Frequently Asked Questions
How to Plan a Scavenger Hunt with Us
Explore your city, have fun with colleagues and friends
On Watson Adventures scavenger hunts and team building games, you’re not collecting objects (drop that pigeon!)—you’re searching for answers to tricky, humorous questions that help you see a museum, neighborhood, or other cool place with new eyes. No knowledge of any hunt location is required: all you need is a sharp mind and a good pair of shoes!
We also offer trivia games, murder mysteries, virtual team-building games you can play in your office, and more.
Groups can book team-building hunts and other games anytime and almost anywhere. Weekend hunts for the general public are available in six cities.
How the Hunts Work
On most of our hunts, you and your teammates are not collecting objects (drop that pigeon!)—you’re searching for answers to tricky, humorous questions about the amusing things and cool places you discover. No previous knowledge is required: you just need a sharp mind and comfy shoes. The best teams quickly learn that they must use the strengths of everyone in the group.
We also offer a variety of special scavenger hunts in select locations, including Murder Mystery Hunts, puzzle-filled Escape the Museum Hunts, snack-filled Munch Hunts, Ghost Hunts that feature haunted locations, Trivia Hunts, Bachelorette Hunts, and more. Hunts for adults and kids to enjoy together are also available in many locations.
The hunts are led by our live, in-person Hunt Hosts. Depending on the size of your hunt, the Host might be accompanied by assistants. Once the game begins, the teams hunt on their own, and usually encounter the Host at least once for a bonus challenge. We do not offer games without our hosts: we want to be on hand to make sure you have a great experience.
The hunts are not races, and running disqualifies you. The hunts are a test of your wits and your teamwork, not a test of physical fitness. We don’t want anyone to feel embarrassed or excluded—and we don’t want to distress your lawyer (or ours, for that matter). The people who live at the gym won’t necessarily win.
On the scavenger hunts, most of the questions don’t work out of context: they’re designed so that you can answer them only when you are standing in the correct spot. And they aren’t Google-able: we don’t want you sitting on a bench with your smartphone.
Example from a museum hunt
This question is from the Met Madness Scavenger Hunt at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art:
In the Medieval Treasury, find the stained-glass saint who looks like he can’t get no satisfaction. (You might find his name appropriate.) Who most likely sought his help? Answer: Resembling Mick Jagger, St. Roch is the patron saint of plague sufferers, as revealed by the label near the window.
Example from a neighborhood hunt
We also offer outdoor hunts in historic and fascinating places. Here’s a question from the Downtown Movie Locations Scavenger Hunt in Los Angeles:
Bradbury Building, Broadway & 3rd: This is one of L.A.’s architectural landmarks. Architect George Wyman was influenced by an 1887 sci-fi novel. Go inside to see the dramatic lobby, which has inspired dramatic scenes. In The Artist, Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo flirt on the ornate stairs. In Blade Runner, it poses as the toymaker Sebastian’s waterlogged home, where Harrison Ford has his final showdown with Rutger Hauer. Near the “birdcage” elevators, find something that would escape from such a cage. What city did it come from? Answer: The mailbox, made in Rochester, features an eagle.
Didn’t get the answers to those questions? Of course you didn’t! We write the questions so you can get the answer only when you’re standing in the right spot. (We’ve also left out some of the clues that help you get to the right gallery.) Each question is designed to have a distinct payoff: you will see something cool, learn an intriguing or bizarre fact, or have a good laugh.
Each member of the winning team receives a Watson Adventures medal, similar in appearance to an Olympic medal, suitable for draping over your neck and wearing with pride (and a bit of gloating). We don’t provide prizes like tablets or a brand-new car or a trip to Europe for one reason: we find that the more valuable the prize, the more incentive people have to cheat. And we’re not offering that kind of game. The object of the game ultimately is not to win—it’s to have fun with your teammates.
Private Group Options
Fun in a variety of locations. Our scavenger hunts work basically the same way in every location. It’s the venue that changes the overall feeling of the hunt.
