Achievement unlocked!
July 6, 2015 2:14 PM   Subscribe

What tourist activities/sights offer "achievements" for participation or completion?

The last time Mr. bowtiesarecool and I went to London, we visited The Monument and climbed allll the way up it specifically because you receive a certificate of achievement if you do. This was a big hit.

What other things can we do that offer similar rewards? The only thing I can think of is Man vs. Food-style restaurant challenges, but we're open to anything that doesn't involve swimming or being underwater. I would also prefer things that involve getting a certificate of participation, rather than competitive events. I run, so I already have my mental list of races to do, and that's not really Mr. bowtiesarecool's thing. Absolutely no restrictions on geography, although for reference, we are based in the Washington, DC area of the US. I have gotten on long flights for stupider reasons.

Tell me what achievements we can unlock!
posted by bowtiesarecool to Travel & Transportation (30 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
This could take years to unlock, but there is the Catskill 3500 Club:

Anyone wanting to become a member has to climb all 35 Catskill High Peaks and, (in a departure from the requirements of most other hiking clubs), climb Slide, Blackhead, Balsam and Panther mountains again in winter, which is defined by the Club as the period from December 21 thru March 21, inclusive.

You get a certificate and are invited to a gala dinner.
posted by maggiemaggie at 2:21 PM on July 6, 2015

I know in Japan, tourist sites and railway companies often have stamp rallies, where each place has an ink stamp you put on a special sheet of paper or booklet with spots for each stamp. I assume you get some prize if you complete it, but I've never actually completed one so wouldn't know. The stamps themselves are usually nice. A bigger version of this is the 88 temple pilgrimage in Shikoku. You definitely don't get a prize at the end, but a completed book with 88+ stamps could be considered a prize in itself (You are supposed to start and finish at Koyasan, and there may be other stamps as well). You also have to pay for the stamps at each temple, which makes it a bit more expensive than the run of the mill stamp rallies which are totally free.

The Waterfront Trail in Ontario used to give out some kind of certificate for people who have completed the entire trail during the year. I don't think it matters how you do it (ie you could run, walk, cycle, etc). I do not know if they still offer this though.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:24 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland will get you a certificate of achievement.

If you register yourself before beginning the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, you get a little booklet that will be stamped every day you walk at the hostel you stop at.
posted by apparently at 2:26 PM on July 6, 2015

I have a Segway driver's license from s Segway tour we did last week in Minneapolis. Yes, we are dorks. Yes, it was fun.
posted by advicepig at 2:26 PM on July 6, 2015

Collectible Tokens
posted by easter queen at 2:28 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

They give you a little gift of whiskey (and I think also a certificate, can't remember for sure) for flying the shortest commercial flight in the world.
posted by backseatpilot at 2:29 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

The National Parks in the US have a "passport" that you can get stamped at each park.
posted by mrfuga0 at 2:30 PM on July 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

You could try letterboxing on Dartmoor (Devon, UK). People have hidden rubber stamps all over the moor and you can go on long rambles looking for them and collecting the stamps.
posted by pipeski at 2:35 PM on July 6, 2015

When climbing Mt. Fuji, you buy a wooden walking stick beforehand at the bottom. At various stages along the way, you can pay a nominal fee (a dollar or two equiv.) to get your stick branded with a unique stamp for that station, just like the achievement medals in video games. I have all the stations, plus "sunrise from the top".
posted by ctmf at 2:43 PM on July 6, 2015 [15 favorites]

Kentucky Bourbon Trail -- get your "passport" stamped at all 9 distilleries on the trail, and you get a special t-shirt.
posted by mean square error at 3:12 PM on July 6, 2015

If you're into beer, there's the Bend Ale Trail & the spinoff Eugene Ale Trail. Those are good for Silipints and growlers.
posted by CrystalDave at 3:15 PM on July 6, 2015

Probably out of your geographic reach, but I just discovered that you can get a patch for motorcycling on 10 Wisconsin Rustic Roads.
posted by Wulfhere at 3:16 PM on July 6, 2015

National Parks offer a Junior Ranger Badge if you complete some tasks like picking up litter, asking questions of a ranger, drawing some things you saw, etc. I don't really know if there is an age limit, my wife got one at Yosemite, but we also have children who did it at the same time.
posted by jclarkin at 3:44 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

At some point, collecting achievements starts to resemble the real hobby of collecting, particularly when you're collecting things that can be acquired only in a special place and time (and not, say, scanning Ebay).

Cover collecting is a variant of stamp collecting, where you're collecting the envelope, stamp and postal mark from a specific time and place.

An idea is to travel to special locations on special days, then send yourself letters from your travel spots on the special day in question. For example, the island of Kiribati is the first location on the planet to celebrate a new year. Go there, have some fun, do the countdown, then get your cover stamped by the Kiribati post office on Jan. 1.


Then you can greatly expand what you mean by "achievement," because anything can be an achievement for you, and you'll have the covers to prove it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:56 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by BlahLaLa at 4:06 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Camino de Santiago "pilgrim's passport" mentioned earlier entitles you to a certificate of completion (the compostela) if you've walked at least 100km and have the stamps to prove it. If you go to confession and attend Mass within a certain period of time after completion, it also entitles you to a somewhat more metaphysical bonus: a plenary indulgence, e.g. forgiveness for any and all sins, which eliminates the need to spend time doing penance in Purgatory before you get to go to Heaven. (Of course it doesn't apply to sins you commit afterward, but at least you're starting with a clean slate.) Technically this offer is only open to Catholics, insofar as only baptized Catholics are supposed to receive confession, but it's not like anyone's checking.
posted by fermion at 4:09 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

When I lived in Wisconsin, I enjoyed going to Corn Mazes (just what it sounds like, a cornfield with a maze of paths in it). And there's one in Lodi called Treinen Farm that combines a corn maze with the kind of stamp rally that any portmanteau in a storm mentions above.

