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Family Vacations: International Spy Museum

Investigate the world of spies and espionage at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.
Investigate the world of spies and espionage at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.
Courtesy of the International Spy Museum

Learn firsthand how a spy operates at the only museum in the United States dedicated to the world of espionage. Upon your arrival at Washington, D.C.'s International Spy Museum, you'll adopt a "cover" and receive a new identity. You'll need to remember this information to see how well you perform as a spy, particularly when border guards throughout the museum interrogate you.

You'll learn how spies disguise themselves with fake hair and face-altering makeup and how Hollywood helped develop ingenious disguise techniques for the CIA. Some of the family programs include workshops on disguise-making, as well as on making and breaking secret codes and inventing concealment devices. On display are classic hidden spy craft tools such as buttonhole cameras, lapel knives, lipstick pistols, and hollowed-out coins concealing microdots.

Historical exhibits discuss espionage techniques used in the past, when spies shot secret messages into forts using bows and arrows and hundreds of thousands of pigeons flew secret messages across enemy lines. Other exhibits include a re-created tunnel beneath the divided city of Berlin during the Cold War and an exhibit on escape and evasion techniques in wartime.

International Spy Museum:

Address: 800 F St., NW, Washington, D.C.

Phone: 202/EYE-SPYU, toll-free: 866/SPYMUSEUM

Admission: $16 adults; $13 kids

Learn more about the variety of things to do and places to see in Washington, D.C. and other exciting locales:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Washington D.C. City Guide: Learn more about the many things for families to do in Washington, D.C.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.


Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations In North America and Tropical Family Vacations.