So we’re back here again! From the 5th of November, most of the United Kingdom will go back into lockdown. This means all non-essential businesses must close, yup even escape rooms.
But not all is lost – we’ve done it once and we can do this again! That’s why this time around, I’ve come up with a list of 20 things to do during lockdown that will scratch that escape room itch.
Whilst this list is most definitely catered towards the escape room fan, why not pick an activity and rope your non-escape room friends in too?
We could all do with a little more fun in their lives!
20 Escape Room Alternatives in Lockdown
1. Play an Online Escape Room
Yep, of course this was always going to be at the top of the list! Head over to Escape the Review to see a list of every play at home game on the market! Or check our my favourites here. I won’t go into too much detail, but there’s something out there for team. Whether you enjoy printable escape games (such as ClueQuest or Escape Hunt), hosted by a live avatar (such as Agent Venture), or something completely digital (such as Clue Cracker or Deadlocked)!
2. Puzzle Trails = Exercise Routine
Just because we’re in lockdown doesn’t mean you can’t keep fit and explore your city safely. Outdoor puzzle trails are a great way to get the brain in gear and discover something new. Here in London, I love Locked City and Operation Mindfall. You can find some fun ones in a city near you with Treasure Trails or Secret City Trails.
3. Hunt for Treasure with Geocaching
A treasure hunt, spanning the entire globe with treasure hidden quite literally everywhere? Yep, that’s Geocaching! Self-guided and safe, in fact there’s probably a secret Geocache located very, very near you. Check out my guide here.
4. Explore a New Location with Randonautica
If Geocaching isn’t your thing, but you still want to get outside and go for a walk – you can make your own adventure with the free app, Randonautica. Read my guide on what it is and how to play here.
5. Write a Novel – Yes, Really!
Escape rooms are all about the adventure. Being immersed in your own story is one thing – but why not use this lockdown month to write your own? November is National Novel Writing Month. By signing up and writing 1,667 words a day by November 30th you’ll have written your own novel. Give it a go here.
6. Start a New Tradition: Board Game Night
Start a new tradition! Why not make Wednesdays the new Board Games Night in your household? Whether it’s Monopoly or Civilisation, there’s a board game out there to suit you. You can pick up a new favourite and support a local shop that has had to close for lockdown by buying a game online. My local shop is Orcs Nest!
7. Learn to Play Dungeons and Dragons
This one’s a little personal to me – I’ve LOVED D&D during lockdown. If you’ve ever wondered how to play, now you’ve got all the free time in the world. I recommend finding a group and playing online via Roll20.
8. Solve a Murder
Okay so this one is a little bit of a joke, but by all means if there’s a murder out there you can solve – go for it! I’m actually referring to online murder mystery games. From those led by actors, to cosy killer games you can play at home, it’s a pretty worthwhile way to spend an afternoon! Oh, and if you’d like somewhere to write notes, you can buy one of my ‘Evidence’ notebooks on Etsy here.
9. Escape… On Your Mobile!
I have to admit, earlier in 2020 I became absolutely enthralled with escape rooms on my mobile. In particular Cube Escape by Rusty Lake are excellent. They’re free and can be played from your phone, absolutely anywhere.
10. Set your friends some Taskmaster Challenges
So this one might be a uniquely British reference, but here in the UK we have a TV show called “Taskmaster” in which contestants take on increasingly ridiculous tasks, such as “Throw a tea bag into a mug from the furthest distance away.”, “Do the most impressive thing when played in reverse”, or “Make a meal using ingredients that begin with all 26 letters of the alphabet”. These work surprisingly well over a Zoom call with your friends! So why not write a list, get your mates together, and have a tournament!
11. Teach Your Talents
Everyone has that special talent, something only YOU can do really well. Why not start a workshop for your friends and family? Repotting pot plants, making cocktails, carving a pumpkin, puzzle writing? Share the skills! If hosting isn’t your thing, you can always book one online.
12. Live Out Lockdown Virtually in a Video Game
It’s its all a bit much *gestures vaguely*, a month is a perfect length of time to really get stuck into a good video game. If you want something a bit more chill, Animal Crossing (hmu for my Switch code if you want to hang out) or Stardew Valley are just the ticket. If you prefer to scratch that puzzle itch, I highly recommend the Professor Layton series, L.A. Noire, The Witness, or Sherlock Holmes.
13. Grow a Beard
Right now it’s Movember, and it’s not too late to get your beard game on. This year, they’re also running a “Make a Move” campaign. It’s all for charity, so why not get involved?
14. Choose Your Own Adventure… On Netflix
Anyone remember that Black Mirror episode where you got to choose your own actions and therefore the ending? It’s called Bandersnatch and you can play it any time on Netflix. There are 5 possible endings – how many can you find?
15. Give Your Home a Makeover
Why not turn it into an escape room for those you live with to solve? Heck, it’s lockdown. You’ve got the time on your hand to live out your best at-home escape room themes. I definitely want to see photos!
16. Host a Pub Quiz
Yep, this one HAD to be on the list somewhere. I know we’ve almost exhausted pub quizzes in Lockdown 1.0, but they’re still good fun. Why not host a round based on escape room trivia, or questions that feature puzzles?
17. Start a New Podcast
Whatever you’re into, someone has made a podcast of it. Here in the escape room industry, you might enjoy The Infinite Escape Room or Escape This Podcast. Or if you want something little different, my favourite of 2020 has been Oblivity Podcast (did you know they have a tie-in escape game too?)
18. Make a List of all the Escape Rooms You’ll Play When They’re Open
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of wishful thinking! One day, the world will be back to normal. Escape rooms will open again, and you’ll be able to go to the pub with your friends again. So get a ahead of the game and make a lost of all the rooms you’d like to play as soon as you can!
19. Make your own escape game
You’ve played the rest… Now make your own! There are so many authentic, brilliant homemade escape rooms on the market. I wrote one for my friend’s birthday this year. All you need is some pen, paper and imagination!
20. Write Your Own List!
Inspired? Why not write your own list of 50 things to do during lockdown. Please tag me @theescaperoomer in it – I’ll want to try everything on your list myself!
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.