Spotlight On: Harrisonburg’s Escape Room

House of Clues | Harrisonburg Homes Team

Love scavenger hunts and brain puzzles? Enjoy working as a team under pressure? Then you’ll love Escape Rooms! Emerging on the scene in 2015, groups of friends follow a set of clues in order to escape in a designated amount of time. Based on the popular ‘escape-the-room’ style video games, these are the real life, hands on counterpart! Joining the escape rooms in Massanutten and Staunton, Harrisonburg opened an escape room this past winter – House of Clues LLC. House of Clues has two rooms – The Heist and Dr. Skarz’ Lab, each with its own unique story line and set of clues. Tara Einstein – owner extraordinaire – was kind enough to answer our questions!

What’s the story behind House of Clues?

TE: We went out of state to visit family, and while there, a friend was telling us about this thing he had done recently – an escape room.  I had never heard of this, and thought that it sounded like something really fun to do when we got home to Harrisonburg.  Lo and behold, there was no escape rooms around here!  I thought about all the great families who live here, and the college students and their visiting families, and all the super visitors to the Valley who I have met. I realized this was something that would really be fun and bring people together in a way that we have kind of gotten away from with all the technology surrounding us.

House of Clues | Harrisonburg Homes Team

My husband is a contractor, so I thought, well, he can build anything, why not this?  I did a few months of research, and made little games for my family to play while on vacation – never telling them my idea lest they think I was crazy.  When I got everything planned out, I told them about it, and they were behind me 100%!  So, I started making the business and getting the games together while my husband did the construction side of it.

Meet Bill | Harrisonburg Homes Team

What makes House of Clues unique among the many escape rooms?

TE: From what we have experienced and heard, some escape rooms are about finding the essential information from among a lot of irrelevant information.  Our games are more figure it out, think it through, think outside the box experiences.  Since we are trying to get people to just play together they way they did years ago, we are kind of old school when it comes to our props.  We see how much people enjoy relying on their wits and on each other, and that is the basis for our games, not so much technology.  It gives people a real sense of accomplishment and pride in figuring things out without using their devices!

The Heist
Dr. Skarz Lab

How did you come up with the storylines behind the rooms?

We wanted the games to be appealing to everyone from young to older, from students to professors.  We chose games that would be a little intense while not being too creepy or scary.  Like the thrill of a roller coaster, but knowing you are safe.

My own personal experience

I was able to go with some of my friends this past weekend to experience my first escape room! Without giving anything away, I thought the series of clues was truly creative and challenging! We had to rely heavily on our communication and teamwork skills. We had an allotted time of one hour (that counted down on the wall) to figure out the puzzle and get ourselves out – and we made it…with 3 minutes and 20 seconds remaining! One of my favorite parts of this experience was locking our devices away before we went into the room – leaving us with just our ingenuity and problem solving skills. I would highly recommend this experience – everyone had a great time!

About Claire Wayman

Claire manages details of real estate contracts, coordinates social media and the Wilson Downtown Gallery, and keeps the team organized on a day-to-day basis. In her free time, she enjoys playing flute in various area groups and participating in local community theater.

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