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For 28 seasons, television show “The Amazing Race” has followed teams around the world who compete for a million-dollar prize by completing various tasks. Now, families can experience their own version of this travel competition through Urban Adventure Quest, a company that has a designed fun and educational way to explore a small city (or a particular area of a larger one).
Urban Adventure Quest launched in April 2011 with 12 locations, including the company’s original game in downtown Los Angeles, which takes racers to Olvera Street, Union Station (complete with a ride on the metro), Grand Central Market, the historic Angels Flight funicular and Disney Concert Hall. Since then, with seven to 10 new locations added per year, Urban Adventure Quest has grown to 43 tours in 33 cities across the U.S. (plus Vancouver, British Columbia).
Using their smartphones to receive clues, families and teams embark on adventures to find specific locations where they need to answer questions, solve puzzle and complete challenges, all while earning points and competing virtually against other teams. The tasks are easy enough so that young kids stay involved, but still challenging for adults and older kids. Throughout the course of the race, teams visit famous sights, discover hidden gems and learn facts about the history and culture of the city they’re visiting.
“It was a great family activity, and everyone was able to participate in some way,” said Abby Smith, a player from San Diego (who played the game in Temecula, Calif.).
Smith says she liked that the race provided historical background information on the city, which made it both fun and educational.
Christie Walker, owner of Urban Adventure Quest, notes that the race is perfect for multigenerational groups because the tasks can be divided based on ages. For example, she explains, young kids can count colored tiles on a mosaic or lines of text on a sign, and then older kids or adults can do the math problems using those numbers to solve the puzzle.
Urban Adventure Quest has families racing around cities in a similar style to “The Amazing Race.” // © 2016 Urban Adventure Quest
Mini Quests are great for families with younger kids. // © 2016 Abby Smith
Families solve a clue at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels during the Downtown Los Angeles Quest. // © 2016 Samantha Davis-Friedman
Urban Adventure Quest has had more than 86,000 players compete since it was founded in 2011. // © 2016 Urban Adventure Quest
Urban Adventure Quests are completed virtually, so families can choose a time that fits into their schedules. // © 2016 Samantha Davis-Friedman
I recently ran the race in downtown L.A. with my two teenage sons and my 75-year-old mother. Working together, we were able to successfully complete all of the tasks, but some were definitely a little challenging. Agents should note that most quests require a good amount of walking (and in our case, the 150 stairs to the top of Angels Flight), so it may not be an ideal activity for families with very young kids or for people with physical limitations. However, Urban Adventure Quest does offer a few shorter Mini-Quests that cover less distance.
The family-owned company was created for people who want to take part in an “Amazing Race”-type adventure in just one day. And, while there are many one-day “Amazing Race” activities around the U.S., racers need to be in a particular city on a particular day to participate. Urban Adventure Quest games differ because they are conducted virtually, so once teams are registered, they can play on any day and time that is convenient for them. In addition, pricing is per team of two to five players, rather than per person, so a whole family can play for $49 for a two- to three-hour experience (or $30 for a Mini Quest), making it a very affordable vacation activity.
With 86,000 players and counting, Urban Adventure Quest is a great way for travelers to explore a new city but, as Walker points out, even when people run the race in their own city, they are amazed at how many things they have never seen before.