9 Best Escape Rooms in San Francisco 2017

As locals, we’ve done 45+ 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. This list covers San Francisco escape roomsFor South Bay or East Bay escape rooms, check out our other lists.

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

Last Updated: November 15th, 2017

Best Escape Rooms in San Francisco

  1. Edison Escape Room – Palace Games
  2. Roosevelt Escape Room – Palace Games
  3. Houdini Escape Room – Palace Games
  4. Space Bus – EscapeSF
  5. Pop Star’s Room of Doom – Real Escape Game
  6. Party in Vegas – Clockwise Escape
  7. Asylum – Clockwise Escape
  8. Blind Tiger – EscapeSF
  9. Puppeteer’s Workshop – Head Games

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)

In summary, the three games at Palace Games are the best in the Bay Area. Space Bus is the best mobile escape room we’ve ever seen. Pop Star’s Room of Doom is a different kind of game that rewards observation and insight. The two games by Clockwise Escape are our top recommendations for beginners and team-building. Blind Tiger and Puppeteer’s Workshop are our top recommendations for tiny groups.

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Full Disclosure: Just so you know, we may have received media-discounted, comped, or beta test tickets to these rooms. We strongly believe that this does not impact our ratings, reviews, or rankings.

#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.

Review

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).

Tips

While we think the ideal team size is 5-6, the game will actually adapt slightly to your team size so it’s not as big of a deal if you go over. We don’t recommend this game for beginners, come back when you’ve experienced other escape rooms around the Bay Area!

  • 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.
  • Play with strangers: No, you will not be grouped with strangers
  • 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.

Review

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. Not for beginners. (Read Full Review)

Quick Facts

  • 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
  • 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.

Review

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. Not for beginners.

Quick Facts

  • 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
  • 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.

Review

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.

Tips

This escape room is only available for normal bookings on weekends. However, on weekdays, you can book the whole bus to come to your party or company event! We’ve tried multiple mobile escape room experiences and this was definitely the best one.

Quick Facts

  • Good for beginners: No, we recommend beginners start with EscapeSF’s Alcatraz or Antique Room games.
  • Price: $$$
  • Size, Duration: 3-8 players, 45 minutes
  • Play with strangers: No, you will not be grouped with strangers
  • 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. Pop Star’s Room of Doom – Real Escape Game

We love Real Escape Game / SCRAP for their novel concepts, and this Pop Star room is no exception. This is the first of their “Real Time Loop” format games, which involves 10 tries in order to find the right timeline to save the pop star from her ultimate doom.

Review

This is far from your traditional escape room, this is a pure puzzle solving experience that rewards observation and insight. The puzzles were incredibly clever with almost airtight logic, although if you’re unlucky the game can get frustrating or tedious. Great acting and staff involvement and highly recommended to anyone looking for something different.

Tips

Bring your best team of observers and puzzle solvers to this game. You’ll either want 8-9 for maximal brainpower (but some people will feel less engaged), or 6-7 to help everyone feel like they’re participating (but you’re taking a risk on not being able to solve the right “aha”s!)

Quick Facts

  • Good for beginners: No, this game is extremely different and is best attempted after you’ve done some more classic escape rooms. Beginners should start with Real Escape Game’s Escape from the Puzzle Room.
  • Price: $$
  • Size, Duration: 6-9 players, Approximately 60 minutes
  • Play with strangers: Yes, you may be grouped with strangers (unless you book all slots)
  • Booking: https://realescapegame.com/popstar/

#6. Party in Vegas – Clockwise Escape

After a night of partying, you wake up confused and disoriented in your hotel suite in Las Vegas. Can you find what you need and escape? Party in Vegas is one of two games at ClockWise escape, opened in August 2017 in their San Francisco Market Street location.

Review

This game is full of playful small touches that make this large and spacious San Francisco escape room a whole lot of fun to explore. The amusing parts of the room develop through the game, and the game impressively sets up a story arc that works for an escape room.

