Spy Museum Washington DC – My Day as 007
What is the Spy Museum in Washington DC?
Update: The Spy Museum recently moved and reopened its doors on L’Enfant Plaza and now has even more interactive and fun exhibits to offer.
Who hasn’t dreamt of becoming as spy as a kid? Or if you are like me, you still secretly dream of being swept away into the world of James Bond, the Smith’s, MI-5 & MI-6. So when the Spy Museum in Washington DC sponsored a free ticket for me, I was jumping up and down like a kangaroo on Red Bull. I went to the Spy Museum once before, in 2011 with the husband, and it was SO COOL. I couldn’t wait to go back 🙂
So what is a visit to the Spy museum like? Well, it is a very interactive museum, so you get to practice and pretend to be a spy during your visit. When you first arrive, you are taken into the Debrief Room, where you pick a cover, memorize the details about your persona and then you watch a short movie about the history of spies, their methods and the biggest spy legends.
After you watch the film, you enter “Spy School”, where you can test how well you know your cover and learn about tricks of the trade, such as tools, disguise and such. You even get to climb through an air vent, making as little noise as possible and seeing if you can stay undetected. Lots of fun for kids and adults and if I am honest, this was my favorite section, because I got to play too 🙂
Next is a section about spies through the history of time, like Ninjas, the Trojan Horse and all the Kings and Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers that used spies to strengthen their own power through knowledge. If you are a history buff, you will enjoy the “From Ballroom to Battlefield” exhibit about spies during the Civil War.
Since I am more interested in recent history, I found the “Spies among us” exhibit very interesting. It shows you how spies and their collecting of information was crucial during World War II. You’ll learn how the US gathered intelligence and stole the knowledge and even the men in charge of development Atomic Bomb from the Germans. There is also a really cool exhibit about Bletchley Park, where Alan Turing decrypted the Enigma.
While the rest of the Museum is pretty old school spy stuff, there is one room dedicated to Cybersecurity and Cyber terrorism. It shows you the theoretical outcome of terrorists hitting the electric grid of the United States. While I really love the Spy Museum, I wish it would show some more up-to-date methods and tools. Many of the things that are on display are rather ancient and you feel like you stumbled into Q’s basement during the times of Sean Connery and Roger Moore as 007.
Speaking of 007. Before you exit, your path leads you into the wondrous world of the most iconic movie spy that filled my childhood with excitement, my first crush (yup, I admit it, I had a thing for the young Mr. Connery, haha) and lots of arguments with my parents about how long I could stay up. If you are a child of the 60s, 70s or 80s, chances are good, this guy flickered over your TV screen at some point or you have take to ordering your Martini shaken, not stirred, but have no idea why or what difference it makes. This exhibit is cool beyond words. They take you through different rooms that are decorated in the style of some of the movies and they feature movie props, costumes and posters.
I had a great time at the Spy Museum and I highly recommend it to anyone except families with younger kids. If your kids are under 7-8, they probably won’t get much out of this experience and might even be scared. On the other hand, this would be an awesome place to explore for kids between 8-14. And then of course, this is an epic place for anyone who grew up with James Bond, spy movies and is simply a kid at heart and wants to play Robber and Police again.
But this isn’t everything the Spy Museum has to offer. You can also sign up for two Spy Missions that will truly let you slip into your cover identity and accomplish a mission. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to participate in those missions, but next time I’m in DC and the husband can join me, I would love to check these out.
Update: As per their new website, the new location of the Spy Museum currently does not offer Operation Spy or Spy in the City tours any longer.
Operation Spy is a Mission that is based in the museum. Your mission takes you to Afghanistan. First, you have to find the mission control center in Kandahar, where you receive a debrief and then you have 1 hour to save the world. Read more about Operation Spy here.
Spy in the City
The Spy in the City Mission takes you out on the streets of Washington DC (about a 1-mile circuit). You’ll receive a GPS unit that will give you a debrief and details about your mission and then head out to collect clues, discover spies and have fun. Read more about the Spy in the City mission here.
INSIDER TIP 1: The Spy Museum offers a free Family Mission that you can do within the Museum itself. Also, check out the Combo tickets below to save some money.
International Spy Museum Opening Hours & Tickets
9 AM – 7 PM every day
Adult: $ 24.95 | Senior (65+), Military, Fire & Law Enforcement: $ 19.95 | Junior (7-11): $ 14.95 | Kids (<6): Free
Update: The Spy museum currently does not offer any Spy in the City or Operation Spy tours.
General Admission & Operation Spy: $ 28.95
General Admission & Spy in the City: $ 28.95
Combo Ticket General Admission & Operation Spy & Spy in the City: $ 38.95
Operation Spy & Spy in the City (No Admission to the Museum): $ 24.95
INSIDER TIP 2: The best part is that you can visit the Spy Museum 2 days in a row, so you might take advantage of that if you did not get to see everything during your first visit.
Spy Museum Location
The new location of the Spy Museum is at:
700 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC 20024
Nearest Metro Station: L’Enfant Plaza
Have you been to the Spy Museum in Washington DC? What was your favorite exhibit?
Pin for later:
I find this fascinating. If you come to London, let me know and I’ll take you to the Royal Horseguards Hotel, where you can go down in the basement and see some of the WWII MI5 headquarters!
And if I make it to Washington, I will be there!
Really, you can do that? Dang, my list of stuff to do in London is getting longer and longer. But this would be such a cool thing to do! Thanks for sharing Fiona 🙂
I love the whole world of undercover and espionage and I would love to do the Spy Mission. What a fantastic interactive addition to a static museum. I agree with you though about needing to include recent spy stuff like cyber activities.
Yes, I love interactive museums like that and next time I’m in DC, I will do the mission! Can’t wait to play again 🙂
We visited the Spy Museum a couple of years ago and my kids loved it. I wish I could remember our cover id’s now. My kids thought that was so cool.
I took a picture of mine, because I knew I couldn’t remember, hehe. I guess I wouldn’t last long as a spy…
Very interesting sounding museum, but I like that it is interactive! I bet kids (ok, and kids at heart!) would have a blast. My sister lives just outside DC and her kiddo would LOVE this, I’ll have to pass it along.
I am sure they would love the museum. All the kids I saw were very excited and most of the parents had a hard time concealing their excitement as well.
Admittedly, I’d never even heard of the spy museum. I agree that the “spies among us” exhibit sounds the most interesting, but it would be interesting to get a more modern take on espionage too. Climbing through the air vent as quietly as possible and pretending to be a spy sounds like fun too and I’m sure kids (and adults) love it!
Oh yes, we had a blast. I just wish the air vent was a bit longer 😉
I’ve been to that spy museum a couple of times and it’s always unique because of the new persona you take on each time. It’s a pretty fun museum to look through, and there are a lot of great restaurants nearby for when you’re done! 🙂
You are so right Laura! I’ve been there twice now and wouldn’t mind going a third time! Oh and that area is great for restaurants and also has a huge selection of food trucks, if you just want to grab something quick and delicious!
Most likely I was one of the few that did not dream of being a spy 🙂 This museum would still be fun and I would have never thought that one is existing. So interesting to learn about new museums every day.
Really? You never dreamt of being James Bond? I think you still would have a good time, because this museum does a great job to draw you in and make you pretend you are your cover persona 😉
I’m not much into museums but an interactive museum with spy missions? That’s cool! I’d have to check it out once I make it out to DC!
Yes, this museum is fun, even if museums in general are not your thing. It is very interactive and you walk through it, pretending to be on a spy mission. How cool is that?!?
I just visited this earlier this year! It was so cool and I really enjoyed it. It was fun to pretend to be a spy!