One of my favorite all time kids party games is the scavenger hunt. Actually, it’s one of my family’s go to party activities. From the traditional treasure hunt to a list of things to find on our hike, we all love the challenge of searching for hidden (or not so hidden) things.
The best part about scavenger hunts is that there’s never a lack of creative ideas. You can organize a scavenger hunt for any holiday, party theme or family event. It’s just a matter of organizing a list of things to find or hiding themed clues. I think it’s one of the easiest party games there is.
And it’s so much fun. I’ve never met a guest that didn’t love hunting for items or finding clues. So if you aren’t a scavenger hunt fan yet, be sure to check out this list of 35 favorite ideas for your next scavenger hunt.
Two Types of Scavenger Hunts
There are two different types of scavenger hunts to choose from. The first is a list of items that players must locate. This can be as simple as things that we find on our nature hikes or at the beach. But I’ve also organized scavenger hunts like this fairy one where I actually hid craft supplies for guests to find to make their fairy teacup gardens.
The other type of scavenger hunt is a clue based hunt. This kind includes a set of clues or riddles for players to solve. Each riddle leads the person to the next location. At that location, they will find the next clue. The scavenger hunt continues until they find the next clue or a prize.
How Do I Choose which Scavenger Hunt to Use?
The scavenger hunt idea that you use should be based on the number of people participating and type of event that you’re hosting. Although I love clue based scavenger hunts, I find they are best used with smaller groups. We usually do clue based hunts for our family birthday celebrations, holidays and any time we want to host a treasure scavenger hunt.
The list scavenger hunt can be easier with a larger group. You can split the group into smaller teams and each team goes hunting for the different things.
But I have used both kinds for lots of different events and group sizes. The best part about scavenger hunts is that they work well with most celebrations.
Best Ideas for your Next Scavenger Hunt
With so many different types of scavenger hunts to choose from, I have created a list of the best ideas for your next scavenger hunt below. This includes some of my favorites that I’ve created, my family has played together and ones that look like so much fun. You’re sure to find a scavenger hunt that will be the perfect activity for your next event.
Scavenger Hunts for the Great Outdoors
Nothing can be more fun than taking your scavenger hunt idea outdoors. This party game is wonderful fun when players can explore, climb and seek out their items in the world around them. Check out these ideas for your next outdoor scavenger hunt.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
We love spending time outdoors, but sometimes we need a game to play while we hike and explore. I keep these Free Printable Nature Scavenger Hunt cards in our backpacks for play on the go.
Looking for something that you can customize? Check out our Editable Nature Scavenger Hunt. Customize to match your specific hike or adventure.
Go On a Color Hunt
One of our favorite scavenger hunts in the fall, this color hunt can be used all year long – outdoors or even in. Just set up an egg carton with the 12 different color cards. Then, start searching for an item that matches each color.
Backyard Scavenger Hunt
You don’t have to go far from home to enjoy this Backyard Scavenger Hunt by Fun Money Mom. Most of these items can be spotted throughout your backyard. Make it even more fun and complete across a couple of neighbors’ yards.
Campground I Spy
If you’re heading camping this summer, don’t forget to pack this Campground I Spy by Glamper Life. It’s the perfect scavenger hunt for the kids to go on while you set up the tent (or RV) and organize supplies.
Free Printable Beach Scavenger Hunt
And if you’re heading to the beach this year, be sure to bring along this Free Printable Beach Scavenger Hunt. It’s a great activity when everyone gets too hot in the sun or wants a break from building sand castles.
Gone Camping Scavenger Hunt
This Free Printable Camping Scavenger Hunt by Ruffles and Rainboots is the perfect activity for a camping party, backyard camp out or on a camping trip. Just make sure you print it before you leave. Lots of fun camping themed things to find. The best part? There are two versions – one for readers and one for non-readers. So, everyone can participate in the scavenger hunt fun.
