If spending an hour locked in a room doesn't sound like your idea of a good time, I get it.
I thought the same thing until I tried an escape room for the first time several months ago. Notoriously bad at puzzles, locks and keys, I didn't expect to enjoy myself.
I was wrong.
My over-active imaginings of terrifying creatures chasing me through darkened hallways turned out to be untrue (thank goodness). And the group effort minimized my own lack of logical thinking.
A few weekends ago, I took on my second escape room. Last time my group had to break free from a hypnosis cast by an illusionist, this time we found ourselves in a dingy doctor's office, with an hour to escape before a delusional doctor returned to perform experiments on us.
So still scary, yeah.
Tucson has at least five escape room businesses, all offering players a chance to step into an adventure for an hour or so to solve a puzzle and escape the room.
In my most recent experience in Ace of Escape's Bad Medicine room at 236 S. Scott Ave. (a former funeral home, might I add), our group of six started the game handcuffed together in search of a key and a cell phone that would transmit clues from the outside world should we need them. And oh, we needed them. For the next hour, we squinted at X-rays, fumbled with countless locks and tried to use an eye chart to figure out some sort of lock/combo code.
That didn't work out so well.
The game makes you think outside the box and work together, especially as your time — about an hour — ticks down. A few group members took charge, spearheading clue-finding missions. I just trailed behind, bouncing between groups, peering over shoulders, and proposing mostly-unhelpful suggestions.
I still had fun, even though we didn't make it out in time.
My first escape room experience was more successful. We beat the clock by one or two seconds. Seriously. You can bet my heart was pounding in those last 10 seconds.
Escape rooms transport you into the middle of a high-stakes story and launch you into action. For an hour, you're defusing a bomb or creating an anti-zombie vaccine or escaping a pirate's ship. The room is decorated to transport you, whether with by black lights, revolving bookshelves or eerie music.
Most of the businesses in town rank their rooms by difficulty level or the percentage of teams that manage to escape, so you can pick an easier room if you're taking the kiddos. (Or if you just want to win). We think this would probably be more fun for older kids and teens — or you could make it a date night or moms' night out.
And just think, while you're cracking codes and solving clues, you're also escaping the heat.
That's the true escape.
Here are five Tucson escape rooms for you to beat.
Several have summer deals! Hours and days of operation vary.
They have six rooms in two locations with several custom kids-only options. Kids should be 12 and older or 6 and older in a custom room. It costs $25 per person, but you can get 20 percent off with the code TucsonSummer. Visit aceofescape.com to sign up or call 222-7395 for more information.
Down the Rabbit Hole, 6810 E. Broadway.
Here you'll find three rooms with a fourth under construction. The code Summer17 will get you $8 off of the $24 per person cost. Visit rabbitholetucson.com to sign up or call 330-1772 for more information.
Escape Room Tucson, 3655 N. Oracle Road.
With at least six different experiences, these escape rooms also cost $24 per person. Kids 8 and older can participate. The Escape Room Tucson can also come to you for an additional cost. For more information visit escaperoomtucson.com or call 887-2583.
Fox in a Box Tucson, 972 E. University Blvd.
The two rooms at this venue can take up to six players. Unlike some other escape rooms, Fox in a Box does not put you on teams with strangers. That's reflected in the prices, with a group of two costing $36 each and a group of six costing $28 each. Kids can play, but on its site, the escape room recommends ages 13 and up, and at least one player in the room needs to be at least 16. For more information or to sign up, visit foxinaboxtucson.com or call 488-4393.
Will You Escape?, 2577 N. First Ave.
The escape room says two of the three experiences here are designed for kids 13 and up but with a family younger kids should be fine. The third room — the serial killer room — is reserved for adults 18 and older. You'll pay $25 per person. To sign up or get more info, visit willyouescape.com or call 303-562-4614.