Cheers to Puzzles

For Kids at Heart, Puzzle Rides Adds a New Adult Open

Put on your thinking cap and sharpen your puzzle skills—Puzzle Rides recently debuted its newest adventure, the Hot Summer Nights: Rock ‘N Roll experience, a two-hour, adults-only puzzle ride meets bar crawl in Downtown Scottsdale that visits four local bars, where participants work together to solve their puzzle and can purchase libations to sip on while figuring out the clues.

What is Puzzle Rides? It’s where an escape room meets outdoor scavenger hunt, and where participants are driven around on golf carts by a Puzzle Master while they solve the clues.

The idea was launched by Katie Dufort, who had owned a shuttle service in Prescott. In the winter, she would rent out her golf carts to people in Scottsdale.

In early 2020, while toying with the option of launching a business involving the golf carts in Scottsdale, Dufort had an idea.

“We happened to go to an escape room for my daughter’s birthday,” she says. “And I thought, ‘I can do an escape room-style scavenger hunt in Scottsdale.’”

Although Puzzle Rides was set to launch in March of 2020, the opening was delayed due to the pandemic.

It first launched in Prescott in July of 2020, then in Scottsdale in October of 2020. Once launched, it grew extremely quickly.

Puzzle Rides is a timed event, where participants are given 75 minutes to solve their puzzle (except for the Hot Summer Nights, which runs for two hours), and where the riders determine the route.

“The participants tell us where to go,” Dufort explains. “Not point-to-point directions, but general destinations like the library.”

Run in Downtown Scottsdale, participants are given maps of where clues could be, which they then use to determine where they want to go.

“We do take riders to the wrong location if they insist on going there, but we really do want people to win, so we do give a lot of directional hints. We tell them in advance that we’ll do that—but only if they want!” Dufort says.

Puzzle Rides offers a variety of experiences for ages 5 and up.

Beyond just the unique bar crawl, there are all types of puzzle experiences. Options beyond Hot Summer Nights include the Hijacked By Science, Pirate’s Treasure Adventure, Ghost Riders, and Wild West Heist options.

The rides are exclusive to the booked group, and a minimum of 4 participants is recommended. The golf carts can generally fit 5 adults, plus the Puzzle Master, and groups of six or more are typically split between multiple carts for a fun “dueling” experience. All groups are given the same puzzle and then the race is on to see who can solve it the fastest. Large groups can also be accommodated with other options.

In addition to simply offering people a fun time and an activity that requires them to work together, Dufort is especially proud of the fact that the rides promote local small businesses in the area. The clues bring people to various businesses that the company partnered with, allowing them to see and experience places they may not have known existed.

“We take great joy in reminding people to work together, be present, and have fun. To be able to bring joy to people in a fun experience is one of the things that drives me,” Dufort shares. “The other thing is that we really promote small businesses by visiting them, partnering with them, and bringing people to them. We’ve even been known to stop the clock when we’re in a certain store in Old Town Scottsdale because people want to shop!”

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