Discover why Washington D.C. is  a great place for a family vacation.


More often than not the Spy Museum is mentioned in a list of things to do in Washington, DC. I headed off on a spy adventure this weekend with my 6 year old daughter and her friend to check it out.

Now let me preface this post by mentioning that my daughter’s favorite movie is Spy Kids 4 and she dressed as an “OSS” spy for halloween this past year. Needless to say this is a trip she has been looking forward to. I should also mention this was our second attempt to visit. The first time we planned to visit was during the Christmas break. I called ahead and discovered there was an hour long wait outside to get into the museum. We decided to abort the mission and try again another day.  Luckily when we showed up on Sunday there was no line at all, literally. So first tip is do not go on a holiday weekend and better yet call ahead to gauge the wait time.

The second thing to mention is that in a city of free museums the Spy Museum is quite pricey by comparison. Adult tickets are $19.95 and children ages 7-11 are $14.95. Luckily for me, children 6 and under are free.

The museum’s permanent exhibit is housed on one level of the building and they pack a lot in. There are lots of interactive stations where kids can put on headphones and listen to secret recordings or try to find the suspicious characters in a photo. My girls favorite displays were the camera in the trench coat and the gun hidden in the lipstick. My favorite were the sunglasses that were actually a videocamera and the exhibit on the camera carrying pigeons used in WWI.

The exhibits are certainly historic, i.e this is not high tech spy equipment you will see, but I guess that makes sense as we don’t want to give away our current secrets.

There is a lot of reading in this museum. We went through the permanent exhibit and the special James Bond villians exhibit in an hour, but the girls were basically running from thing to thing. If you have a child who is a good reader and really into spy or war history then you could easily spend two hours in the museum.

Post visit and over gelato at the neighboring Pitango (favorite), I asked the girls if they would recommend the museum to friends who were visiting DC. Both girls said they would and my husband got a full recap of the highlights over dinner that night. Sounds like a ringing endorsement to me.

  • Location: The museum is located in Penn Quarter – one of my favorite family spots in DC, great restaurants and walking distance to the Smithsonian. The museum address is 800 F Street, NW, between 8th and 9th Street.
  • Metro: The museum is within walking distance of the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro stop.
  • Hours: Check the museum website for hours because they vary depending on the events going on in the city and how busy the museum plans to be. The best day to visit is a weekday when the crowds aren’t as large.
  • Tickets: It is advised to buy tickets ahead of time – especially during the summer or weekends. Buying tickets beforehand doesn’t mean you can walk right in. When you arrive you may find both a ticket holders line and a line to purchase tickets. Visit the museum website to purchase advance tickets. Tickets for adults are $19.95, childen 7-11 are $14.95 amd children 6 and under are free.
  • Strollers are not allowed and will have to be checked in the coat room so bring that baby carrier.




1 Comment

  • Comment by Patricia — January 17, 2013 @ 4:28 am

    Great article! I can’t wait to visit the spy museum! 😉

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