Things to Do

4 Virtual Reality Experiences to Escape to Around the DMV

If you saw the dystopian Squid Games challenge and thought "that looks fun!" then this is for you.

Decked out with motion-capture suits and virtual reality goggles, players attempt to survive the Squid Game. Photograph courtesy of SandboxVR.

If you haven’t yet tried on a pair of virtual reality goggles and explored another world, it can be hard to explain the transportive experience; and if you have, you know what I mean. But whether you already know your way around cyberspace or it’s your first time, these four spots around the DMV can show you the future of VR gaming.

Also, if you were one of the people who watched a Fairfax woman win $4.56 million on Netflix’s Squid Game and thought, “I could do that,” then you’re in luck, because two of these venues offer Squid Game challenges of their own.


1. Sandbox VR

1656 Silver Hill Dr., Tysons

A group tries to survive a virtual reality Squid Games. Photograph courtesy of SandboxVR.

The newest addition to the area’s virtual reality scene, Sandbox VR is opening December 22. For $55 to $60, you can get outfitted with haptic suits, VR goggles, and an array of motion-tracking antennae, and step inside one of four “holodecks.” Once geared up, guests can enter virtual worlds, competing with each other in an adaptation of Squid Game, or keeping zombies at bay in Deadwood Valley. Plus, if you schedule a reservation before the opening on the 22nd, you will get a promotional rate of $39 a person.


2. VR Zone DC and VR Arena

2300 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 12107 Nebel St., Rockville

Despite the different names, VR Zone DC and VR Arena are the same business, with two locations—one in Glover Park, the other in Rockville. Both locales have VR escape rooms—the virtual reality raises the stakes compared to classic, in-person escape rooms. Instead of having to beat a ticking clock, you have to escape before a wizard feeds you to a hungry dragon (in “Dragon Tower,” available in Rockville—you can see a trailer above), or navigate a space station to destroy a meteor before it collides with Earth. There is also a VR arcade with a library of 30-plus games, including the classic VR action game Super Hot, where time moves only when you move. The escape rooms cost $49 a person; an hour in the arcade also costs $49 a person.


3. Immersive Gamebox

4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

Attempting a Squid Games challenge. Photograph courtesy of Immersive Gamebox.

If strapping a bulky headset on and having your eyes covered with goggles seems too intense for you, then Immersive Gamebox in Arlington may be a good alternative. A visor equipped with motion-capture sensors offers a lightweight augmented-reality experience that is great for kids and adults alike. A $50 ticket gets adults an hour in the box, where they can try surviving a Squid Game experience, plus two alcoholic beverages. Cheaper tickets are available for those under 21.


4. Scary Strokes

2960 Technology Pl., Waldorf

If you want the fullest immersion possible, the Scary Strokes mini-golf facility in Waldorf, Maryland, has a VR system that actually allows you to walk around and run inside the virtual world. The multi-directional treadmill system, OMNI Arena, lets players navigate pirate islands and haunted mansions by simply walking through them. Each game costs $15 and lasts 10 to 15 minutes. There are now more than 60 of these OMNI Arenas across the country; Scary Strokes had one of the first. When you’re out of breath from the treadmill, there are also two stationary VR shooting games that only require putting on goggles.

Editorial Fellow

Hunter is a cat-loving Coloradoan who enjoys history, Halloween and board games. He studied audio production and radio storytelling at Hofstra University before moving to DC in 2022. During his editorial fellowship with Washingtonian in the fall of 2023, he ran Halloween Hunter, a section featuring local stories for the spooky season.