8 Best Escape Rooms in the San Francisco Bay Area 2017

As locals, we’ve done 40+ San Francisco Bay Area escape rooms and will be keeping this list up-to-date with our best escape room recommendations for both tourists and locals alike. All San Jose rooms have been moved to their own list at 8 Best Escape Rooms in San Jose.

Of course “best” is subjective, so please read through the brief reviews, scroll down to our “Personalized Recommendations” section, and leave a comment / contact us if you don’t find what you’re looking for!

Best Escape Rooms in the San Francisco Bay Area (ex. San Jose):

  1. Edison Escape Room – Palace Games (SF)
  2. Roosevelt Escape Room – Palace Games (SF)
  3. Houdini Escape Room – Palace Games (SF)
  4. Space Bus – EscapeSF (SF)
  5. Blind Tiger – Escape SF (SF)
  6. Forgotten Treasure – Omescape (Richmond)
  7. Puppeteer’s Workshop – Head Games (SF)
  8. Pirate Adventure – Limitless Escape Games (Livermore)

Our pricing guide:

  • $$ – Around $30 per person
  • $$$ – Around $30-$70 per person (depending on group size)
  • $$$$ – Around $50-$100 per person (depending on group size)

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We hope you enjoy this article! Just so you know, we may have received media-discounted, comped, or beta test tickets to these rooms. We strongly believe that this should not impact our ratings, reviews, or rankings.

Last Updated: October 11th, 2017

#1. Edison Escape Room – Palace Games

Thomas Edison requests your presence at his office at the Palace of Fine Arts as he has created a challenge for his guests for a mysterious reason. This is a another sequel to Houdini Room (you don’t need to play them in order), featuring the first of the 8 innovators.

Outstanding Features

This room is our choice for the clear best in the San Francisco Bay Area. The team has outdone both their Roosevelt and Houdini rooms, making an extravagantly high-tech room that packs a dazzling array of sensors, lights, and surprises. The only real downside is the super-premium price point (but we think it’s worth it given this 100-minute game’s quality and amount of content). Not for beginners.

  • Our Rating: ★★★★★ (Editor’s Choice)
  • Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Good for beginners: No, this is a complex game and is best appreciated after you have a few other games under your belt.
  • Price: $$$$
  • Size, Duration: 4-8 players, 100 minutes. We think 5-6 is the ideal team size.
  • Play with strangers: No, you will not be grouped with strangers
  • Automation / technology: Automated high-tech game
  • Booking: https://palace-games.com/edison-escape-room

#2. Roosevelt Escape Room – Palace Games

Theodore Roosevelt is collecting some of the best and brightest minds of the era to accomplish some critical objective. Opened in 2016, This room is the sequel to Palace Games’ Houdini Room, but can be played regardless if you’ve played the first one or not.

Outstanding Features

This room is expansive, fully automated, and packed with fun physical and tactile puzzles. The style is more linear in nature, which helps make sure that you can experience most of the cool stuff. This room physically requires multiple teammates to do certain puzzles, and executes teamwork quite well.  (Read Full Review)

Quick Facts

  • Our Rating: ★★★★★ (Editor’s Choice) (Read Full Review)
  • Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Good for beginners: No, this is a complex game and is best appreciated after you have a few other games under your belt.
  • Price: $$$
  • Size, Duration: 6-10 players, 90 minutes
  • Play with strangers: No, you will not be grouped with strangers
  • Automation / technology: Automated high-tech game
  • Booking: http://roosevelt-escape.com/

#3. Houdini Escape Room – Palace Games

The great escape artist Harry Houdini built a contraption inside of the Palace of Fine Arts to challenge 8 great American innovators. Opened in 2015, this game (along with its sequels) are not just in the best of the San Francisco Bay Area but also all of North America.

Outstanding Features

The whole room is a fully automated contraption made with an intricately complex system of Arduinos and sensors. Most importantly, the technology is executed so well that the Houdini room transforms into a truly magical experience.

