Updated July 7, 2020.
One in every 10 people you see in D.C. is a spy. Some for the United States… some not for the United States.
Ha! I don’t know if that’s true, but I read that once and it’s a favorite “fact” that may or may not be true. But what is true, is that you can take a tour of the newly re-located and re-opened International Spy Museum in D.C.!
The International Spy Museum was formerly in Chinatown, right across the street from the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery, but as of May 2019, its new location is L’Enfant Plaza, just south of the National Mall.
Fair Warning: This is one of the few museums in D.C. that is not free. However, it is also one of the most interesting, most unique, most “D.C.-appropriate” museums in D.C., and it’s one that I recommend splurging on!
Where to Get Tickets
You can get tickets in person, but you may have to wait in line a while, especially during the busiest season of March-July. You can save time and get a discount by buying online!
The prices above are online prices. Regular-priced adult tickets (ages 13-64) are $24.95 in person, but if you buy online, tickets are $22.95. The same $2.00 discount applies to all tickets, including ages 7-12, Seniors 65 and older, and military.
The Museum is open every day of the week from 10:00am until 6:00pm. Entry is every half hour, with last entry at 4:30pm. Plan to spend 2-3 hours at the museum.
International Spy Museum
700 L’Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, D.C. 20024
You will find the Spy Museum at L’Enfant Plaza, right on the Green, Yellow, Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines! If you’re already in D.C., you can walk just two blocks south of the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall.
Need a primer on the Metro? Read Your Guide to D.C.’s Metro System
As I mentioned before, this is one of the best museums in D.C., and one that I have actually paid to go into at least three times over the last 12 years—and with all the free museums to choose from, that’s really saying something!
One of the best things about this museum is all the interactive elements. Not audience participation, but actually becoming a spy! Each person can choose to receive a cover (or not) and a mission.
Throughout the museum you’ll be able to take steps to complete your mission at various kiosks. One of the assignments was to memorize the contents of a Colonial-era traveling chest. The contents flashed on a screen for a few seconds, then I had to pick out as many as I could from a list. My mission depended on it!
One of my favorite exhibits in the museum was actually the first room I entered after the introduction. There were stations set up to represent actual spies throughout history—some who died as a result of their actions, some who survived.
There are exhibits about cyber spying, spying around the world, spying throughout history—everything you need to know about spying, you will know by the time you leave!
On your way out, don’t miss the gift shop! They have tons of fun gifts, and an exceptional collection of spy books, both fiction and non-fiction!
Want more recommendations for museums, restaurants, and insider D.C. tips? Check out my Washington, D.C. Page!
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