When we were headed on our family vacation to Washington DC, my kids talked to their friends about what they should see and do. Both kids came home with a similar list – and both wanted to visit the International Spy Museum. Located across the street from the National Portrait Gallery, the International Spy Museum is privately owned and operated (and therefore charges an admission fee, unlike many of the other museums in DC).
We arrived after lunch on a Sunday, and purchased tickets (tip – if you have a AAA card, you’ll get a discount). We were then led into a line for the elevator, which brought us upstairs to the exhibit halls. Once you step into that elevator, you really are transported into a spy world. My kids are really fascinated by spies, so they loved feeling like they were immersed.
Once you step off the elevator, guests are directed to assume a new identity. There are signs around the main room with details associated with various identities that you are asked to memorize. Later in the museum, you can take a test to see how much you learned.
The exhibits around the museum were fascinating. Some were more adult oriented and were focused on various spies throughout history. But there are lots of things for kids too, including a space for them to crawl through the vents and “eavesdrop” on conversations. There’s an extensive Bond villain exhibit toward the end of the museum – my kids were a little too young to appreciate it, however.
When purchasing your ticket, you can also choose to add on one of two interactive spy adventures. One is for kids 12+ and one is for kids 10+, so we skipped them on this visit. I’d definitely consider it if we return when my kids are older.
Overall, our visit to the International Spy Museum took about 2 hours. You could definitely spend more time if you read each individual exhibit and/or if the museum was crowded. I’d definitely recommend visiting if your kids like learning about spies.
To learn more, visit the International Spy Museum website.