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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the format of your scavenger hunts? How does this work?

We create, staff, and fully operate all of our scavenger hunts. You arrive and participate in an epic competition! Our hunts are entirely facilitated by our staff. We handle everything, in person, from start to finish. We’re the game masters, the umpires… the judge and jury. We moderate a competition that takes place between your teams. Live staff, in person – not by text or remote app.

How do we book a hunt? Just call, email, or text us and we’ll get you all set up! Let us know the date, time and hunt you’d like to do, as well as the number of participants. We’ll send you a booking confirmation and invoice. Once that is finalized, you’ll be on the calendar! We keep in touch and answer all your questions leading up to the event. If you have any special requests, we’ll address them during this time.

Before the hunt (usually a day or two), our staff will make direct contact with your group leader to confirm all the details and make sure any remaining questions about logistics have been answered.

On the day of your hunt: We will be in position at the appointed time and place before your arrival. Sometimes groups arrive all together and sometimes they trickle in slowly. Either way, we’ll help you gather everyone and get your participants situated.

Whenever we’re ready to begin, we’ll get everyone’s attention. We form teams with 4 or 5 (maybe 6) participants each (not too big, because you want each team to be a swift, competitive unit). You can create your own teams in advance if you’d like.

The Introduction: After we form the teams, we’ll make a brief speech explaining the rules of the hunt. This is a competition between your teams! One of them will win! Who’s it going to be?!

  • Groups must stay together – no splitting up.
  • Bold words within the clues tell you where you should be looking.
  • The hunt has a 2-hour maximum runtime, but you can turn in early if you are ready.
  • Teams must work together to plot their own course and strategy.
  • You do not have to follow the numerical order of the clues – read ahead or you might be surprised!
  • There are several photo/video challenges that groups do with their own phones – pay attention to those, they are worth points! We eyeball them at the end during scoring.
  • The team with the most points wins. Order of arrival breaks a tie.
  • Don’t forget the phrase puzzle on the last page – it’s worth a lot of points and you can’t win without it!
  • Don’t spend time trying to Google the answers – that is not a winning strategy!

Then, we’ll distribute one copy of the clues to each group, along with a clipboard and pen. The race is on!

Teams proceed to tackle the hunt materials, reading. digesting, discussing, thinking – “How shall we begin? Where should we go first?” These are all matters for the groups to decide amongst themselves. Take some time up front and read through the clues. Groups that formulate an overarching approach to the hunt and plan ahead are the most successful.

It’s a great exercise in team-building as participants work together to search for and discover the answers to our clues. We are always available along the way in case you get stuck and sometimes you might get a nudge from us if we feel you need a little help. We’re there to handle any issues that may arise.

You’ll search high and low, big and small for the answers to our clues, which we write about interesting fixtures, items, elements, furnishings and permanent sorts of things that are built into the world around us – things that are worthy of discovery. You’ll really see the ingredients of New York City on these hunts. Don’t spend too much time on any particular clue though – the idea is to get the highest score, but also get there first! Everything is there to be found, but if you can’t find something, that’s okay – move on!

As the hunt concludes, teams meet our staff at the designated ending location.

We need a few minutes to tally up all the scores. We’ll grade each team’s clues individually. Once we have the team ranking and winners determined, we’ll join you for a brief announcement and wrap-up. At that time, you are welcome to award prizes to the winning team (bragging rights are always the best). Prizes can be anything you wish. We can also text you the results if you need to leave the area – but we prefer to announce them live!

Afterward, we’ll stick around for a little while to answer questions in case anyone was stumped by a clue or wants to challenge us about something (we can handle it!)

What kind of groups book your hunts?

Really, every kind of group you can imagine! We see tons of corporate groups, all the time – and also lots of families, friends, birthday parties, weddings, gatherings of all kinds – you name it, we see it.

Our hunts are great for any group and any occasion, large or small. We run hunts for hundreds of participants, or just a few. We have price packages for every group size.

What are your scavenger hunt clues like?

Our hunt clues are like trivia questions (Jeopardy-style) that you have to search for and discover the answer to. We’re experts at crafting questions that draw upon all kinds of fine details and hidden elements within the hunt venue. For every hunt, there is a wellspring of intriguing material that we use to create our clues. You’ll learn a lot and be challenged in a very fun, creative way.

Our clues are not riddles or cryptic brain teasers. All questions can be answered by simply searching.

Hunts include a puzzle that teams solve at the end, based on the answers to the clues. We combine Jeopardy-style clues and a Wheel of Fortune-style phrase challenge with a little New York Times crossword puzzle thrown in.

Why are your hunts pen & paper and not app-based?

We live in a digital age where everyone is constantly on their phones, computers and tablets – everyone is plugged in at all times. Our hunts are a chance to unplug and share a real-world, tangible – human – experience with your friends and colleagues.

IF our hunts were based on an app, you’d have teams walking around staring at their phones for 2 hours. Instead, what you get with us is a good, old-fashioned pen & paper experience with real reading and writing. Teams put their heads together to work with physical clues, collaborating with each other using one shared set of materials. This kind of experience is becoming harder to attain and that’s why we are sticking to low-tech hunts. There are plenty of apps out there. We’re taking you offline!

That aside, we prefer to focus on our craft of developing great scavenger hunts and not have to worry about technical hurdles, access problems, software glitches, connectivity matters or questions about installing stuff. People find our low-tech hunts to be very refreshing!

And we recycle all paper!

What happens in case of bad weather?

If you book an outdoor hunt and the weather is not looking good, we can always switch to an indoor option! We keep the booking and move indoors! 🙂 If you’d like to build a premium rain date option into your booking, we can do that too.

If there is a severe or dangerous weather event, we may need to reschedule depending on the situation. If, for any reason, public transportation is shut down due to unforeseeable circumstances, we would have to reschedule. Otherwise, we always stick to the booked date and time!

Is this for kids?

If you have a group of kids and they enjoy competitive challenges, this is a great activity for them! We’d love to arrange a hunt for your school, camp, birthday party or other kid-friendly occasion! We have options for ages 9 and up!

Please note – while we are facilitators of a competition between your teams, we do not accompany or take responsibility for the kids. Any participants under the age of 18 must be supervised by an adult. We ask that you bring enough grown-ups so that that each team has a chaperone that will also function as a team leader, helping to drive the effort for the kids. Before booking, let’s chat about whether or not this is a good fit for your group!

Can we dress up and get really into it?

Yeah, you can. 🙂 Theme your teams! Go crazy! We love it! 

What are your fees?

Our prices are affordable for any group. Please contact us for a list of current price packages.

What is your tipping/gratuity policy?

Our hosts are an integral part of your hunt experience. Should you wish to offer a tip, that would be most welcome and appreciated. If desired, your host’s picture on our About Us page links to his or her Venmo account, for your convenience. PayPal, Zelle or cash are always welcome as well. Thank you!

Do you have scavenger hunt materials for sale?

We organize and operate in-person scavenger hunt events for groups of all kinds. At this time, we do not have scavenger hunt materials for sale or distribution.

Do you have public events?

At this time, all of our events are privately organized for individual groups.

What should we do to prepare for our hunt?

Read this.

Do you offer Gift Certificates?

Yes we do! Give the gift of a great scavenger hunt adventure to your friends and loved ones! The certificate would be for a private event to take place at the date and time of your recipient’s choosing. They can select from any of our hunt options. Whenever they’re ready to book, they can reach out to us and we’ll get them on the calendar! Contact us to discuss the options!

Do you offer foreign language programs?

At this time, all scavenger hunts are in English and fluency in English is a requirement for participation.

Should this be a surprise for my group?

We get it – sometimes you want to throw a surprise party or keep your group in suspense about the activity they’ll be doing. A word of caution though: It’s important that all participants in your group understand they’re joining an event that requires their brain power and effort. They will be on the move for two hours and will be participating in a team building competition. If you want to keep the scavenger hunt a surprise, just make sure they are ready for the activity!

Are you affiliated with other organizations?

We’re not affiliated with any other organizations in an official way, but we have lots of friends! Since 2008, we have been operating scavenger hunts as Secret City. Secret City Scavenger Hunts is an evolution of our director’s previous endeavor, The Lunch Club (est. 2001). We’re based right here in NYC and our offices are at 450 Lexington Avenue.