Indoors or outdoors? You might want to pick a location where you don’t have to worry about weather, or a location that is most convenient to your office, or a location that’s near a great place to have a post-hunt party. If your hunt is in someone’s honor, you might pick a place based on the guest of honor’s interests.
We can come to you! If you can’t get to a venue where we stage hunts, don’t forget our Anywhere games, featuring scavenger hunts, quiz games, and even games that can take place in your office or other indoor locations—all conducted by our stellar Hunt Hosts.
Groups can be as small as four people—although please keep in mind that private-hunt prices start at $700 for weekend hunts and $750 for weekday hunts. As for maximum group size, it depends on the location. But we’ve staged outdoor hunts for as many as 500 people. Contact us for details about specific locations.
In seven select cities, if you have a group of 12 or less, you can arrange a Private Small Group Scavenger Hunt.
We offer scavenger hunts that can be played via the browser on any smartphone or tablet. You’ll enjoy the fun, funny questions of our acclaimed hunts with the bonus of real-time answers, additional hints, a countdown timer, humorous sounds, and more. Better than an app, our smartphone games work on a bevy of platforms and gadgets—iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, KindleFire, Windows, you name it—with no visit to an app store for download or purchase. Just tell us where your group would like to hunt! These games are always staged with a Watson Adventures Hunt Host; we do not offer smartphone games to play on your own.
Public Hunt Tickets
Check out what hunts are available to the general public by selecting your city: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, or Los Angeles. Click on the Public Hunt Calendar button to see the latest schedule. Or scroll down to learn more about the scavenger hunts that are offered to the general public.
You must buy tickets in advance. We do not take cash at the door, and we do not accept “walk-ups.” We need to know in advance how many people will come so that we can prepare for the correct number of participants. Plus, our public hunts often sell out. On top of that, many of the locations where we conduct hunts, particularly museums, do not permit us to sell tickets on the premises.
Each person on your team can purchase tickets separately. During the checkout process, we’ll ask if you are joining friends who are signing up separately. If so, tell us their names during checkout and we’ll make sure that you’re on the same team. If you are attending with a Meetup group or for someone’s birthday, please tell us the name of the group or the birthday hunter during the checkout process.
Size matters: The hunt is played on teams of two to six people. You can have a team larger than six people, but you won’t be eligible to win the hunt, because your team will have an unfair advantage. If you do bring a large group to a public hunt, we ask that you have at least five to six people per team.
We never force anyone to join a team—except that we do not let people hunt solo. If you would like to join up with other people on an adult hunt, we’ll help you meet kindred spirits at the start. We find over and over that people who are game for joining others and meeting new people end up really hitting it off.
Please keep in mind that the questions are designed to entertain up to six brains, and teams of two or three sometimes struggle. But teams of two have many a time emerged victorious over larger teams. Err on the side of having fun with more people.
If you have a group of 12 people or less, you can arrange a Private Small Group Scavenger Hunt in select cities (New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles) at some of our most popular hunt locations.
If they already have tickets: maybe. Typically, team size is limited to six people (larger teams are not eligible to win). But there are other factors that determine whether we can accommodate you. Please note that Murder Hunts tend to sell out several days or as much as a week in advance, so buy all the tickets you need early to guarantee participation. To check with us about getting into a sold-out hunt, e-mail us or call 877-9-GO HUNT, extension 12.
At the end of your online purchase, you will receive an e-mail confirmation. You’ll be e-mailed a receipt/confirmation after you complete your purchase. Have this handy on the day of the hunt, either on your phone or printed. The Hunt Host will have a record of your purchase.
If you didn’t receive your e-mail confirmation, check your junk-mail folder. Failing that, contact our office using the contact form at the bottom of this page.
You will not receive tickets in the mail, nor will there be tickets waiting for you at the hunt location. Do not ask people at information desks or ticket windows at museums or zoos, because they will not know about the hunt.
Yes. Once you tell us you are coming, we include you when preparing hunt materials and booking people to run the hunt. Plus, if a hunt sells out, we turn away people who would otherwise take your place. Thus, there are no refunds. If you are absolutely, positively in a pickle, can’t attend a hunt, and can give us sufficient notice, we might be able to reschedule you—in which case, call us at 877-9-GO HUNT, extension 12.
