Explore Sonoma County Escape Rooms
Escape rooms are surging in popularity across the nation, and the curious adventure is now taking hold in Sonoma County, too, with wineries and other venues offering the mind twisting games.
At the new “Unlock the Chateau” at Chateau St. Jean in Kenwood, visitors are challenged to solve a variety of puzzles and riddles and use clues to get themselves out of a tight spot. Two tight spots, actually, since over an hour, participants have to figure out how to get out of two locked rooms. The reward, besides freedom, and the sense of accomplishment, is wine.
Start the antics with a welcome glass of sparkling wine, to help inspire creativity and loosen your noodle for upcoming challenges. When you break into the second room, you get another glass of wine. And when you finally escape completely, you get a flight of three wines and cheese.
Reserved for groups of six to 12, the adventure requires teamwork, and probably a very high level of frustration tolerance. You’ll have to solve an array of teasers like crossword puzzles, dig around for secrets hidden in wine barrels, and play Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys to discover and link together clues.
Appropriately, the Chateau feels like a castle-theme movie set. Built as a grand summer home in the early 1920s, it’s lavish with warrens of rooms and gardens. The escapes are popular, as well, drawing brave souls from all across the Bay including San Francisco.
Why would be people do this? Perhaps it's skill management for the sure-to-happen zombie apocalypse. Likely it’s an Instagram opportunity. Certainly, it’s another way to entertain yourself while drinking wine. There’s no reason to panic, either, as a winery host is always just one shriek away, and the host will even gently suggest hints if you’re floundering.
If you’re game, plan on about two hours for the entire gig, and $70 per person. Reservations are required; escapes begin daily at noon.
For another adventure, check out the Race60 Escape Room at Windsor Bowling Center in Windsor. This event operates more like a mystery, as you and your group are given a story line leading to your objective.
You have to search every inch of the room to locate clues, crack codes and solve puzzles along the way, and keep a constant eye on the clock since time counts towards your success. Communicating with your teammates is key; these are popular team building exercises for companies, too. No worries if you’re a party of two, by the way, groups can be combined.
The bowling center offers two themed adventures, including Pharaoh’s Revenge, an Egyptian wrath story, and Inventor’s Workshop, an intricate tale of a talented inventor who passes away and needs to make sure his will doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
For first-time escapers, Pharaoh’s Revenge can be recommended, since the door isn’t locked, and no one will judge (too much) if your group needs a break. Reservations are required for all escapes, and tickets run $30 per person.