Mackenzie Barrall of Tewksbury and Dawn Atwood of Burlington try to solve a puzzle. SUN/KATIE DURKIN
Mackenzie Barrall of Tewksbury and Dawn Atwood of Burlington try to solve a puzzle. SUN/KATIE DURKIN

By simply walking through a door, you can be transported into a submarine that plummets into a river. You're trapped and oxygen is running out. This is no time to panic. Now is the time to put your critical thinking to the test using the clues on board to escape. You've only got 60 minutes, and your life is on the line.

This is just one example of an escape-room experience you and your friends can challenge themselves with in Greater Lowell.

Instead of just dinner and a movie, more people are turning to an escape-room experience that builds memories and forces you to think outside the box.

The next time you go out with friends, family or even for a corporate event, consider these local escape rooms for a unique and challenging activity.

Gabby Davis of Dracut, general manager of Escape Room Westford, tries out the venue s virtual-reality room. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE
Gabby Davis of Dracut, general manager of Escape Room Westford, tries out the venue s virtual-reality room. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE

Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.

Escapology Tewksbury

345 Main St.

Last October, the owners of Wamesit Lanes officially opened Escapology Tewksbury, including five different escape rooms.

"Antidote" is an abandoned laboratory, "Shanghaied" is an old ship, "Under Pressure" is a submarine, "Th3 CoD3" is an old college dorm, and "Budapest Express" is an old train on which players also have to crack a murder mystery.

Christina Tamboli, the venue's manager, said it has been awesome over the past few months to see the excitement surrounding the business.


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One of the props in the Key To Escape House in the Woods room. COURTESY PHOTO
One of the props in the Key To Escape House in the Woods room. COURTESY PHOTO

"It's really cool to see the transformation of people's ideas from not knowing what they're stepping into, to feeling that they can escape the room," Tamboli said. "Sometimes you can't even tell who didn't get out of a room versus who did get out of a room because they're just so excited about the experience either way."

Escapology has a full bar and is open for corporate bookings.

For more information, visit www.escapology.com/en/tewksbury-ma.

Escape Room Westford

434 Littleton Road

Three escape rooms are available in Westford.

In "The Lost City of the Money God," players find themselves in a jungle. As a storm rolls in, players must find clues and solve puzzles to prove the existence of the lost city before the helicopter pilot leaves you stranded.

"The Titletown Ring Thief" takes place in a Boston apartment. It's up to players to escape the thief's apartment before it destructs.

The venue also has a room for its "Decomposed" virtual-reality escape-room experience.

In the future, it plans to add more "rooms" to the virtual reality games.

General Manager Gabby Davis said players are prepped before the game by staff and, afterward, if they missed any puzzles, the staff goes through them with the team.

"I recommend taking the first five to 10 minutes walking around and really getting to know the room," Davis said. "Escape rooms are very detail-oriented. Look for things -- anything can be part of the puzzle."

For more information, visit www.escaperoomwestford.com.

Curious Escape Rooms

359 Main St., Fitchburg

At Curious Escape Rooms, players have the option of being trapped in a dollhouse or being transported down memory lane in a 1990s video store.

Owner Audrey Chow said the rooms are geared for those ages 12 and older.

North Shore Escape in Woburn plans a Cursed Caravan room in the near future. COURTESY PHOTO
North Shore Escape in Woburn plans a Cursed Caravan room in the near future. COURTESY PHOTO

Before starting the business, Chow was a filmmaker and decorator in the film and television industries in New York, so being creative with the room themes and designs came naturally. Chow and her business partner drew inspiration from their favorite plays and movies.

"My partner and I, we grew up around Fitchburg and we loved the downtown area, and we wanted to be part of it in some way," she said. "When we went to our first escape room, we realized this could be a great opportunity. We love play and puzzles, so this was jut a perfect fit for us."

Chow advises players to stay organized and be observant, all while having fun.

For more information, visit www.curiousescaperooms.com.

Key To Escape

3 Bud Way, Unit 21, Nashua, N.H.

Father-and-daughter entrepreneurs John Barkley and Lara Lyman opened Key To Escape in August 2016. After Lyman, the venue's creative director, tried an escape room in South Carolina, she called her father to say this was their new business venture. Nine months later, they left their jobs to pursue Key To Escape.

They've got four rooms, each of which has multiple difficulty levels. Lyman's 16 years of experience designing and building haunted houses was an asset in designing the rooms.

There is the "Sunken Submarine," the "House in the Woods," "Cuckoo's Nest" and "The Incident," which is based on the Y2K scare. "House in the Woods" and "Cuckoo's Nest" both have beginner versions.

"The younger age love to do puzzles, and they're very curious about new things, so this is a whole new trend for them," said Barkley, the owner of Key To Escape. "For the people around my age, the days of bar-hopping are gone, so they're looking for another thing to do besides bowling."

Lyman said the decision to switch job paths was the right one.

"It's definitely the best job that I ever had," she said. "I enjoy coming into work, and I enjoy talking to all the different groups."

For more information, visit www.keytoescape.com.

North Shore Escape

397 Main St., Woburn

Sol Gordon got into the escape business in November 2016 with the goal of creating not just a room you can escape, but an immersive narrative. There is one room available to play now called "Mystery At The Art Gallery." Players must find out why a reclusive gallery owner has disappeared.

Another game is in the works, to be released some time in the next few weeks, called "The Cursed Caravan." In this game, a family is cursed by a fortune-teller and must sneak into her caravan to break the curse before time runs out.

"With our increasing attachment to electronics, this kind of entertainment is a breath of fresh air for people who are looking to disconnect," Gordon said. "It's immersive. The best escape rooms take you to a new place for an hour."

The games are great for corporate team-building or just coming out with friends, he said.

For more information, visit www.northshoreescape.com.