Dan Johnson - 6 July, 2022
31 free and cheap things to do on your Treasure Map Trail
How much are you ready to spend entertaining your kids this summer?
Sports camps, soft play, the cinema, swimming pools, play centres... the list of options is endless, but the costs soon mount up.
So why not spend £6.99 on a Treasure Map Trail and use it as a launchpad to 31 free and low-cost activities that your kids will love?
A common theme we've seen from customer comments is that mums and dads will use their map alongside another activity to turn a two-hour activity into a morning, afternoon or full day of fun.
Here's a list of our favourites. There are 31 so far, but add your own ideas in the comments and we’ll keep expanding the list.
And if this list inspires you to stock up on treasure maps, you can find your map here, and use the code MAPME to save 10% when you buy two or more.
Free and affordable things to do with kids in local towns and cities
1/ Okay, let's start with an obvious one. Giving your kids a treasure map to explore a local town or city centre will stimulate their sense of awe and wonder and help them see somewhere familiar in a totally new way. The experience will lay the foundations of encouraging them to love where they live.
2/ And in these days of sat navs, when do our kids get the opportunity to navigate a real landscape and use their sense of space and direction to find their way around. When they're on a treasure hunt, they're learning a valuable skill.
3/ Searching for treasures will encourage them to slow down and take in their surroundings. They'll spot some really cool backgrounds, so why not take the change to practice taking great photos on your phone. Our advice is to check out the rule of thirds as an easy tip to capturing brilliant photos. Don't to forget to share them with us, using #treasuremaptrails so we can find them.
4/ Churches and cathedrals are the first place we head to when scouting a town, because the buildings are fascinating and there are usually lots of gruesome gargoyles and grotesques staring down at visitors. How many can you spot, which is your favourite, and why not create your own gargoyles when you get home.
5/ And when was the last time you had a wonder round your local church. These incredible spaces have often stood for hundreds of years and are packed with fascinating history. Why not pop in and find out more?
6/ Even small towns have local museums, which are usually free to enter and are a great way of learning a little about where you live. One of our local museums manages to squeeze in a Victorian shopping street AND a telephone exchange where kids get to connect calls!
7/ How did the town you're in get its name? Challenge the kids to find out, and then to come up with their own alternative using the same logic. Does it have a 'secret' message hidden in it. For example, 'ham' is an old word for 'village'? So 'West Ham' means 'west village'!
8/ Can you find any signs of the Roman history that lies beneath most British towns? Look out for old walls, buildings with 'Londinium' in the name or a mosaic floor.
9/ While you're on your treasure hunt, keep an eye out for blue plaques. These commemorate famous people who have lived or worked in the area, and there's nothing like feeling like you're walking in the footsteps of greatness!
10/ Many town halls have free public art galleries open during the day with exhibitions changing regularly. They're a great place to take five minutes out of the hunt, and you might even find some treasures on display!
11/ If you want to avoid the shops, then head for the local covered market. These are often full of interesting stalls, and make a great place for lunch too.
12/ Take some time out to explore the local parks and green spaces. These are usually perfect for a picnic lunch, or a game of rounders or frisbee if you're feeling active.
13/ And don't forget about all the other outdoor spaces that might not be classed as 'parks', such as canal towpaths, riverbanks, lakes, forests and woods. All of these make for great places to explore, and you never know what you might find.
14/ If you want to add a bit of friendly competition to your treasure hunt, then see how many different types of roof tiles you can find? You'll be surprised at how many different designs there are.
15/ One for the animal lovers out there - see how many different types of birds you can spot while you're on your treasure hunt. How many can you identify?
16/ And for the bug lovers, see how many different types of insects you can find. Butterflies are usually the easiest to spot, but see if you can find any beetles, bees or ants too.
17/ This one is a great way to get the kids using their imaginations - see how many different shapes and patterns you can find in the architecture and design of the buildings around you. Squares, circles, triangles... how many can you find?
18/ Another way to add a bit of excitement is to see if you can find any buildings with a 'secret' door or entrance. These are usually hidden away, so it's a great way to explore somewhere new.
19/ Why not see if you can find your way to the highest point in town? This could be a church tower, a hill or even just a tall building. Once you're there, see how far you can see!
20/ And on the subject of tall buildings, see if you can find the tallest one in town and have a look inside. You might be able to spot some treasures that you didn't know were there.
21/ This one is a great way to explore the local area - see if you can find your way to the edge of town and then follow the boundary. This could be a river, a railway line or even just the edge of the built-up area.
22/ See if you can find your way to the oldest building in town. This is usually a church or a castle, but it could be anything from a pub to a bridge. If you're lucky, you might even be able to go inside and have a look around.
23/ And for something a bit different, see if you can find your way to the local cemetery. This might sound a bit morbid, but it's a great place to find out about the history of the area and to see some beautiful monuments and gravestones.
24/ If you want to add a bit of culture to your treasure hunt, then see if you can find your way to the local museum. Many museums now have free admission, so it's a great way to learn something new while you're exploring.
25/ Find your way to the local tourist information centre. They usually have maps and leaflets with lots of information about the area, which could come in handy for planning your next treasure hunt!
26/ Stop for refreshments at a local cafe and ask them what their speciality is, or what they recommend. This can be the most amazing way of finding a delicious new taste.
27/ Explore a secondhand bookshop and buy each other a book. Will you go for something crazy, something you know they'll love, or close your eyes and put it all down to chance?
28/ Visit a charity shop and pick out an item to take home with you. It could be something practical, like a vase or a picture frame, or something quirky that will make you smile every time you see it.
29/ Get dressed up for your treasure hunt. Who can come up with best outfit? Who has the best props? All good treasure hunters need a pair of binoculars.
30/ And every treasure hunter needs a suitably heroic name. We created a guide to help you find yours. Now the challenge is to use it throughout the entire treasure hunter. Every time someone forgets to use their own or someone else's treasure hunter name, the rest of the group gets to decide on a forfeit!
31/ And finally, the most important thing of all - have fun! Treasure hunts are all about exploring and finding new things, so make sure you enjoy every minute.
So there you have it - 31 ideas for things to do on a treasure hunt in your local town. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring!