As someone who has lived in Huntsville for most of my adult life, I’m kind of a professional at finding fun, free things to do. There are a lot of reasons for this, and they range from my days as a financially destitute young-adult to my current days as a parent of three boys who get bored quickly. Nothing irritates me more than having paid an arm and a leg to do something to only have them whine within half an hour. So I consider myself a connoisseur, if you will, of free stuff to do.
Imagine my surprise when I hadn’t heard of the Lucky Duck Scavenger Hunt, launched in 2013.
So one pretty Sunday, I packed up the kids I had with me, and we hit the road. I explained the rules – there are several hidden bronze ducks (think Ernie’s rubber duckie) throughout downtown Huntsville. Clues are available, and it was up to us to find them. The kids were all-in! (Color me shocked, honestly!) We happened to have a hard copy of the clues – which you can pick up at the Downtown Huntsville Visitor Center – but they’re also available online. This actually worked out perfectly since I have one boy who is beginning to read; he could carry the hard copy, and I had the online version open on my phone to help with the harder words. We parked and started at EarlyWorks Children's Museum, since he quickly figured out that one of the ducks could be found nearby. I had the 2 year old in a stroller, and we navigated the scavenger hunt by foot, which was easily doable. Be warned – these ducks are sometimes hard to see, but that’s what made it fun! If they were brightly colored or oversized, where would the challenge lie? (My kids take after me, and we look to DOMINATE all competitions).
We found all but two ducks (one we simply could not find and the other one was hard to get to due to maintenance at Big Spring Park East), and it took us about two hours on foot. And don’t worry – we will be back to find those other two ducks. WE WILL DOMINATE. This particular downtown activity won me over for a couple of reasons.
One, you’re not constrained by hours or days. All of the ducks are outside, visible without having to enter any facility. It was just as easy to pick up and start the scavenger hunt on a Sunday afternoon (while the weather was ideal) as it would be during a busy Saturday afternoon. With kids, that kind of flexibility is priceless. And the biggest reason I loved this activity: it was, in fact, PRICELESS. Totally free! Remember that even parking downtown is free in most locations after 5:00 p.m. We did spend about $0.50 buying duck/fish food to feed the (real, live) ducks downtown, but that was IT. (Don’t get me wrong – I pleaded for the kids to stop in at Sam & Greg’s Pizzeria for some gelato or Cozy Cow for an iced drink, but they would not be swayed from the mission.)
All in all, this was a perfect afternoon activity for myself and the kids. We had a great time, and it’s something that’s been talked about many times since. And although we didn’t do it, if you stop back by the Visitor Center, you can claim a prize once you’ve found the ducks! (... keep an eye out for one more duck while you’re there. HINT HINT.)