Lonely Planet review
One of DC’s most popular museums is flashy, over the top, and probably guilty of overtly glamming up a life of intelligence gathering. But who cares? You basically want to see Q’s lab, and that’s what a trip to the International Spy Museum feels like. Kids go crazy for this spot, but be warned: lines form long and early. You can ease the wait somewhat by reserving tickets online (per ticket surcharge of $2).
There are all kinds of artifacts, anecdotes and interactive displays on the inside, and guests are invited to play the role of a secret agent by adopting a cover at the start of their visit. Throughout the museum, you can try to identify disguises, listen to bugs and spot hidden cameras. A lot of the exhibit is historical in nature, focusing on the Cold War in particular (a re-creation of the tunnel under the Berlin Wall is an eerie winner).
The museum also offers several tours. ‘Spy in the City’ ($15) is a sort of GPS-driven scavenger hunt across DC with an attached plotline that Jack Bauer from 24 would appreciate. ‘Spy at Night’ ($20) takes place the second Friday of each month, when the museum stays open late and serves alcohol. The two-hour ‘Spy City Tour’ ($59) takes in 25 skullduggery-associated sites across the city via bus; there’s an interactive mission component to this tour as well. All of the above are great fun, and can be booked through the museum’s website.