Hunts almost always run, rain or shine. If we are forced to cancel a hunt due to dangerous conditions or because a venue, such as a museum, has closed, we will notify you by e-mail and make an announcement on the Hunt Hotline, 877-9-GO HUNT, extension 12. But we know that many hunters are intrepid, and that a particular day may be your only chance to do a hunt, so we seldom cancel hunts due to poor weather. If we must cancel a hunt, or if you prefer not to risk being uncomfortable, please call us at the number above, or e-mail us, to reschedule. If you switch to a hunt with a different price for the same number of tickets, you must pay the difference if the new hunt is more expensive, or we will refund the difference if the new hunt is less expensive.
Sorry, but no. The public hunts are already discounted from our private-hunt rates. Large groups cannot expect special treatment at a public hunt—we urge you instead to consider a private hunt, where you get to call the shots. In seven cities, we offer Small-Group Private Hunts. Or check out all of our Private Hunts for options just about anywhere. Or contact us and we’ll help you find more fun!
Sorry, but no. Museums that charge admission explicitly tell us that participation in events not sponsored by the museum, such as our hunts, is not a benefit of membership. The museum charges us for your participation, so museum admission must be included in every ticket we sell. Think of it as a donation to a cause you like to support!
Yes, but only when you see a Student Ticket option during the ticket-purchasing process. And you must present a current, valid student ID at the hunt. If you don’t see a special ticket for students, it means we can’t offer a discount for that hunt.
If the museum (or zoo) charges an admission fee, then your admission is included in the price of the hunt. Unfortunately, our staff will not be at the museum (or zoo) with your admission ticket until about 15 minutes before the start of the hunt. Actually, we’re not sure that we’d recommend strolling through a location before the hunt, because you might end up wishing you had all of your energy during the hunt itself.
Visit the Public Hunts section, choose a hunt, and enter the claim code during checkout. Easy peasy! If your purchase doesn’t use up the full value of the gift certificate, your account in our system will have a record of your balance, to apply toward your next hunt purchase.
Call us at 877-9-GO HUNT, extension 12, to make your reservation—do not use our regular online ticketing service. If you have a monetary hunt credit (with a dollar value), we will have a record of it on file. If the tickets you wish to purchase exceed the value of your hunt credit, you can pay the balance with a credit card over the phone. If there is a balance due to you on the hunt credit, you must apply the balance to another purchase; we don’t give “change,” so to speak.
There are a specific number of spots available per hunt that can be redeemed by people using free hunt cards and free hunt credits. Please call us to check availability. If you have a free hunt card, be sure to bring it to the hunt; otherwise, it will be the same as not having a ticket.
Booking a Private Hunt
Prices vary based on the number of people you have, your choice of hunt, the length of the hunt, and any add-ons you want. That said, private hunts start at $700 for weekend hunts and $750 for weekday hunts. Contact us for a quote.
If a museum or other venue says your group must pay admission, then we will include the group rate for tickets as part of the price of the hunt and acquire the tickets on your behalf. Some museums have a “suggested admission” price, but it applies only to individuals, not groups. The museums charge groups at a fixed, mandatory group rate.
If your group has a museum membership, you might still be subject to admission charges. Museums say that participation in group events conducted by outside suppliers, such as Watson Adventures, is not a benefit included in membership.
We ask for one month of lead time, but we often can pull a hunt together quickly, depending on the location.
Payment for the contracted amount is due at least three weeks before the hunt. If you have more people than the original contracted amount, the balance can be paid after the hunt.
If you are worried about bad weather, your sales representative will discuss various options that work for your group, location, and timing. In certain locations, you can choose to switch to an indoor hunt, if available, up to three business days before the hunt.
We do not. On Munch Hunts, we do recommend places where hunters can buy great snacks. Otherwise, it’s up to you to provide food and drinks.
Groups wishing to provide food generally choose a restaurant as the finish line. Often we can make suggestions of places near where you are hunting that would work for your group. From there, you can contact the venue directly.
