This post is a guide to tickets and exhibits at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC., one of the most popular privately-owned museums in the city.
We show you what type of tickets (and discounts) are available, and what you will see, including an awesome gift shop, to help you decide if a visit is worth it for you and your family.
- What is the Spy Museum?
- Plan Your Visit
- Exhibits at the Spy Museum
- Things to Do in DC
The International Spy Museum is currently OPEN 7 Days a Week. Timed Tickets are required.
What is the Spy Museum?
The International Spy Museum is a independent nonprofit organization and the only US museum that is solely dedicated to espionage and features the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display.
It is the only museum in the world to showcase a global perspective on the roles spies have played and on the men and women who have participated in this profession, shaping history and continuing to have a significant impact on global events.
Tickets to the International Spy Museum
Unlike the Smithsonian Museums, the International Spy Museum is NOT free and there is an admission fee.
That being said, there are several ways to save money on tickets!
Admission is offered via timed entry tickets, which means you are free to enter the museum after the time printed on your ticket.
You are able to re-enter the museum throughout the day, as long as it is after the time printed on your ticket.
Tickets can be purchased in advance, same day, and for larger groups.
The Spy Musuem offers tiered pricing, where the further in advance you purchase tickets, the less expensive they will be. The plan-ahead pricing is the best deal.
During peak days you can expect the below prices, but you can save up to 30% by purchased a few weeks in advance.
|General Admission Ticket Type for HIGH ATTENDANCE DAYS||Price|
|Adults (ages 13-64)||$32.95|
|Seniors (ages 65+), Military Members with Valid Military ID, Fire, Law Enforcement, Student||$29.95|
|Youths (ages 7-12)||$20.95|
|Children aged 6 & under||FREE|
Plan-Ahead Ticket Price
Tickets to the International Spy Museum can be purchased in advance of your visit online or by calling 202.654.0991 (10 am - 5 pm).
You will be able to select the date, time, and quantity when you click ‘Buy Tickets’.
It is recommended that you purchase tickets ahead of time, especially during the busier spring and summer seasons.
This option will save you from having to wait to purchase same-day tickets, which can be up to an hour long.
When purchasing tickets online, you can expect the cost of local taxes to be included in the overall price.
Tickets can be purchased at the museum for same-day admission. When you walk into the museum entrance, you will be pointed in the direction of the ticket counter.
During peak season, there will most likely be long lines and waits of up to an hour to purchase tickets, or possibly it may be sold out.
If this is the case, the museum staff will be there to direct you to the appropriate line, especially if the line extends out the door.
Depending on availability, you might have to purchase tickets for a later entry time and return to the museum later in the day.
The last ticket is sold one hour before closing.
8 Discounts on International Spy Museum Tickets
This section will detail some of the best ways to save money on tickets to the International Spy Museum in Washington DC.
We also include information about common discounts that might not currently be available but could be offered at some point in the future.
1. Use a Tourist Pass
The International Spy Museum is commonly included with various Washington DC tourist passes.
Although the Go City Washington DC Pass is not currently active due to the pandemic, the Washington DC Sightseeing Pass is still available for purchase, and it includes admission to the International Spy Museum.
Here are a few other popular activities included with this tourist pass:
- Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Tour
- Spirit of Mount Vernon Cruise
- George Washington's Mount Vernon
- Monuments & Memorials Bike Tour
- And more!
If any of these attractions or tours sound like locations you might want to visit, check our post covering all Washington DC tourist passes.
2. Concession Discount
The following visitors are eligible for the concession price, which is $3 off the cost of general admission:
- Senior Citizens (65+)
- Law Enforcement
- Intelligence Community
- College Students
A valid ID will be required as proof.
3. Group Discount
Groups of 10 or more are eligible for reduced admission. The museum requests that groups complete a Group Request Form.
Completing the form allows their Group Sales team to contact you within 24 hrs and get your group booked quickly.
The Group Sales team can also be reached by calling 202.654.0942 or 202.654.0964.
Their office is open 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM Mon-Fri EST.
4. Members Get in Free
Members of the International Spy Museum receive free admission.
This is an excellent option if you're planning to visit multiple times per year. The lowest price for membership is $99 per year.
Members also receive one free guest pass, 25% off at the museum store, $5 off additional general admission tickets, and discounts on educational programs.
5. Discount Sites
We recommend checking to see if this attraction has been added to any discount sites.
That's because they often offer additional coupon codes for an extra 10% - 20% off local activities, so you could save even more than you might expect!
