Your phone can be a gateway to the city—if you pick the right app

Tired of sitting on the couch while scrolling endlessly on your phone? Good news—there's an app for that. Smartphone scavenger hunts mix high-tech games with the good old real world, encouraging users to explore the city through interactive, self-guided tours. There are scavenger hunts designed to direct you to Columbus points of interest, apps that allow you to build your own quests and some games themed for special occasions, like Christmas or bachelorette parties. We explored a few. —

Big City Hunt (Note: As of May 2018, Big City Hunt has rebranded to Lets Roam Scavenger Hunt Tours).

This app offers two options: “Discovering Columbus” promises a tour of Downtown sights, while “Columbus Sails East” ventures toward cultural waters in the Discovery District and Olde Towne East.

What we found: A money grab. Although the app promises the first three questions for free, you can't access the hunt until you buy a “ticket” online ($11–$79.95).

Monkey Spot Scavenger Hunts

These are general hunts to help parents kill time while kids explore, with games like “I Can See A to Z.”

What we found: Child's play. With no links to websites or social media and no location tracking or advertising, it's basic. But in the days of Cambridge Analytica, basic can be good.

Goose Chase

This design-your-own game allows you to send your friends in circles.

What we found: It's appropriately named—there's nothing here unless you build it. Seriously, who has time for that?


It's similar to geocaching but uses a Google-style map to lead users to QR barcode stickers hidden around town—and the world.

What we found: The map displays “munzees” all over Columbus, then “munzers” take pictures of the stickers with their smartphones to earn points. The points have no actual value, but the game is free and—look!—you're off the couch.


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