Yes. We have met the requirements of every company we’ve worked with. It’s always a good idea to make sure that any special-events vendor you deal with is covered. That said, Watson Adventures takes great care to make every hunt safe, and not one of the tens of thousands of people who have participated in our hunts since 1998 has reported a serious mishap.
Private Hunt Custom Options
You can spur creativity and team bonding by adding our surprising Team Photo Challenges to any outdoor hunt and any indoor hunt except in art museums. Using your own smartphones, your team will be challenged to meet the requirements of various photo ops. Everyone has to get into the picture (except the person holding the camera, of course). And you can see the fun results all over our website!
During the hunt, teams get to enjoy each other’s photos via a photo-sharing website. We can arrange a slide show at the end of the hunt, and you can download all of the photos to share back at the office.
We’ve been creating great Team Photo Challenges for more than 15 years, and writing good ones takes more skill than you might think. We work hard to come up with challenges that prompt your team to get creative while also producing great photos. The team with the most creative photos gets bonus points—which ensures that everyone goes back home with memorable photos of their experience.
Need to highlight particular goals or facts? Want to celebrate a particular person? Our customization options range from adding a few special questions to creating an entire custom hunt. Here are just a few examples of custom hunts we’ve created for prestigious clients:
• For O, the Oprah Magazine, we created a hunt in which every question somehow involved Oprah Winfrey or her magazine.
• When HBO Home Video wanted to celebrate the release of Sex and the City on DVD, we created a hunt entirely made up of locations featured in the series.
• For Lucky magazine, we created a custom shopping hunt focused on their advertisers in New York City’s SoHo and in Chicago’s Wicker Park.
• For a Fortune 500 financial firm, we staged a hunt that introduced new employees to the company’s rich history in the Wall Street area.
• For the New York Production Alliance, we staged two fund-raising hunts that celebrated movies and TV shows made in New York.
• Museums such as the Museum of Science, Boston, the New-York Historical Society, the Brooklyn Museum, the Penn Museum, the Harley-Davidson Museum, LACMA, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science have asked us to create hunts for their venues.
Our writers will work with you to determine what you would most like to highlight about your company to the hunt participants, or what skills and goals you would most like to drive home in a fun, team-building format. Contact us to find out what we can create for you!
Every hunt imparts valuable team-building benefits to boost morale and get colleagues to work together better. But if you want to emphasize the lessons learned, we offer the Short and Sweet Team-Building Power-Up. This option adds a pre-hunt briefing on “How to Win This Hunt,” which highlights successful teamwork strategies, followed by a fun debrief quiz after the hunt to drive home the lessons learned and celebrate triumphs and star players.
Preparing for the Hunt
Dress comfortably. In particular, be sure to wear comfortable shoes. Avoid carrying anything heavy.
Carry as little as possible. If you are doing an outdoor hunt, you will have to carry anything you bring with you. If you are doing a museum hunt, keep in mind that museums often prohibit large bags in the galleries. And you probably don’t want to check your valuable laptop in the coatroom. Don’t bring luggage: some museums won’t even let you in the front door. Some museums charge a fee for checking coats, and lines can be long and slow, so allow extra time for checking coats when the weather is inclement. Sorry, but Watson Adventures staffers cannot sit with your belongings during the hunt—they are needed on the hunt trail to interact with the teams!
Team Building Scavenger Hunt Questions (Sample)
Our scavenger hunts in famous and interesting places mix in a bit of history with questions that are designed to foster teamwork. You don’t need to know the history to answer the questions, but you’ll be surprised at the cool stuff you discover along the way. Here’s an example from a hunt in midtown Manhattan that includes a stop in Grand Central Terminal:
Find the Main Concourse or great central hall of the terminal. Look up at the stars. The sky is backwards, but the builders said the view is from God’s perspective. In the 1990s the ceiling was cleaned, but one patch was left untouched. (The grime turned out to be tar and nicotine from cigarette smoke.) What Zodiac creature is closest to that patch?
