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The Escape Game San Francisco
Photograph: Courtesy The Escape Game

The 8 best escape rooms in San Francisco

Are you smart enough to crack these escape rooms in San Francisco?

By Matt Charnock

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. (So 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. So gather your coworkers, friends or significant other for a fun date idea and head to one of our favorite escape rooms in San Francisco. Afterwards, don't forget to celebrate at one of the best bars in San Francisco

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Best escape rooms in San Francisco

Palace Games, Escape Room
Photograph: Courtesy Palace Games

1. Palace Games

You might want to warm up before you take on Palace Games. Their two escape rooms—The Great Houdini Escape and Roosevelt Escape—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 this one. 

Photograph: Courtesy EscapeSF

2. EscapeSF

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 an 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.

Real Escape Game SCRAP
Photograph: Courtesy Real Escape Game by SCRAP

3. Real Escape Game

First time in an escape room? Grab up to 10 of your closest friends and head to one of two Real Escape Game locations (SF and 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. 

Clockwise Escape Room
Photograph: Courtesy Clockwise

4. ClockWise Escape room

Deep in SoMa awaits Clockwise Escape Room with four immersive, mind-bending rooms to choose from. If you're planning to crack the code with just two people, try Party in Vegas or The Asylum. Going with a larger group? The Incredible Machine and The Paranormal Experience can cater parties of four to eight people. 

Reason Escape Room
Photograph: Courtesy Reason

5. Reason

Reason seamlessly 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! 

6. Startup Escape

Startup Escape gives you exactly one hour to develop and launch a company. Each puzzle is split up into five problem-solving tracks—programming, design, DevOps, product, and marketing—letting participants delegate tasks to those most adept at tackling them. Set in a typical startup setting—the room is brimming with company swag and motivational posters,—you and your team will need to "launch" before your fictional $1M capital runs dry.

The Escape Game San Francisco
Photograph: Courtesy The Escape Game

7. The Escape Game San Francisco

The Escape Game opened its first West Coast location in August with a bunch of scenarios, from stealing 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. 

PanIQ Escape Room
Photograph: Courtesy PanIQ Escape Room

8. PanIQ Escape Room

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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