands Day, which is Sept. 25, and Veterans Day, which is Nov. 11.


If you live in the sort of climate where only the mosquitoes would enjoy visiting national parks this weekend, perhaps indoor activities would be a better choice.


Wal-Mart stores nationwide are celebrating Dora the Explorer's birthday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, with free cupcakes and a free 5-by-7-inch photo card. You can enter your ZIP code here to find a participating store. If you want to celebrate Dora's birthday at home, you can get Dora the Explorer birthday games and crafts from the Nick Jr. website.


Today only (Aug. 13), you can get two movie tickets for the price of one with your Visa Signature card at Fandango, while supplies last.

The "smoothie war" means free smoothies and/or discounts at Jamba Juice and McDonald's. Now another player has leaped into the fray. You can get a free smoothie Saturday, Aug. 14, at Boston Market, no purchase required, in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia. If you want even more fruity drinks, here's a coupon for a free Taco Bell Fruitista when you buy any product.

Don't forget that several states are offering tax-free back-to-school shopping this weekend.


Here are the latest food deals and freebies:

  • Get a free electronic celebrity Cookbook for a Cause from The Pampered Chef, and the company will donate a meal to Feeding America.
  • Buy one energy drink at Starbucks and get one free with a printable coupon. You can also get some free business cards.
  • Kids eat free at IHOP from 4 to 10 p.m. every day in August. There is a limit of one free kid's meal for each adult entrée.
  • You can get two "Like It" creations with one mix-in for $5 from Cold Stone Creamery with this Facebook coupon. The coupon is good through Sept. 30, but not in Hawaii. You may need to install a coupon printer program.
  • If you "like" A&W Restaurants on Facebook, you can get a coupon for a free float. You don't need to join the mailing list to get the coupon, but if you do join the mailing list, you may receive more coupons in the future.
  • You can print out three coupons for Marie Callendar's restaurant: 20% off your entire meal, a half-price entrée with the purchase of an entrée and two beverages, and $4 off two adult Sunday brunches or $2 off one adult Sunday brunch. The coupons are good through Sept. 3. You can also download a coloring sheet and get a coupon for a free kid's meal with the purchase of an adult meal.
  • At Mimi's Café, you can get a soup and salad for $5.99 with the purchase of a beverage with this coupon through Aug. 27.
  • Del Taco is selling its regular tacos, normally 59 cents, for 39 cents for a limited time. It doesn't say when the promotion will end.

And, for a few deals you can't eat:

Remember that not all local establishments participate in all national deals, so it always makes sense to call ahead and check.


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