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International Spy Museum
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International Spy Museum
Ranked #90 of 472 things to do in Washington DC
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Opened in 2002, the International Spy Museum provides interactive exhibits and contains the most extensive collection of spy artifacts ever displayed.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Stairs / elevator, Bathroom facilities, Wheelchair access
Reviewed May 28, 2007

I read mixed reviews on this museum and concluded it would be a good choice for my 10 year son. It sounded like it was geared for his age group and I was wrong. We went as early as possible and it was way too crowded to be enjoyable. People were pushing and shoving to get to exhibits. Someone even coughed in my face and got the reaction she was looking for, I quickly stepped away from the exhibit I was trying to study. You are forced to wait in a long line to load one group at a time into a elevator to gain entrance to the upper level where the museum starts. It may be a way to attempt to control the flow of people but it does not work. Also, in case you are claustrophobic, be advised you will be packed into the elevator like sardines. I stepped out of line and asked to use the steps; the attendant gave me a hard time but there was no way I was heading into that elevator.

Some of the exhibits had very interesting facts about the history of spying from the little bit I was able to read and take in one movie in a side room. There are minimal hands on activities for children. The most exciting action was crawling through an air duct and trying not to trigger a sensor or your cover was 'blown'. Overall, it was very disappointing especially after spending $58 to gain entrance. Knowing there are tons of free museums in Wash D.C. I regretted my choice. After wasting 2 hours there fighting through the hoards, we went across the street to the Smithsonian Photograhpy Art Museum. Very beautiful museum with much to offer visually - worth a stop in.

8  Thank alstrooper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"james bond"
in 712 reviews
"cold war"
in 206 reviews
"real spies"
in 53 reviews
"gift shop"
in 258 reviews
"interactive exhibits"
in 163 reviews
"a lot of fun"
in 141 reviews
"older kids"
in 55 reviews
"all ages"
in 176 reviews
"hands on activities"
in 51 reviews
"whole family"
in 72 reviews
"great for kids"
in 58 reviews
"two hours"
in 79 reviews
"three hours"
in 47 reviews
"on display"
in 85 reviews
"civil war"
in 44 reviews
in 377 reviews
in 284 reviews

4,270 - 4,274 of 4,586 reviews

Reviewed May 21, 2007

I enjoyed this tour, but give yourself lots of time (I spent 4 hours inside-although about 45 minutes was waiting in line...yes, I had prepaid tickets). I don't think children would enjoy it very much, its a lot of reading and oriented toward adults. Very cool to see all the now unclassified spy stuff. Makes you wonder what all the classified stuff spies use today!

3  Thank Sandralah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 1, 2007

I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of information in this museum. After reading other reviews, I went in a little trepiditious, but I'm so glad we took the time to visit!

We had no problems getting into the facility. We purchased our tickets online well in advance and the wait to get in was not long. I must respond to the various comments where people had to switch back and forth in line before enterning the museum. People -- it's called a queue and it's used to keep orderly lines. Anyone who has been to the airport, a fast food restaurant or an amusement park should be familar with them.

I thought the part about picking an identity was fun. I also liked the many interactive displays throughout the musuem. Like any other musuem, there was a lot to read and digest. It's not something you can walk through and absorb without making a little effort.

We spent at least two hours here. By the end of our visit I was a little tired of reading, but that's because we made it a point to spend quality time at each exhibit. Because of the amount of information, I wouldn't take children under about 15 here -- there's just too much to read.

The only dissapointment was the gift shop. The items were not as unique as I would have liked. I guess the upside of that was I didn't find anything to spend my money on...

Overall, I recommend the International Spy Musuem for anyone who has a sense of adventure and is looking for an afternoon of fun.

2  Thank SoDakTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 23, 2007

Yes, the place is crowded. As with most tourist destinations you are required to wait in line, and experience a pre show. I'm from Orlando and I'm very good at waiting in lines and in crowds. I fully expect them when visiting a tourist attraction - this does not deter me. The crowds do spread out inside among the many exhibits, even on a busy Easter Weekend we found it easy to see all we wanted once the initial crowd moved about.

The exhibits were fascinating. They display typical spy gadgetry we would only see up on the big screen in the latest James Bond flick. The exhibits were also set in these very detailed theme areas, when learning about East Berlin you are surrounded by warning signs in German, fences and checkpoints.

There is a lot of reading involved so I don't think it's all that fun for the little ones, say under 6. There are some interactive exhibits that older childeren will love. And of course, if your significant other is as big a fan of James Bond as mine is, he will LOVE the Bond car on exhibit.

3  Thank MissJacksonMesa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 14, 2007

My wife & I live in Maryland and have been waithing for the perfect rainy weekend to see the Spy Museum

.....What a let down. As the other reviews have stated it takes about 45min. to stand in the cattle lines and then there is one (single) elevator that takes you upstairs to the museum. Way overcrowed (it's a very small museum) we might as well have been in a mosh pit at a rock concert. The museum it's self is layed out very poorly with no flow at all The displays are monotonus and wordy and really unimaginative. They have video monitors everwhere describing different spys, and how they were caught etc. Unfortunately you have probably seen most of it on The Discovery Channel or on the internet. I'm really sorry to tell you this...especially in the heart of the museum capital of the world Washington DC but.....If you do decide to go don't take the children. Most of the kids I saw looked really bored and confused and the parents were really frustrated.

I will not recomend the Spy Museum to anyone....What a let down.....You guys really blew it...Your apologies are not accepted. Save your $16.00

9  Thank duffscreations
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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