Whether it’s relaxing in a cozy winter cabin or stretching out by waterfront views, getaways from New Jersey help residents truly unwind. But have you ever wanted a different kind of escape? At Escape Garden State in Fairfield, locals can exercise their minds along with their bodies. With four Jersey-themed escape rooms to choose from, this attraction combines history and mystery for a thrilling group experience.
What’s an Escape Room?
There are dozens of escape room venues throughout New Jersey. But what exactly are they? Escape rooms are an interactive group activity that focuses on accomplishing a specific goal within a given time frame. Generally, the goal is to exit or escape a locked room through solving puzzles and completing tasks.
Clues and puzzles are solved in a particular order, creating structure and clear direction. Whether it’s fleeing from prison or preventing a massive explosion, these games are meant to immerse participants in a world of mystery, thrill, and teamwork.
The Rooms at Escape Garden State
During these cold winter months, it’s easy to miss the sunny summer vacations on New Jersey boardwalks. Thankfully, at Escape Garden State, the Boardwalk Blast room brings this destination out of hibernation. Equipped with arcade games and puzzles, there’s plenty of interaction and competition for groups to participate in––but it comes with a twist.
As summer in the game room comes to a close, authorities order a mandatory evacuation. Somewhere within the boardwalk, a “blast” is reportedly about to go off. Groups are given one hour to investigate the arcade and neutralize the threat before it’s too late. With a success rate of 60 percent, this escape room captures unique thrills, action-packed games, and ample clues to solve the mystery.
One of the most influential historical figures from New Jersey is the famous Thomas Edison. And, while his invention of the lightbulb was his lasting legacy, Power Surge suggests his greatest experiment remains hidden. As you enter his study, a mysterious assistant contacts your group. With one hour on the clock, you’re tasked with discovering his missing work––lest it be gone forever.
Power Surge has an escape rate of 45 percent. Given the difficulty and historical context, my friends and I decided to attempt this escape room. We began in the study––an intricately decorated room with bookshelves, couches, desks and numerous puzzles. The clues were tricky, but followed clear patterns, giving us plenty of “A-ha!” moments. To our surprise, the game included three separate rooms, revealed in increments through solving the puzzles. The clues required cooperation and teamwork, from solving word-scrambles to shouting codes across the room.
With less than two minutes to spare, our group made a narrow escape (though the number of hints we needed would have disappointed Thomas Edison). Overall, it was an exciting and challenging atmosphere.
New Jersey’s culture is filled with urban legends like the Sussex Sea Serpent and
Captain Kidd’s lost treasure. One of the most notable folklores, however, is the tale of the Jersey Devil. Whether you believe in the story or not, Escape Garden State brings all of the fears and rumors to life through the Devil’s Den room.
According to legend, Mother Leeds gave birth to her 13th child in a cabin surrounded by the Pine Barrens. The child sprouted wings and escaped the house, dubbed as the Jersey Devil for its appearance and nature. As the Game Master explains, a member of the Leeds family has allegedly returned to the cabin to expel the devil once and for all. However, they suddenly go missing. Your group is tasked with finding the family member and uncovering the truth before the trail goes cold. Split into two separate rooms at the start, this escape room is increasingly more difficult––with a 35 percent success rate.
At its core, the Garden State has plenty to entertain its residents. But what about behind the scenes? In the Mafia Blackout room, indulge in the world of undercover crime bosses as your group becomes members of the infamous New Jersey mob. According to rumors, one of your associates is working with authorities to take down the group. To make matters worse, he’s revealed your identities––and your location.
Groups have one hour to flee the country. Luckily, a friend named Richie remains loyal and plans to help you escape, but only if you can find him! With only a 25 percent success rate, this room makes escaping New Jersey both thrilling and challenging.
Whether you’re looking to test your skills or simply enjoy a fun, indoor activity with friends, New Jersey’s Escape Garden State has something for everyone.
Have you tried any escape rooms in New Jersey? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
Main image by Stefan Steinbauer