Water Balloon Hunt
Summer can get hot. Cool everyone off with this water balloon hunt by Mess for Less. Kids hunt for a specific number of water balloons. Once they’ve all been found, you can play water balloon games or simply throw them at each other to cool off.
Tide Pool Hunt
If you’re lucky enough to live on the coast (or happen to go on vacation there), grab this tide pool scavenger hunt by Rainy Day Mums to enjoy as a family. What a fun way to explore this special habitat.
Neighborhood Outdoor Scavenger Hunt
Just like you can head to your backyard for a scavenger hunt, you can also head around the neighborhood with this Neighborhood Outdoor Scavenger Hunt from Saving Talents. Each neighbor/house draws something from the list with sidewalk chalk. Then, the kids go around the neighborhood hunting for the different drawings. This would be a super fun activity for a neighborhood celebration.
Magical Fairy Scavenger Hunt
When hosting a fairy birthday party, be sure to make it even more magical with this Magical Fairy Scavenger Hunt. It includes many traditional scavenger hunt items, but there’s also a list of magical fairy things to find.
Indoor Scavenger Hunts
Finding Dory Scavenger Hunt
We just saw Finding Dory for the first time before we headed to Disney. I will admit that it was much better than I thought it would be. After watching the Cars sequel, my confidence in Disney sequels was at a all time low. (That being said I love Cars 3). (affiliates)
If you haven’t seen the movie yet or want to add some scavenger hunt fun to your family movie night, check out this Free Printable Finding Dory Scavenger Hunt from This Mama Loves. It’s a perfect accompaniment to your viewing fun.
Classic Indoor Scavenger Hunt
Don’t let the weather deter you from hosting your scavenger hunt. Just move the hunt inside with this Classic Indoor Scavenger Hunt from Crayons and Cravings. There’s even two versions – one with words and one with pictures – depending on your age group.
Mall Scavenger Hunt
Heading to the mall, but don’t want the kids to spend all of their time shopping? Have them work on this Free Printable Mall Scavenger Hunt by Wonder Mom Wannabe instead. Also, the perfect activity for a mall themed party or a sleepover (that has it’s first activity at a mall).
New Home Scavenger Hunt
Moving soon? Whenever we move, I’m never sure what activity to engage the kids in as I unpack boxes and organize stuff. Although sometimes I can find the toys, I’m not always successful.
This Free Printable New Home Scavenger Hunt from Burlap and Blue is the perfect game idea. From counting the number of trees in the backyard to finding out where the bathroom is, there are lots of ways to keep kids busy as you unpack the next box.
Holiday Themed Scavenger Hunts
Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt
Kick off your Thanksgiving dinner festivities by keeping your guests entertained with this clue based Free Printable Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt. Featuring clues for you to place throughout the house, guests can use this hunt to find their place setting at the Thanksgiving table.
Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt
One of our family traditions is to go out looking for Christmas lights. Make your search a game with this Free Printable Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt. Look for everything from Santa’s sleigh to icicles and a penguin. All in lights.
Elf Scavenger Hunt
Do you host a Christmas elf each year? Ours loves to play games with the kids. And one of his favorites is sending them on a scavenger hunt. He’s had them search for candy canes, jingle bells and pine cones. Check out this Free Printable Elf Scavenger Hunt for a fun holiday themed game.
Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt
We love taking walks around the neighborhood to admire everyone’s pumpkins around Halloween. This activity inspired this Free Printable Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt. See if you can find all of the different carved and painted pumpkins.
A Hunt at the Pumpkin Patch
Heading to the pumpkin patch for your pumpkins? Check out this Free Printable Pumpkin Patch Scavenger Hunt to keep your littles busy. There are lots of things to find at the patch – from farm animals to spider webs.
Spring Scavenger Hunt
From a puddle to a bee and a butterfly, there are lots of things in the spring to hunt for. Kick off this beautiful season with this Free Printable Spring Scavenger Hunt by Crafts by Amanda. It’s also a great way to get the kids outside after a winter staying in.
