Don your finest polyester and solve a murder at a ’70s disco. Refine your Foxtrot and reenact the Jazz Age’s most lurid crimes. Or unleash your inner Ted Danson and take a crack at forensic analysis. What more could you want on your next vacation? Here are eight wonderfully interactive, perfectly hilarious, maybe a smidge eerie murder mystery weekends all over the country, where you can solve crimes by candlelight and collar perps by breakfast … unless you’re the murderer, of course …
A Homicide in Horse Country: 1851 Maple Hill Manor, Springfield, Kentucky
The Inn: It’s one of our most well-reviewed inns, conveniently located on Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail. Rooms are darn near regal, with oil paintings and 600-thread-count linen and canopy beds. Within its grounds, the inn has, well, everything to recommend it, from nature reserves and fruit orchards to flowering gardens and an alpaca farm, many visible from guest-room windows. But it’s not just the views — the murder mystery weekends have drawn crowds here for well over 30 years.
The Details: Join the ranks of budding sleuths in a public event, or plan your own private weekend to its every last detail. Just pick your poison, from a 1930s English country estate to a ’70s disco theme, and Maple Hill will do all the work, including a suitably lavish five-course dinner customized for your group. Characters are assigned in advance, and prizes are awarded for snagging the suspect, so apply your best mustache, prep your most authentic accent, and head to Kentucky.
Railroad (Mis)Fortunes in the Lehigh Valley: The Harry Packer Mansion, Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
The Inn: This B&B is truly over the top, a Victorian replete with Tiffany windows and Oriental carpets and glittering chandeliers in most rooms. (No surprise there, for this manse was built as a wedding gift for the founder of the Lehigh Valley Railroad and Lehigh University.) You could spend years just exploring its rich furnishings and ornate details, or discovering the charming town of Jim Thorpe. But we have other ideas in mind ...
The Details: Forget the murder mysteries that come out of a kit. This one is based on true events. The fabulously wealthy Packer family and its social circle of robber barons are at the center of the inn’s Victorian-era scandal, now so central to the inn’s history that themed weekends happen continually throughout the year. Your weekend persona is that of a real-life Packer or family friend; you’ll act out family dramas that truly happened as you match wits with railroad men of yesteryear.
It’s Elementary in Idaho: The Roosevelt Inn, Coeur D’alene, Idaho
The Inn: Among the tall pines and shady maples of Idaho sits The Roosevelt Inn, a schoolhouse turned romantic B&B. The inn is a short stroll from Idaho’s prettiest lakeshore, making it the perfect place for waterside activities in warmer months. Yet the former four-room schoolhouse, now elegantly updated into a leading B&B, is a wonderful setting for a little midwinter mayhem.
The Details: A Sherlock Holmes–themed murder mystery package comes complete with a two-course breakfast, a four-course dinner, and a dip in the inn’s hot tub, plus one night in a lushly decorated deluxe room. Bring along a Watson or two, or reserve for 10 or more guests during the winter and make it a party. While costumes aren’t provided on-site, you’re welcome to provide your own. May we suggest the iconic deerstalker cap? (Cumberbatch facial features not included.)
A Mystery in Michigan: Bellaire Bed & Breakfast, Bellaire, Michigan
The Inn: Meals may very well be the main event at Bellaire, with innkeepers David and Jim at the hob. If the blazing fireplace or the private gardens or of course the cozy crime-filled weekends don’t get you at the award-winning inn, the scrumptious breakfast will. Past guests rave about the yummy morning goodies, including French toast stuffed with raspberries or peaches, drizzled liberally with real Michigan maple syrup. (Recreating this dish needn’t be a mystery; Bellaire helpfully shares the recipe on its website.) Adding to the adorableness in cozy northern Michigan? Canine “apprentice housekeepers” Tucker and Chips.
The Details: November and March bring the puzzle-solving crowds to Bellaire’s doorstep, when the inn turns upside down with murder. Check in on Friday and learn the ropes. Enjoy some free time around Bellaire village on Saturday before returning to the inn for the murder mystery dinner where more gustatory delights — and justice — are served.
Crime and Punishment in the Poconos: Brookview Manor, Canadensis, Pennsylvania
The Inn: On some 200 acres of dense private forest dotted by rolling hills, uncover the Brookview Manor. This inn is all pastoral elegance, with stained glass windows, a grand piano, and a wraparound porch with rocking chairs to curl up in. Brookview is romantic and secluded, well-suited for honeymooning couples in need of a quiet country retreat (or a ski weekend, with some of the Poconos’ best powder just around the corner). Oh. Or crime -solving, if that’s your thing.
The Details: It all begins on Friday night, when participating guests are gathered in the parlor by a local detective to find out there’s been — what else! — a murder most foul. The following day brings clues and activities at the inn, plus a Saturday night dinner with your fellow travelers as you suss out the culprit, Twelve Angry Men–style, over tense accusations and a delicious home-cooked feast. While 2017 is already full up, dates for 2018 are coming soon. Start plotting accordingly ...
White Mountain Mysteries: Bernerhof Inn Bed And Breakfast, Glen, New Hampshire
The Inn: The Bernerhof may be one of many New Hampshire inns, but it stands out for its on-site dining, from the gourmet country breakfasts to its Black Bear Pub and martini bar. (There’s also a cooking school, if you’d like to learn a little DIY.) Among the piles of snow that smother the White Mountains — and the occasional old-timey murder — the Bernerhof’s eco-friendly fireplaces and pampering spa are sure to provide some heat.
The Details: This two-night weekend is fully immersive and filled with capers, beginning even before you check in when your custom “character packet” arrives. Prepare your costume and rehearse your act in advance; there are Best Dressed and Funniest Costume awards, so really committing to the bit is encouraged. Enjoy a creepy-but-sophisticated dinner by candlelight plus the madcap fun of solving a “professionally curated” mystery deep in the White Mountains. Best of all, rates are the same for all room types, so if you snag your spot early, your stay could be suite indeed.