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Children's Treasure Trails - A Picture Paints a Thousand Words
When you're looking for things to do with the family, it can be tricky to find fun activities for all ages (including parents!).
The majority of our Trails are written with a family in mind. As a guide, Treasure Trails are the perfect activity for groups aged six and up, but are written in adult language that younger participants may need help with. The idea is for families to work together, with older siblings and parents lending a hand to the younger group members, in order to complete the Trail.
But, we're often asked for Trails suitable for younger children. Well, if you're looking for shorter routes for little legs or Trails you can explore with a pushchair, our advance filter button can help you whittle down the list of Trails when you search for the place you want to explore.
However, we do also have a selection in the catalogue that work well as an activity for families with kids aged three years and upwards. Some are just idea locations for younger kids and others have mostly picture clues, meaning the very young can help out more by matching an image in a booklet with the real thing.
For more tips and suggestions for exploring with your mini adventurers, read on...
Trails in pedestrian areas only
For Treasure Trails to work well, the Trail Writers need clue material, and the best material is found in cities and towns rather than out in the countryside. But with towns and cities comes traffic, and that doesn’t always mix well with very young explorers. That doesn't mean that all inner-city Trailing is out of the question, though, as many pedestrianised areas can be rich with curious clues.
The Liverpool St George’s Hall Treasure Trail is set in the heart of Liverpool and is ideal for young explorers. It's a very compact Trail, with the route entirely around St George's Hall, which is stuffed with history and old statues, and the tranquil St John's Gardens, which back onto the hall. The whole area is pedestrianised, except for the occasional vehicle, and is accessible for adventurers in wheelchairs and pushchairs. Certain parts of St George's Hall are open to the public without charge, including the old courtroom, so you can make a whole day of it!
The Worcester in Pictures Treasure Trail is also set around the pedestrianised centre of Worcester. The clue is in the name, as this Trail is made up entirely of picture clues, giving the littlest of explorers the chance to spot objects and get involved in the fun. You'll venture past several restaurants, cafes and shops - perfect for when little legs need a rest - and an old-fashioned sweet shop for a post-quest treat.
Other Trails, like the Abergavenny treasure hunt, are mainly set in pedestrianised areas but may require you to cross roads or patrol along pavements for short stretches to reach each separate area. Just keep your Mini Explorers close and stay alert for vehicles on these stretches, and you'll have a blast!
Trails around gardens
The best way to avoid the traffic and explore somewhere kids of all ages will enjoy is by tackling a children's treasure hunt set in a park or public garden.
The Harrogate Pirates in Valley Gardens Trail is a treasure hunt which is entirely within the beautiful Valley Gardens in the heart of Harrogate, Yorkshire. Families can discover many hidden gems in this Grade II listed garden, including 36 mineral wells, the New Zealand Garden and the Sun Pavilion and Colonnades. Within the gardens, you can also stop off for mini-golf, disc golf, enjoy the playground, tennis courts or skate park, or take a walk through pinewoods. Take a picnic or take a break in the café for a great family day out!
Up in Scotland, Duthie Park Treasure Trail is a perfect treasure hunt for kids. Its 1.5-mile route is set within the park (except for one clue in the car park) and takes you on paths suitable for pushchairs. The much-loved park, packed with Victorian features, nabbed a Green Flag Park Award - the first in Aberdeen - back in 2013. There's so much to see, from the bandstand, fountains and boating ponds to the two play areas for little and adventurous kids, plus the park café is the perfect spot for post-quest ice cream (or a cuppa).
There are so many Treasure Trails set either fully or mostly in green spaces that the whole family can enjoy, some with picture-only clues but most with clues the whole family will need to work together to crack. Take a peek at the full list:
- Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge, a 0.8-mile treasure hunt set fully within the park, with quite a few picture clues for the littlest explorers.
- Leeds Roundhay Park, a 2.4-mile spy mission ideal for energetic families, with plenty more to explore after you've cracked the code.
- Wollaton Hall and Deer Park, a 2.5-mile detective mystery set in the grounds of a historic house - will you spot the deer?
- Battersea Park, a 3-mile spy mission with plenty of picture clues to spot. London-based Trailers could easily tackle this one across a couple of days to avoid wearing out little legs.
- Preston Parks and Gardens, a 1.6-mile spy mission set mostly within green spaces, although you will need to briefly tiptoe beside a quiet road.
- Crawley Tilgate Park, a 2-mile treasure hunt with plenty to discover and ending next to the play park, just in case your young adventurers have any steam left to blow off!
- Cheltenham Pretty Pittville Park, a 2-mile magical detective mystery around a beautiful park rich in history. You will encounter the occasional road as you track down the evidence.
