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Mystery tour ideas

1,000 Park Bakery, courtesy Koskiusko Co. CVB

Kosciusko County, Indiana
The folks in Kosciusko County, home to 101 lakes, take pride in their motto, “Live Well in the Moment.”

“We offer one fantastic moment after the other,” said Mary Kittrell, executive director for the Kosciusko County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Add them all up, and you have one spectacular mystery trip that can last for four days.”

Many of those moments focus on the culinary world: At the Village of Winona, an artisan village with 22 shops, you can taste dozens of specialty olive oils and balsamic vinegars, experiment with sea salts and spices from around the world, and taste perhaps the best sour dough bread on earth, according to Kittrell.

“We have an Asian-fused meal in a traditional bento box, another meal in an 1860s restored train station and a visit to a chocolate shop to watch the experts dip those delicacies,” she said.

But time in Kosciusko County is about more than food. A tour can also include a visit to the Hallmark Ornament Museum, where the only complete collection of Hallmark ornaments is on display, and a ride on the Dixie, a stern-wheel paddleboat that has been in operation since 1929.

“And no group comes here without enjoying a production at the Wagon Wheel Theater, a professional theater-in-the-round where there isn’t a bad seat in the house,” said Kittrell.

A complete four-day itinerary with many more options is also available.

Watertown, South Dakota
Home to a renowned art museum, a historic home and a spectacular zoo, Watertown offers mystery tours that just might satisfy all of bank travelers’ diversified tastes.

“While our claim to fame here is the Terry Redlin Art Center, this is an art and history mystery tour with the zoo as an added bonus,” said Karen Witt, executive director of the Watertown Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Terry Redlin is one of the most widely collected wildlife and Americana artists living today, and his interest in outdoor themes can be traced to his childhood in Watertown.

“The museum has 160 of his original works, the largest collection anywhere,” said Witt.

The museum also has the Comforts of Home cabin, where visitors, surrounded by comfy furniture and log posts, might think they are walking into one of Redlin’s paintings. Retail stores that feature home decor and Redlin’s art prints and 10 acres of landscaped beauty are also part of the center.

“Have a boxed lunch in Terry Redlin tins on the patio, and enjoy the view,” suggested Witt.

Next stop is the Mellette House, home of the state’s first governor, Arthur Mellette.

“Groups can tour this stunning 1885 Italian villa and enjoy the family’s memorabilia and the most beautiful wooden, circular staircase,” said Witt.

Last, the Bramble Park Zoo is home to camels, buffaloes, penguins, black bears and reindeer, along with hundreds of other species.

“Arrange to have a behind-the-scenes tour where you can see how the animals are fed and more,” said Witt. “Groups not only love the variety of animals but the landscaped grounds — just beautiful.”