Answer: A crab is closest to the dark rectangular patch. The spectacular ceiling is decorated with Zodiac signs (among other things), and the crab of course represents Cancer.
Some of our themed scavenger hunts contain extra information about special locations, such as our Munch Hunts (with stops at great places to get food) and our Haunted Hunts (featuring places that are said to be plagued with ghosts). Here’s an example from the latter, our Haunted Hollywood Scavenger Hunt:
On Hollywood Boulevard, visit the place where stars seldom tread lightly. If you went inside, you might run into Annabell, a young ghost you’ll meet elsewhere on the hunt. Outside, you might spot the pacing, glum ghost of actor Victor Killian….In the pavement, find where a droid left its mark. Nearby, a celeb who dunked his heels would have given Ella Fitzgerald a particularly elevating name if he married her. What year did he stand beside his enemies here?
Directions leading up to this location take you to the famous Chinese Theater, where stars, including R2D2, have left their footprints in the pavement. Darth Vader set foot nearby in 1977. Fortunately, Ella Fitzgerald never married him to become Mrs. Ella Vader.
Our scavenger hunt questions in museums very rarely require previous knowledge. They’re more about thinking as a team and keeping your eyes open. Here’s an example from the National Treasures Scavenger Hunt at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.:
On the First Floor, in the East Wing, visit the exhibit “Food: Transforming the American Table.” Look in Julia Child’s kitchen. Near something to help her check her weights, find out: If she wasn’t there, and it didn’t happen, who did it?
The famous TV chef’s actual kitchen has been installed in this Smithsonian museum. You can peer into it. On one counter, near a scale and a coffee maker, you can see a sign that says, “I wasn’t there. I didn’t do it. It was the little people.” Good excuse!
We love staging hunts in art museums and offer many across the nation, from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Again, no previous knowledge is required, but here’s an example involving a painting you’re probably familiar with, on our hunts at the Art Institute of Chicago:
On Level 2 of the American art wing, find a famous man whose outfit faintly echoes the potential weapon he holds. In real life, what would he have wanted you to open, so he could cause you pain?
Your team would discover the famous painting American Gothic, with a farmer in overalls holding a pitchfork and a rather button-up woman by his side. The answer is your mouth, because in real life that farmer was actually the artist’s dentist, as you’d learn from the wall label.
It’s really easy to create a mediocre photo challenge. Just tell the teams exactly what to do and leave no room for creative teamwork. So of course we hate those kinds of photo challenges. We find that often what makes for a great photo challenge is what you leave out: you want to suggest a problem that teams can solve in a variety of creative ways. For example, here are some from our scavenger hunts:
Take a team photo that somehow doubles the number of people on the team.
Take a team photo interacting with a statue or sculpture.
Take a team photo in which more than one team member demonstrates a hidden talent.
If you click around the different cities and venues available on our website, you’ll see many great photos taken by actual teams on our scavenger hunts across the country.
On Watson Adventures scavenger hunts, teams are usually seeking answers to tricky, humorous questions about things they find and places they explore. But we often are asked to include a classic scavenger hunt list of items to find or create along the way. It’s easy to make a list of random objects, but to really challenge a group of six brains, we like to make the questions a bit open-ended, to evoke creativity and surprise. For example…
Find an object that is better by being broken.
Create a new snack sensation with three edible ingredients that are seldom combined.
Collect three objects whose names rhyme.
You get the picture. Oh, and you might challenge the teams to make a collage out of the photos and take a picture of it. (That could make scoring easier.)
We stage hunts at zoos across the country—the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, the Bronx Zoo in New York City, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, the St. Louis Zoo…the list goes on and on. We love zoos. Our zoo hunts all include team photo challenges, to get the team to think creatively together but also to unite them, at least visually, with the animals. Along the way you’ll also tackle questions about the animals and their habitats, revealing fascinating facts and making you look more closely. Here’s an example from our hunt at the Phoenix Zoo in Arizona:
At the elephant enclosure, meet a massive country star who splashed onto the Phoenix scene in 1999. What condition might a bad eye doctor mistakenly diagnose her with?
