14 Best Puzzles, Games, and Books to Entertain Travelers

Travelers who have had to cancel spring trips due to the spread of the coronavirus are likely feeling a little restless. And while…

Travelers who have had to cancel spring trips due to the spread of the coronavirus are likely feeling a little restless. And while there are plenty of virtual attractions to satiate your appetite for adventure, sometimes you just need a break from the screen. To help, US News has rounded up some of the best travel-themed puzzles, games and books to keep you busy while you lounge at home. Read on to discover our list of activities suitable for all ages, abilities and tastes.

Brain teaser

National Geographic Colosseum 3D Puzzle

Spring is a great time to visit Italy, so why not build your own Colosseum in honor of Rome? National Geographic’s 3D puzzle comes with everything you need to build the model; assembly requires no scissors or glue. Plus, the puzzle comes with a booklet that explores the Colosseum’s role in Rome’s history.

The puzzle is ideal for ages 10 and up. It has 131 pieces and costs around $25.

[ Buy now.]

CubicFun Moscow 3D Puzzle

For a challenge, try this Moscow skyline 3D puzzle. You will build Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin and more. The intricate piece even includes miniature residents of Moscow. Previous builders agree that CubicFun’s puzzles are of excellent quality and satisfying to put together. Past customers also say the puzzle is great for all ages, although young children may need some help.

This 107-piece puzzle costs around $20 and takes about two hours to complete, according to its listing. You can also buy Venice, London and other major European cities skyline puzzles from the same company.

[ Buy now.]

Shanghai Cityscape Time 4D Puzzle

This unique puzzle combines all four dimensions – length, width, height and time – to teach you the history of Shanghai as you build. The first layer of the puzzle is a traditional puzzle that depicts Shanghai in the 1900s. The second layer, a smaller puzzle, features the current layout of Shanghai, including roads and buildings, piecemeal. The third and final layer adds 3D models of the city’s famous buildings to complete the skyline.

[See: 5 Travel-Themed Activities to Do at Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak.]

Previous builders have enjoyed the puzzle, but caution that it’s best suited for older children or adults. In total, the puzzle has more than 1,100 pieces. This Shanghai puzzle costs around $40.

[ Buy now.]


Thousand mile stones

This French-themed racing game is all the fun (and pitfalls) of a road trip, without an actual vehicle. After getting a green light card, players attempt to be the first to complete 1,000 miles. However, drivers can sabotage their teammates by puncturing another player’s tires or forcing them to a speed limit.

The game is entertaining for children and adults. Mille Bornes is designed for two to eight players and lasts approximately 20 minutes. The starting price is $14.95, but you might be able to find better deals online.

[ Buy now.]

Ticket to Ride — First Ride

Ticket to Ride is a classic tabletop game, and this version is specifically aimed at kids. In First Journey, players complete tickets by building train routes between cities. The first Engineer to complete six Tickets wins. Reviewers overwhelmingly agree that this board game is perfect for kids, but note that younger players may still need some help.

The game lasts approximately 30 minutes and is ideal for two to four players, ages 6 and up. Prices start at $34.99, but you might be able to find a better price online.

[ Buy now.]

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

Carmen Sandiego is an iconic character known for her stealth and theft. In this card game, players race across the world to catch Carmen Sandiego, and the first player to do so wins. To advance in the game, capture Carmen’s henchmen for clues to her location. Gamers agree that the game is enjoyable and reminiscent of the classic video game series.

[Read: The 12 Best Language-Learning Programs.]

Each game lasts about 30 minutes. Two to four detectives can try to catch Carmen at a time, and it’s ideal for ages 8 and up. The MSRP for this game is $14.99, but you can search the internet for a better deal.

[ Buy now.]

Trekking in national parks: the family board game

Reviewers say this game is easy to learn, great fun, and teaches them a lot about America’s national parks. Travelers win the game by racking up the most points, which they earn by crossing the United States to visit places like Glacier National Park, the Grand Canyon, and Shenandoah National Park.

