Good treasure hunt ideas

Updated March 23, 2017

Shake things up by creating a treasure hunt for your next party or get-together. A treasure hunt involves setting up a series of clues or riddles that lead to a buried treasure at the end. There are different variations on these hunts that can make them different from your standard "follow the map to the X" treasure hunt. Make adjustments to these ideas depending on what age group you’re working with and the patience of the hunters involved.

Dead Reckoning

A Dead Reckoning is a treasure hunt that requires you to find landmarks (or waypoints) along the way to your treasure. These waypoints may include pieces of the puzzle necessary to find the treasure. For example, at the tallest tree of the forest, you can place a shovel and there may be a key waiting at the pine tree near a particular rock. This requires the treasure hunters to find the specific landmarks indicated on a treasure map as they go along or they may have trouble getting into the treasure. Make the waypoint descriptions on the map silly and fun for the participants.


If you have a group comprised of adults and children or just adults, a riddle treasure hunt may be worth the time it takes to create. This hunt is similar to the Dead Reckoning hunt, but instead of simply finding waypoints, there are riddles your hunters must solve that lead them to their next clue or waypoint. These riddles can be in the form of word scrambles, puzzles, cryptograms or any other puzzle form. The riddle hunt can get your hunting group to use their minds and can enhance the enjoyment of a simple "follow the X" hunt.

Problematic Map

When you feel that your treasure hunt may be too easy to figure out, you can add a bit of difficulty by making the map unreliable. Give your hunters a map with parts of the map missing, like the treasure location or the legend. Without these parts of the map, players will need to think hypothetically about what could be in the missing portions. Another fun variation on this is to actually burn a hole in the treasure map. This gives it a more pirate-themed feel and can cause your hunters to think long and hard about how they should proceed during their hunt.

Treasure Date

Add some spice to your relationship by having a treasure hunt as a date. Make sure that the two of you “stumble” upon the map that you have created and set up some simple clues to follow. Make the treasure for the hunt a gift that you would like to give to your partner, but do not make the gift too expensive if you plan to leave the treasure outside. Do not make the hunt too complicated or long--you do not want it to be frustrating for your partner.

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About the Author

Bryan Cohen has been a writer since 2001 and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a double degree in English and dramatic art. His writing has appeared on various online publications including his personal website Build Creative Writing Ideas.