Skip to main content

Easy neighborhood scavenger hunt ideas for your child

There’s one game you can play with your child that’s easily customizable. It offers endless variations, ability levels, and lengths of time, all while getting your child out and about to meet neighbors and spend time in the great outdoors. It’s something you can do for 30 minutes before dinner or for a few hours one lazy Saturday afternoon.

It’s a neighborhood scavenger hunt! Whether you have a 2-year-old or a 10-year-old, one child or multiple kids, an hour or a whole day — you can plan the perfect neighborhood scavenger hunt to pass the time. Here are a few fun neighborhood scavenger hunt ideas for kids.

Group of kids at beginning a scavenger hunt
Robert Kneschke/

The basic neighborhood scavenger hunt

The basic neighborhood scavenger hunt involves finding things usually found in your neighborhood. If you live in the suburbs, this could be things like basketball goals, motorcycles, or sprinklers. If you live in the city, it could be cats in windows, cement front steps, or a decorated front door.

You’ll need:

  • A printable scavenger hunt list
  • A pencil
  • A sense of adventure

Use a simple document creator to make a checklist for your children with everyday neighborhood items. Older children can read words, while younger children might do better with pictures.

Tailor the amount of things on your list to the time that you have available. If you have only 30 minutes, five or so things would be appropriate. If you’re killing time for several hours in the morning, more items will help fill the time.

The nature walk

Whether you live in the city or a small town, a nature walk in your neighborhood is a great way to engage kids and foster an appreciation for the environment and its little details.

You’ll need:

  • A notebook
  • Crayons, color pencils, or regular pencil
  • A planned route

For a low-key scavenger hunt, you could plan a simple set of items to find — think something green, something brown, and something colorful. Have children stop to observe what they see and draw it in their notebooks.

For something more involved, you might try a seasonal theme — five spring flowers or five signs of fall. Again, have your child or children draw in the notebook what things they find along the way.

You could also take a long walk through your neighborhood and look for unexpected signs of nature growing. Grass growing in a sidewalk would be a good one or an unusual bug on a mailbox. This could take some more time and is perfect for a long afternoon walk.

The people walk

Observing the people in your neighborhood is also a fun way to connect with those around you. Set a theme based on how well you know your neighbors and remember to avoid putting items on the list that might make others feel bad.
You’ll need:

  • A notebook
  • A pencil
  • A sense of curiosity

If you don’t know your neighbors that well, but you’d like to get to know them, you could start with simple observations — someone working in the yard, someone exercising, and someone washing a car. Take your notebook and introduce yourself. Have your neighbor sign the notebook with their initials or full name, whichever makes them comfortable.

If you know your neighbors reasonably well, you could get more elaborate. Go for interests, common hobbies, or anything else your child would know about the neighbors.

House hunt

If you have a longer time to walk your neighborhood, it would be a great idea to go on a house hunt. Take an unexpected route and look for those little details you love.

You’ll need:

  • Notebook and pencil or pen
  • A camera
  • A list of different house features

For younger kids, simple things like the color of front doors or the type of house will suffice. For older kids, this could be an excellent time to build awareness of detail, learn about architecture, or find types of materials.

If you feel comfortable taking pictures of houses (for example, if you live in a historic district and that is common), allow your children to photograph their findings. If you aren’t sure of your surroundings or don’t want to make someone uncomfortable, have them draw or color.
You could even use simple tools like a word document to create a printable scavenger list that allows them to cross off items as they find them. This works well in situations where you don’t want to make someone uncomfortable by stopping to draw or take a picture.

Keep these things in mind

Brother and sister on a scavenger hunt
Erica Finstad/

Always be aware of your surroundings as you do a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Your neighbors may not appreciate photographs or want someone walking onto their property. You should remember what’s appropriate and tailor your scavenger hunt to follow those guidelines.
Be creative, and use your scavenger hunt ideas to create learning experiences and have fun bonding as a family. The endless combinations of things for your scavenger hunt can help your child enjoy being outdoors with you while also providing critical engagement.

This is your chance to help your child develop a sense of adventure and encourage natural curiosity. It’s time you elevated your walks, your games, or your time outside with something that brings a sense of wonder.

Editors' Recommendations

Plan a great family road trip: The best aquariums in the U.S. for kids
Your kiddos will have lots of stories to tell when they get home
Little boy sitting in front of an aquarium watching the fish

Sebastian said it best when he told Ariel that "life under the sea is better." Of course, we can't technically live under the sea, but the next best thing is a visit to an aquarium. If you're planning your family's next adventure, a road trip to an aquarium is a perfect pick, especially if your kiddos are fascinated by life under the sea. For families glued to the television during Shark Week, seeing sharks in person is a must-do task.

Thankfully, some of the best aquariums in the U.S. are actually just a road trip away and are in hot spots, offering families a super cool vacation. The top aquariums in the U.S. just happen to be in major tourist attraction cities like Boston, New York, and Chicago. So, if you're ready to see one or more of the most sensational U.S. aquariums in person, we've got the don't-miss list below.

Read more
11 fun games kids can play with just pen and paper
Try something different and play paper games
A game of tic-tac-toe on a piece of paper

Engaged in the daily battle to get the kids to put down the smartphones? Then there's the video games and the iPad. Sure, technology is awesome, but kids and teens do spend entirely too much time on them. It's a challenge many parents face on a daily basis. Trying to get kids to power down gets even worse when the tween and teen years roll around.

If you're trying to think of ways to get kids to lift their headd up and do something that doesn't involve electronics, you aren't alone. Finding ways for kids to be creative and explore activities minus a device can be difficult, but sometimes, simpler really is better. There may not be a lot of technology involved in old-fashioned games to play on paper, but they can be just as much fun for younger children, tweens, and yes, even teens.

Read more
4-year-old birthday party ideas: 7 low-stress themes your child will love
Have a preschool party to remember with these cool birthday party ideas
Boy is excited for his fourth birthday

Birthdays are the best when your kids are in preschool. There's so much excitement wrapped up in their upcoming birthday. Of course, you will want to have a party to mark the special occasion. This is such a fun age. Preschoolers are curious, have a great deal of energy, and love to play. When putting together a fabulous fourth birthday party, you'll need to have an engaging theme, but you also don’t want to overload yourself with added stress. Thankfully, soon-to-be 4-year-olds have a wealth of interests to choose an engaging theme from. There also isn't a shortage of 4-year-old birthday party ideas that are absolutely amazing.

Whether you're hosting at home, outside, or holding the party at a venue, the theme sets the tone for the party’s decor, cake, and goodie bags. To avoid giving yourself extra anxiety, pick a theme that’s easy to implement, easy on the budget, and of course, one that kids will be thrilled about. So, let's get ready to celebrate because we have a list of 4-year-old birthday party ideas that are fantastic.

Read more