The 22 best ideas for an outdoor treasure hunt for kids

What could be more fun than organising a treasure hunt for your child and his or her friends during a children's party at home? We regularly see the chalk arrows in front of our door and then we know that a treasure hunt has been organised somewhere in the neighbourhood. It is great fun to make the treasure hunt part of the children's party at home, but it is not always easy to come up with a treasure hunt with assignments that are fun. In this blog, we have listed the 22 best ideas for an outdoor treasure hunt for kids for you. So if you want to make a treasure hunt for kids yourself, then you have plenty of choice from the various fun ideas. 

If you don't have the time to read the entire blog, but are interested in a treasure hunt for children, you can also download the E-book for free hereIt's also great for rereading the tips. They will be sent to you for free. 

Have fun creating a outdoor treasure hunt for your children's party at home. 

  • Treasure hunt with arrows on the road. Using pavement chalk, draw an arrow on the pavement at each intersection to show the children which way to go. 
  • Treasure hunt with faces. You draw a simple face with eyes that look to the left or to the right or just straight ahead. The children have to look at the eyes to see which way they are going. 
  • Outdoor treasure hunt with ribbons. Buy red ribbons/cut red strings from a ball of wool and tie them to poles or trees. Don't do this at crossroads, but a little beyond the crossroads, so that the children have to go in each direction to see if there is another ribbon or string. So it is a bit more challenging than pavement chalk. 
  • Scavenger hunt with street signs. If the children are in a residential area, you can stick a piece of paper to each street sign shortly before the treasure hunt starts (if you do this too far in advance, you run the risk of someone taking them down) and you put the name of a child who is taking part in this treasure hunt children's party on it. You then give the children a route, on which only the names of the children are written. For example: Tom - Liam - Lucas - Noah - James - Benjamin. If necessary, you repeat this sequence. The children then have to follow the order of streets they see on the list.
tracking hunt

#2 Outdoor treasure hunt with photos

A fun outdoor treasure hunt for kids that does not require too much preparation time is the photo scavenger hunt. It works as follows: you give the group one or more A4 sheets with photos on them. Each photo is given a number and a letter. The children walk from the starting point in a certain direction and have to look for picture number 1. When they have found it (start with an easy photo, so they learn how it works), they look at the photo, and next to the number of the foto is also an arrow that indicates which way they have to go. 

A nice variation for this is to take a photo of yourself and then point out which way the children should go. And for the really handy man, they just Photoshop in a familiar person who points the way, because let's face it: Barbie or a tough pirate showing you the way, is of course super cool.

Outdoor treasure hunt photos

#3 WhatsApp treasure hunt

This is for the slightly older children, who still like treasure hunts, but you can't get them to walk by drawing arrows on the road with pavement chalk. The children follow a route and receive the treasure hunt assignments via WhatsApp. So you have to make them in advance.

If the children do not yet have a smartphone, you can let them go out with one. If the children are older and have their own smartphone, you can first create a WhatsApp group so that several children can read the messages.

The scavenger hunt assignments may consist of, for example: sending a music fragment followed by the assignment. "Who is the artist who sings this song? If the number of letters of the first name of the artist is odd, go left, otherwise go right". You can send photos that they have to find and at the location you can still indicate the direction (with chalk, for example). Or you can ask a question about the photo, which determines which way they should go in this WhatsApp search.

hunt whatsapp

#4 Tasks treasure hunt

You explain to the children that you are going to do an outdoor treasure hunt, but every time there are several ways to go, the children must first solve a task. You make the treasure hunt assignments in advance and give the children an assignment at every intersection. To get you started, we have come up with a few treasure hunt assignments that you can use for this type of treasure hunt: You will have 1 minute to stand in the right order from tallest to smallest. Or when the kids are slightly older: you will have 1 minute to stand in the right order, from oldest to youngest. And if you want to make it really challanging: tell them they are not allowed to talk.

