Secrets are everywhere, and it’s our job to uncover them. No, don’t worry, whatever you did on that weekend in Vegas is still hush-hush. Our scavenger hunts are more interested in the hidden gems of museums, historic neighborhoods, and food scenes in cities around the country.
When you join one of our scavenger hunts, you’ll follow a trail of fun, funny clues to solve tricky questions, catch murderers, untangle puzzles, or even escape with your lives. All the while, you’ll discover facts you never knew or details you’ve never noticed. Below are some examples from a hunt in each of the seven cities where you can get in the game on a public hunt.
Philadelphia: A Trendsetting Saint
The new Escape the Philadelphia Museum of Art Scavenger Hunt takes a moment to admire some of the museum’s stock of fabulously ornate reliquaries. Inherently fascinating, reliquaries are like little (and sometimes not so little) treasure chests containing, ostensibly, the teeth, hair, skin, and other pieces of dead saints.
What makes the reliquary of Saint Babylas, seen above, especially special, beyond its depiction of a body part to contain a body part—how’s that for symmetry?—is that his remains started a trend. He was the first saint to be “translated,” meaning his body was moved, in this case from Constantinople to Rome, and divided for use in multiple relics. The rite of translation became incredibly common after that, and helped fuel the creation of so many of the reliquaries in museums today.
Washington, D.C.: Assassination Nation
A truly unusual piece of American history awaits on the Murder at the Museum of American History Scavenger Hunt in Washington, D.C. If you think back to history class, you might remember that President James Garfield only lasted seven months in office, because he was shot in July 1881 and died that September. You might even recall that the blame for his eventual demise lies largely with his incompetent doctor, Dr. Doctor Willard Bliss, whose first name was indeed “Doctor” and who didn’t bother to wash his hands before operating, repeatedly, on the president.
Chances are good that you hadn’t heard about an unlikely player in that months-long drama: Alexander Graham Bell. When the famed inventor heard of Garfield’s shooting, he tried to invent a machine that would detect the bullet inside the president—a machine now on view in the museum. His “induction balance” failed to find the bullet and Garfield went about his business dying a slow death—but a refined version of the machine was used for decades by battlefield surgeons to locate bullets in wounded soldiers.
Boston: Who Pahked the Cahnnon in the Yahd?
On the new Hidden Harvard Scavenger Hunt, watch where you walk outside the dorms in Harvard Yard. In 1775 and 1776, troops from George Washington’s Continental Army barracked in Hollis Hall. After the soldiers had moved on, students returned to find iron cannonballs left behind. Showing off that Harvard ingenuity, the residents of Hollis heaved the cannonballs into their dormitory fireplaces to warm them, then moved them into their bedrooms to provide heat in the winter. Come spring, they dropped their erstwhile space heaters out the window, rather than schlepping them down the stairs. Those falling cannonballs created the dents and cracks in the pavement you can see today.
New York: Dude Threw Away His Shot
Hamilton: The Scavenger Hunt will take you to many places in Lower Manhattan where Alexander Hamilton lived, worked, played…and died. His grave stands in the cemetery of Trinity Church, where eagle eyes will spot a plaque honoring him and other members of the Society of the Cincinnati.
One such member was Horatio Gates, the hero of the Battle of Saratoga and a rival of George Washington’s. During the winter at Valley Forge, Washington needed more troops, and he sent a 20-year-old Hamilton to request them from Gates—who refused! Hamilton found himself “infinitely embarrassed” by the snub. But he got the very last laugh: Sure, Gates is also buried here…but nobody knows where!
Chicago: A Skeleton By Any Other Name…
Lucy Mania swept the world in the 1970s with the reveal of one of the most complete skeletons ever discovered of humankind’s ancient ancestors. More than 3 million years old, the skeleton, a cast of which you’ll encounter on the Field of Screams Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt in Chicago, captured the imagination—Lucy was both mind-bogglingly old, and a possible missing limb in the human evolutionary tree!
But why “Lucy”? The name sprang from a song playing in camp the night she was discovered—“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”—and it stuck. Officially designated AL 288-1 (borrring), she is known in Ethiopia, where she was found, as Dinkinesh, which means “you are marvelous.”
San Francisco: Gelat-oh Baby, That’s Good!
Not every secret has to be so serious. The Munch Around North Beach and Chinatown Scavenger Hunt tours delicious snack spots in this famed stretch of San Francisco—including the fabulous new Lush Gelato. Whether you crave a simple cup or a towering stack of scoops, Lush is the place to go, especially if your taste buds are feeling adventurous.
In addition to the classic flavors you expect, ever-changing exotics include cognac and peach pie swirl; Drunken Earl (Earl Grey tea with bourbon-soaked strawberries); crème fraiche and apple crisp; pumpkin spice with chocolate chunks; and spiked eggnog with chocolate waffle chunks. Who’s hungry?
Los Angeles: Keep It Movin’
Explore Movie Town USA on the Culver City Chase Scavenger Hunt, just west of L.A. In addition to Hollywood history—this city was home to MGM dating back to the 1920s—you’ll find contemporary reminders of Culver City’s glamorous past. Seven unique zoetropes make up Moving Pictures, a permanent art installation by Wick Alexander and Robin Brailsford. Each column is a few feet tall and, when it’s spun, the images within appear to move. Find all seven to get the full sense of cinema’s origins, and Culver City’s place in the evolution of film.