On television, criminal investigators are slick and relentless, which explains why most kids want to grow up to be cops, actors, or a pair of sunglasses. Shine like a snooping star with today’s Groupon: for $80, you get entrance for two to a Panic at the Prom murder mystery at Henderson House Inn and Retreat Center in Stafford (up to a $160 value). The mystery includes:
- Host or hostess to run the game
- Valet service
- Red-carpet announcer
- Buffet-style dinner with nonalcoholic beverages
Set in Ye Olde Church, listed on the National Registry of Historical Places, Henderson House Inn and Retreat Center invites guests to gussy up and relive their high-school proms, adding the macabre twist of an interactive murder mystery. After relinquishing their vintage hot rod, modern sedan, or futuristic dog sled to the valet, pairs strut down a red carpet to the church entrance, where an announcer introduces each player. In small groups of eight Clue-piece impersonators, couples dressed to the nines in ball gowns, tuxes, and corsages study their preassigned roles. The dance takes on a ghoulish bent as homicide rears its head and twosomes put their tiaras together to deduce the culprit. Fuel fits of empirical wisdom with a buffet-style dinner and nonalcoholic beverages, or practice spit takes with BYOB wine during the 2- to 2.5-hour sleuthing session.
Though Henderson House Inn and Retreat Center features a discounted price for hotel guests, this Groupon is a standalone offer and still the best deal available.
A wraparound porch winds along the perimeter of the Henderson House, its flowerpots framed by white columns and spindles that have stood for more than a century. Inside, guests lounge in double parlors and sleep in guestrooms adorned with stained- and beveled-glass windows, brass lighting fixtures, and antique bed frames. Part of a collection of homes built between 1903 and 1905—which includes the Spickard House, Littlefield House, and Weide House—the Henderson House maintains standing on the National Register of Historic Places through its turn-of-the-century architecture and decor. In addition to opening rooms for bed-and-breakfast-style lodging, the staff entertains guests with murder mysteries, such as the 1950s-themed Murder on the Grill where guests must figure out who killed Tom Dooley and what temperature steak is best cooked at. They also package stays with area attractions, such as guided birding with a nature photographer. Other nearby activities range from visits to the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge to making plum jelly.