  • Mention the names of all the pets that live in your house. (You will have to ask your parents for this information beforehand, but the children always enjoy this).
  • Walk on a track with eggs on a spoon. The eggs may not be dropped.
  • Relay games: Have all children line up behind each other. Now they have to pass a ball from back to front over their heads, but the children are not allowed to look back. And when the ball is in front, they have to pass it back through their legs. If they drop the ball, they will have to do it again. And of course you can do this in time. Of course they just make it in time ;-).
  • Shooting arrows. Old-fashioned with a PVC tube and paper arrows.

#5 Outdoor treasure hunt with QR codes 

Everyone has seen them, but 50% wonders what it is and what it does. A QR code is a code that can be read by a QR reader and is a kind of link to a website. That makes this kind of outdoor treasure hunt not suitable for everyone, because you need a website on which you can place assignments in advance.

But of course you can also make the treasure hunt assignments about websites that simply exist and ask questions about them.

How does it work? You go to a website, copy the URL (the address line of the website). You go to the following website: https://www.qr-code-generator.com/, where you paste the URL. That website will generate a code that you must download and print.

Then you stick the QR codes on lampposts, fences, electricity boxes. The children have to search for the QR codes using their smartphone. They have to set up a QR reader beforehand. They hold the smartphone in front of the QR code and the phone will go to the website of your choice. You can give them questions about the websites beforehand.

Example: on https://www.playgroupgame.com/escape-room-at-home/ you let them go and then you ask a question: 'from what age can children play the game Escape Room - The Pharaoh's Treasure?  The children enter the website with the QR code and look up the answer. You add: 'if the answer is odd, you go left, otherwise you go right'.

That is how you can make this outdoor treasure hunt.

#6 Ice-sticks code hunt

Don't throw away the wooden icesticks, but collect them. Depending on the length of your treasure hunt you will need more or less of them. But with 20 to 30 icesticks you can make this kind of scavenger hunt. First write one number and then five letters on the sticks from top to bottom, but not just like that. If you put all the sticks together in the right order - from 1 to 20 or 30 - you get sentences.

On their way they have to collect as many icesticks as possible and so you can make this treasure hunt in combination with, for example, track quest (no. 1. from this blog).

Treasure hunt ice sticks

#7 Reflection tour

But what if you don't do the outdoor treasure hunt during the day, but at night in the dark? When the children are a bit older, they dare to do it. A bit of excitement is, of course, great fun. And perhaps as a parent you should just tag along for a bit. The reflector trip is made by sticking all sorts of pieces of aluminium foil to poles, fences and so on. Give the children a couple of torches and they can use them to shine around and find their route. Don't stick the aluminium foil at crossroads but dozens of metres behind it, so that they have to look in all directions to find where they need to go. They will never forget this outdoor treasure hunt.


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#8 Treasure hunt questions

You come up with various treasure hunt questions in advance. It's nice if the questions are about the children themselves, but of course you are free to come up with your own scavenger hunt questions. Then you can do two things:

  • you take a sheet with quiz questions and ask a question at each intersection. This can be multiple choice: answer A is left, B is right and C is straight ahead.
  • You hang the questions up somewhere, so that the children can run to them and read the question themselves. The latter is of course the most fun. The more interactive the treasure hunt assignments or treasure hunt questions are, the better.

#9 Bead hunt

This outdoor treasure hunt is particularly fun with smaller children (4 - 7 years) at the children's party at home. The children are given a bead chain. At each intersection, they have to look at a bead on the chain that determines which way they have to go. For example, blue means left, red means right and green means straight ahead. Here too, you can play two fun variations:

  • You use the first bead for the first junction, the second bead for the second junction, and so on.
  • At each intersection, a number is written on the pavement (using, for example, pavement chalk). This number corresponds to the number of the chain.

#10 Treasure map for your outdoor treasure hunt

Boys like to be pirates, that is, up to a certain age. But a real treasure map and at the end a real treasure (a small box that is found is already a real trophy, especially if you also put some candy in it, which they can hand out), that is of course one of the most super fun treasure hunt ideas.

