Not Scary, Family-Friendly Escape Rooms in Portland

When my husband said he wanted to go to Mindtrix Escape Rooms for his birthday, with our kids, I took a deep breath and faked enthusiasm for the idea. Internally, I was thinking the experience would be like a video game, but worse (I don’t like video games), because we would literally be letting strangers lock us in a room. For fun.

Spoiler alert: I had more fun than anyone.

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If you are an escape room skeptic, get ready to be converted. Here are all the ways the experience surprised me, for the better:

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We were definitely not locked in the room. At Mindtrix and other family-friendly escape experiences, participants solve clues that open doors to more rooms, which feels much less claustrophobic than what I was imagining.

The clues are so fun to solve. I’m the only non-gamer in my family of four. I don’t like timers, I don’t like pressure, and I’d much rather read a book or solve a crossword. To my surprise and delight, my mom-powered finding skills were a huge asset in solving puzzles. All those years of knowing the exact location of all my family’s belongings finally paid off.

The kids were able to contribute. If your kid is old enough to enjoy the Harry Potter books, they’re old enough to enjoy the escape rooms at Mindtrix. Every room has something tricky enough to require an adult, and easy enough for a child to discover, though they are designed with teens and adults in mind. Our teen and tween solved as many of the puzzles as we did, but if your kids are too young to solve, they could be the ones who get to unlock, open, press buttons, etc. Younger children could also choose your team name.

Nothing is scary. At Mindtrix, the goal is to “challenge your mind, not your phobias.” I hate to be frightened, so this was a relief.

You can always employ deus ex machina. Completely stuck and need a hint? You can literally ask for help and in true god-like fashion, the room fills with the voice of Mike, the owner, directing you to the next clue (or, in our case, replacing a recently discovered key, because a child misplaced it and could not find it).

The team is incredibly flexible. The staff members at Mindtrix are dedicated to making the escape experience perfect for each guest. Sensory issues? They can turn down the music. Can’t stand for an hour? They provide a small chair on wheels. Will your kids be scared of the goblin in the School of Magic room? They’ll turn it off. Seriously, just ask for what you need.

Portland-Area Escape Rooms

An escape room experience is a splurge for sure, perfect for birthdays or special events. Ask about weekday or second attempt discounts, and always be sure to double-check age recommendations, as they are subject to change as new puzzles and features are added to the rooms.

Mindtrix Escape
We spent my husband’s birthday in Mindtrix’s “School of Magic” room, and recently we were invited back to try “Tesla’s Mystery,” for PDX Parent. We loved both! Most kids will probably like the wizarding room best, but our children couldn’t choose a favorite. Cost is $35 per person, and Mindtrix is located in Clackamas Town Center. There’s a children’s play area right outside in the mall corridor, if you need a place to keep toddlers occupied while older children escape.

Escapism Portland
Escapism Portland also has a wizard themed room, for those who can’t get enough magic. This experience also does not include jump-scares, though the themed environments may have a creepy feel. They recommend ages 10+ for the most fun.  The prices vary, but are about $25-$35 per person. They have multiple locations, in southwest, northwest and northeast Portland.

Portland Escape Rooms
One of our writers had a spectacular time at Portland Escape Rooms, located in Beaverton. They offer rooms for ages 8 and up, including “Genie’s Lamp,” “Steampunk Airship,” the “Arcade” (with working games!), and “Sundown Saloon.” There are slightly scarier rooms available, if your older teens like to be spooked. Prices vary depending on the size of your party, starting at $32.92/person, with discounts on weekdays.

NW Escape Experience
Located in Vancouver, NW Escape Experience’s “Jurassic Tours” room is perfect for young paleontologists! They offer two G-rated rooms (“Jurassic Tours” and “Polybius Lives”) and one PG room (“Operation: DB Cooper”). Cost is $37 per person.

Meg Asby
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