International Spy MuseumI’m not saying is isn’t important for the kids to see the big monuments when they are in Washington DC, but for a break from the traditional, why not try out the International Spy Museum? The Spy Museum talks about the wars behind the scenes – fought with spies and secrets instead of soldiers and weapons. It is the only public museum in the United States solely dedicated to espionage and the only one in the world to provide a global perspective on an all-but-invisible profession that has shaped history and continues to have a significant impact on world events.

It is a fascinating look into the secret life of spies – from the real, historic ones, to the TV variety.  And it’s completely interactive, since the museum has you choose an identity at the beginning of your tour, learn some facts about the new you, and then tests you about your identity, at different points throughout the exhibit, so see if you would pass the test were you asked about who you were.

You’re taught spy skills – like keen observation, looking for clues, memory.  You see real life examples of spy equipment that looks like it came out of a movie.  Kids and grown ups alike will love testing their knowledge, learning new facts, and acting like spies.

There is also a Spy in the City option, where you take a GPS tour of an area around the city looking for clues, and acting like a spy.  I’d say skip it.  Instead of making this an opportunity to learn about the city while you search down a spy (or a double agent), it’s just a faux test.  No matter what answer you give, it’s correct.  Not worth the extra bucks.  Save those for the gift shop.  It offers an amazing array of spy gear, from video camera ties and pens to peanut bar jar safes, to teeny tiny recording devices.

Your kids will love the Spy Museum, and so will you.

The Spy Museum is open from 10-6, with extended hours during busy holiday times.  Your best bet is to buy tickets online ahead of time to get a jump on the lines – and to reserve early in the day.  The whole tour through the museum takes a quick 1.5 hours.