St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with everything green. For this St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt from This Mama Loves, players must find over 20 green items. From a green clover to a lime, it’s fun to see how many green things players can find within a specific time period.
Summer Scavenger Hunt
Although there are lots of different kinds of scavenger hunts to do in the summer, this basic Summer Scavenger Hunt from Printables Fairy might be the best way to cover all things summer. From lemonade to a pool float, kids will love searching for all of these summer related items.
Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt
Send your Valentine some riddles to solve this Valentine’s Day with this Free Printable Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt by Play Party Plan. Britni attaches each clue to a Valentine’s Day surprise. So by the end of the hunt, players have gathered a set of 12 special Valentine themed treats to enjoy.
Fall Scavenger Hunt
This Free Printable Fall Scavenger Hunt from Crafts by Amanda is one of my favorites for fall. I love all of the different kinds of leaves players can find. This would be the perfect game to play at a local park or on a fall hike. Although finding rain and lightning might prove a bit more difficult.
Photo Scavenger Hunts
Not all scavenger hunts are simply about checking items off of a list any more. It’s easier than ever to organize a photo scavenger hunt. And there are a few different kinds that you can do. These are super fun for teens and adults who have mobile devices and prefer taking pics.
Summer Selfie Scavenger Hunt
I love these Free Printable Selfie Scavenger Hunts from Fun Happy Home. Her focus this summer is being in more pictures. So, she created three different summer themed scavenger hunts – beach, camping and road trip.
For each hunt, players need to collect a variety of selfies. This would be a super fun game to play on a long road trip with older kids. Check out more details about these selfie scavenger hunts here.
Indoor Photo Scavenger Hunt
If you’re hosting an event inside or trying to figure out what to do on a rainy day, this Free Printable Indoor Photo Scavenger Hunt by Mama Cheaps is a great pick. Instead of featuring items, kids hunt for things that fit the describing words. For example, something that’s wet (freshly washed laundry comes to mind). Or something used for cooking (almost anything in the kitchen should work).
Players snap a quick photo of the object and check it off the list. The player or team with the most photos at the end of the time period wins.
Fancy Occasion Scavenger Hunts
Wedding Scavenger Hunt
If you’re inviting kids to your upcoming wedding, you definitely need something to keep them busy. Send them on a wedding scavenger hunt.
Create a list of different things they might see at the wedding – think specific people, decorations and maybe the cake. Have the kids break into teams and see if they can find each item on the list. You can even have them take photos with different guests. This is definitely a scavenger hunt that needs a prize.
First Communion Scavenger Hunt
It can be hard to figure out a party game to play at a First Communion. Especially one that doesn’t get everyone’s fancy clothes dirty. This is the perfect event to host a scavenger hunt. Guests will love searching for a variety of items in this First Communion Scavenger Hunt.
And if you’re inviting little ones or those who aren’t in church often, you can use this First Communion Scavenger Hunt at church. Add items that your little guests might find during mass. This is sure to help keep them busy and quiet during the ceremony.
Baby Sock Hunt
If you’re hosting a baby shower, this baby sock hunt is sure to be lots of fun to play. To play, you hide baby socks throughout the shower for guests to find. The person who find the most baby socks wins a prize. Check out more details to host your own baby sock hunt here.
Graduation Scavenger Hunt
This graduation photo scavenger hunt by Party Vixen Games is sure to delight your guests. Players complete a variety of photo tasks each worth a different number of points. The person with the most points at the end of the hunt wins. (affiliate)
Scavenger Hunts for Learning
Not all scavenger hunt ideas are play based. Scavenger hunts are great learning tools too. Check out these education themed hunts that are so much fun kids won’t know that it’s part of their learning experience.
Alphabet Scavenger Hunt
This alphabet scavenger hunt idea from Mess for Less is a perfect idea for littles learning their letters and sounds. Basically, your kids search for items that start with each letter. They try to find something for each one. Quite the challenge to locate 26 different items!
