If you love walking through historic downtowns but want to keep it fun for the kids, plan a trip to one of six South Carolina cities offering free, self-guided scavenger hunt tours.
On these scavenger hunts, you’ll be looking for small sculptures of an animal or item related to the city’s history or the state of South Carolina. The sculptures are usually placed at notable points of interest or historic sites.
While your kids are chasing down clues, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the sights, learn about the town’s history and get a closer look at the architectural details of the buildings.
Below are cities offering scavenger hunt tours and the story behind the object of their hunt. Go forth and explore!
Anderson – Search through the historic downtown for two dozen small, bronze Carolina wrens roosting in some unusual spots. No binoculars needed to spy these little birdies.
Why: Carolina wrens are South Carolina’s official state bird. The boisterous little songbirds are often found in urban areas, so look for them along with their bronze replicas as you walk through Anderson.
Sample clue: Here the early bird gets the worm and the best produce in town!
Easley – The Trains on Main scavenger hunt follows the story of a little boy who loses the cars of his toy train and needs help finding them. The little bronze engine and coal tender can be found in front of City Hall; the rest of the cars have been placed near shops and city landmarks.
Why: Proud of its origins as a freight line depot, Easley has embraced its heritage, adopting the railroad as its unofficial mascot.
Sample clue: The cattle car is waiting outside of where you can buy ice cream; you can look directly across from here and see the city green.
Columbia – A 2-mile loop tour takes you on a hunt for Sally Salamander, a 7-inch bronze sculpture of the lizard-like amphibian that has taken up residence at 20 different locations within an eight-block area of the capital city’s downtown.
Why: The spotted salamander is the official state amphibian of South Carolina.
Sample clue: You are now standing in what used to be Columbia’s train station. Yep, what once stood as the Seaboard Diner is now the Blue Marlin.
Camden – The Boykin Spaniel Invasion! features Branch, a friendly Boykin spaniel, looking for 11 of his puppy friends scattered about downtown Camden.
Why: South Carolina’s official state dog, the Boykin spaniel breed, known affectionately as the little brown dog, originated 100 years ago in the town of Boykin, a few miles south of Camden.
Sample clue: Sorry—can’t stop to talk. Must … chase … tennis … balls.
Rock Hill – Read the bios of 10 “Old Town Frogs” to find their location around town. The clues include interesting facts on the species of frogs and toads depicted in the small sculptures.
Why: Rock Hill’s unofficial mascot is Glen the Frog, a well-dressed frog caricature created by former resident and famed New York illustrator, the late Vernon Grant.
Sample clue: Hi! I’m Domino! I am an Eastern Spadefoot Toad from Charleston, SC. I love to burrow down in the sandy soil by the beach. When I’m not at the beach, I love to make art, like big, colorful paintings, and hang out with my friends in the local art center seeing art shows and hearing all the bands that play there. I love to meet new friends and I can be found in Old Town Rock Hill.
Greenville – Look for the nine “Mice on Main” hidden in plain view on either side of the lively downtown street, from the Hyatt Regency to the Westin Poinsett.
Why: Inspired by the children’s book “Goodnight Moon,” the scavenger hunt was conceived as part of a student’s high school senior project in 2000.
Sample clue: Aunt Mifflin is on the corner by a bank. (It’s the oldest one downtown, to be quite frank.)