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How to Rock the Twelve Elves of Dublin Scavenger Hunt

The 12 Elves of Dublin is a fun way to explore Dublin, Ohio and celebrate the holiday season with your kids!

Please note: this post was originally written in 2017 and may include some details only relevant to 2017. But dates have been updated for 2023 and I think you can still get the gist of how fun this experience is no matter what year it is!

2023 Dates are: December 4, 2023 – December 23, 2023

Over the weekend we spent Saturday morning exploring Historic Downtown Dublin doing the Twelve Elves of Dublin scavenger hunt! There are so many fun things to do in Dublin, Ohio and this trail is a fun outing that offers something for the whole family! I’m partnering with Historic Dublin to tell you how to Rock the Scavenger Hunt in this December!

Found the Elf at Daso Custom Cabinetry!

In 12 participating businesses around Historic Dublin, an elf is hiding, just waiting to be found by your eager kiddos! You can begin the hunt at any one of the 12 locations by picking up an Elf Card and finding the elf. At each stop, the kids can point out the Elf to the employee and they will receive a small prize and a stamp on their card. The small prizes are a mix of candy, stickers, tattoos, etc.

Finding the Elf at Ha’penny Bridge Imports of Ireland brought this little guy lots of satisfaction!

Head to all 12 locations, in no particular order, collecting your stamps and prizes. When finished, you can turn your Elf Card into any of the participating businesses and the accompanying adult will be entered into a drawing to win a prize basket filled with prizes from each of the participating businesses! (See, there’s a win for the parents, too! 😉 )

Dublin Ohio CVB Visitor Center was one of our first stops!
Getting our cards at Boho 72 Boutique!

My kids were totally into the hunt! They were surprisingly focused on finding each elf. Well, let me clarify, my first born, type A child was focused on the exact number they had found and how many more were left to find. My second child, just 3 years old, was focused on where to get the next piece of candy! 😉

Candy cane prizes at Ha’penny Bridge Imports of Ireland!

It had been a while since I walked around Downtown Dublin on foot, so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of getting the kids around. It turned out that all of the locations were surprisingly close! My 3 year old had no trouble keeping up without a stroller. We even back-tracked a few times to go to places that hadn’t opened yet when we started the hunt.

If you aren’t in the holiday spirit before walking around Downtown Dublin, you will be! The city is beautifully decorated! It’s kind of like walking around in a Christmas card!

Historic Dublin

This was such a fun thing to do as a family! It took us about 2 1/2 hours, but that included a leisurely stop for lunch. I would allow 1-2 hours to complete the hunt depending on your family and your schedule.

This scavenger hunt is NOT hard and we accomplished it with very little planning ahead! BUT I’m going to give you 5 tips to rock the scavenger hunt so you have a fun family time with very few hiccups!

1. Pick up your Elf Card at any participating location

The kids loved having the official Elf Card, so I would suggest picking the actual card up at your first stop, but it may be available online if you want to print it out at home!

2. Know your parking options before you get there

There are several public parking lots in Historic Dublin. See this website for ideas.

3. Check the hours of the stores

We got a jump start on Saturday morning, and some of the shops did not open until 11:00 AM or 12:00 PM so we had to backtrack. Also Daso Custom Cabinetry generally closes at 1:00 PM on Saturdays, so this is something to keep in mind if you’re doing it on the weekend.

Backtracking wasn’t that big of a deal for us because everything is so close, but if you’re on a time crunch, you’ll want to pay closer attention to this.

4. Plan out your options for snacks and meals

There are two stops on the hunt where you can have a full meal. We had lunch at Donatos about halfway through the hunt. La Chatelaine French Bakery & Bistro is the other option with a full menu. You may also want to consider your timing when stopping into the other restaurants!

Perhaps pick Winans for a coffee stop before lunch or Johnson’s Ice Cream or Our CupCakery for dessert afterwards! (Though I do want to say you are not required to purchase anything to participate in the hunt and we felt no pressure to do so at any of the locations!)

Chocolate is the prize at Winans Dublin!
Can’t beat pizza at Donatos for a mid-hunt break!
Finding the Elf was tricky at La Chatelaine French Bakery & Bistro!
Find the Elf and a little ice cream treat at Johnson’s Real Ice Cream!
The cutest holiday cupcakes at Our CupCakery!

5. Build in time for the adults to enjoy the hunt, too!

This hunt doesn’t have to be just for the kids. This is a great opportunity to get some holiday shopping done, pick up a few decorating tips or take care of some business! We even took a few minutes to appreciate fine art at Terra Gallery!

Perusing the finer side of art at Terra Gallery!
Decorate for the holidays at Chelsea Borough Home!
Kids you can pick out a Christmas gift for mom at Boho 72 Boutique . . . Hint Hint!
A Christmas Story throwback at Dean Insurance Group!

We had a blast seeing Dublin in a new way! I highly recommend this activity for a low-cost holiday outing that is fun for the whole family!

The boys were very proud of their completed Elf Cards!
Mail a letter to Santa while you’re at it!

Know Before You Go:

-The 12 Elves of Dublin scavenger hunt takes place between December 4, 2023 – December 23, 2023

-The participating locations (Updated for 2023) are as follows:

The Getaway Brewing Co.
Boho 72 Boutique
Dublin Toy Emporium
Paris 75 Cafe
Dean Insurance Group
Johnson’s Real Ice Cream
Dublin Visitor and information Center
Missing Jimmy’s
Winan’s Dublin
Our CupCakery
Trevor Furbay

-Your completed card must be returned to any of the participating businesses by the end of day December 23, 2023.

See all the details here!

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ICYMI: 10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions

25 Things to do in Columbus, Ohio in December (2023)

Friday 1st of December 2023

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Wednesday 6th of December 2017

Hi Julie,

Great post about the 12 Elves Hunt. I just wanted to let you know that Daso Custom Cabinetry is open until 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays, not 12:00 p.m. Also, Saturday December 9th Daso Custom Cabinetry will be open until 4:00 p.m.

Thank you!

Julie Miller

Wednesday 6th of December 2017

Thanks for that info, Allie! I've updated the post!