Where to take your little scavenger

Take your child’s I Spy game to the next level with an educational scavenger hunt at one of these five Northern Virginia venues.

kid museum
© Pavel Losevsky, Adobe Stock

Everyone loves a good challenge, especially kids. These five scavenger hunts at Northern Virginia venues will certainly put little ones’ competitive edge to the test, and—don’t tell them this—they might learn a little something along the way as well.

Spy Adventure at George Washington’s Mount Vernon

George didn’t have an iPhone when he crossed the Delaware, but you can use yours to become one of his spies with the Agent 711: Revolutionary Spy Adventure App. Travel the grounds of Mount Vernon to decode messages, confront challenges and solve puzzles. The game, geared toward ages 8 and up, is available in iOS and Android version and takes roughly 40 minutes to complete. Rather unplug? Mount Vernon also offers a free adventure map for kids right at the ticket booth. Kids can carry the colorful map around the estate and manually fill in the answers to its questions. Turn in the completed map at the gift shop to earn a special prize.

Explore More at the Greater Reston Arts Center

Take out an Explore More art bucket and roam the museum through the eyes of an artist. The buckets are specially designed for kids ages 3-10 and feature a developmentally appropriate gallery guide packed with suggested art-viewing activities. Plus, kids can use the provided art materials and create their own masterpieces to take home. Families are welcome to drop in whenever the gallery is open to the public (Tuesdays-Saturdays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.) and borrow an art bucket for $5.

Become a Junior Ranger at Manassas National Battlefield Park 

Become a Junior Ranger and learn all about the Civil War at Manassas National Battlefield Park. The scavenger hunt includes different requirements for different age levels. Kids start out in the museum and answer questions based on gallery exhibits. Then, the journey moves outside, where families can choose adventures that include trails to historic homes and monuments, ranger-led programs or a movie viewing in the visitors center. After the designated number of requirements is met, kids are “sworn in” as official Junior Rangers and can collect a special badge.

Gallery Hunts at the National Museum of the Marine Corps

Choose from one of the specially designed interactive hunts for kids and make your way through the multimedia galleries of the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Older children can focus on history and aviation with the Little Leatherneck or Semper Fly gallery hunts. Little ones can spy animals in the Devil Dogs Gallery Hunt. The hunts use both images and questions to foster participation and learning. Besides the gallery hunts, the museum also hosts themed family days on the second Saturday of every month.

Old Town Alexandria Scavenger Hunt

Step into The Christmas Attic at 124 S. Union St. to purchase a Scavenger Hunt for just $4. Then, frolic around historic Old Town Alexandria solving clues at the historic sites visited by George Washington and other patriots including Washington’s townhouse, Christ Church, Gadsby’s Tavern and more. This self-guided walk takes around 45 minutes, but with all the great shops and eateries in Old Town, there are bound to be a few distractions along the way.