Every kid gets the I-have-nothing-to-do blues from time to time, so it's best for parents to have a few boredom-busting activities in their back pockets for when the need arises. A scavenger hunt for kids is the perfect diversion. They don’t require much at all — you can work to make them fit in whatever setup you have, taking whatever time you need to fill. They're easy, inexpensive, they can be indoor activities or outdoor activities (so they work in any weather) and they can often be done using things you already have at home.
Though these treasure hunts can feel like a throwback activity, the scavenger hunt ideas we’ve found are anything but old-fashioned. Whether you’re looking for a stealth learning activity, a way to enhance a walk or hike, an opportunity to entertain the kids during holidays, an interactive way to instill a love for reading or a chance to up kids’ sensory experiences, we’ve got you covered. We’ve rounded up a variety of different scavenger hunts — the majority of which can be done at or close to home — to get your creativity flowing.
There are lots of creepy crawlies in the world, and you usually don't have to adventure far to see them. Give them a magnifying glass and let them exercise their scientist skills as they examine the local insect scene.
Budding artists will appreciate the added element — drawing! — that makes this outdoor scavenger hunt unique. Plus, they’ll get to try their hand at creating everything from squirrels to flowers.
For a different take on the traditional hunt, have kids search for hidden clues — then put them all together to discover a secret message. Bonus: This is a great one for siblings to attempt together!
Little ones will get a kick out of this bug-themed scavenger hunt —and learn to tell the difference between their upper and lowercase letters in the process.
This fun color-themed scavenger hunt can help toddlers learn their colors, while older kids discover all the different hues that can be found all around them.
Kids will get the chance to touch, smell and even hear nature in this creative outdoor sensory scavenger hunt, which includes clues like whistling with grass and cloud-watching.
For another take on a sensory hunt, add some additional movement, like in this version, which features fun — and active — to-dos, like looking for objects to jump over, crawl under, or roll across the ground. It was created by an occupational and physical therapist.
Kids will love pointing out the circles, triangles, squares and lots of other fun shapes they find while on an outdoor walk, thanks to this shape-themed scavenger hunt. On rainy days, you can easily modify this to do indoors.
Take your child’s love of reading up a notch with this book-themed scavenger hunt, which includes 25 diverse prompts, including finding out friends’ favorites or trying different genres.
Break out those camping-use-only flashlights for this at-home scavenger hunt — and see what kids can, well, see at night as they search for rocks, leaves and other backyard staples.
Next time you head out on a family hike, take along this fun nature scavenger hunt, and challenge your kids to spot everything from bugs to butterflies.
Forget the cupcakes! Put your muffin tin to new use with this outdoor scavenger hunt idea. Bonus: it’s a fun way to introduce kids to what a mandala is — and how to put them together.
Looking for signs of spring? We’ve got one: This spring-themed scavenger hunt, which is the perfect way for kids to spot buds and bunnies.
Break out the boards and hunt again when the weather starts to cool! A fall scavenger hunt will have you looking for colored leaves, pumpkins and other seasonal delights.
If the weather is chilly in your neck of the woods, don those hats and gloves and go on this fun winter scavenger hunt, where kids can search for cold weather favorites like pinecones and icicles.
Lions, and tigers, and … monkeys, oh my! Kids will get the chance to up their animal-spotting skills while at the zoo, thanks to this zoo-themed scavenger hunt, complete with adorably-designed wildlife.
There’s no need to wait for the Big Game to try this football-themed scavenger hunt — just cue up a game and kids can start pointing out the quarterback, a touchdown and more.
Add an extra level of "treats" to trick-or-treating with a Halloween scavenger hunt. Whoever finds the most gets an extra piece of candy!
When kids are waiting to open presents, the minutes feel like hours. Give them a way to entertain themselves with this holiday scavenger hunt. You can even give them instant cameras and tell them to try and photograph the items on the list.
Take their egg-hunting game to the next level with a series of hare-scratching clues. Make sure this egg comes with a special prize!
On the big day, one of the presents should be this clue-based birthday hunt. You can edit the font, the colors and wording of the the clues before you print.
Show kids all there is to discover in their nearby streets with this around-the-block scavenger hunt — and spot everything from bikes to birdhouses.
When it's time to hit the beach, remember to bring the sunscreen, the towels — and this checklist of items to find. While they're off hunting, you can get a moment to relax in the sun.
Add an Earth science lesson to your hunt with this “What Trees Are in Your Neighborhood?” scavenger hunt, which helps kids ID various leaves and figure out which trees are on their streets.
Let your little one dress up in their favorite princess outfit — tiara and all, of course — and then give this Fairy Princess Scavenger Hunt a try.
Are they nervous about their next check-up? Give them a place to channel their anxious energy by having them hunt for these items in the waiting room and exam room.
What’s your child’s favorite shirt? Or the toy they actually don’t mind sharing with their sibling? Find out with this “On a Hunt for the Things I Love” scavenger hunt, which also gets them to practice listing things they're grateful for.