Updated February 27, 2019 by Melissa Harr

The 10 Best Puzzles For Adults

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This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in April of 2016. It's not just kids who could use a regular break from TVs, video games, computers, and smartphones. These puzzles for adults offer an alternative to staring at screens that’s challenging, relaxing, and even good for the brain. Our selection includes a variety of eclectic designs, so you’re sure to find one to pique your interest, whether you're into fiction, pop culture, or the natural world. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best puzzle for adults on Amazon.

10. MasterPieces Noah's Ark

9. Aquarius Pink Floyd Back Art

8. Ravensburger 3D The Earth

7. SunsOut Eagle Eye

6. Buffalo Games Starry Night

5. Wrebbit 3D Hogwarts Great Hall

4. White Mountain Puzzles The 1990s

3. Eurographics Evolution The Tree of Life

2. Buffalo Games Cinque Terre

1. Ravensburger Road Trip USA

Editor's Notes

February 26, 2019:

We investigated both flat and 3-D puzzles, as each are fun and challenging in their own way. After some consideration, we removed the Educa Antique World Map due to persistent and ongoing complaints about missing pieces (seriously, is there anything more annoying when completing a puzzle?). We also thought about removing the Buffalo Games Starry Night due to its perceived complexity, but we decided to leave it for all of those folks whose idea of fun involves the words "grueling" or "challenging." Also, we added the elegant Eurographics Evolution The Tree of Life thanks to its detailing and visual interest; if you've got a student of the sciences in your life, this would make a memorable gift.

Several Tips For Putting Together a Jigsaw Puzzle

Down the stretch, the remaining pieces should make sense based on a process of elimination.

When working on a jigsaw puzzle, the most logical place to begin is around the border. A puzzle's border features pieces with straight edges, and its four corner pieces all have right angles. The color and direction of every corner piece should tell you where that piece belongs.

Once you've constructed the framework, you can begin to move inward, while also connecting individual pieces that fit somewhere in between. You should be able to identify where certain pieces belong based on matching the colors of those pieces against the picture on the puzzle's box. Certain puzzle boxes have been designed to scale, which means you can complete the puzzle, piece-by-piece, by using the box much like a paint by number. Keep an eye out for any pieces that are uniquely shaped, as it's much easier to locate a companion piece for these.

As you're sifting through pieces, you'll want to sort similar-looking pieces into separate piles (This will allow you to work on consolidated sections of the puzzle, one-by-one). Do you notice any distinctive objects in the puzzle? How about any letters, numbers, or other characters? If you can spot these, you'll have a good idea of where to place any of the corresponding pieces.

Once you've interlocked a few pieces, you can place them in the puzzle's frame according to where they should fit. This way you'll have fewer pieces outside of the puzzle and a clearer sense of what's still missing within. Down the stretch, the remaining pieces should make sense based on a process of elimination. Mix and match those final tiles and even the most intricate puzzle will be complete.

When, Where, & Why a Puzzle Makes Great Sense

Everybody knows that a puzzle seems custom-made for a rainy day, but a puzzle can also be used as a healthy distraction, a mid-day diversion, or a pleasant way to end each night. A puzzle is superb for keeping both children and adults entertained, and it can be completed in almost any setting, whether it be on an outdoor porch or an indoor couch.

Jigsaw puzzles are similar in that you can purchase them based on the number of pieces, the size of those pieces, the size of the puzzle, or the intricacy of the design.

Puzzles don't only pass the time, they exercise the brain. By definition, any puzzle is meant to test a person's problem-solving skills. Children can use puzzles to learn about shapes and spatial relations, for example, whereas adults can use puzzles to sharpen their focus, logic, and analytical skills.

Jigsaw puzzles are a lot like crossword puzzles in that they can be designed with several layers of complexity. Most newspapers make their crossword puzzles more difficult as the week progresses, with certain publications, including The New York Times, publishing an expert-level puzzle every Sunday. Jigsaw puzzles are similar in that you can purchase them based on the number of pieces, the size of those pieces, the size of the puzzle, or the intricacy of the design.

In a culture that is essentially dominated by smartphones, social media, and several other weak diversions, the puzzle remains a simple way to disconnect and decompress, while simultaneously dedicating your mind to making connections, almost all of which will help you to clarify the big picture.

A Brief History of The Puzzle

Early puzzles, which were known as dissections, were originally used to teach geography in 18th-century England. These puzzles usually featured a map of either a country or a continent, with wooden pieces cut out to represent the borders of each land.

Jigsaw puzzles became even more popular throughout World War II, with devotees competing to see who could solve a complicated puzzle the fastest.

The pieces of these wooden dissections were individually cut by a fretsaw. Both the jigsaw and the jigsaw puzzle were already in existence at this point, but manufacturers largely shunned the jigsaw method because it demanded creating puzzles out of cardboard, which was considered low-grade.

Cardboard puzzles began to catch on during The Great Depression in America, as people with suffering incomes came to appreciate a puzzle's affordable cost, and manufacturers came to appreciate the inexpensive means of production.

Jigsaw puzzles became even more popular throughout World War II, with devotees competing to see who could solve a complicated puzzle the fastest. Soon after, large companies began to use jigsaw puzzles as a promotional tool. These puzzles, which were often given away for free, featured images of a company's logo (either that or some product that the company was promoting).

Today, there are traditional jigsaw puzzles and there are progressive jigsaw puzzles (e.g., 3-D puzzles, puzzles with oddly-shaped pieces, digital puzzles, or puzzles that are built around an optical illusion, etc.) The world's largest jigsaw puzzle comprises 551,232 pieces, and it runs 76 feet wide. By and large, most puzzles remain in production because they represent a simple and entertaining way to occupy one's mind.

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Melissa Harr
Last updated on February 27, 2019 by Melissa Harr

Melissa Harr is a language-obsessed writer from Chicagoland who holds both a bachelor of arts and master of arts in English. Although she began as a TEFL teacher, earning several teaching certificates and working in both Russia and Vietnam, she moved into freelance writing to satisfy her passion for the written word. She has published full-length courses and books in the realm of arts & crafts and DIY; in fact, most of her non-working time is spent knitting, cleaning, or committing acts of home improvement. Along with an extensive knowledge of tools, home goods, and crafts and organizational supplies, she has ample experience (okay, an obsession) with travel gear, luggage, and the electronics that make modern life more convenient.


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