Road Warrior

Where to score free and cheap treats (for you and your pet) on National Ice Cream Day 

Key Points
  • The 3rd Sunday of every July brings a tasty holiday to the calendar
  • A range of ice cream purveyors are offering up free and discounted treats, and sometimes pets can get in on the action.
Source: Your Pie 

When it comes to food holidays, Popeye might be the only one excited by Fresh Spinach Day on July 16. However, everyone else will likely flock to their nearest shop for National Ice Cream Day, which falls on July 15.

Come Sunday, there will be plenty of opportunities for people – and pets – to score free frozen treats, and deals on ice cream. The third Sunday of every July is National Ice Cream Day — a holiday declared by President Ronald Reagan back in 1984 to promote the U.S. dairy industry.

Some of the free offers and events planned include desert icon Carvel, which will offer a buy one-get one (BOGO) free deal on any size soft ice cream cup or cone.

Dippin’ Dots is celebrating its 30th anniversary on National Ice Cream Day. It will give away prizes, and free mini cups of Dippin’ Dots during a two-hour window at participating locations.

Ice-cream fans who download the Baskin-Robbins Mobile App will get special offers for use only on National Ice Cream Day, including a BOGO cone offer for 99-cent sundaes, and $2 off a medium milkshake. To cap off National Ice Cream Month, on Tuesday, July 31, all regular and kid-sized ice scream scoops will be $1.50.

For the fourth year running, participating Your Pie fast-casual pizza locations around the country will offer customers a fee scoop of Italian gelato on Sunday. (Use the hashtag #ypfreegelato to share your gelato experience for a chance to win free gelato for a whole year.)

Source: Camp Arlo 

In New York City, which has suffered through record high temperatures this summer, there are several special deals on tap. Camp Arlo, located in Lower Manhattan, is partnering with Tipsy Scoop to offer complimentary servings of a limited edition "Frosè All Day,” which is white Peach sorbet infused with Notorious Pink Rosè, to the first 50 guests (21 and over) starting at noon. After that, the slightly boozy scoops are $5 each.

Also in New York City on July 15, My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream and Winky Lux cosmetics are teaming to give away free mochi ice cream flavors like Ripe Strawberry, Sweet Mango, Green Tea and Salted Caramel. (Register for this free event here.) New York’s Nickel & Diner will be offering complimentary mini home ice cream cones to brunch customers, from 11 am to 4 pm.

 Eva-Katalin | Getty Images

Lucky pups in New York City get free treats too: Wag!, the on-demand pet walking and boarding app, will roll a cart into the Central Park Dog Park area to serve up free dog-friendly treats from 2 to 6 pm.

Nationwide, PetSmart is celebrating on both Saturday and Sunday with complimentary four-ounce servings of dog-safe ice cream at PetSmart stores with PetsHotel facilities.

Head out on the Ice-Cream Trail

Source: Velvet Ice Cream

In Utica, Ohio, Velvet Ice Cream and its Ye Old Mill attraction are celebrating ice cream the entire month of July. They’ll offer specials and events, including free entertainment and $1 single-dip sugar or cake cones on July 15.

Velvet Ice Cream is just one of the stops on the newly launched 15-stop Ohio Ice Cream Trail.

The Buckeye State, which boasts of being the place where both banana splits and ice cream cones were created, is inviting ice-cream fans to cast a vote for their favorite stop on the ice-cream trail — and a chance to win a year’s worth of Velvet Ice Cream.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire has an ice-cream trail of its own, including about 50 ice-cream shops in the Granite State, while Indiana’s I Scream for Ice Cream Trail has more than 20 stops listed.

Maryland, which lays claim to being the first place on the continent where ice-cream was served (1744) and the first to boast an ice cream factory (1853) is issuing an ice cream passport. Finally, New York State has an ice cream trail that winds through the Adirondacks.

— Harriet Baskas is the author of seven books, including "Hidden Treasures: What Museums Can't or Won't Show You," and the Stuck at the Airport blog. Follow her on Twitter at @hbaskas. Follow Road Warrior at @CNBCtravel.