Exploring Downtown Chicago on an Urban Adventure Quest

The iconic Wrigley Building & Tribune Tower.

The iconic Wrigley Building & Tribune Tower.

While I’ve spent lots of time in downtown Chicago over the years, my brother and I were recently introduced to nuggets of Chicago history and a few sights we’d never experienced before while we had fun completing an Urban Adventure Quest!

An Urban Adventure Quest is a unique combination of sightseeing, a scavenger hunt, and puzzle solving — an interactive walking tour played via smartphone.  Players (from one to as many as you’d like on your team) “solve clues, complete challenges, and work together to unravel secrets of a city.” Players are awarded points for correct answers and completed challenges and will see their team’s score and elapsed time compared to other teams’ scores at the end of the game. As fans of getting off of the beaten path in tourist destinations, or at least looking at a place’s main sights through a different lens, UAQs hit the spot.

The Chicago quest starts just off of Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River in the heart of the Loop, Chicago’s downtown core roughly bounded by the el train and Lake Michigan. The tour has you closely examining some of Chicago’s iconic architecture, closely examining chunks of architecture from around the world that are embedded in the façade of the Tribune Tower, and eventually walking to Millennium Park, among other sights.

Along the way, the quest route wanders past oft-overlooked memorials, architectural details, and remnants of Chicago history that bring the past to life. An unexpected bonus was using the QR codes of Statue Stories Chicago, which provided brief, informative audio clips at several statues and monuments along the route.

Be sure to carry a pen and paper, as you’ll have to write a few things down in order to solve a couple of the puzzles, and you can’t move from one stop to the next without completing each stop’s puzzle (or without losing points for your team!). While not inexpensive, if you have a team to work together on a quest, splitting the cost can make an Urban Adventure Quest a good travel value — with the benefit of introducing you to parts of a city that you might otherwise miss!

We’ve had a lot of fun completing Urban Adventure Quests in Portland and Denver as well — and the good folks at UAQ are offering our readers a 20% discount by using the code AWEEK!

Check out our travel advice about Chicago, and consider trying out an Urban Adventure Quest on your next visit to Chicago, whether it’s for a week or a weekend!

Note: the folks at Urban Adventure Quest offered us this quest in exchange for this review. However, all opinions are our own.

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