They discuss it on this page: one challenge is to find all the mailboxes in the maze, getting a piece of map from each and putting them together. But the extra challenge, and one with prizes, is to search out all the additional "secret locations" with hole punches and punch your map with them.

If you like walking around inside a field of giant cornstalks in a Wisconsin October, I highly recommend it. (Treinen, like some other mazes, also has after-dark events on certain nights, which is super cool and spooky.)
posted by theatro at 4:24 PM on July 6, 2015

Akin to the Catskill 3500 club, there is also the Adirondack 46ers, which requires you to climb all of a given list of 46 peaks in the Adirondacks. You get a chance to order logo gear and you get invited to a gala. You can also join the "Winter 46ers," which requires you to have climbed the 46 peaks in Winter.

A more friendly and beginner-level version of that (which I just learned about last week, and have decided I'm actually going to go for) is the Saranac 6ers, which requires you to climb all six of a given list of peaks nearby the town of Saranac Lake, New York. You can also try going for the "Winter 6er" level (climbing them in winter) or the "Ultra 6er" level (climbing all six in one single 24-hour period). Membership entitles you to a patch, a bumper sticker, bragging rights, and the at-will right to ring a bell that has been erected in the center of town.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:35 PM on July 6, 2015

In Bristol at the moment there's the Shaun the Sheep trail - 70 statues of Aardman's Shaun the Sheep out and about in the city as a holiday activity and fundraiser for the Children's Hospital. The achievement is in ticking them off as you find them, but there's an app that lets you collect trophies and compete against other sheep seekers. You mentioned London so praps it's accessible? tho I reckon if you lived in Bristol you'd know about it already.
posted by glasseyes at 4:54 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

At the Garden Maze at Luray Caverns, Virginia, you find a stamp from four different stations hidden in the maze, (which gives you a discount in the gift shop). It's a fun maze.
posted by hiker U. at 4:59 PM on July 6, 2015

Play Ingress and the whole world becomes basically this.
posted by town of cats at 6:02 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

When I did the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu a few years back, I got a pretty cool "passport" certificate at the end of it.
posted by EmilyFlew at 6:12 PM on July 6, 2015

Scavenger hunts, room escapes, and geocaching are all more contrived but do have some form of reward at the end!
posted by doctordrey at 6:57 PM on July 6, 2015

Some cruise lines will do a Crossing the Line ceremony when they cross the equator - complete with certificate at the end.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:30 PM on July 6, 2015

Another mountain club: in NH, you can join the Four Thousand Footers by hiking all the White Mountains peaks higher than 4 thousand feet.

Also in NH, you can do the Fire Lookout Tower Quest - climb all the fire towers, get a patch.
posted by Miko at 8:09 PM on July 6, 2015

Japan has lots of these. Visit during the first week of the year and you can do a Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage to a number of local shrines - you can buy a scroll and get it stamped at each shrine, and also buy little figurines of all the Gods. Lots of localities have their own pilgrimages, so you could even collect different cards from different cities!

Also, if you have some serious time to spend in the country, you can visit all 100 Fine Castles of Japan. Get your book stamped at all 100 castles and I think you can get some sort of certificate.

There also used to be a similar rally for all the big TV/radio towers in Japan, but I'm not sure if that's still done.

And, as mentioned above, there are quite a few multi-temple pilgrimages around the country, the Shikoku 88 being the most famous. But you don't actually have to do a specific pilgrimage to get temple stamps. A good many temples and shrines in Japan offer goshuin, which are basically a combination of temple stamp and calligraphy to commemorate your visit. You can buy a book (often sold at the shrine or temple shop) and, at each visit, pay a relatively small fee ($5-$10 roughly) and have your book inscribed. There's no "achievement unlocked" for collecting them all because, honestly, there are so many temples and shrines in the country that it's humanly impossible to do so. But you can get all the stamps in a specific pilgrimage route, of which there are literally dozens, or even just make up your own list of places to visit.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 8:15 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Walking the Trans-Pennine Trail across the North of England you can collect stamps in a booklet. and I'm sure there used to be a similar idea for the Pennine Way itself, maybe stamps in your YHA card from the hostels en route.

(The illustrious Alan Wainwright arranged for anyone completing the Pennine Way to get a pint at his expense from the pub at the end. It apparently cost him 15 thousand pound before he passed in 91.)
posted by runincircles at 2:12 AM on July 7, 2015

The Minnesota State Park system has a Hiking Club trail at each state park. Hike them all and get a plaque! Also, get patches at 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175 and all miles.

(We're up to 158.4 miles!)
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:18 AM on July 7, 2015

This is awesome! Thank you! I marked as favorites the things that I actually hope to do in the near-ish future (my big plan for 2016 is visiting Japan in the fall), but these are all very cool.

And fermion's answer is just amazing because I had no idea indulgences were even still a thing. Mind blown.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 1:45 PM on July 8, 2015

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