The Best Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Kids

Updated: April 7, 2021
With a little creativity and the desire to have some fun, you can design the ultimate scavenger hunt for kids for either indoors or outdoors. We've rounded up our rules for designing the ultimate scavenger hunt, our favorite ready made scavenger hunt ideas, and our favorite themes.
kids on a scavenger hunt in the woods

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If you are looking for an activity that can truly entertain the whole family, look no further than scavenger hunts. Scavenger hunts are fun for all ages, from preschoolers to older kids (and it’s even a lot of fun for adults too!). If you have cabin fever, this can be used as a perfect way to make the most of any place in nature with an outdoor scavenger hunt. The beauty of this activity is that if the weather is not in your favor, you can also do an indoor scavenger hunt. With a little creativity and the desire to have some fun, a scavenger hunt can fill many purposes.

More: 75 Activities for Kids at Home to Fight the Boredom Blues

How to Create a Scavenger Hunt

Follow these steps to create the ultimate scavenger hunt:

  1. Determine the purpose of your scavenger hunt, and choose a theme that goes along with it.
  2. Plan a route to follow. If you are doing the hunt in an area that is new to you or in a place that you are less familiar with, take the time to scout it out or do some online research in advance.
  3. Create clues for the participants to follow. Depending on the age of the players and how challenging you want to make the scavenger hunt, you can do this in various ways. For younger kids, photographs or pictures are great clues. You can also choose to do written clues, or you can write out riddles. Clues can be rhyming if you’re feeling extra creative.
  4. If you are looking to do a more spontaneous scavenger hunt or just want to skip the preparation, you can even involve your kids in the creation of the scavenger hunt and come up with a list of items to find together. Children often enjoy making these lists or clue cards in advance themselves.
  5. Determine the rules for the scavenger hunt, so everyone understands exactly how to participate. You can plan to casually share the rules at the start of the scavenger hunt, create a written copy of the rules for everyone, or even record a video in advance to set the scene and make it more official and exciting.
  6. If you are choosing to do the type of scavenger hunt where clues need to be hidden in advance, you’ll need to deliver clues to your predetermined locations.

Ready Made Scavenger Hunts

If you don’t want to create the scavenger hunt and want to be a participant with the rest of the family, there are several options for premade scavenger hunts:

  • You can use a free printable scavenger hunt or choose from some beautiful prepared options on Etsy which will include worksheets and everything you need.
  • There are scavenger hunt games that you can purchase. Having a deck of scavenger hunt cards in the car or by the door, provides an easy option for making a visit to even the most common of places a bit more exciting. These are some of our favorite options from Amazon:
  • Find a local scavenger hunt company. There are usually many options for professional scavenger hunt companies in major cities providing a new and exciting way to do some urban exploration and have some fun. These scavenger hunts usually have you download an app that provides you with clues and tasks. You’ll have to submit pictures on the app to earn points, and you’ll also have access to someone who can help you with hints via text or phone call if needed. This is a fun way to compete against other groups in a friendly and casual way.

Scavenger Hunt Themes

Scavenger hunts make for an awesome birthday party activity. It can be planned as an indoor or outdoor activity at your home, or you can use it as an organized activity for a party at a park, beach, or public area.

The great thing about doing a birthday party scavenger hunt is that it also provides an easy way to double as goodie bags or party favors.

Here are a few ideas that work for preschool aged kids or little ones:

  • Mini stuffed animals
  • Trading cards
  • Stickers
  • Temporary tattoos

There are plenty of options for the older kids too:

  • $5 gift cards to a store in the mall or iTunes
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Notebooks and colored pencils
  • Fun socks or sunglasses

Scavenger hunts make for festive DIY holiday fun too. You can use plastic Easter eggs on Easter, look for shamrocks and gold on a St. Patrick’s Day treasure hunt, or have a themed scavenger hunt to celebrate anything from Christmas to Halloween.

In addition, scavenger hunts make for excellent learning activities. It’s a perfect homeschool option to simply celebrate every day, have fun, and learn at the same time. There are so many fun ideas for indoor options on a rainy day including doing an alphabet scavenger hunt with young kids. A fun scavenger hunt can be done in almost any weather if you want to take a science approach with a nature scavenger hunt. It can be natural beach living themed, forest themed, river themed or simply make the most of any natural place you want your children to explore more thoroughly.

The options for scavenger hunts are endless, and they can help to make any day more special or serve as a launching pad for learning and study that feels like play. The most important thing is to keep an open mind, keep trying new options, and be ready to have lots of fun!