Way back in the days before social distancing (remember those?), escape rooms offered a fun way to entertain the family and increase team-building skills. Think of it: The whole clan in one spot, working together to hunt down clues and solve puzzles in a limited amount of time—what could be finer? Unfortunately, depending on where you live, your favorite place to test your family's mettle may be temporarily closed for the time being. Not to worry! Much like going on virtual Disneyland ride tours, you can still experience the rush of solving puzzles from your living room. Here are seven standout experiences that will change up your usual routine of the best Netflix kids shows, family board games, and indoor activities for kids.
Nashville-based The Escape Game has 19 locations nationwide (everywhere from Atlanta to San Francisco), and all locations have reopened for in-person games with extra precautions and sanitizing. But for those looking for a virtual experience (or if you want to play with friends and family who live far away), the company created Remote Adventures, a live Zoom-based game. The 60-minute challenge includes a live host as well as a guide who acts and your eyes and ears (and hands!) during the game. A digital dashboard keeps track of clues and allows you to do a 360-degree scan of the room. The cost is $30 per person, and the game accommodates 4 to 8 players.
One of the most popular virtual escape rooms to emerge during the COVID-19 pandemic, this online game was created by real-life escape room company Puzzle Break (which has locations in Washington, New York, and Massachusetts). The challenge takes place in an enchanted forest accessible via Zoom, where you'll solve puzzles and escape a witch's curse. There is a fee of $25 per person and you do have to book your room in advance.
Simple in format yet satisfying to solve, this virtual escape room was designed by the owners of Expedition Escape! to tide over puzzle lovers until their escape rooms in Pennsylvania can re-open. In this experience, you'll be a part of a crime syndicate that's on a mission to unlock a safe. Grab a calculator and get ready to quickly solve the problems presented (you have about 20 minutes!).
The best part of visiting an escape room is choosing a fun theme, especially when you find one that suits the fandom of your family. This free digital escape room has themed touches that Potterheads will adore. And you know the references will be 100 percent on-point since the creator of this room happens to be a youth services librarian (at the Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, Pennsylvania). You have the option of completing the game as a group, an individual, or even competing against friends.
Another free digital escape room that comes courtesy of a youth services librarian (this time, at the Regency Park Library in New Port Richey, Florida), this experience involves videos and math problems themed around one of the many games your kids can't stop playing.
You have two adventures to choose from — one inspired by Nancy Drew and another that has a general super hero theme — in this online experience hosted by Utah-based escape room company Mystery Escape Room. The "rooms" are bookable for up to an hour, come with a live guide (who can answer questions via conference call), and are accessible through your video conferencing app. The fee of $85 (for the Nancy Drew room) or $75 (for the super hero room) covers a group of 4 to 8.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, hosts this free fishy mystery. You'll help Oscar (the shark star of 2004's Shark Tale) find his award statuette while also learning about sea creatures in an escape room experience that also gives you a virtual tour of the aquarium.
If you're looking to expand your kids' educational opportunities (while also entertaining them), look to Brain Chase. This educational K-12 platform offers virtual escape rooms on a weekly basis as part of its extracurricular programming. You can also participate in monthly virtual escape room competitions where you can win $100. Note: Brain Chase does require a monthly subscription of $19.99 (or $29.99, depending on what you'd like to access in the program).
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