Backyard Bug Hunt
We spent the spring in our homeschool learning about different backyard bugs. I wish I had this Backyard Bug Hunt from Only Passionate Curiosity at the ready. It’s the perfect activity to encourage kids to observe the nature around them.
Give kids a list of backyard bugs to try to find. Think bee, butterfly, ant, dragonfly, etc. Then, have them search for the different bugs in the backyard. Once found, they can check them off the list. You can add in some nature observation and have your child sketch the bug in their nature journal.
Service Scavenger Hunt
We love celebrating kindness month in our home. Being kind and building community is at the heart of this service themed scavenger hunt by Organized Mom. You can also check out other kindness ideas in our 30 Days of Kindness Calendar. And perhaps turn this calendar into its own scavenger hunt!
Non-fiction Book Hunt
One important reading skill for kids is to learn how to navigate non-fiction books. This Free Printable Non-Fiction Book Scavenger Hunt is the perfect way to practice. It guides kids to learning how to navigate the table of contents, index and glossary. What a great way to play and learn at the same time!
I Spy Neighborhood Walk
This Free Printable I Spy Neighborhood Walk by Mess for Less is a great way to get kids moving and learning. During a walk through the neighborhood, kids can hunt for a variety of items. It’s a great way to match the words with objects – increasing vocabulary and learning pre-reading skills.
Scavenger Hunt Prize Ideas
Although you don’t have to give a prize to the scavenger hunt winners, adding in prizes creates motivation and a little competition. If hosting a scavenger hunt for little kids, it might be best that everyone receives a small token. But bigger kids and adults will love the competitive nature of the scavenger hunt when there are a couple of prizes at the end.
Here are a few scavenger hunt prize ideas to get you started: (affiliates)
For an adult scavenger hunt, consider some of these bigger prize ideas:
How to Print your Scavenger Hunt
Once you choose your scavenger hunt, be sure to download the design. Then, you can print it on 8.5″ x 11″ white cardstock. This is my favorite white cardstock that works with most printers (affiliate).
If the card measures smaller (sometimes there are two cards laid out on one page), you can use a paper trimmer to cut out each card. (affiliate)
Although you should be able to print with your at home printer, you might prefer having your scavenger hunt designs professionally printed. Be sure to check out Prints of Love. They offer fast, high quality and affordable printing options for every event.
Need some tips for printing your scavenger hunts? Check out our digital printing tips here to help you make designs you’ll love.
When completing a scavenger hunt, I keep these mini clip boards on hand. They are easy to attach the scavenger hunt cards to and there’s a pen at the top so everyone has something to mark off the items with. (affiliate)
Ways to Make the Scavenger Hunt Work for all Ages
Group gatherings can sometimes be hard. Especially if you’re trying to play a game with lots of different age groups. That’s the best part about organizing a scavenger hunt. They work for all different age groups.
When choosing the right scavenger hunt for your event, pick one that works well with your guests. For example, if you have little kids you probably wouldn’t go on a mall scavenger hunt.
If you have a mix of readers and non-readers – and there’s only a reader version – make teams. Match a reader up with a non-reader. They can help each other and it teaches great teamwork.
How Long Should a Scavenger Hunt Be?
The length of your scavenger hunt will vary based on the players. Little kids with less attention span might take 15 minutes to complete a scavenger hunt. But bigger kids and teens will most likely take between 30 and 45 minutes. Adults might take even longer.
When planning your party, make your scavenger hunt one of your main activities. Then, plan the rest of the entertainment around it. Be sure to leave a little buffer room too since it could take a longer or shorter amount of time.
Clue hunts tend to take a shorter amount of time based on how quickly the guests solve the clues. This birthday treasure hunt we did a few years ago only took a half hour to complete despite having to adventure clear across the neighborhood.
What Do I Do if the Scavenger Hunt Seems Too Long?
If the scavenger hunt that you choose seems too long for your guests, you can always shorten it. Or cross a few items off the list. Another idea is to let guests choose only a specific number of items to search for.
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