A sign about Reba the elephant (not to be confused with Reba McEntire) reveals that she has a natural pink coloration around here eyes—but it’s not a case of pinkeye!
Or here’s a question from our Lincoln Park Zoo hunt in Chicago:
In Tropical Asia, make orangutans vocalize. What kind of “kiss” would you get from one that’s annoyed with you?
A display where you can activate orangutan calls reveals that their “kiss squeak” sound expresses annoyance.
Field Trip Scavenger Hunts
Since 1999, thousands of school children have explored some of America’s best museums and history-packed neighborhoods on our Field Trip Scavenger Hunts. They are designed to accomplish several objectives:
• Get adults and kids working together on a shared adventure, whether it’s with teachers or chaperones. (Please note: you must provide at least one adult chaperone per team.)
• Pose questions that spur teamwork and discovery without requiring previous knowledge—but providing many opportunities for learning along the way.
• Introduce young minds to the breadth of a museum or historic location so that each hunter gets the chance to discover what most intrigues him or her.
• Stimulate curiosity so that students are eager to learn more and explore further in the classroom and on their own.
Dozens of schools have turned to us for fun, educational hunts. The hunts are appropriate for ages 7 and up, with special versions for teens. We can handle groups large and small. And more than once, we have even had hundreds of students hunting simultaneously at such locations as the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the historic streets of Philadelphia, and the Freedom Trail in Boston.
Our hunts offer the opportunity to…
• Develop critical thinking and sequencing skills. Students must follow directions, pay attention to the wording of clues, and work together to navigate the hunt route. There’s no passive learning on one of our hunts—the students are actively doing and thinking the entire time.
• Stimulate students with cooperative learning in the form of team-building activities. You can create teams ahead of time and even pre-assign roles to team members. For example, one student can be the navigator, another can be the recorder for the team’s answers, another can be the organizer who keeps the team on track, and others can be readers who make sure that the team is paying attention to the details of each clue.
• Integrate curriculum with real-life experiences. Students are often told to make text-to-world connections, and by seeing the actual historical artifacts in a museum—such as dinosaur bones, suits of armor, and portraits of famous people—or visiting places where history actually happened, they get a richer understanding of the material in their textbooks.
These suggestions just scratch the surface of what an adept educator can do on a field trip with Watson Adventures. After 10 years of providing hunts for students, we’re still learning new ways students can benefit from our hunts!
“We had a blast. Everyone has had so many positive things to say about the hunt. You guys really did a great job! I have already recommended your company to several people, and I plan on doing something like it again. Thanks for all of your help!” –Georgetown Middle High School, Massachusetts
“The kids had a great time—they were all very excited about being in NYC, too. We will do this again next year for 9th grade.” –The Pingry School, New Jersey
“The kids and the parents LOVED the hunt this year! It was very well organized and appropriately challenging. So many of our field trips are passive, in terms of the students following and listening to docents and guides. The hunt provided us an activity that was interactive and challenging, and the students were able to learn about the city, its history, its architecture, and its residents. Watson Adventures has been professional and accommodating. The ease of scheduling, the quality of the hunts, and the positive feedback from students support my recommendation.” –Emily Sigman, Poolesville High School Magnet, Pennsylvania
Public Hunts for Kids
In New York City, we offer about two public hunts for families per month. In Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., we offer regular Wizard School Hunts for Harry Potter fans. Private hunts for kids are available almost anywhere, anytime.
Generally, ages 7 and up. Younger children might find a hunt too long, too difficult, and too exhausting. Reading skills are also important to a child’s enjoyment of the hunts.
There must be at least one adult per team. You must purchase a ticket for everyone on the team.
Yes, but we don’t recommend it. Kids will probably find the questions too hard or complain that there is too much walking. The games usually last 2.5 hours from start to finish. Also, there is no discount for children at an adult hunt. We urge you instead to bring kids to our family hunts, which are specifically designed for kids and adults to do together.
Sorry, no. That’s not fair to the teams with kids on them. But there’s one exception: our Wizard School Scavenger Hunts allow all-adult teams to compete separately.