800 F St. NW
HOURS: Variable, so call ahead;
closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day
COST: $18 over age 11,
$15 ages 5-11,
$17 seniors, military, and intelligence community
Families with young children flock to this snazzy interactive museum, one of DC’s first for-profit museums, which opened in 2002, but teens and adults are likely to get more out of the experience, which starts when visitors are given an intelligence “cover” to remember and carry with them throughout their self-guided tour.
Highlights include exhibits on the art of espionage, the history of intelligence, and an overview of famous spies.
Guests can pretend they are part of Mission: Impossible, crawling through a mock ventilation system, or try to escape their “tails” by working on their surveillance and reconnaissance skills.
An Aston Martin DB5, the ultimate James Bond car, is here, as is a collection of historic spy gear. Near the end is a comprehensive look at the human toll and national security breaches resulting from the work of the nation’s most notorious double agents.
The Spy Museum gift shop is great fun, featuring high-tech and low-tech spy gadgets, CDs of spy-themed music, and all sorts of kitschy items for the kids like invisible ink pens and Spy vs. Spy paraphernalia.