8 Best Escape Rooms in San Jose 2017

As Bay Area locals, we’ve done 15+ South Bay / San Jose escape rooms and 45+ in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is most of the available local rooms. We’re ranking our 8 favorites here along with reviews and recommendations based on why you might like them too.

Last Updated: November 21th, 2017

Best Escape Rooms in San Jose

  1. Sorcerer’s Sanctum – Omescape
  2. Remote Chance – Quadra Escape
  3. Pandemic Zero – Omescape
  4. Time Travel Lab – Real Escape Game
  5. Wild West – PanIQ
  6. Detention – Kuma Escape
  7. Perfect Crime – PanIQ
  8. Wonderland – Paradox Escape

Recommendations based on your group size:

  • Small groups (2-4): Pandemic Zero, Wild West, Perfect Crime
  • Mid-size Groups (4-7): Wonderland
  • Large groups (6+): Sorcerer’s Sanctum, Remote Chance, Time Travel Lab, Detention
  • Very large groups (12+): Consider splitting up into multiple rooms
  • Huge groups (20+): See our section “Large-Group Escape Events”

Recommendations based on style:

  • High-tech: Sorcerer’s Sanctum, Pandemic Zero
  • Actor-driven: Remote Chance, Time Travel Lab, Detention
  • Set-driven: Sorcerer’s Sanctum, Pandemic Zero, Wild West
  • Classic: Wonderland, Wild West, Perfect Crime

Recommendations based on skill level:

  • Beginners: Any game besides Sorcerer’s Sanctum
  • Enthusiasts: Sorcerer’s Sanctum is the clear market standout. Any of the actor-driven ones here have fun novel mechanics

Recommendations based on booking style:

  • Public (strangers): Remote Chance, Time Travel Lab, Detention, Wonderland
  • Private (no strangers): Sorcerer’s Sanctum, Pandemic Zero, Wild West, Perfect Crime

Recommendations based on location:

  • Check out the map at the end of this post

If you book any of these games, let your host know that EscapeRoomTips.com sent you!

Full Disclosure: We hope you enjoy this article! Just so you know, we may have received media-discounted or comped tickets to these rooms. The Groupon links are affiliate links, which means we may get a small commission if you book via them. We strongly believe that this should not impact our ratings, reviews, or rankings.

Cover photo (Plaza de Cesar Chavez) by John Pozniak.

#1. Sorcerer’s Sanctum – Omescape

Background

This is the latest and greatest of Omescape’s San Jose offerings, opened in May 2017 and including the most content, most number of rooms, and largest physical area out of all of their San Jose games. Omescape San Jose is in a commercial warehouse area, and Google Maps may route you to the wrong parking area if you follow it.

Story

You and your friends have accidentally stepped into a house occupied by great magicians. Your team work will be crucial in helping you pass through a series of magical puzzles in order to escape from the spell in time!

Highlights

This game takes part in a large space with many rooms and plenty of content. There’s some new fun tricks from Omescape involving fun interactions with the various parts of the environment, and plenty of magical experiences that will delight any group of enthusiasts. There’s lots of content, so make sure you bring your best team and go at a good pace.

Quick Facts

#2. Remote Chance – Quadra Escape

Background

The team who runs Real Escape San Jose has been creating their original series of escape rooms under the name Quadra Escape. Remote Chance: A Cinematic Escape is their first original room in their spacious location near downtown San Jose. We definitely see influences from SCRAP / Real Escape Game’s style, with large-group escape rooms that rely on key actor interactions.

Story

You are visiting the late and great director Alan Smithee’s private offices.  As a fan of movies and mystery, you realize there are clues and directions for a director’s cut of his last masterpiece, Remote Chance.  Decipher the clues and puzzles he left behind to create the director’s cut and make your escape!

Highlights

Quadra Escape adds a fresh take to actor-driven escape rooms, with some fun new actor interactions that make the game special and unique. While the game is low-tech and in a basic (yet appropriate) setting, this is a fun large-group game with plenty of clean puzzles to occupy any group. The hosts are great and this well-designed game is a delight for any large group.

Quick Facts

#3. Pandemic Zero – Omescape

Background

Our ranking of the 5 games at Omescape’s San Jose location: 1. Sorcerer’s Sanctum 2. Pandemic Zero 3. Kingdom of Cats  4. Dark Altar 5. Joker’s Asylum. While this game is technically a minimum of three people, experienced room escapers will find this a fun challenge with only 2.

Story

Mankind is dying from a deadly pandemic and you must access a secret underground laboratory in order to synthesize the cure and deliver it across the world. However, the laboratory can only be reached through the sewers… good luck!

