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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review UrbanQuest at 4th Street Live in Louisville, KY

 photo urban_zpsf5f734f7.jpgMy four munchkins and I decided to try something different to kick off our summer vacation.  There is an interactive website called UrbanQuest that allows you to explore a city, whether it is your own or on vacation, in a type of scavenger hunt.  The Quest is riddled with puzzles and quizzes that allow you to take an even closer look at the environment around you.  When I started mentioning UrbanQuest in conversations it seemed as though the majority of people who had heard of it and/or participated had been involved in some type of corporate team building exercise and there were mixed reviews.  I had to see for myself.   I know our readers always want to know, is it fun for kids?   I set out on a beautiful “Fun Friday” with a 3,4,7, and 9 year-old to find out.

Tip 1: Do some light research.  The website is pretty user friendly and it was not complicated to navigate.  Louisville currently only has one local Quest.  It starts at 4th Street Live.  I did some general reading on their website to get a feel for what our adventure would be like and how long it would take. I created a checklist of items that you don’t want to leave home without. 

What you’ll need to get started :
  Smartphone/tablet or other device with Wifi printout of your Clues.  (Ours was 13 pages long and it is helpful to have color since some of the clues are pictures)
  Snacks/drinks (Which I did not have and I paid the price…literally at a snack shop)
  Kid apparel and supplies like Sunscreen, hats, comfy shoes, sunglasses.  (All the clues are outside so there is very little chance of shade)
  I also strongly suggest a clip board.  (Nope, didn’t have one of those either.  As you see in the pics, my 9 year-old had to find some creative writing surfaces)

 photo urban1_zps1beedf0c.jpg photo urban3_zpsd70fa090.jpgThere are two options for the timing of the Quest.  We chose a 2 hour timed adventure because we love a challenge.  There is also an option that is not timed.   Initially the gist is, when you are ready to begin your Quest you pop onto their website on your smartphone.  The final destination will be your lunch/dinner reservations.  You won’t know the specific destination until you decode your final answer at the end and plug into their website.  You are only faced with the choice of cuisine and price scale.  There were 2 family friendly options.  We chose Asian Fusion because if it involves rice, my kids are down.  Not only that but I despise kids menus that consist of pizza, grilled cheese and buttered noodles.   *which is ironic because that ended up being our menu at 3pm…but I digress. 

Tip 2:  Beware of the broken clue.  After all my premeditation I was not prepared to be baffled by the very first clue.  The people at UrbanQuest call these “broken clues” and ask that you report them.  Obviously the landscape of our city changes constantly and although a majority of the clues made total sense, the first one was a complete bust.  I was hoping it was not a sign of things to come.  Turns out, it wasn’t…just a rocky start.

Without giving away too much I will simply say that from that point on the clues were super obvious.  They were easy and fun to find.  My kids are very observant of detail and love search games like I Spy and Where’s Waldo.  As my 4 year-old would say, “This is right up my alley, Miss Whitney”.  Even the 3 year old got in on the action.  I would show him the pictures as we approached the clue and he would find it every time.  I loved watching him enjoy himself because in all honestly he is usually just along for the ride.  Not this time.  My 9 year-old had his head in the game and went right to work jotting down our answers and leading us to the next one.  My 7 year-old was just enjoying the walk and being his co-pilot.  She’s a little more on the “let someone else do all the work” side of things right now.  I’m sure that will change….maybe…some day.

Tip 3:  Give yourself extra time.  This is a lot of walking, folks.  A. Lot.  With potty breaks and pep talks about the importance of things like holding hands no matter what and staying on the far side of the side walk away from traffic so that I don’t have a panic attack every five minutes,  your trip will extend another hour before you know it.  At least that was our experience.   So if you want to have lunch at 2pm start your quest at 11am instead of 12pm.  Worst case scenario is that you would have an early lunch.  We all know that the alternative, a late lunch, may possibly result in some type of mutiny.   Luckily I survived…this time.

 photo urban2_zps0802985d.jpgOverall it was a great opportunity to work on our street behavior navigating downtown.  We love hanging out downtown.  It is a great way to enforce the importance of their safety in the city as it compares to their neighborhood where I am not quite as edgy.  My kids got street smarts, yo.   We even took our first FREE Trolley ride.  Did I mention we were completely exhausted?

Since I’m pretty familiar with downtown I was able to cut about 4 blocks off the end of our excursion and we were still able to find out clue.  It had been 2.5 hours and they were exhausted.   If you get stuck or need a shortcut the answers are on the last page.  That came in handy when we second guessed a couple of our answers.  They also encourage using life lines like Google or asking the people around us for help, which we did multiple times.  People skillz too, yo!  We parked our bottoms at the last clue and let the big kids decode our final answer.  I plugged it into the website and voila, our lunch reservation appeared and we were only a couple blocks away.  However, I had been to this spot before and decided it was a little too pricey so we opted for another restaurant that was closer to where we parked at 4th Street Live.  What was on the menu?  Grilled Cheese, Pizza and buttered noodles…oh, the irony!  Regardless they definitely earned it and ya can’t win ‘em all.

To sum things up we had a blast and if there was another Quest option here in Louisville we would most likely do it again.  It would be a great pseudo self-guided tour on vacation with the fam too.  The initial cost was $19.99 plus the cost of lunch.  Not too bad for 3 solid hours of entertainment for 5.  I would certainly recommend our readers with older kiddos give it a shot.   Toddlers will require quite a bit of help, but it is definitely a brain game and I am all for those no matter what age.  Their site goes more in depth with puzzles and something they call Quizzles which I have yet to look into.  Now that I know my older kids enjoyed the hunt so much I will definitely have them check it out to see if there are any other fun options to train their brain.  Anything that encourages learning about our fabuLOUs city is a win with me.  Check it out for yourself and Happy Questing!

By guest contributor: Whitney

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