Beat the clock at the best escape rooms in Chicago

Save the White House or steal a treasure by teaming with friends to solve these escape room games in Chicago

Escape room games have exploded in popularity across the U.S. in the last few years, after first gaining a foothold in Asia and Europe. With young adults putting more of their disposable income toward experiences, it’s little surprise that these immersive games—which let you ditch your phones and team up with friends or strangers to find clues and solve puzzles in a race against the clock—are thriving. Most escape rooms start with a sturdy storyline—putting you in the shoes of spies stopping an errant missile launch, or pitting you against gangsters—and an equally robust motivation, like, say, getting out before the zombie in the corner breaks free of his restraints. Grab your friends and get to work solving these escape rooms, Chicago.

EscapeHouse Pictures
Photograph: courtesy EscapeHouse
Attractions, Arcades and amusements
EscapeHouse
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Pre-book an experience at EscapeHouse, which requires you and your group to complete a specific mission—saving the White House or escaping a spies’ safehouse. If you’re bringing a group as large as 10, you can book an entire room.
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Photograph: courtesy Escape Artistry
Attractions
Escape Artistry: Studio 350
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Escape Artistry’s original offering, “The Railcar,” puts you on an El train careening toward disaster. You'll also find rooms that pit players against Chicago gangster John Dillinger and task participants with averting a nuclear disaster.
icon-location-pin Wicker Park
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The Escape Game
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This River North space hosts four different experiences that allow guests to solve million-dollar heists, decode Secret Service missions, navigate through prison passageways or find your way back home from Mars.
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What would you do if zombies invaded Chicago?
Make-up: Kryolan Professional Make-Up
Attractions
Room Escape Adventures
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One of the first on the room-escape trend in Chicago was this outfit in the Fine Arts Building, which launched its “Trapped in a Room with a Zombie” experience in 2013. Solve the clues and find the key before the zombie breaks its chains.
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Photograph: Courtesy Escape Reality
Attractions, Arcades and amusements
Escape Reality
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Join the hunt for a pirate treasure, escape from a serial killer's lair or take part in a fight for a medieval throne at Escape Reality, which hosts six themed escape rooms in its River North space. Most of the experiences are designed for two to six people and are clearly inspired by the worlds of pop culture properties such as Game of Thrones, Alice in Wonderland and Misery.
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Photograph: Shutterstock
Attractions
PanIQ Escape Room
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This international escape room franchise distinguishes itself by never grouping you with strangers—you pay by the game, not by the person, so your group of two to six players gets the room to itself as you combat a virus outbreak, make a prison break or escape from Chicago mobsters.
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Photograph: Shutterstock
Attractions
Team vs. Time
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The Chicago outpost of this company (which has a second location in Connecticut) offers two scenarios: In one, you’re stealing a witch’s spellbook, while the other is gangster-themed.
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Photograph: Courtesy the Quandary
Attractions, Arcades and amusements
The Quandary
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Get nostalgic at this independently run escape room in Lakeview, located above the iconic L&L Tavern. With rooms based on the Home Alone movies and the experience of getting grounded in the ’90s, anyone who used to own a Tamagotchi should feel right at home. Up to 10 people can participate in some of the Quandary's rooms, so bring all of your smartest, most culturally-savvy friends.
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Photograph: courtesy Fox in a Box
Things to do, Event spaces
Fox in a Box
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Fox in a Box has room escape games for family, team-building exercises and friends just looking for a fun challenge—in private rooms only. Themes include completing a bank heist or being part of a special ops team tasked with saving the world from nuclear demise.
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Attractions
Brain Drain
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Brain Drain’s Chicago location has four themed room experiences—“Prison Break,” “Psycho,” “A.I. Rebellion” and “Portal”–each with unique challenges.
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Things to do, Games and hobbies
The Great Escape Room
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This space has several scavenger hunts and escape rooms, most with a Sherlock Holmes theme. Each room is rated based on difficulty, so you never have to wonder exactly what you're getting yourself into.
icon-location-pin Streeterville