And the treasure map should of course look a bit like a real treasure map. So here is a brief explanation on how to make your own treasure map.

treasure map hunt

Boil a tea bag in hot water for a while and immerse it. Sprinkle some coffee powder on your treasure map. Take the teabag out of the water (watch out, the water is hot) and rub the powder with the wet teabag. This will cause brown stains on your map. You can use a hair dryer to dry it quickly or put the map on the heater. When the treasure map is dry, roll the paper flat with a rolling pin.  If necessary, you can then rub some coffee, cinnamon or tea over the surface. This will darken the fibre of the paper and create a beautiful old effect that is similar to a roll of parchment. Finally, rub the treasure map with olive oil. So the card will remain in a good condition longer.

The Pharaoh's treasure

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#11 Code outdoor treasure hunt

If you are going to create this hunt, then you choose code characters. You can choose for example Japanese characters, Chinese characters, Greek characters. The children are given a decoder sheet on which they can decode the characters.

This way, they will find codes along the route, which are then converted into letters to form a word or sentence. You can do this outdoor treasure hunt together with Tracking (n°1), but you can also tell the children where to go next by decoding a few characters.

Codes always work well, it has something secretive and therefore exciting. There are also pens for sale where the text is only visible by shining a light on the paper. Plenty of things that children will look at with big eyes and amazement. So using codes is also one of the more fun scavenger hunt ideas.

#12 Geocache

Geocaching is a super cool thing to do. It is an app on your smartphone and even with the free version you can let the kids search for the treasures that are nearby. There are treasures in every neighbourhood.

Often hidden in small boxes, picture rolls. You search together with the children; you click on a treasure and then you will see how many metres your will have to walk and in which direction.

The treasures are always in sight (i.e. screwed under a bench, mounted on a fence etc), so you don't have to dig. Please note: Close geocaching treasures neatly again and hide them in the same place. After all they are there for all those who love the game. www.geocaching.com

#13 Hunt: Nature trails

We have already talked about outdoor treasure hunts with tracks. Apart from pavement chalk, you can also think of natural tracks. Make an arrow from branches or stones or other things you can find in nature. You can also make this treasure hunt with a group of children and then let the other group of children (who have an activity first, for example) search for it.

#14 Odour traces

You shouldn't do this if it's a rainy day, but scent trails are great fun to set out on a scavenger hunt. You can, for example, use several scents: a perfume for the right route and all sorts of nasty smells for the wrong routes. The smell of onions and peanut butter are strong scents.

You can choose paper sheets or strings that you hang up and that give off a scent. It is lovely to see the faces when they are sniffing with the group.

Odour traces

#15 DIY scavenger hunt

Why all the preparation? Let the children create their own treasure hunt. Give them a few choices (string, chalk, paper, pen) and let them come up with their own creative scavenger hunt ideas. Of course, you already have these blog ideas in your head, so you help them along a bit. Then, during the children's party at home, you split up the group into several groups and they go off on each other's treasure hunts.

#16 Scavenger hunt

This kind of treasure hunt means that you make an A4 sheet with 25 boxes on it. You put a picture, or a letter, or some other symbol in the boxes. Tell the group that they can find all the 25 photos, for example, somewhere in the neighbourhood. You indicate the limit of the search and give them a certain amount of time to search in small groups. You give them a smartphone or camera.

They have to take a picture of every place that corresponds to a photo as proof that they have found it. Your treasure hunt children's party will be a great success.

You can also put assignments in the 25 boxes of things that the groups have to find and bring back home. For example: a dandelion, an earthworm, a daisy, 5 blades of grass, a handful of sand, an animal etc etc.

#17 Dice hunt

Not officially a treasure hunt, but a lot of fun to play. You divide the group into several small groups. With small children it is useful that a parent goes along. You give the children a dice and they set off with it. They have to throw the dice at every intersection they come to.

If they can only go left or right, 1, 2 or 3 means they go left and 4, 5 or 6 means they go right. And if they can also go straight ahead, then 1 and 2 mean going left, 3 and 4 mean going straight ahead and 5 and 6 mean going right. They throw a total of 20 times. After those 20 throws, you look where the group has ended up. The group that is furthest away from home wins the game.