Quick Facts

  • Our Rating: ★★★★★ (Editor’s Choice)
  • Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Good for beginners: No, this is also a complex game and is best appreciated after you have a few other games under your belt.
  • Price: $$$
  • Size, Duration: 6-10 players, 80 minutes
  • Play with strangers: No, you will not be grouped with strangers
  • Automation / technology: Automated high-tech game
  • Booking: http://houdini-escape.com/

#4. Space Bus – EscapeSF

Your spaceship has malfunctioned and you must get it back on course else risk cosmic destruction. Opened in 2017, this is EscapeSF’s fourth and newest game, with the special distinction that this game is MOBILE and will come to your location.

Outstanding Features

This game is puzzle-driven, with high emphasis on logic and satisfying immediate feedback mechanics. This game somehow managed to pack a full-fledged experience on a school bus, and makes for one of the best in the area and our favorite mobile escape game by far.

Quick Facts

  • Our Rating: ★★★★★
  • Location: San Francisco, CA (or it can travel to anywhere in San Francisco Bay Area)
  • Good for beginners: Somewhat, although beginners might want to start with EscapeSF’s Alcatraz game first.
  • Price: $$$
  • Size, Duration: 3-8 players, 45 minutes
  • Play with strangers: No, you will not be grouped with strangers
  • Automation / technology: Completely automated and high-tech
  • Booking: http://questroomsf.com/rooms/space-bus#book (normal bookings available on weekends only. On weekdays, you can arrange for it to come to your party, event, or company.)

#5. Blind Tiger – EscapeSF

Blind Tiger is set in a prohibition-era Speakeasy, with decor appropriate for the era.EscapeSF

You find yourself in a speakeasy (an illicit prohibition-era bar), and are drawn into a nefarious plot with 7 alleged Mafia members and their secretive backroom deals. Opened in 2015, Blind Tiger is the 3rd and best of EscapeSF’s (non-mobile) offerings in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

Outstanding Features

Blind Tiger by EscapeSF is well executed thematically, with decor, puzzles, and an experience that matches the feeling of a speakeasy. Expect an immersive, tactile, fully-automated game full of fun surprises that’s great for small groups. (Read Full Review)

Quick Facts

  • Our Rating: ★★★★★
  • Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Good for beginners: Somewhat, for beginners we would definitely recommend starting with EscapeSF’s Alcatraz game, and then returning for Blind Tiger later. Blind Tiger is their most complex game, and Alcatraz is particularly great for beginners.
  • Price: $$$
  • Size, Duration: 2-5 players, 60 minutes
  • Play with strangers: No, you will not be grouped with strangers
  • Automation / technology: Automated high-tech game
  • Booking: http://questroomsf.com/

#6. Forgotten Treasure – Omescape

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The captain of your ship, Captain William Kidd IX, led a secret life as a pirate who accumulated a fortune’s worth of buried jewels, doubloons, and riches. Opened in 2014, Forgotten Treasure is the most expansive room in their large Richmond, CA facility.

Outstanding Features

Forgotten Treasure by Omescape is a fun linear adventure through a series of pirate-themed rooms. Specifically, expect a sand pit and a wooden boat that fill up a good portion of the room. This game is fully automated and full of fun surprises.

Quick Facts

  • Our Rating: ★★★★★
  • Location: Richmond, CA
  • Good for beginners: Somewhat, it’s an ok choice for beginners, although might be a bit too much content.
  • Price: $$
  • Size, Duration: 5-10 players, 60 minutes
  • Play with strangers: No, you will not be grouped with strangers
  • Automation / technology: Automated high-tech game
  • Booking: https://omescape.us/richmond/book/

#7. Puppeteer’s Workshop – Head Games SF

You and your team have made the final round of interviews to be the apprentices for famed Puppeteer Harry Keller. The Puppeteer has set up a series of puzzles for you and your team for you to solve in 70 minutes, else you will not be able to escape…

Outstanding Features

This is an unconventional “indie”-style escape room in San Francisco. The designers have made some bold choices in this game, which translates to fun surprises. A fun, great-value experience in San Francisco, especially for small groups!