Highlights

This linear journey will take you through multiple rooms that help progress the story. Pandemic Zero is especially appropriate for small groups who want to play together, especially since Omescape doesn’t group you with strangers. There are some high-tech surprises in this well-built and well-engineered escape room.

Quick Facts

#4. Time Travel Lab – Real Escape Game San Jose

Background

This is one of the oldest escape room games in all of North America (first opened in San Francisco in November 2013 and reopened in San Jose in November 2015), but still stands the test of time as one of the most impressive in San Jose. Real Escape Game San Jose is a local rendition of the Japan / San Francisco based international franchise. The same people who run Real Escape Game San Jose also produce their own original games in the same building under the name “Quadra Escape”. See full review.

Story

You and your friends find yourselves stuck in the lab of a time traveller. You must unravel the secrets of the time travel lab and find the key to escape, else you will become stuck in the Spatiotemporal Distortion!

Highlights

SCRAP-designed escape rooms are especially appropriate for large groups and beginners. This time-travel mechanic is pure joy to experience, especially with the energy of the staff. The staff will trigger various actions in the game that leads to plenty of surprises.

Quick Facts

  • Location: 701 N 1st St, San Jose, CA 95112 (Japantown / Downtown San Jose)
  • Staff Involvement: Staff in room as actors / actresses and to monitor
  • Best for: Large teams (we recommend 8-11) who love good, novel game mechanic
  • Room Opened: November 2015 (San Jose Location)
  • Price, Size, Duration: $29 per person, 11 people max per team (maybe strangers), 60 minutes
  • Make a Booking: http://realescapegame.com/sjttl/

#5. Wild West – PanIQ San Jose

Background

This is the newest (opened September 2017) franchise location of PanIQ. This one operates independently and features different games than the San Francisco PanIQ location. They opened with 3 franchised games, of which Wild West is the one with the most impressive set.

Story

You and your fellow outlaws have been locked into a jail cell in the Wild West. The Sheriff is out for a ride and left his key in his room. Now’s your time to escape!

Highlights

Wild West has a fully-built out western-themed set. There was one particular room that we thought was absolutely lovely and true to the Western vibe. This room had a mix of physical tasks and standard escape room puzzles and we think will be fun for small groups of beginners and experienced players alike!

Quick Facts

#6. Detention – Kuma Escape

Background

Kuma Escape has been around the Bay Area for a while (since 2014) and Detention is their third (and in our opinion their greatest) escape room. This game isn’t really high-tech, but expect the staff to trigger some key events in the games.

Story

You and a group of friends are put under detention right before the bus leaves for your high school senior trip to Paris. Your teacher takes away your precious plane tickets, and you must find some way to get out of detention and make it to France!

Highlights

We’ve played a lot of escape rooms, but this escape room still managed to surprise us in novel ways. The theming is on-point and the puzzles are creatively classroom-themed. The interaction with the “teacher” in this game is a whole lot of fun (and maybe even hilarious!).

Quick Facts

  • Location:  3777 Stevens Creek Blvd. #340, Santa Clara, CA 95051 (Santa Clara)
  • Staff Involvement: Staff in room as actors / actresses and to monitor
  • Best for: Large-sized teams (we recommend 7-10) that like lots of puzzles and a fun staff-as-actor mechanic.
  • Room Opened: May 2015
  • <strong”>Price, Size, Duration: $30 per player, 6-12 players (maybe strangers), 60 minutes
  • Make a Booking: http://www.kumaescape.com/games/

#7. Perfect Crime – PanIQ San Jose

Background

Our ranking of the 3 rooms available at PanIQ San Jose: 1. Wild West for its set and puzzles 2. Perfect Crime for its puzzles 3. Asylum for a nice set but fairly standard puzzles. Perfect Crime is the most puzzle-heavy room out of the three available.

Story

An aristocratic family member has been murdered. Some are calling it the “Perfect Crime”. You and your group of brilliant investigators made a new discovery that has led to a hot pursuit which might shed new light on the truth. Maybe it wasn’t the perfect crime after all?

Highlights

This is a logic-oriented room rather than a discovery-oriented room. The whole room is available to players from the very start, but players must slowly uncover clues in order to solve this Clue-style mystery. Overall a fun game with clean puzzling for people who like solving a mystery.

Quick Facts

#8. Wonderland – Paradox Escape

Background

At the time of writing, Paradox Escape is the newest escape room facility in the San Francisco Bay Area. They’ve launched their first room, Wonderland, and is planning to launch their second room (The Vault) in December 2016. They’re located on the second floor of a commercial building in San Jose’s Japantown.

