10 Ways to Get Free Stuff on Your Birthday in L.A.

Even this stock image wasn't free.EXPAND
Even this stock image wasn't free.

Past a certain age, it becomes standard practice to bemoan birthdays. Another year older and closer to death — one day you're partying into the night, the next you're peeing a little when you sneeze and getting AARP Magazine in the mail. But whether or not birthdays represent a slow crawl toward the grave, they're also really good excuses to clean up on free stuff. Here are 10 L.A. ways to remind yourself that getting older is actually sort of cool.

Catalina Express will give you a free lift to the island.
Catalina Express will give you a free lift to the island.

1. Ride the Catalina Express.
Wanna re-create your very own Catalina Wine Mixer? Your ride to the island is free (though your friends have to pay). The one-way trip is ordinarily $36 ($72 for a round-trip ticket), but you get the ride on the house, and you can book your birthday ticket in advance. If you’re planning to camp overnight, don’t worry — your round-trip ticket is still free, even though you’re technically returning on the day after your birthday when you're no longer special. Departs from San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point. catalinaexpress.com/birthday_promo.html.

Nature says happy birthday.
Nature says happy birthday.

2. Get a free birthday lift ticket at Big Bear (and ski during the winter or just ride around aimlessly on a chairlift during the summer).
You can cash in on this birthday freebie whether or not there’s snow on the ground. Your free lift ticket gets you a full day of skiing in the winter or just unlimited chairlift rides in the summer, which is still fun, but is more of a dizzying 15-minute experience and less of a full-day activity. While obviously Big Bear is not in L.A., it’s not too much of a trek for Angelenos, especially because this birthday deal is a $45-$59 value. snowsummit.com/winter/plan-a-trip/plan-a-trip/deals-discounts.

Also: free smells, just like Jimmy John's
Also: free smells, just like Jimmy John's
Wyatt Cain

3. Get a free candle at Diptyque in Larchmont.
For those of you who skirt around Diptyque every time you walk through Larchmont because you’re scared of accidentally spending $60 on a jar filled with scented wax, let your birthday be the one day of the year that you venture into the dimly lit boutique. On your birthday, if you show your ID, you can get a mini-candle for free. It's small, but it still smells expensive. 202 N. Larchmont Blvd., Windsor Square. (323) 962-3622, diptyqueparis.com.

Fish, presumably minus the sugar, at Sugarfish
Fish, presumably minus the sugar, at Sugarfish
Photo by Celia Soudry

4. Get a free birthday meal at Sugarfish.
Free birthday food options tend to be either cheap or limited to after-entree dishes. I would’ve expected Sushi Stop to offer a complimentary $4 roll, but it’s rare that a relatively high-priced restaurant would offer a full meal on the house. Yet Sugarfish will comp your whole meal on your birthday, if you sign up for their birthday club. (Pause to giggle at the fact that Chef Nozawa’s restaurant has a birthday club, which it refers to as a “birthday celebration program” so that it sounds more elevated than going to BJ’s for a free birthday Pizookie.) You have to jump through a few hoops to qualify, but you can follow the instructions here. Various locations, sugarfish.com.

SusieCakes gives away free birthday cupcakes.EXPAND
SusieCakes gives away free birthday cupcakes.
Photo by Simone Paz

5. Get a free birthday cupcake at SusieCakes.
I lived a red velvet cake–free life before I encountered SusieCakes. Now I'm a believer. Its cupcakes really are melt-in-your-mouth-and-die-a-little-inside good. SusieCakes has expanded quickly in L.A., with locations in Brentwood, Marina del Rey, Manhattan Beach, Studio City, Mid-City and Woodland Hills, so getting your birthday cupcake will be fairly convenient, as long as you sign up for the email list (see the bottom righthand corner of the page) first. I firmly believe this cupcake is valuable enough to risk the additional emails in your inbox. Various locations, susiecakes.com.

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