Three Reasons to Try a Room Escape Adventure in Chicago

Recently, the Chicago Detours squad got together for a room escape experience in downtown. Every couple of months we get together on one of those rare afternoons and evenings which don’t have a tour. Sometimes we just hang out or we’ll try out something fun like a Segway tour. In a blog post from a year ago about corporate team-building ideas, I’d mentioned things like room escape. So, we decided to run with that with Room X Escape for our night out. We had so much fun that I came up with a list for why everyone should give room escape adventures a try.

room escape chicago detours
The Chicago Detours team had a phenomenal time with Room X Escape.

#1. Room Escape Provides a Unique Team Challenge

Any sort of room escape game is based around two definite challenges: you’ll have a limited amount of time and a limited amount of space. The specifics can vary between companies and between challenges, but those are the base parameters. In our case, the Detours team had to solve “The Treasure” mission. Think pirates and buried treasure and you’re in the right mood. Having played the pirate treasure-themed video game Uncharted 4 last fall, I was quite into the concept.

I don’t want to spoil the details, of course, so I’ll stick to the overall challenge. Our group of six had to solve 28 clues relating to the location of a long-lost pirate treasure within one hour. Our host at Room X Escape said that only about 1/3rd of participants finish the challenge within that hour. Elizabeth, plucky as always, vowed that we’d finish in 15 minutes. We, er, didn’t do quite that well.

The clues were often hidden in plain sight and built on one another in an ingenious fashion. We didn’t have a set strategy to solve these clues, but generally wound up working in smaller squads of two or three people working together. Room X Escape is also forgiving enough to give out a limited number of hints. In the end, we did finish the clues before time ran out. High fives were distributed all around, of course.

#2. Room Escape Is a Ton of Fun

room escape chicago detours pirate treasure skull
The pirate theme added a dash of flair. Image courtesy of Room X Escape.

It’s hard to understate how much fun we had at Room X Escape. The Detours team is, of course, plenty experienced with group dynamics and the livewire excitement of personal interaction from our time leading tours. Even so, I was genuinely surprised at how inventive and exciting our room escape experience was. The clues, many of which were hidden in plain sight, were often deviously clever. Of course, that only made the pleasure from solving them all the greater. Th environment itself is also exciting. I didn’t know how I’d react, but I loved the feeling of being sealed into a room and knowing that I’d have to think my way out. Guess I’m not claustrophobic.

It was hard not to feel like our outing with Room X Escape was like a live-action video game. The actual treasure we were seeking was as meaningless  as the myriad “trophies” on my PlayStation account. But the challenges between us and that ephemeral goal were varied and intriguing. The pressure of a ticking clock meant that the excitement and thrills reached a fever pitch as we uncovered new clues and discovered new challenges.

#3. Chicago has a Ton of Room Escape Challenges

Room escape companies, aka escape rooms, have been popping up all over the place in the last few years. I walk past Room Escape Adventures, and its iconic “Trapped in a Room with a Zombie” setup all the time while leading our 1893 World’s Fair Tour with Bars. A quick Yelp search revealed 30 different companies around the city and suburbs offering some type of room escape challenge. I can’t speak for the quality beyond our outing at Room X Escape, but it’s exciting to know how many options and challenges are waiting out there.

Room escape adventures are popular for corporate events, like our private tours. These are wildly different experiences, but each makes sense for team outings. Our tours are fun, we have no doubt, but they’re also curated and educational. Game nights, whether it’s trivia or an escape room, is an inherently social and competitive event. They both work for corporate team-building or birthday parties. Just different experiences.

In many ways, an event like room escape provides an interesting contrast to our curated, guided tours. Both are active and engaging, but they create different emotional reactions. I imagine many folks would enjoy alternating between tours and adventures.

– Alex Bean, Content Manager and Tour Guide

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Ellen

Private Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide

There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

“Our guide Ellen was exceptional and gifted with a great personal touch.”
Robert
GetYourGuide

Jen

Tour Guide

Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze. I’m a graduate of Columbia College with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art. I’ve worked for many years as an educator at City Colleges of Chicago. As tour guide at Chicago Detours, I integrate my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator. West Town/Noble Square area is home for me.

“Jen was a perfect storyteller and kept us spellbound for hours.”
Heather
TripAdvisor

Elyse

Tour Guide

With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.

Anthony

Tour Guide

Chicago is unique as it always evolves into the future while holding on to the past. I’m fascinated by how people latch on to old architecture but happily pave over others. My background is in theater and performance and I’ve been a tour guide here for more than 10 years. Currently I’m finishing my Master’s in Public History at Loyola University because I love to teach the history of this scrappy city. I’m in the Edgewater neighborhood.

Marie

Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.”
Lorit
TripAdvisor

Sonny

Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
“Sonny was extremely knowledgeable about all things Chi-town.”
Wade K
TripAdvisor

Alex

Content Manager and Tour Guide

Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

“Alex was fascinating to listen to. He clearly knows his history and it shows.”
Katie K
Yelp

Amanda Scotese

Executive Director and Tour Guide

I’m an interpreter of personal stories from the past and the city’s landscape. I love to imagine what originally happened inside old unmarked buildings, and what forces have shaped their design. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for publications like Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.
“You can TELL Amanda is hyper-passionate about doing the research and getting the story that nobody’s heard before.”
Shelby F
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