There are endless ways to tackle a crossword puzzle. Do’ em at the dining room table on a slow weekend morning, pencil in hand (or pen, if you’re feeling reckless). Fill ’em out on an app, and make the commute whiz by. Gather ’round the Sunday puzzle with friends, helping each other with clues.
No matter how you approach the crossword puzzle, this remains the same: There’s not much in the world more satisfying than filling in that very last square.
Successfully completing a crossword puzzle definitely boosts the ego—but there are even more tangible benefits to crosswords than self-admiration. In 2017, research carried out by experts at the University of Exeter Medical School and Kings College London concluded that practitioners of word puzzles maintain brain function as they age, especially in the categories of attention, reasoning, and memory.
Essentially, doing crosswords is the equivalent of eating vegetables, for your mind. Except that crosswords are way more fun than salad. Here’s where to find the best crossword puzzles for free online, in books, as well as some printable options for kids and beginners.
AARP Crossword Expert
AARP guarantees its crosswords will “wake up your brain.” If you’re the competitive sort, consider creating an AARP membership so you can track your scores and compete against others.
Find Them Online: Head to AARP’s website for more.
New York Magazine Crossword
These Sunday-sized puzzles are teeming with pop culture references and witty plays on words. If you love bar trivia or filling crossword puzzles out in groups, then these are the puzzles for you.
Find Them Online: Head to New York Magazine’s website to play for free.
Crosswords for Kids
Little ones can partake in the joy of crossword puzzles, too. Crosswords will help build vocabulary and spelling skills.
Find Them Online: The internet is teeming with printable themed crosswords for kids, found here and here. Or, play some online.
The Washington Post
The Washington Post publishes its puzzles online every day. Start with Monday crosswords, the easiest, and work your way up to the tougher, and longer, weekend puzzles.
Find Them Online: Play them here for free.
The New York Times Crossword
The New York Times is the holy grail for crossword puzzlers. If nothing beats the satisfaction of filling out a crossword puzzle by hand, then check out the New York Times’ catalog of spiral-bound puzzle books.
Find Them Online: Unlock over 1,000 crossword puzzles, in addition to logic games and mini puzzles, through the New York Times’ crossword subscription. The subscription is priced at $39.95/year, or $6.95/month.
You think the typical Sunday crossword is hard? Wait until you check out the “cryptic crossword,” a variety popular in the UK and Australia. Each clue is like an individual puzzle, involving tricks and wordplay. Check out The Guardian’s helpful tricks for starting these puzzles.
Find Them Online: The Guardian’s many crosswords are available for free online.
Looking to start a crossword habit? Boatload Puzzles offers a tremendous amount of easy puzzles that will get your brain used to the crosswords’ clue format. Try a few here, before heading to the the major leagues like the New York Times.
Find Them Online: The immense catalog of novice puzzles are free here.
The Los Angeles Times Crossword
Expect many movie and TV references in these crosswords out of the L.A. Times.
Find Them Online: Play the L.A. Times’ recent puzzles here.