Story

You return back from your journey from Wonderland and can’t wait to tell all of your friends about it. However, you are submitted for psychiatric evaluation, and must figure out how to escape back to the magical world of Wonderland.

Highlights

Fans of the Alice in Wonderland series will love this one – there are plenty of puzzles and even more locks inspired by various parts of the Lewis Carroll classic. You don’t need any prior knowledge of the series in order to do well here.

Quick Facts

  • Location: 168 Jackson St, San Jose, CA 95112 (Japantown / Downtown San Jose)
  • Staff Involvement: Staff watches remotely
  • Best for: Medium-sized teams (we recommend 4-6) that like lots of puzzles and locks
  • Room Opened: September 2016
  • Price, Size, Duration: $30 per player, Up to 8 players (maybe strangers), 60 minutes
  • Make a Booking: http://www.paradoxescape.com/

Runner Ups

Here are some other rooms that we’ve played that didn’t make the above list, but some of our readers might still find fun! In general, these games are all outclassed by both other rooms in the same locations and in San Jose.

  • Kingdom of Cats (Omescape) – This is an old room (opened December 2015 as the first room in their San Jose location) that used to make this list. While it’s still fun, it’s somewhat outclassed now by Pandemic Zero and Sorcerer’s Sanctum at the same location. This game is especially suitable for beginners though, or groups of 2 that want a private game. We recommend 2-3 for enthusiasts.
  • Dark Altar (Omescape) – This is another old room from Omescape San Jose that is fine but is outclassed by Pandemic Zero and Sorcerer’s Sanctum. It’s not too scary, although is definitely dimly lit and might have one scary surprise. We recommend 4 for enthusiasts.
  • Insane Asylum (PanIQ) – We liked the other two rooms at this location (Wild West and Perfect Crime) better. This one had many puzzles along the same genre in a dimly lit asylum environment. This is the best “creepy / spooky environment” we’ve seen among San Francisco Bay Area escape rooms however, although isn’t really “scary”. We recommend 2-4 players for enthusiasts.
  • Vault (Paradox) – We didn’t think this one was as good as Wonderland at the same location, although the owners have made improvements to it since. We recommend 3-4 players for enthusiasts.

Large-Group Escape Events

These large-group escape events are options for corporate groups who are interested in a puzzle game. These occasionally come up as public booking events as well – these can be fun but we typically recommend escape rooms over these large events.

Another option for corporate groups is to split up into multiple escape rooms, but these options are a good way to keep everyone together.

  • Escape from the Werewolf Village (Real Escape Game / Quadra Escape) – This is a Real Escape Game creation where multiple teams of 6 are seated in the same room. The whole team works together on the same puzzles – expect fun “SCRAP” style brain-teaser puzzles, with some crosswords, symbol matching, and paper folding. The game also features one of SCRAP’s devilishly clever puzzles. We like SCRAP’s production and the general quality of all of the materials, including the videos. Made for groups of 20+. Ask for a quote.
  • D-Disaster (Quadra Escape) – This has the same format as Real Escape Game’s large escape events (multiple teams of 6 seated in the same room) and is run by the same people who run Real Escape Game’s San Jose location. One notable difference is that each player gets to play a different role and has their own puzzles. The roles are clearly inspired from Dungeons and Dragons: Bard, Ranger, Sorcerer, Thief etc. The benefits of the different roles are that each player gets full agency in and doesn’t have to crowd around a single set of puzzles, though if you finish early you’ll get to help your friends. Made for groups of 20+. Ask for a quote.

San Jose Area Escape Rooms Directory

All of these will happily accommodate corporate, team-building, and private events. Email them to work out availability, details, and pricing! Sorted alphabetically.

Beat the Lock (Santa Clara)

  • 1171 Homestead Rd, Suite 280, Santa Clara, CA 95050
  • 2131 The Alameda, San Jose, CA 95126
  • Contact: contact@beatthelock.com or (408) 915-6258

Kuma Escape (Santa Clara)

Omescape San Jose (San Jose)

  • 625 Wool Creek Drive, Suite E, San Jose, CA 95112
  • Contact: sanjose@omescape.us or (408) 622-0505

Paradox Escape (San Jose)

  • 168 Jackson St. San Jose CA 95112
  • Contact: info@paradoxescape.com or (925) 357-0555

PanIQ San Jose (San Jose)

  • 2240 Quimby Rd, San Jose, CA 95122
  • Contact: sanjose@paniqroom.com or (415) 530 9120

Real Escape Game San Jose / Quadra Escape (San Jose)

San Jose Area Escape Rooms Map


If you’re interested in more Top Escape Room lists, also check out:

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