Covert day trips

Take a day and explore the secrets of the land.

Photo courtesy of heyengel/AdobeStock

No matter where you travel in the Metro-D.C. region, chances are you’re near a spot that was once a covert location where spies lurked, secrets were passed and meetings were set in the name of honoring one side of a larger political battle.

Why not take a day and explore the secrets of the land?

The Agent 711: Revolutionary Spy Adventure App

Mount Vernon is the site of this spy mission. Participants solve ciphers and decode messages to help Washington in his battle for freedom. The app’s mission takes approximately 40 minutes, is suited for those 8 and older and can be downloaded for Apple or Android smartphones.

Spies of Washington Tour

Here participants have the option of a coach tour or one of four walking tours, all of which go to drop locations, clandestine meeting spots and the homes of power players with secret dealings. The tours are led by former Air Force intelligence office Carol Bessette, who started her career in Saigon during the Vietnam War and has worked at the highest levels of intelligence in the capital.

International Spy Museum Tours

D.C.’s International Spy Museum doesn’t only hold spies’ gadgets and gizmos—it also has two tours that offer more detail on how spy stories unfolded in the nation’s capital. Spy in the City is a GPS-guided mission that takes participants into the surrounding neighborhood, while Operation Spy takes participants to a fictional land to weed out the truth.

Lafayette Square Tours of Scandal, Assassinations and Spies

This meetup group hosts tours throughout Washington and Northern Virginia that last a little over two hours and bring people the stories behind the powerful towns, covering centuries of scandal and spies. They get into little-known stories, like a congressman who had his wife’s lover murdered, a scandal that led to the resignation of an entire presidential cabinet and a story about a spy who cost the U.S. Army a major battle.

If you want to delve into more sites on your own, you should pick up Robert Wallace and H. Kenneth Melton’s Spy Sites of Washington DC: A Guide to the Capital Region’s Secret History or download former CIA agent Brian Raymond’s DC Spy Guide app.