Clues, Strategies, & Thinking Outside the Box | San Francisco Treasure Hunts



Events created by San Francisco Treasure Hunts use a variety of clues. Some have obvious solutions. Others are complex, requiring careful collaboration, analysis, research, and evaluation of different possible solutions. They're like the challenges we regularly face in our lives and businesses, only they're much more fun.

Clues utilize a variety of skills. Some are word or number puzzles. Others require players to free associate on a reference in order to come up with the name of a street or business. Still others require players to brainstorm on the fastest way to research a piece of information.

San Francisco Treasure Hunts clues lead to the treasure spots of San Francisco that most visitors, and many locals never see: hidden views, secret sights and evocative remnants of the City's colorful history. The reward for solving the clue is reinforced by discovering one of the city's hidden treasures.


A well-crafted treasure hunt clue requires collaborative effort to solve. It usually stumps anyone working on it alone, which is why treasure hunting is a great team building activity. Solving treasure hunt clues is like playing charades: a team synergy builds as all the players free associate and toss our ideas, until one seems to unlock the puzzle.

A good clue offers several possible interpretations, and is like a multiple-choice exam question that requires you to carefully consider which of several answers is most correct. In a well-crafted treasure hunt, team members must think creatively as individuals, and as a team in order to find the correct solution to the clue. This requires them to set their egos aside, to consider every member's thoughts and analysis and to avoid tunnel vision. Tunnel vision, the dread enemy of all problem solvers, takes place when you focus on one possible solution to the exclusion of others, and fail to recognize that the solution you've chosen is not the most correct one.


Some clues require a bit of research to solve, and the challenge is to find the answer in the shortest possible time. This encourages players to think creatively under a deadline.

Here's an example from a 1993 (and pre-web) treasure hunt in San Francisco's Chinatown:


The name under which T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1922.

This clue challenged players to research this as quickly as they could. A bookstore several blocks away had a biography of T.E. Lawrence with the needed information, but going there used up valuable time. This hunt began at 6:00 p.m., after the libraries had closed. But one brilliant team thought outside the box (and outside the time zone): they realized that it was three hours earlier in Honolulu, where the libraries were still open. They called a librarian there, and in about a minute, they had their answer (Ross) and solved the clue!

For non-ticketing questions please check our Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt FAQ page. For further questions, please email us at

We can create an unforgettable event for your personal or corporate team-building needs just about anywhere you can imagine - not just the SF Bay Area