July 22, 2017

Stray Boots: Our First Family Scavenger Hunt

Smithsonian Castle

Smithsonian Castle

I’ve written a few times about scavenger hunts as fun ways to explore new cities or areas of town. Over the weekend, I had a chance to try one out for myself in Washington, DC as my kids and I took on the Smithsonian+Art Adventure from Stray Boots.

The starting point was the Smithsonian Castle, so we parked nearby (an amazing feat on its own for a weekend day in DC) and started the adventure on my iPhone. The first question took us into one of the rooms of the Smithsonian Castle to hunt for an answer to enter into my iPhone. Success. We got the question right and moved on to count the number of Metro stations on the Mall (to answer the next question). Fortunately, we could use a model of the Mall inside Smithsonian Castle and did not need to hoof it on our own in the heat.

Stray Boots App

Stray Boots App

After each question, we were able to review four slides on my iPhone with interesting facts and images related to each one. This was a great way to learn a little bit more about where we were before moving on to the next question (though to be honest, even though they were having fun, my kids were pretty eager to move on to the next questions).

In total, there were 23 questions that required us to seek out answers or take photos in five locations that spanned an area of maybe four or five blocks.  It was pretty warm on Sunday, so it was a nice mix of indoor and outdoor locations. Plus, it was ideal to get some ice cream and sit out on the patio at the Hirshhorn Museum before moving on to our next questions. 🙂

The Stray Boots app suggested we allow two to three hours for this self-guided adventure (as they like to call their scavenger hunts). We took around two hours, though we did skip over maybe five questions. I liked that that the app enabled us to skip ahead, but I did not like that we could not go backwards since the primary reason we skipped ahead was because I did not catch the location we were to go and then could not figure how to answer those five questions (beyond using Google).

One of the clues led us to examine the winged dragon on the Mall carousel.

One of the clues led us to examine the winged dragon horse on the Mall carousel.

If you decide to try out a mobile app-based scavenger hunt for yourself, here are a few pieces of advice:

1. Be Flexible. Two to three hours doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but be prepared to be flexible and skip over a few questions here and there to get to the end more quickly, if necessary.

2. Bring Water & Re-Fuel Along the Way. The day was warm so I brought along a water bottle, which helped in terms of keeping my three kids hydrated. The stop mid-hunt to get ice cream also helped them to re-energize and finish the adventure.

3. Let the Kids Be in Charge. My kids loved holding the iPhone to manage whichever question we were on during the scavenger hunt. My older girls alternated between questions so they both got to have turns being the leader (my four-year-old didn’t care; he just liked running from place to place).

Overall, we had a great time. I’d do another scavenger hunt since I loved the interactive nature and the fact that my kids were learning, as well as exploring art and history, without even knowing they were doing so. Always a bonus.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a promo code to try out the Stray Boots adventure of my choice. However, all opinions expressed here are my own. 

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