Tips

This is our top recommendation for beginners and for team-building in San Francisco. It’s a spacious room with plenty of things to keep beginners occupied. For experienced puzzle solvers, a team size of around 3-4 is ideal (but less experienced teams should send more).

Quick Facts

  • Good for beginners: Yes, absolutely! This is our top recommendation in San Francisco for beginners.
  • Price: $$
  • Size, Duration: 2-8 players, 60 minutes
  • Play with strangers: Yes, you may be grouped with strangers (unless you book all slots)
  • Booking: https://clockwiseescape.com/book-your-escape/

#7. Asylum – Clockwise Escape

As inmates in an insane asylum, you discover that this mental institution is used for more nefarious purposes. Can you break into the offices and escape? Asylum is one of two games at Clockwise Escape’s Market Street location, opened in August 2017.

Review

This is another spacious room by Clockwise escape that cleverly incorporates puzzles and puzzle elements into various parts of the setting. We think this room is also particularly beginner-friendly and the non-linear setup rewards teams that work to discover the set.

Tips

Despite the theme of Asylum, this is a very well lit escape room that’s not really scary at all (minus a few scary noises). We think the ideal team size for experienced room escapers is 3-4, although less experienced teams can bring more.

Quick Facts

  • Good for beginners: Yes, absolutely!
  • Price: $$
  • Size, Duration: 2-8 players, 60 minutes
  • Play with strangers: Yes, you may be grouped with strangers (unless you book all slots)
  • Booking: https://clockwiseescape.com/book-your-escape/

#8. 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.

Review

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

  • Good for beginners: No, we recommend beginners start with EscapeSF’s Alcatraz or Antique Room games.
  • Price: $$$
  • Size, Duration: 2-5 players, 60 minutes
  • Play with strangers: No, you will not be grouped with strangers
  • Booking: http://questroomsf.com/

#9. 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…

Review

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

  • Good for beginners: Yes, absolutely!
  • Price: $$
  • Size, Duration: 2-6 players, 70 minutes
  • Play with strangers: No, you will not be grouped with strangers
  • Booking: https://www.headgamessf.com

Other Recommended Rooms

These are more escape rooms that we’ve done and still recommend. This list is unordered.

For small groups (2-6)

  • ($$$) Escape from Alcatraz – EscapeSF This game is surprisingly “realistic” – you start off handcuffed in a bare, small, uncomfortable jail cell, and must find a way to both unlock the handcuffs and the door to your cell. You’ll be itching to escape after being confined within the stark walls of this game.
  • ($$$) Antique Room – EscapeSF 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+)

  • ($$) Escape from the Puzzle Room – SCRAP This fun SCRAP room is polished and makes fun use and re-use out of the same objects around the room. The sequence of steps after solving the meta-puzzle are full of “aha!” moments and this is great fun with a large group of friends. Expect a normal SCRAP structure, with a bunch of mini-puzzles leading up to a series of “aha!s” and a difficult last puzzle.
  • ($$$$) Reactor Escape – REASON 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. Also please check out our San Jose and East Bay lists.

  • For beginners – Any of the games at ClockWise Escape, Alcatraz / Antique Room at EscapeSF, Puppeteer’s Workshop by Head Games SF, and Puzzle Room at SCRAP are particularly good for beginners.
  • For something different – Check out Pop Star’s Room of Doom by Real Escape Game. This is a whole new game format that’s all about observation and insight.
  • 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.
  • For visiting 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 recommend Space Bus and Pop Star’s Room of Doom as well for travelling enthusiasts.
  • For non-English speakers – As long as you have some people who can read and understand English in your group, you should be fine. Many of the games in this list have substantial portions that are language-agnostic, but the English speakers in the group may have to translate.
  • For massive groups (over 20) – Many escape room venues have multiple games in the same venue, you can split up and do their games in parallel. 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).

More California Escape Rooms

We make these lists for other areas too. Check out our other California escape room lists:

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