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Reason Escape Room
Photograph: Courtesy Reason

The most fun escape rooms in San Francisco

From finding gold to escaping Alcatraz, are you smart enough to crack the best escape rooms in San Francisco?

Written by
Clara Hogan
Contributor
Matt Charnock
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Escape rooms became a buzzy trend over the past decade, but then fell away from the cultural zeitgeist during the pandemic. But now, with indoor activities re-opened, they're back – and they might just be an activity you didn't know you missed. After all, why not jump at the chance to be holed up a room with others (masked) after being holed up alone in your apartment for a year?

The best escape rooms in San Francisco run the gamut from terrifying scenarios to clever kid-friendly puzzles, but no matter what room you choose to break out of, you'll need to combine right-brain rational with left-brain creativity to crack the code. (Don't forget to make sure you pick up the best coffee in San Francisco before you get locked in.) The rooms combine fictional narratives with real-life scenarios to apply the pressure as you race against the clock and the potential consequences.

In San Francisco, you'll find escape rooms that range from intensely hard-to-solve games in the iconic Palace of Fine Arts building, to virtual escape rooms that use the latest tech. So gather your friends, family or significant other for a fun date idea and head to one of our favorite escape rooms in San Francisco. Given escape rooms make for a good team-building activity and you likely haven't seen your co-workers in a while, it could be a good office outing, too. No matter who you bring, don't forget to celebrate at one of the best bars in San Francisco after you break out.

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Best escape rooms in San Francisco

This escape room is located in an iconic San Francisco landmark: the Palace of Fine Arts. You might want to warm up before you take on Palace Games. The three escape rooms – The Great Houdini Escape, the Roosevelt Escape, and the Edison Escape Room – are among the most challenging in the Bay Area. Each room combines new technology and historic timelines to make your brain do cerebral gymnastics. You're going to need to bring a full group to crack these. They also host Escape the Palace, a hands-on race that tests your smarts.

Located in the Financial District, the Escape Game has a bunch of different scenarios, from recovering a precious piece of art to breaking out of prison before the warden gets back from his meeting. In the SF-appropriate Gold Rush room you’re on the hunt for hidden gold left by an old prospector... but so is the mob. There's even a playground room, where you'll feel like a kid again with ball pits and climbing structures involved.

 

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If you're looking to add some danger to your date night, head to EscapeSF, where pairs can try their luck at any of the four escape rooms – including Escape from Alcatraz, which will trap you in a tiny prison cell (this is not for the claustrophobic). The Blind Tiger room is the most difficult of the four, set in a speakeasy-inspired space.

PanIQ Escape Room takes the problem-solving genre to terrifying new ground. Each of the three scenarios – Geek, Prison and Psycho – all have deadly consequences if the group doesn’t escape in time. Of the three, Psycho is the scariest, with participants 'slowly regaining consciousness' in order to try to escape a crazed psycho's apartment (complete with fake blood on the wall).

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Billed as the world's first virtual escape room, Reason combines old-school puzzle-solving tropes with the latest gadgets (drones, virtual reality, 3D printers) in two Sci-fi–themed rooms. Both the Reactor and Crash Site scenarios can also accommodate groups of up to 49 people! 

First time in an escape room? Grab up to 10 of your closest friends and head to one of two Real Escape Game locations in the Bay Area (the other is in San Jose). There are a bunch of themes to choose from, but we like the classic Puzzle Room in San Francisco and the Time Travel Lab in San Jose. Each puzzle runs for more than hour, so you might want to eat before you head in. 

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