The game is aimed at families, but reviewers say it can be quite difficult to entertain a group of adults. Up to five contestants can join in the fun at the same time. Trekking in national parks starts at $50.

[ Buy now.]


“Destinations of a Lifetime” by National Geographic

This photo-rich book contains 250 images taken in various exotic locations by National Geographic’s incredible photographers. Flip through to explore unusual destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, the Cook Islands and Alaska’s Pribilof Islands. Yet this book is more than just a glossy tour. “Destinations of a Lifetime” also includes information about each location, such as the best times to go and insider planning tips. For would-be photographers, there are also sections on how the artists captured particular shots.

The book usually costs around $40, but you might be able to find a deal online.

[ Buy now.]

“Travel Puzzles” by Highlights Hidden Pictures

Pictures are not what they appear in this activity book from Highlights, a company well known for its variety of products for children up to 12 years old. Each black-and-white illustration, which features travel-themed destinations ranging from the Statue of Liberty to the White House to airports, contains hidden drawings for kids to find on their own. For example, what appears to be a hot air balloon basket could actually be a drum, and a bush could actually be a bird.

Reviewers praise the book, noting that although it is aimed at elementary school children, it is difficult for all ages. The book contains over 100 puzzles and nearly 2,000 hidden objects. Prices start at around $10.

[ Buy now.]

“World Landmarks” by Abi Daker

Help soothe the travel itch by coloring in your favorite destinations. Illustrator Abi Daker, who specializes in architectural drawings, has created renderings of the world’s most popular destinations like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Sydney Opera House and Tower Bridge in London.

In all, there are 35 places to color as you see fit. According to reviews, the book is large and the intricate designs are best suited for teenagers or adults. This coloring book starts at $14.95.

[ Buy now.]

“Around the World in 80 Days” by Jules Verne

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include a few literary classics on this list. Jules Verne’s beloved ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ follows Phileas Fogg’s journey to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days – a feat for 1872, the year the novel is set. With the help of his valet Passepartout, Fogg could make the trip in record time.

[Read: Social Distancing Outside: Safe Places to Go and Things to Do.]

Verne’s imagination has stood the test of time, and readers regularly praise the entertaining novel (although some admit his writing style may seem dated). The book is about 130 pages and costs about $5.

[ Buy now.]

“The Travel Activity Book for Kids” by Peanut Prodigy

This activity book is ideal for youngsters who like to have a variety of things to do. The book includes mazes, connection puzzles, word searches, and coloring pages, among other options. Plus, the pages all revolve around travel-related activities like flying on a plane, going on a road trip, or discovering American cities.

This book is ideal for children ages 6 to 10, according to Peanut Prodigy, the publisher. Reviews give “The Travel Activity Book for Kids” nothing but praise. Get a book for your toddler for around $6.

[ Buy now.]

Homer’s “Odyssey”, translated by Alexander Pope

Perhaps the best-known and longest-running travelogue, “The Odyssey” has inspired countless other works, from television to film to books. The story follows Odysseus, king of the Greek island of Ithaca, on his return journey from Troy for 10 years after the end of the Trojan War. Along the way, Odysseus encounters a cyclops, a nymph, goddesses, and gods, each helping or hindering Odysseus on his travels.

The epic poem may be difficult for young readers to grasp, and some content may not be suitable for children. You can get a copy for around $15.

[ Buy now.]

“World Traveler Coloring Book” by Thaneeya McArdle

For kids new to coloring techniques or adults who don’t like intricate patterns, this book is worth a look. The “World Traveler Coloring Book” includes whimsical drawings of 30 of the world’s most recognizable landmarks, from the Eiffel Tower to the Great Wall of China to Diamond Head in Hawaii. The book also includes an educational section that describes different coloring techniques and tips, as well as examples of pre-colored images.

Each page is printed on one side only to prevent smudging, a feature recent buyers appreciate. Buy the book for around $10.

[ Buy now.]

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14 Best Puzzles, Games, and Books to Entertain Travelers originally appeared on usnews.com