Ready to see Portland in a whole new light? Urban Adventure Quest is an interactive game that uses the real world and a series of clues to show participants parts of their hometown they’ve never seen. Working together, your family will enjoy some active time out and about, playing detective and working together, while getting to know your beloved city better.

Downtown Portland-Parker Knight-flickr

photo: Parker Knight via flickr

What is Urban Adventure Quest, exactly?
Urban Adventure Quest makes interactive games for cities and neighborhoods all across the United States. Players start at a designated spot (Pioneer Courthouse Square in the Portland iteration), then check for clues and solve puzzles in order to find their next destination. As you solve clues, you move around the city, learn about history and landmarks, all while keeping active and having fun together. All clues are given via website, access purchased in advance.

You’ll find landmarks like the Portlandia statue, Ira Keller Fountain, Powell’s Books, and of course, Voodoo Doughnuts along the way. Challenge your group to make it through as fast as possible, or take your time to smell the roses along the way.

Getting Started
Urban Adventure Quest is a web-based game that requires players to purchase access online for $49. You receive a password that allows you to play whenever you’re ready. To begin, you go to the start point at Pioneer Courthouse Square with your trusty web-enabled device and log in for your first puzzle. Search for your clue, enter the correct answer to the puzzle, and you’ll receive your next destination. You make your way across the city, earning points while the clock runs. There’s no “prize” at the end, but there is a leaderboard for each city if you’re feeling competitive.

Pioneer Courthouse Square Portland-LWYang-flickr

photo: LWYang via flickr

Will it work for my family?
There’s no limit to age or group size—it depends on your family members’ interest level and the kids’ attention span. We hear that even teenagers will deign to participate willingly, but your results may vary! You can expect this particular quest to take 2.5-3 hours, with plenty of walking. According to the website, you will cover 2.4 miles, but you may also add to that distance depending on where you park and pit stops. Puzzles are not too complex, and if you’re concerned about the difficulty, check out the sample game on the Urban Adventure Quest website. (Psst…if you really get frustrated, you can skip a clue if you have to.)

Why should we play?
Because it’s fun! Itis also an opportunity to learn more about Portland, solve problems together as a family, and get some exercise at the same time. If your kids are kinetic learners who retain information better by “doing” than sitting and listening, this is a great way for them way to learn about Portland.

Portlandia statue-Wildcat Dunny-flickr

photo: Portlandia statue by Wildcat Dunny via flickr

What else do players need to know?
Leave your group plenty of time to finish during daylight hours. Not only is it safer, but it’ll be easier to find clues such as writing on statues and monuments. The 2.5-3 hour estimate doesn’t take into account waiting in line at Voodoo Doughnut, so add on time if you feel like doing a little touristing or stopping for lunch. One smartphone (fully charged, if possible!) is required to download the quest and display clues, but it helps to have a second smartphone on hand for puzzle-solving research. You’ll need to bring your own streetcar fare, too, but you know what that means—a ride on t he Portland Streetcar, which is pretty cool for the littlest members of your family who might not be able to help solve puzzles.


Have you played an Urban Adventure Quest in Portland or another city? What did you think?

—Kelley Gardiner