- Saltwell Park, a 1.3-mile spy mission packed with picture clues and features to explore. Don't forget to bring some oats for the ducks!
- Kirkaldy Bevridge Park, a 1.7-mile treasure hunt perfect for magical mini explorers. There's so much to see and enjoy - you could spend an entire day here without anyone getting bored!
One way to get everyone involved in the Trail adventure, whether 6-106 or even younger, is with a picture-only Trail. This gives the youngest members of your team the chance to join in by tracking down the clue material, and then older siblings and grown-ups can work together to crack them.
As mentioned already, Liverpool St George's Hall, Worcester Picture Trail and Harrogate Pirates in Valley Gardens are all picture-only Trails, with a route and clues aimed at young detectives. But they're not the only ones.
Our Trail writers have written picture-only Trails in some of our most popular locations, including Durham and Norwich and often in these places, there are both picture-only Trails and regular ones. This way, families with children of a wide range of ages could split up for the afternoon, with one grown-up taking the younger members to get their share of finding clues and solving the puzzles.
However, only having pictures doesn't mean that the clues are all super easy to solve. An example from a picture-only Trail is, "These sleepy felines should allow you to eliminate one possible hiding place for the gold, but Tommy Rustle has mixed the letters up to try and trick you". So, you can see the grown-ups will still need to get involved in solving the Trail.
For a different experience following a picture-only Treasure Trail, we recommend you try the Barton-under-Needwood Pictorial Trail. Every clue is based on a photograph, so you need to keep your eyes peeled as you explore, but the clues can be solved in any order - there are no directions! Instead, the locations of the clues are marked as circles on the map on page 7 of the booklet. Be warned, though - at times, the route is beside busy roads or by water, so keeping a close eye on children and dogs is essential.
Want to check out some more children's treasure hunts filled with only (or mostly) picture clues? Try these ones:
- Bourton-on-the-Water, a 1.5-mile spy mission made entirely of picture clues and exploring one of the most-visited places in the Cotswolds.
- Weymouth Seafront, a 2.5-mile treasure hunt beside the sea that only has a couple of non-picture clues.
- Lowestoft, a 2-mile treasure hunt packed with sandy beaches and picture clues.
Gloucester City and Cathedral, a 1.5-mile treasure hunt perfect for mini pirates, even if they're in pushchairs.
Trails to engage children in history
Have you got a budding historian on your hands? A Treasure Trail is a brilliant way to spark their curiosity and imagination.
The Caerleon treasure hunt is all about the Romans and is perfect for getting children interested in the history of those times. There are plenty of picture clues for the smallest adventurers to spot, and you'll be roamin' around the Roman Barracks, Roman Legion Museum, Fortress Baths and Roman Amphitheatre in your hunt for the historical treasure!
The Chester Roaming Around the Walls Trail is a must-try for more Roman antics and a chance to explore away from traffic. You'll be solving the clues along the ancient walls with a great vantage point of the city, all while unearthing fascinating historical stories as you go.
Are you the one looking for a hit of history on your family day out? Well, the kids will be begging to join you on the York Chocolate and Sweet Trail. Discover fascinating facts about the UK's home of chocolate while your sweet-toothed mini detectives eagerly crack the candy-themed case with you.
If you're looking to turn your Trail adventure into a full-blown day out, it's worth planning ahead to see if there are any brilliant museums you can check out after your quest. Many are free or have a low-cost entry and are packed with amazing historical tales of the town or city you're exploring.
Trails to do in the rain
Move along, please, and mind the gap! This London Tube Trail has lots of picture clues and is perfect for families and adults looking for something different to do on a rainy or cold day! The Trail runs 'downhill' from Tower Hill Station to Earl's Court and visits nine stops along the way. It will take around four hours and whilst there isn’t much walking there are lots of steps, stairs and escalators to negotiate. We advise that you begin the Trail in the morning, after rush hour, to take advantage of the quieter period on the line.
Even when the weather isn't sunshine and clear skies, you can still go out on almost all Trail adventures - especially those set in towns and cities, rather than countryside and coast paths. Kit yourselves out with your coats and wellies just in case - especially if post-mission puddle jumping is on the cards. Also, make sure you've got somewhere to stash the Trail booklet and keep it dry if the rain gets heavy.
Join the Mini Clubs
Keep your little explorers entertained on any Trail adventure with a Mini Club pack, themed and free to download with any Trail purchase.
They'll get some bonus puzzles to complete on the way to your family day out, as well as an adventure record section and an ID badge with tips on how to choose their codename. A must-have accompaniment to your Trailing trip for any explorers aged four to eight (although older kids and kidults love them too!).
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