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With busy schedules and numerous options out there for fun and entertainment, families are looking for ways to get together and do something fun and exciting that engages and involves every member of the family.

They’re also looking for ways to do that beyond the usual board games or playing games on TV and won’t cost an arm and a leg, especially during the holiday season, when everyone is busy and stressed out from all the shopping, parties, decorating and other holiday activities.

That’s where escape rooms, one of the hottest trends in entertainment, come in. Escape rooms are a natural extension of the classic family game night, with its own twists and turns.

Escape rooms allow families to use their brains and skills in unusual — and fun and exciting — ways. Here are five ways escape rooms can bring families together.

1) There are no distractions in Escape Rooms

In Escape Rooms there are no phones, no TV screens, no video games, thus no distractions, so the whole family needs to band together and put their full attention to the mystery at hand.

2) Escape Rooms Allow Families to Talk With Each Other

In order to solve the mystery within the one-hour time limit, families need to work together, share theories, clues and solutions, which requires that they communicate with each other. Escape Rooms also give parents the chance to demonstrate to their children that they hear and value their opinions.

3) Escape Rooms Encourage Active Involvement

Nobody can be a passive participant in an Escape Room, it requires the full attention of everyone involved to solve the puzzle. Escape Rooms often require team members to multi-task and form teams within teams to beat the deadline. Family members will be too busy using all their observations and skills to bear on the task at hand.

4) Escape Rooms Provide Quality Time for Families

Sociologists say that quality time spent together is more important than quantity. Escape Room interactions help create true connections that allow families to build stronger relationships. In an Escape Room, the whole time is quality time because families spend that time communicating with each other while working toward a shared goal. Escape Rooms provide the kind of bonding experience no other type of entertainment can match.

5) Escape Rooms Provide Families With Opportunities to Use Many Skills.

Escape Rooms test many skills of the team, including lateral thinking, careful observation, puzzle-solving, thinking outside the box and verbal communication. An Escape Room allows each family member’s individual skills to be utilized and combined with other’s skills. Dad might be best at recognizing patterns while daughter might be good at puzzle-solving. It gives everyone a chance to work on the same level as equal partners. Everyone gets a chance to shine.

The bottom line is that an Escape Room has the potential to be a great time for all ages in the family, no matter what their separate interests might be, and will be a bonding experience that everyone will be thinking about for some time. You might even notice a positive difference in how the family interacts and communicates with each other, bringing everyone together.

Monterey has its own Escape Rooms —  Exodus Escape Room on Cannery Row and Escape Room 831 on Lighthouse Avenue — founded by entrepreneurs Christina and Barrie Riddoch of Monterey.

Escape Room 831 at 599 Lighthouse Ave., has five 60-minute Escape Rooms to choose from for your team-building activities, including Alice’s Dream based on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”; Spellbound centers around a cursed cottage; Room 745 featuring a crime in The Grand Hotel; Time Machine which has you racing against the clock to save the world; RabaBank, the latest game seeing how much loot you can steal before the party ends. Call 831-241-6616 or go to

Exodus Escape Room, at 765 Wave St., Suite A2, has three rooms, including Sherlock’s Study and Masquerade – Jewel Heist. Call 831-324-0513 or go to