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Many people equate the "Castle" on the National Mall as THE museum to see, but in fact the Smithsonian Institute represents the world's largest museum and research complex, including some 19 museums, the National Zoo, and other facilities. The Castle is a great place to start for information and maps, but your best bet is one of the many splendid museums listed below. Many of these are located directly on or surrounding the National Mall and have easy access to a number of Metro (subway) stops. All of these listed below require No Admission, have bathrooms, generally good accessibility for the disabled, helpful volunteers and Smithsonian staff, and some offer on site cafes or restaurants.
Many of the Smithsonian museums are located on the National Mall (Air & Space, Natural History, American History, etc), or within a couple blocks (like the Archives Museum). Best of all, the Smithsonian Museums are FREE! Small group tours for many of these attractions, like the White House and U.S. Capitol, can be arranged through your local Representative's office. Book as early as possible; these appointments fill quickly during busy holiday seasons.