You can easily check on Google Maps which group went the furthest in terms of distance.

#18 Alphabet hunt

The route will run from A to Z. Older children can also do the treasure hunt by going from A to Z, but each time you skip two letters. So at the first intersection there are 3 letters on a piece of paper with a direction. A (left) G (straight ahead) R (right) for example. As they have to do A first, they turn left. At the next intersection, they have to choose B (or D for older children). The first few times it will be easy for them, but they are children, so keeping their attention for a whole alphabet.... it is often not easy.

#19 10x left, 10x right

In this treasure hunt, the children have only one task. At the first intersection they come across, they go left. At the next intersection they turn right. Then they go left again, until they have been left 10 times and right 10 times.

The game stops at the next intersection.

Please note: 10 times left and 10 times right is difficult to play, because it can be quite a distance. So check the route yourself beforehand. Have a parent explain the game at the starting point and send the groups on their way one by one and have a parent wait for the groups at the finishing point.

10 left 10 right

You will notice that the children often do not arrive at the final destination properly. This game is therefore only suitable for children who know the traffic rules well and are able to participate in traffic without supervision. If necessary, the game can be played by bicycle, depending on the distance. And as an organiser you are free to make it 5 times left and right of course.

#20 Footsteps quest

Take 4 shoes, 1 left shoe and 1 right shoe of the same pair, 2 other shoes. Beforehand, make a printout of all 4 shoes on an A4 page and include the meaning of the printout. The children take the 4 A4 pages with them on their treasure hunt. At each intersection you put a shoe print with the left or right shoe of the same pair. It means turn left or turn right. You use the other two prints for walking straight ahead if necessary and to give them an extra assignment before they can walk on. You let them sing a song, give them a maths problem, you name it. That is how you can make this great treasure hunt.

#21 Readymade treasure hunt clues

If the children go on a treasure hunt outside, it is fun if they have to search for the right solution. Use clues to help the children on their way outside. When you make it rhyme, it becomes even more fun. To make things easier, we have listed five ready-made treasure hunt clues for you. You do not have to come up with the answers to these ready-made treasure hunt clues yourself. We have listed them for you at the end. They are all clues that fit into a fun outdoor treasure hunt.

  1. I’m very lovely, with beautiful colors en I smell sweet.
    Look down to find me! I'm near your feet.

  2. I am quite a treat for the animals flying in the sky.
    They feed here and take care of their babies. It's a place you can't beat.

  3. I make something that you will like a lot.
    But watch out, I produce a lot of smoke and I am very hot.

  4. With your feet to the sky and the wind through your hair,
    Watch out, you're between the ropes and not on a chair.

  5. I know you think I look weird
    I am small, cute, have a red hat and a white beard.

The answers: 1 flowers; 2 Birdhouse; 3 Grill; 4 Swing; 5 Garden gnome

#22 Free printable nature scavenger hunts for kids

It is wonderful to go for a walk in the countryside with your children. If you want to do a fun outdoor treasure hunt, take a nature scavenger hunt and you and your children will have a great time while walking. Our free E-book with the '22 best ideas for an outdoor treasure hunt for kids' also contains a printable nature scavenger hunt for kids. 

#23 To conclude

We hope that this has given you enough inspiration for making a scavenger hunt. You will undoubtedly succeed.

If you are looking for more scavenger hunt inspiration, take a look at Pinterest. There are lots of extra ideas there. That should be good, right?

Take a look around our site at our games for groups. Besides games for children, we also offer fun games that you can play with a large group of adults.

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If you need help or have any questions, please contact us at [email protected], +31 6 837 77853, we are happy to help.

We hope that these outdoor treasure hunt ideas have inspired you to create your own treasure hunt. Did these 22 tips help you? Sharing this post is appreciated.

    Richard & Marjolein

    We are Richard & Marjolein, born and raised in the Netherlands, and we share our passion for games with the rest of the world. Enjoy our games!

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