An Amazing Race Happens this Weekend in Downtown San Diego

No not the TV show–but get geared up for the molto bene "Little Italy Urban Challenge" scavenger hunt

Pronto Via (ready, set, go)!

Lace up your sneakers and bring your A-game downtown this weekend for the Little Italy Urban Challenge 2022. It’s the third installment of a neighborhood scavenger hunt in the nation’s largest Little Italy.

San Diego’s 48-block Little Italy–brimming with restaurants and specialty shops–is regularly ranked as one of the best-to-visit in the country.

A fun excuse to check out all the local pizza, pasta, bites and sights is this August 28 scavenger hunt.

The two-hour contest begins and ends at the Little Italy Food Hall on Date Street. Opened in 2018, the food hall houses half a dozen restaurants and opens onto the lively, 10,000-square-foot outdoor Piazza della Famiglia.

The Scavenger Hunt

Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien emcees the 2021 Little Italy Urban Challenge.

The scavenger hunt is produced by Grain & Grit Collective, which runs the Little Italy Food Hall and co-owns several interior restaurants with TV personality/cookbook author Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien.

Zien, who will emcee the event, is a partner in onsite eateries Not Not Tacos, Samburgers and Graze by Sam.

Why a scavenger hunt?

“A local resident who’s a regular at the food hall brought us the idea,” says Grain & Grit marketing manager Lindsey Pierce. “It seemed like a fun way to connect with the community and also share some historical facts.”

The initial scavenger hunt was held in 2019. After a COVID time-out, the event resumed in 2021.

About 50 teams of two people participated in the event last year, Pierce says. She expects a larger crowd this go-round.

“A lot of people are out for a fun day, and there will definitely be a mix of competitive people out to win,” she says.

In It To Win It

Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien toasts winners of the 2021 event.

Count me in. Consider me a scavenger hunt hound. Not-so-humble brag: I once captained a team that won a citywide hunt and netted a freezer full of Dreyer’s Ice Cream.

Yep, that was me. I also assist on scavenger hunts as a team leader for the local team-building company Out of the Ordinary Group Adventures.

I plan to hoist a trophy this Sunday.

Note: I’m passing along all the knowledge I have about the Little Italy Downtown Challenge right here:

  • You can pre-register online here.
  • It’s $55 for two people (including t-shirts); or $34 without tees.
  • Check in begins at noon on Sunday, August 28. The hunt runs from 1 to 3 p.m.
  • Teams get their scavenger hunt clues at the beginning of the race.
  • The winning team will get the most answers correct and finish in the shortest amount of time.
  • Prizes will go to first, second and third places. Winners will take home gift baskets mixed with Little Italy merch.

See you at the finish line. Buona fortuna! SDSun


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