6. AAA Discount
As recently as a few years ago, the International Spy Museum offered a $2 discount for AAA members. Y
ou might want to call ahead to check with them, but there's a good chance this deal is still available!
7. Credit/Debit Card Discount
Many credit and debit card companies have begun offering discounts similar to those offered by AAA.
You'll have to load them onto your card from their website, but they work in much the same way.
While admission to the International Spy Museum may not currently be discounted through any credit or debit cards, that could change in the future.
We recommend checking your cards to make sure there aren't any discounts you can use before purchasing tickets!
8. Sign up for the Newsletter
If you sign up for the International Spy Museum Newsletter, they'll give you 10% off admission!
PLAN YOUR VISIT TO THE SPY MUSEUM
- How to Get There
- Security & Visitor Policies
- Food & Gift Shop
- How to get to the Spy Museum
International Spy Museum Hours
The museum is open during the following hours:
- 9am-7pm Wednesday - Friday and 830am - 8pm Sunday-Tuesday
During peak seasons, the museum extends its hours which can vary on a weekly basis.
The International Spy Museum frequently updates any changes to operating hours on its Museum Hours page.
Please note that the last ticket of the day is sold one hour before closing.
How to Get There
The Spy Museum is at 700 L’Enfant Plaza SW Washington DC 20024.
If taking a cab or a ride share, be aware that it is on the upper/ground level.
There is a parking garage at L’Enfant Plaza, the address is 480 L’Enfant Plaza SW Washington, DC 20024. Note that the parking garage is not associated with the Spy Museum.
If you are taking the Metro, go to the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station. Follow the signs to the D St. & 9th St. SW exit. Take the escalator and enter the L’Enfant Plaza Food Court. Half way down that hall, another hall opens to the right. Follow until you reach a large staircase. Exiting the L’Enfant Plaza Food Court at the top of the stairs, you will be at the back of the Spy Museum. Walk around toward 10th St. SW and you will see the entrance to the museum’s main lobby.
The only ADA Accessible exit from L’Enfant Plaza is toward Maryland Ave. & 7th St. SW. The elevator will take you to the corner of 7th St. & C St. Turn left as you exit the elevator and go toward Independence Avenue SW. Follow Independence Avenue SW past the Hirshhorn Museum and The Smithsonian Arts and Industry Building. Turn left on L’Enfant Plaza SW, heading south. The museum will be on your left.
There is also a free Southwest Shuttle which picks up across the street from the elevator at 7th & C. Take it two stops to L’Enfant Plaza and it drops across the street from the museum.
If you are on the National Mall, you can reach L’Enfant Plaza by going behind the Smithsonian Castle. Cross the Independence Avenue at the crosswalk directly south of the Castle and walk up L’Enfant Plaza SW to find the museum on your left.
If you are at the Wharf, head west to Market Square SW. Cross Maine Ave. SW and walk up the stairs next to Benjamin Banneker Park. At the top, you will find L’Enfant Plaza on your right, and will see the Spy Museum a short walk away.
If you are cycling, there are six bicycle stands in front of the museum, as well as a Capital Bikeshare dock just a minute’s walk away.
Security and Visitor Policies
While there are not required to go through a scanner at this museum, your bag and belongings as subject to be searched upon entry into the museum.
While in the galleries, there is no flash photography allowed. Photography of certain areas and artifacts is permitted.
The museum asks that you pay attention to signage and obey the “No Photography” signs when posted.
Other Gallery Policies
- The museum asks that visitors not have food, drink, or chewing gum while in the galleries.
- They, also, ask that visitors not talk on cell phones and refrain from smoking.
- All guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
- The museum asks that strollers be checked in the Clock Room in the Museum Lobby.
Food and Gift Shop
Check out the gift shop at the International Spy Museum, which boasts one of the most eclectic collections of memorabilia in the city.
The gift shop includes books, toys, gadgets, games, and other spy products for adults and children.
It is open to the public, so even if you don't have time to visit the museum, you can go home with a cool espionage-themed keepsake!
You can access the gift shop through a separate door to the left of the main entrance without paying admission for the whole museum.
There is no cafe or food venue inside the Spy Museum. However, there are many food options near the museum.
The new location is within L'Enfant Plaza, which has a food court.
You can also easily walk to the Wharf from here for some great sit-down restaurants.
Is the International Spy Museum Good for Families?
The museum has interactive components in almost every gallery, making it fun for younger children.
There are different computer games and tasks in almost every gallery, but there are also areas where children can climb, crawl, hang, and do other physical activities.
A free, downloadable family guide is offered through the spy museum website.
You are able to print this guide before arriving at the museum or pick up a copy on the day of your visit.
