Escape if you can

Destin gets new escape room attraction

Savannah Vasquez
The Scribner family of St. Augustine, Florida, enjoyed the Zombie Autopsy room recently. [SAVANNAH VASQUEZ/DESTIN.COM]

Does being trapped in a room for an hour with nine of your best friends sound like fun? What if that room had clues, puzzles, secret passageways and a scary ambiance?

If so, you’re in luck. Gulf Coast Escape Room has just arrived at the HarborWalk Village in Destin and has three escape room experiences to choose from.

“We deal mostly in the more scary type ones,” said owner Michelle Egly. “We are a haunted house slash escape room.”

Egly said she first got interested in escape rooms two years ago when she and her family happened upon one.

“We were in Orlando and I bonded with my two stepsons over it,” she said. “We ending up ditching Sea World and doing more escape rooms. Then I came home and there was nothing like it, so I wanted to bring it home.”

The Destin location is the third for Gulf Coast Escape Room, which also has rooms in Gulf Shores and in Tallahassee. Egly said she and her husband  work together to come up with the themes and puzzles for all the rooms themselves.

“My husband is a physician and he comes up with the puzzles and clues and I come up with all the themes,” she said.

So far, the Destin location has three themes; two are one hour and one is half an hour. The themes vary in difficulty and scariness as well as number of people allowed to participate.  

“The doll room is our scary room, the zombie room is not scary, but it is our most challenging room, and the Bates (Motel) room is somewhere in the middle for both scariness and escape rate,” said Egly. “I am working on three more themes for next year; The Voodoo Cabin, the Zodiac Killer and Alice and the White Rabbit.”

Each room has a story that leads to clues and puzzles throughout the room, Egly explained; with each new clue solved, you receive a key that leads to the next clue and if your team is able to solve the entire puzzle before the half hour or hour is up, you have escaped the room. Participants need to use critical thinking to solve the puzzles, and on top of that, some rooms will add fear to contend with.

“We have travelled around the world to try escape rooms and have tried over 40,” said Egly. “Out of 40, we have only not escaped two. We have taken what we have experienced from other escape rooms and tried to bring the best aspects here to our rooms.”

One of the most unique aspects of Gulf Coast Escape Rooms, is the personal assistance given while your team is solving puzzles.

“The fact that we give unlimited clues or hints and we actually go into the rooms to help you sets us apart,” said General Manager Betsey Benedict. “We will go in as much as you need us and personally give you hints as much as you want.”

One group of young girls was signing up for a second room, after having tried the Bates Motel the night before. The girls were sisters and said they loved the scary ambiance and couldn’t wait to get back for more.

“It was fun,” said Kassidy Bolden of Taft, Tennessee. “The Bates Motel led you to believe one thing, but then it was another – there was a twist that you didn’t expect.” 

Gulf Coast Escape Room is located in the HarborWalk Village in unit 102 across from Crab Island Cantina. Cost is $25 per person for the 60 minute rooms and $15 per person for the 30 minute room. There are also group discounts available. For more information, visit or call 850-460-8760. 

Want to Go?