'CRIME' SCENE: Murder is on the agenda at the Grand Hotels annual… (Rosemary McClure / For The…)
Did Ms. Scarlet silence Mrs. Peacock with a knife to the throat? Or did Col. Mustard throttle Professor Plum with a silver-plated candlestick? Mystery buffs can map out, investigate and solve murder mysteries at a variety of hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, many of which have a few ghosts of their own rattling around within their historic halls. There's even a Murder Mystery Train: You can murder your significant other while traveling on Amtrak between Los Angeles and San Diego.
Benbow Hotel & Resort, Garberville, Calif.
The Tudor-style Benbow, one of the most imposing hotels along Northern California's Redwood Coast, sits on the banks of the Eel River, a stone's throw from the Avenue of the Giants, a winding 31-mile scenic route through dense stands of massive redwood trees. The hotel's ghosts of guests past include Hollywood elite such as Spencer Tracy and Charles Laughton. New ghosts may appear after the upcoming Benbow mystery weekends, Nov. 19-20 and March 4-5, when drama, murder and red herrings will be on the menu. Benbow Inn, 445 Lake Benbow Drive, Garberville, Calif.; (800) 355-3301, http://www.benbowhotelandresort.com. Prices start at $540, including two nights' accommodations, a five-course dinner and show.
Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Mich.
This 123-year-old Midwestern favorite presides rather grandly over Mackinac Island, a park-like Lake Huron retreat that prohibits motorized vehicles. The Victorian hotel set the stage for the eerie 1980 film "Somewhere in Time," with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour; now, its venerable salons are the scene of an annual murder mystery weekend. Intrigue, betrayal and murder will stalk the majestic halls when the next show takes place Oct. 7-10, 2011; prices start at $915 for two, including meals. (800) 334-7263, http://www.grandhotel.com.
Austin Hill Inn, West Dover, Vt.
Mystery weekends have become so popular at this Vermont bed-and-breakfast inn that they're held monthly, with visitors coming from as far away as London and California. The inn, in the scenic foothills of the Green Mountains, has 11 guestrooms, with fireplaces and balconies. Mystery weekends began 13 years ago, with guests assuming the roles of suspects, murderers, victims and investigators. Upcoming weekends are scheduled Nov. 12-14 and Dec. 10-12.
Austin Hill Inn, 7 Waldwinkle Road (Route 100), West Dover, Vt.; (802) 464-5281, http://www.austinhillinn.com. Prices start at $485, including two nights' accommodations.
Murder Mystery Train
L.A. to San Diego
All aboard for fun and suspense when the Murder Mystery Train pulls out of Union Station on March 11, bound for San Diego. The drama, created by Keith O'Leary and Margo Morrison, begins Friday evening during the journey south and carries through the next two days at the Westgate Hotel in San Diego. "Adults love being told they can lie," said Morrison, "and that's exactly what we tell them, because everyone becomes part of the show." Actors infiltrate the group, so guests aren't sure who's real and who's pretending. Multiple murders usually take place during the event. $799 a person, double occupancy, including round-trip train transportation, lodging and some meals. (818) 785-7700 or (310) 836-7700, http://www.murdermystery.com.
The Lost Whale Bed & Breakfast Inn, Trinidad, Calif.
"Who really killed Roger Ellington?" guests are asking this weekend as a murder mystery unfolds at this Cape Cod-style inn overlooking the Pacific. The Lost Whale, which advertises itself as "the only inn in California with a private beach," is in Trinidad, a small town near Redwood National Park in Northern California. The "Roger Ellington" mystery was written by the inn's owners, Gary and Guiamar Hiegert; employees take the part of actors. Mysteries are scheduled irregularly; one is tentatively scheduled for Halloween weekend, 2011.
Lost Whale Bed & Breakfast Inn, 3452 Patrick's Point Drive, Trinidad, Calif.; (800) 677-7859, http://www.lostwhaleinn.com. Rates are $249-$289.
Fensalden Inn, Albion, Calif.
Be a sleuth — or a murderer or victim — during a murder mystery weekend at the Fensalden Inn, a renovated 1860s-era stagecoach stop on the Mendocino coast. The inn, which overlooks the Pacific, has eight rooms with views and fireplaces. Guests play one of 14 characters on the trail of a killer during the inn's mystery weekend events. The action begins Friday evening and continues through the weekend, with clues taking participants to shops in the tiny community of Albion. The next mystery weekend is Dec. 10-12.
Fensalden Inn, 33810 Navarro Ridge Road, Albion, Calif.; (800) 959-3850, http://www.fensalden.com. Rooms from $149 to $253 a night, including breakfast; the mystery package is $135 more a person.
Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa, Chesapeake Beach, Md.
Devious evildoers will invade this bayside resort Nov. 5-7, when "Murder on the Chesapeake" takes place. The mystery weekend event will feature actors pretending they're guests and guests pretending they're actors. The Chesapeake Beach Resort, a 72-room hotel about a 30-minute drive from Washington, D.C., overlooks the bay; all rooms have views. The weekend of crime begins Friday evening when sleuths (and the killer) become acquainted before dinner. The resort usually holds two mystery weekends a year — one in fall and another in spring.
Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa, 4165 Mears Ave., Chesapeake Beach, Md.; (866) 312-5596, http://www.chesapeakebeachresortspa.com, Prices start at $608, including two nights' accommodations and meals.