Calling all private eyes, detectives, and treasure hunters! We’ve brought together the most exciting (and challenging) scavenger hunts and mystery adventures in five cities across America. Think you’ve mastered deductive reasoning? Got the eyes of a hawk? Round up the usual suspects – family or friends – and put those skills to the test.
SAN DIEGO, CA
Combine exploring city neighborhoods and an Amazing Race-style scavenger hunt with Urban Adventure in San Diego. If you thrive on competition, team play is option here as you meander through the city following the clues. What better way to settle family rivalries or bond with new colleagues? When you’ve finished the tour, check in to The Dana, a retro-style hotel on Mission Bay, minutes away from the beach and the San Diego Zoo, where you can make friends with Gao Gao, Bai Yun, and Xiao Liwu, the three adorable giant pandas who live there.
NEW YORK, NY
There are eight million stories in the naked city…and once you’ve arrived, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Problem-solvers enjoy Escape the Room, a brainy puzzle in which participants are held captive in a room until someone cracks the code to escape. It’s the stuff of nightmares for some, and an irresistible challenge for others. Alternatively, create your own adventure wandering the corridors of the lower Manhattan sensation, Sleep No More, an ‘immersive theatre’ mashup of Macbeth and film noir. Imagine a scavenger hunt led by a bloodthirsty Scottish power couple as conceived by Alfred Hitchcock. You can’t actually stay at the abandoned McKittrick Hotel, the gloriously detailed,100-plus room set of the show, but you can book yourself a room at Viceroy, a snazzy new hotel in Midtown that channels Art Deco and the old New York in its intricate design and luxe amenities.
The nation’s definitive Easter Egg hunt takes in the capital, kicked off by the President and First Lady themselves. Planned specifically for young children with accompanying adults, classic activities like dyeing and decorating eggs are supplemented by storytelling, cooking demonstrations, sports, and games. Check out the highlights of 2015 and plan next year’s visit now! Or, decipher cryptic messages and solve a fictional murder mystery set in D.C.’s expansive National Gallery. Sleuths and fans of the Da Vinci Code will be well prepared for the Leonardo-themed, two-and-a-half hour tour. Meanwhile, the charmingly historical Henley Hotel is situated close to Gallery Place and offers a delightful afternoon tea service, a great way to celebrate the case closed.
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO
Some treasure is buried deep in the earth… and some falls straight from the sky. The deserts and dry lakebeds of Glorietta Mountain in New Mexico are excellent spots to search for fallen stars (aka meteorites). Bring a metal detector and a rock hammer, or team up with the pros at Meteorite Adventures and begin your expedition with them. When not engaged in active fieldwork, enjoy central Santa Fe at the Hotel Chimayo, a downtown hotel that displays local artwork in partnership with Chimayo Cultural Preservation Association.
Trivia night at the local pub will seem elementary, my dear doctor, compared with the mental and physical challenges posed by City Solve in Seattle. Charge up the brain cells at the original Starbucks located in Pike Place Market and prepare to solve riddles, identify pop-culture references, and outsmart (or outrun) the competition: after all, there’s a $300 cash prize for first place. With the mission complete, enjoy an evening gazing out at the waterfront over a glass of local Washington wine at the The Edgewater, the best hotel in Seattle for panoramic views of Elliot Bay and the Olympic Mountains in the distance.