Here’s a free, fun way to explore a local neighborhood and entertain the kids. This summer, local independent booksellers are hosting Find Waldo scavenger hunts. While most kids have an iffy track record as finders at home, they love Where’s Waldo?, and now they can put those searching skills to the test around town.

How it Works

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In July pick up a Find Waldo passport at these local independent book and toy stores: A Children’s Place Bookstore in Northeast Portland, Maggie Mae’s Kids Bookshop in Gresham, or MudPuddles Toys and Books in Sherwood. Find Waldo hiding in local businesses and get your passport stamped for each place you find him. Then turn your passport in to enter raffles or win prizes. 

The Hunt Begins

Last year, my daughter Maggie and I picked up our passports at A Children’s Place, got the low-down on how it all works, and started our search. We visited shops, a bank, and restaurants around Fremont Place and the Beaumont neighborhood. We had a really good time! There were a few pleasant surprises:

  • Hunting for Waldo is fun, so there was no drama over (not) buying things. When we set out, I was a little worried that we’d end up in an argument at each store when some book, toy, or bauble caught Maggie’s eye. We did some browsing, but Maggie was focused on finding Waldo and getting her passport stamped. As we entered Beanstalk Children’s Resale (which is overflowing with colorful toys and clothes), Maggie turned to me and said, “Remember, we are here to find Waldo.”
  • Everyone in the shops was super-nice. I felt welcome and never pressured to buy anything. Considering we visited ten places, and that the staff was a random selection of people working that day, they all seemed exceptionally good with kids. The librarian at the Albina Library even had Maggie re-hide Waldo after she found him. At Beaumont Hardware, other customers joined in to help Maggie find Waldo.
  • Waldo can be hard to find in real-life, too. I consider myself an expert finder, but I often relied on all the staff’s helpful clues to get us searching in the right direction. Sometimes a pointed glance in one direction is all it takes. Sometimes it takes more—it was humbling.
  • It’s fun to explore neighborhoods and new stores. Maggie’s goal to collect passport stamps made her an agreeable partner. I got to check out new places in a way I haven’t been able to in . . . about seven years.

If You Go

Start your own Waldo search at one of the stores below (some stores have the passport online so you can print it out at home and start at any participating business). Pick a day when you and the kids are feeling at least a little bit social.

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Remember, it’s free and low-key, and you can visit as many (or as few) stores as will work out for you—and you can always head to more another day. Find Waldo Local runs through the month of July.

A Children’s Place Bookstore, 1423 NE Fremont St, Portland.

Maggie Mae’s Kids Bookshop, 43 NW 3rd Street, Gresham.

MudPuddles Toy and Books, Sherwood Plaza Shopping Center, 16420 SW Langer Drive, Sherwood.

Michelle Carew
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