Quick Facts

  • Our Rating: ★★★★½
  • Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Good for beginners: Yes, absolutely!
  • Price: $$
  • Price, Size, Duration: 2-6 players, 70 minutes
  • Play with strangers: No, you will not be grouped with strangers
  • Automation / technology: Automated medium-tech game
  • Booking: https://www.headgamessf.com (they reopen on November 11)

#8. Pirate Adventure – Limitless Escape Games

You and your band of pirate friends have plundered various treasures but awoken the wrath of the deadly Kraken. Your goal is to escape the Kraken and save your crew. Limitless Escape Games opened this game (along with 2 others) in February 2017 in the East Bay.

Outstanding Features

This beginner-friendly game features appropriately pirate-themed decor and some fun puzzles involving some of the larger set pieces. The puzzles are varied, clean, tactile, and flow well. Overall a solid game for groups of friends, coworkers, or strangers!

Quick Facts

  • Our Rating: ★★★★
  • Location: Livermore, CA
  • Good for beginners: Yes, absolutely!
  • Price: $$
  • Size, Duration: 2-8 players, 60 minutes
  • Play with strangers: Yes, you may play with strangers (unless you buy all of the tickets)
  • Automation: Automated medium-tech game
  • Booking: http://www.limitlessescapegames.com/

Other Recommended Rooms

These are more escape rooms that we’ve done and still recommend. This list is unordered, and we give each of these rooms ★★★★.

For small groups (2-6)

  • ($$$) Escape from Alcatraz – EscapeSF (San Francisco) This game is surprisingly “realistic” – you start off handcuffed in a bare, small, uncomfortable jail cell, and must find a way to both unlock the handcuffs and the door to your cell. You’ll be itching to escape after being confined within the stark walls of this game.
  • ($$$) Antique Room – EscapeSF (San Francisco) is the 3rd game by EscapeSF (the other two made the top 10 list). This is another fully-automated game from EscapeSF that features some neat mechanisms like a mini-laser maze.

For large groups (6+)

  • ($$) Penitentiary – Omescape (Richmond, CA) – Penitentiary is a robustly-constructed, atmospheric escape room with an fun progression through the multiple parts. The room is fully automated with always some neat surprises around the corner, including a laser-maze-lined hallway.
  • ($$) Escape from the Puzzle Room – SCRAP (San Francisco) This fun SCRAP room is polished and makes fun use and re-use out of the same objects around the room. The sequence of steps after solving the meta-puzzle are full of “aha!” moments and this is great fun with a large group of friends. Expect a normal SCRAP structure, with a bunch of mini-puzzles leading up to a series of “aha!s” and a difficult last puzzle.
  • ($$$$) Reactor Escape – REASON (San Francisco) is an escape room in San Francisco aimed towards corporate groups (most of their bookings are during weekday work hours and they charge a super-premium $500 per game). Their features of various “future technologies” like 3D printing and drones are quite novel for an escape room and you’ll get to demo a bunch of these during this 90-minute game. See our full review.

Personalized Recommendations

We’ve narrowed down the full list above based on preferences for particular groups.

  • For beginners – Alcatraz / Antique Room at EscapeSF, Puzzle Room by SCRAP, Puppeteer’s Workshop by Head Games SF, and Pirate Adventure at Limitless Escape Games are particularly good for beginners. Most games on our San Jose list are also great for beginners.
  • For small groups or couples (2-5) that don’t want to play with strangers – Try Puppeteer’s Workshop by Head Games SF, any of the non-mobile games by EscapeSF. Those games accept small groups and will not add strangers to your game. Also check out Pandemic Zero, Wild West, and Kingdom of Cats from our San Jose List.
  • For escape room enthusiasts – All three of the games by Palace Games are superb and are must-dos for escape room enthusiasts in the area. They only sell tickets by the game though (at a pricy $410), so plan ahead and build up your team beforehand. We also recommend Sorcerer’s Sanctum from our San Jose List.
  • For non-English speakers – As long as you have some people who can read and understand English in your group, you should be fine. Most of the games in this list have substantial portions that are language-agnostic.
  • For massive groups (over 20) – You can split up and do multiple rooms at the same location, you can try out various “event” type games like SCRAP’s Escape from the Bank (not an escape room), SCRAP / Quadra’s Escape from Werewolf Village (not an escape room) or do a “puzzle hunt” type corporate activities like Palace Game’s Escape the Palace (not an escape room).
  • For people based in San Jose – Check out our San Jose List.

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