a peek inside the fishbowl

03 Feb, 2018

Something for Ottawa folks to to do in February (INDOORS)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa

How do you feel about the month of February in general? Let’s review the pros and cons:


  • The days are finally starting to feel a bit longer.
  • It can be argued that February represents the “good” side of winter. It’s the end of a long cold season and we can still enjoy winter activities if we so choose,
  • … eg. WINTERLUDE.
  • There’s also Valentine’s Day, if you’re into that sort of thing,
  • … and even if you’re not, all the chocolate goes on sale Feb.15!


  • It’s still winter.

Enter: the Escape Room. I’ve written about escape rooms here before. I’ve done three or four and although I’m no expert by any means I am keen to do more of them.

Escape room keys

If you don’t know what an escape room is, it can be summed up this way: Imagine that you are locked in a themed room with a small group of people and need to solve a series of puzzles in order to escape before time runs out.

I had coffee with someone this week – an escape room virgin – who told me she and her work colleagues have booked two rooms at Escape Manor in Hintonburg. I was just there recently, so I found myself giving her some tips.* I thought I should share them here too.

  1. 1 – Break your group down into smaller groups. The puzzles are spread out around the room, so divide and conquer! I’ve found that having two people looking at each puzzle is a huge help.
  2. 2 – This sounds like a no-brainer, but if there’s a combination lock, you need to find the combination. So look for things around the room that result in a number. Ask yourself, is there a number here? Sometimes it can be a bit abstract, but it will be there nonetheless.
  3. 3 – Puzzles are mathematical/numeric, language-based, and also, physical. It’s hard to explain without giving anything away, but move things around and use your body where you can.
  4. 4 – Look at everything in the room very carefully. Something as simple as a framed photo on the wall may be an important clue. Make sure you REALLY look at it. Take it off the wall if you can. Look very closely at the photo, the frame, behind the frame, everything!
  5. 5 – As you move around the room, share what you’re looking at with the other group. Talk to one another! Something may come up that may provide a valuable clue. e.g. “The note on this bookshelf says something about a key in a clock.” The other team might be looking at a clock as you’re saying it. Then you bring them together. See what I mean?

(Got any more escape room tips to share? Leave ’em in the comments below!)

My group did the “Psycho” room at Escape Manor and it was REALLY fun. I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say that although some parts were tough, we almost got out. We were one puzzle away from escape! Instead, we died (figuratively speaking, of course).

Well, I am officially obsessed with escape rooms and am dying to do another one. In fact, I was just looking at the other rooms available on the Escape Manor website. I wish there was a way to know if the room is going to be too hard for me or not. The room has to be just challenging enough to make it fun. If it’s TOO hard, it can be frustrating. Know what I mean? Maybe there could be a user-based rating system. But then again, that might not be the most accurate way of illustrating the difficulty level because a newbie would rank a room harder than an expert. Also, when a new room opens, the owners tinker with the puzzles and make changes. Maybe escape rooms should provide difficulty ratings on a scale of 1-10? Or publicly release information about the success rate for each room? What do you think?

I’d love to hear more about your own escape room experience if you have one!

*I was at Escape Manor by invitation via the Ottawa Travel Massive group. My group and I were able to puzzle through one of their rooms free of charge but was not required to write about it. Want to try out a room at Escape Manor? From now until Valentine’s day, use promo code VAL25 to save 25% when you book a room between February 11th and 14th. 

3 Responses to "Something for Ottawa folks to to do in February (INDOORS)"

1 | Wynne

February 8th, 2018 at 8:23 pm


We’ve really enjoyed participating in escape rooms too. We’ve only been to two in Ottawa & can’t wait to try out more. If your family is into board games give EXIT the game by Thames & Kosmos a try. It’s a one-time-use game. Quite well done & no time limit (unless you are timing your game to see how well you rank)! They are also categorized by level difficulty and under $20 a game.

2 | Greg Escaper

December 29th, 2019 at 1:00 pm


The weather is not good outside, so that is why I don’t ice to stay out on the weekend. Instead, I force my friends to go to the escape room as it is a better activity to do with all of them.

3 | Nick

February 18th, 2020 at 9:38 am


In February, only one thing is good – this is the last month of winter and spring will come soon and it will be warm)

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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