In addition to the interactive pieces at the museum, the website has games and apps that allow children to play with things they might come across in the museum.
Is the International Spy Museum Worth Visiting?
The International Spy Museum is another great attraction that is worth the entrance fee.
Since its opening in 2002, it has educated people of all ages on the history of espionage both in the USA and abroad.
In fact, the International Spy Museum boasts the largest collection of spy-related artifacts in the world.
How long should I spend at the International Spy Museum?
Expect to stay in the museum for two to three hours.
Who should visit the International Spy Museum?
The museum is probably most entertaining for children ages 11-15.
However, anyone interested in learning more about espionage will thoroughly enjoy their time there.
The exhibits are very informative, and the museum does a good job of blending fun with facts, making a visit to the International Spy Museum a pleasure for the entire family.
What are the Spy Museum Programs?
The International Spy Museum hosts many events and programs throughout the year.
These include, but are not limited to book signings in the gift shop, presentations by authors and experts, and the popular Spy Camp for kids ages 9 to 12.
There are even special events specifically for autistic individuals and those with sensory differences, as well as for individuals living with dementia and their care partners. Be sure to check their website for upcoming programs.
International Spy Museum Reviews
The International Spy Museum is highly rated with consistently good reviews from guests of all ages.
It is a popular choice for families with teenagers and adults who are young at heart and enjoy getting into interactive games.
Most negative reviews stem from its popularity as it can be crowded during peak times.
Insider Tip: The museum is less busy before 11 am and after 4 pm. It stays open late during the peak summer months.
How to Get To the International Spy Museum
The International Spy Museum is located in downtown Washington, DC near L'Enfant Plaza.
The museum is on L'Enfant Plaza SW near D St SW just south of Independence Ave SW.
The closest Metro station is the L'Enfant Plaza station (Yellow/Green/Orange/Blue/Silver lines).
There are many exits from this Station, but the 9th and D St SW L'Enfant Plaza Promenade is the closest.
Use our guide to using the Metro to get there.
Many of the Hop on Hop Off Bus Tours have stops nearby.
Read more about the best Washington DC bus tours to find a company and a bus pass that fits your itinerary.
- International Spy Museum Parking
The museum does not have any on-site parking, but they have partnered with Spot Hero to help visitors find parking in nearby parking garages.
They recommend reserving parking ahead of time through this partnership.
Exhibits at the International Spy Museum
The International Spy Museum is designed to be an immersive experience, where visitors learn to become spies.
The typical museum experience lasts about two hours and is self-guided.
Highlights of the International Spy Museum
- Pretending to be a spy! -- You can go undercover where you are assigned a secret identity. It is then your job to withhold that identity and keep your cover. You are tested on whether or not you succeeded in that mission with 17 different interactive stations.
- Dive into the history of espionage! -- You'll see amazing inventions use to steal secrets, keep covers, and crack codes. The museum's section on spying during the Cold War is especially fascinating.
Your museum experience will start when you enter the first floor and will wait for the elevator to take you up to the 5th floor.
In the lobby, you will see various artifacts and props that will give you an idea of what is in store for the rest of your visit.
In the lobby, you wait for an elevator to take you up to the 5th floor where you will learn if you have what it takes to be a spy.
The permanent collection starts on the fifth floor as you work your way down through the permanent and later special exhibits.
The museum is an interactive experience so your museum experience is centered around the idea of being a spy.
In the first exhibit, you are asked to pick a cover and memorize it, like you are a spy preparing for an operation.
There are different identities on the wall to choose from. This is what you do while you wait for the introductory film in the “Briefing Room’.
The introductory film is only a few minutes and gives you information about the type of people who become spies and the importance of their job.
- Stealing Secrets: Here you'll learn about who are spies and how they operate. Learn every aspect of being a spy and explore spy gadgets that have aided former spies.
- Making Sense of Secrets: Can you break the code? Learn from analysts and decision-makers about what to do with the information spies gather.
- Covert Actions: See some of the tools used and learn about the success and failures of former spies.
The fourth floor takes you through the history of espionage.
- Spying that Shaped History- Within this exhibit spaces see some of the earliest tools used by spies and how they shaped different periods of history. Some must-sees from this exhibit are George Washington's spy letter, a letter asking from General George Washington asking Nathaniel Sackett to spy for his country during the American Revolution, and the Spy Pigeon, a model of a pigeon fitted with a small camera that would have been used through the 1950s.
- An Uncertain World- Learn why happens when a spy goes too far and how they protect themselves abroad and at home.
There are also often special exhibits on display!